Updated: Mar 20
I get asked these questions a lot, "why do you do yoga? What do you benefit from it? Why do you bother twisting and turning?
Aside from the fact that yoga gives me joy and satisfaction, there are tons of benefits that can be derived from yoga, from physical to mental, health and otherwise. And I’m here to share a few of these benefits with you…
1. Yoga improves your flexibility.
Improved flexibility is one of the first and most obvious benefits you can derive from yoga. When you start your first yoga class, you notice that there’s a whole world of asanas that you can’t get, but you find out that with time, after your third or fourth classes, you’re able to hit those poses you were unable to get when you first started.
2. Weight loss
This is something a lot of people want. Yoga benefits here too. Sun Salutations are some ways to help lose weight with yoga. They burn fat and calories and help keep the body in shape. Moreover, with regular yoga practice, 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.
3. Full body toning
Okay, here yoga comes in handy. Ever wonder why most yogis are in such great shape? The answer is simple. YOGA! I am a living testimony, and I am not just saying that. While yoga helps burn excess fat in the body, it also helps tone and tightens up loose skin, so your body looks great!
4. It helps you Relax
Yoga encourages you to relax, slow your breath, and focus on the present. Yoga can provide relief from the hustle and bustle of modern life. Restorative asana, yoga Nidra (a form of guided relaxation), Savasana, pranayama, and meditation encourage pratyahara, a turning inward of the senses, which provides downtime for the nervous system.
5. It helps you sleep better and feel better.
This is no joke! Before I started yoga, I had serious sleeping problems (chronic case of insomnia). I could go weeks without sleep. Anyone who knows me can testify to that. And each time, I looked so tired, like I had run a marathon. Now I sleep better, look and feel better. Yoga calms your mind and relaxes your body and muscles. Puts you in a complete state of relaxation where you sleep deeply and wake up feeling rejuvenated and restored.
6. Boosts the immune system functionality
Asana and pranayama probably improve immune function, but so far, meditation has the strongest scientific support in this area. It appears to have a beneficial effect on the functioning of the immune system, boosting it when needed (for example, raising antibody levels in response to a vaccine) and lowering it when needed (for instance, mitigating an inappropriately aggressive immune function in an autoimmune disease like psoriasis).
7. Improves blood flow and circulation
Yoga gets your blood flowing. More specifically, the relaxation exercises you learn in yoga can help your circulation, especially in your hands and feet. Yoga also gets more oxygen to your cells, which function better as a result. Twisting poses are thought to wring out venous blood from internal organs and allow oxygenated blood to flow once the twist is released. Inverted poses, such as a Headstand, Handstand, and Shoulderstand, encourage venous blood from the legs and pelvis to flow back to the heart, which can be pumped to the lungs to be freshly oxygenated. This can help if you have swelling in your legs from heart or kidney problems. Yoga also boosts hemoglobin levels and red blood cells, which carry oxygen to the tissues. And it thins the blood by making platelets less sticky and cutting the level of clot-promoting proteins in the blood. This can lead to a decrease in heart attacks and strokes since blood clots often cause these killers.
8. It improves posture
Poor posture can cause back, neck, and other muscle and joint problems. As you slump, your body may compensate by flattening the normal inward curves in your neck and lower back. Yoga poses like the staff pose and mountain pose (Tadasana) corpse pose (savasana) help correct one's posture by straightening the spine and back muscles.
9. Improves heart rate.
Many people cannot participate in cardiovascular exercises like skipping, running, cycling, etc. Yoga serves as a cardio workout, helps keep the heart rate up, and improves cardiovascular conditions, reducing health risks.
10. Lowers blood sugar
In people with diabetes, yoga has been found to lower blood sugar in several ways: by lowering cortisol and adrenaline levels, encouraging weight loss, and improving sensitivity to the effects of insulin. Get your blood sugar levels down and decrease your risk of diabetic complications such as heart attack, kidney failure, and blindness.
11. Prevents IBS and other digestive problems
Ulcers, irritable bowel syndrome, constipation—all these can be exacerbated by stress. So if you stress less, you’ll suffer less. Like any physical exercise, yoga can ease constipation—and theoretically lower the risk of colon cancer—because moving the body facilitates more rapid transport of food and waste products through the bowels. And although it has not been studied scientifically, yogis suspect that twisting poses may be beneficial in getting waste to move through the system.
12. It helps relieve pain
Do you have arthritis? Yoga can help you stay flexible and strong without adding stress to your joints. You get the added benefit of a mind-body approach that can help you relax and energize. According to several studies, asana, meditation, or a combination of the two, reduced pain in people with arthritis, back pain, fibromyalgia, carpal tunnel syndrome, and other chronic conditions. When you relieve your pain, your mood improves, you’re more inclined to be active, and you don’t need as much medication.
13. It’s important for pre and post pregnancy
Yoga can help keep you relaxed, strong, and in shape, if you're pregnant. It helps open up the hip flexors and makes for an easier childbirth. If you’re new to yoga, let your doctor know you want to try it. Look for an instructor who’s experienced in teaching prenatal yoga. While you’re pregnant, avoid postures that put pressure on your belly or low back. Don’t do “hot” yoga, where the room temperature is very high.
14. Increased strength and balance and overall athletic performance
Yoga helps improve lean muscle strength and balance while keeping you energetic and invigorated. Yes. It takes a lot of strength to hold your body in a balanced pose. Regular practice will strengthen the muscles of your arms, back, legs, and core.
15. It improves your self-esteem and makes you a better person
Many people suffer from chronic low self-esteem; as a result, some become very unpleasant to be around. Yoga meditation helps to keep one's self-esteem in check, helps you become more aware of who you are, and focuses on what should be. Through meditation, you’ll be able to get rid of unhealthy thoughts and feeling, thus improving your relationship with others and helping you become a better person.
16. Better Sex
This point cannot be ignored. Many researchers and studies have shown that yoga improves one's sex life. In India, women who participated in a 12-week yoga camp reported improvements in several areas of sexuality, including desire, orgasm, and overall satisfaction. Yoga (like other exercises) increases blood flow and circulation throughout the body, including the genitals. Some researchers think yoga boosts libido by helping practitioners feel more in tune with their bodies.
17. It is Therapeutic
Many studies have shown that yoga is very essential for therapeutic purposes. Most doctors prescribe yoga as a form of therapy to improve other ailments like anxiety and depression, OCD (obsessive-compulsive disorder), post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and the likes. It has been proven very efficient so far.