If you’ve never tried yoga, you may be amongst the few who believe that the practice mainly consists of a bunch of hippies, sitting in a circle, meditating and stretching. And although that isn’t entirely false, yoga is also a physically challenging activity and it demands the body to return to its natural state.
Research has shown that yoga improves health, heals aches and pains, and keeps sickness at bay. Once you experience the benefits, you'll have even more motivation to step onto your mat!
Here are 3 reasons why you need yoga in your life.
1. Prevents cartilage and joint breakdown
Every time we attend a yoga class, our joints experience their full range of motion. When we don’t go through our full range of motion, our bodies age more quickly. How? Imagine that joint cartilage is a sponge; every time it gets squeezed, fluid comes out so that new nutrients can be absorbed. This process can help prevent degenerative arthritis or relieve disability by sending new nutrients to areas of cartilage that aren't regularly used. Joint cartilage is like a sponge; it receives fresh nutrients only when its fluid is squeezed out and then a new supply can be soaked up.
2. Improves bone health
Any exercise that is based on lifting/carrying weight is known to strengthen the bones. In yoga, the weight you’re carrying is your very own. Poses (a.k.a. asanas) like downward dog, dolphin pose or crow pose are just some poses that require lifting your own body weight, and so they build a lot of strength. Besides strengthening your bones through bearing your own weight, yoga also has the ability to decrease levels of the stress hormone cortisol, which can potentially help keep calcium in the bones.
3. Increases your blood flowThe yogic breathing technique, also referred to as pranayama, plays an essential role in increasing blood flow in your body. When you hold a pose during your practice, your prana (breath) flows through you, increasing circulation through you spine, glands and organs. Aside from breathing, restorative or relaxation exercises in a yoga class can also help circulation in your body. For example, twisting poses are said to squeeze out venous blood from internal organs. This allows oxygenated blood to flow in once the twist is released. Inverted poses (i.e. headstand, handstand, etc) stimulate blood flow from the legs to the heart, in which case it is pumped to the lungs to be freshly oxygenated.
- Sam Lee