Weight loss, a strong and flexible body, glowing beautiful skin, peaceful mind, good health – whatever you may be looking for, yoga has it on offer.
Yoga increases flexibility and reduces stress, but the practice can do more than help you twist your body into pretzel shapes and find inner peace. These hidden benefits will help you in the kitchen, office and bedroom — and will give you fifteen new reasons to show off your yoga skills.
1. All-round fitness.
You are truly healthy when you are not just physically fit but also mentally and emotionally balanced. As Sri Sri Ravi Shankar puts it, “Health is not a mere absence of disease. It is a dynamic expression of life – in terms of how joyful, loving and enthusiastic you are.” This is where yoga helps: postures, pranayama (breathing techniques) and meditation are a holistic fitness package.
2. Boost Immunity.
A recent Norwegian study found that yoga practice results in changes in gene expression that boost immunity at a cellular level. And it doesn’t take long: The researchers believe the changes occurred while participants were still on the mat, and they were significantly greater than a control group who went on a nature hike while listening to soothing music. Yoga also helps to boost immunity by simply increasing overall health, says Mitchel Bleier, a yoga teacher of 18 years and owner of Yogapata in Connecticut. “As you breathe better, move better and circulate better, all the other organs function better.”
3. Weight loss.
What many want! Yoga benefits here too. Sun Salutations and Kapal Bhati pranayama are some ways to help lose weight with yoga. Moreover, with regular practice of yoga, we tend to become more sensitive to the kind of food our body asks for and when. This can also help keep a check on weight.
4. Ease Migraines.
Research shows that migraine sufferers have fewer and less painful migraines after three months of yoga practice. The cause of migraines isn’t fully understood, but Bleier says it could be a combination of mental stressors and physical misalignment that create migraines and other issues. Hunching over a computer or cell phone with your shoulders up and head forward causes overlifting of your trapezius and tightening of the neck. This pulls the head forward and creates muscle imbalances that can contribute to headaches and migraines.
5. Stress relief.
A few minutes of yoga during the day can be a great way to get rid of stress that accumulates daily – in both the body and mind. Yoga postures, pranayama and meditation are effective techniques to release stress. You can also experience how yoga helps de-tox the body and de-stress the mind at the Sri Sri Yoga Level 2 Course.
6. Boost Sexual Performance.
Studies have found that 12 weeks of yoga can improve sexual desire, arousal, performance, confidence, orgasm and satisfaction for both men and women. How? Physically, yoga increases blood flow into the genital area, which is important for arousal and erections, says Bleier, and strengthens the “moola bandha,” or pelvic floor muscles. Mentally, the breathing and mind control involved with the practice can also improve performance.
7. Inner peace.
We all love to visit peaceful, serene spots, rich in natural beauty. Little do we realize that peace can be found right within us and we can take a mini-vacation to experience this any time of the day! Benefit from a small holiday every day with yoga and meditation. Yoga is also one of the best ways to calm a disturbed mind.
8. Sleep Better.
Researchers from Harvard found that eight weeks of daily yoga significantly improved sleep quality for people with insomnia. And another study found that twice-weekly yoga sessions helped cancer survivors sleep better and feel less fatigued. This can be attributed to yoga’s ability to help people deal with stress, says Bleier. “Sleep issues are like anxiety. Your head can’t stop spinning, you don’t know how to relax,” he says. “Breathing and mental exercises allow the mind to slow down, so you’re going to start to see yourself sleep better.”
9. Improved immunity.
Our system is a seamless blend of the body, mind and spirit. An irregularity in the body affects the mind and similarly unpleasantness or restlessness in the mind can manifest as an ailment in the body. Yoga poses massage organs and stregthen muscles; breathing techniques and meditation release stress and improve immunity.
10. Living with greater awareness.
The mind is constantly involved in activity – swinging from the past to the future – but never staying in the present. By simply being aware of this tendency of the mind, we can actually save ourselves from getting stressed or worked up and relax the mind. Yoga and pranayama help create that awareness and bring the mind back to the present moment, where it can stay happy and focused.
11. Better relationships.
Yoga can even help improve your relationship with your spouse, parents, friends or loved ones! A mind that is relaxed, happy and contented is better able to deal with sensitive relationship matters. Yoga and meditation work on keeping the mind happy and peaceful; benefit from the strengthened special bond you share with people close to you.
12. Increased energy.
Do you feel completely drained out by the end of the day? Shuttling between multiple tasks through the day can sometimes be quite exhausting. A few minutes of yoga everyday provides the secret to feeling fresh and energetic even after a long day. A 10-minute online guided meditation benefits you immensely, leaving you refreshed and recharged in the middle of a hectic day.
13. Fight Food Cravings.
Researchers from the University of Washington found that regular yoga practice is associated with mindful eating, an awareness of physical and emotional sensations associated with eating. By causing breath awareness, regular yoga practice strengthens the mind-body connection, Bleier says. The awareness can help you tune in to emotions involved with certain cravings, and yoga breathing exercises can help you slow down and make better choices when cravings strike.
14. Better flexibility & posture.
You only need to include yoga in your daily routine to benefit from a body that is strong, supple and flexible. Regular yoga practice stretches and tones the body muscles and also makes them strong. It also helps improve your body posture when you stand, sit, sleep or walk. This would, in turn, help relieve you of body pain due to incorrect posture.
15. Better intuition.
Yoga and meditation have the power to improve your intuitive ability so that you effortlessly realize what needs to be done, when and how, to yield positive results. It works. You only need to experience it yourself.
Remember, yoga is a continuous process. So keep practicing! The deeper you move into your yoga practice, the more profound are its benefits.