Yoga is a practice that goes back thousands of years, yet a lot of people see it as a low-impact workout designed to get them into shape. Yes, practicing yoga regularly will improve your flexibility and tone your muscles as well as a lot of other workouts, but it also has other benefits that a lot of people tend to overlook. Here are just a few to keep in mind.
Yoga and Stress Relief
Just about everyone has heard anecdotes about how yoga can help you relax and make you feel great, but that claim has actually been backed by scientific research. The reason why yoga is so effective in combating stress is because it increases levels of the neurotransmitter GABA in your body. GABA lifts your mood and suppresses the body’s reaction to stress, effectively helping you to relax and feel happier overall.
Yoga and Creativity
Since yoga is so effective in clearing your mind and reducing anxiety, it may also improve creativity. Writers, artists and other creative types work best when they can relax. Their minds aren’t jumbled with all the little worries and chores that we all have to deal with every day, and they can focus on their creative endeavors with a clear head. This may seem like a minor benefit, but to a stressed-out writer and artist it could make all the difference in the world.
Yoga and Your Heart
Exercise is always good for your heart, but yoga is almost in a class by itself. Stress can actually cause plaque to build up on the insides of your arteries. That plaque can form into clots and eventually cause heart attacks. Since yoga is such an effective stress reliever, it becomes one of the best free cardiovascular treatments you can imagine. Yoga can also help decrease inflammation, which in turn helps decrease the risk of heart disease and other serious medical issues.
Yoga and Pain Relief
Yoga is a gentle, low-impact activity when it is done correctly, which makes it ideal for those with chronic joint pain. It’s also routinely suggested for cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy. The increased levels of GABA and gentle movement are incredibly helpful for anybody experiencing chronic pain who may not be able to engage in other exercise activities.
Yoga and Sleep
Finally, the many positive effects of yoga may be able to help you sleep. Yoga calms you down, relieves pain and is relaxing even when the actual poses seem difficult. All of that can combine into a better night’s sleep.
While yoga is indeed beneficial for many reasons, it can be challenging for those who aren’t prepared for it. Many people get into yoga thinking it will be an easy way to get into shape only to do something incorrectly and injure themselves. Always remember to take yoga classes with a certified and experienced instructor, and consult your doctor before beginning any new exercise program.