The Benefits Of Yoga
5 Ways Your Practice Can Improve Your Life - By Emma Mills
Reading time: 4 minutes
I hear you, you’ve heard it all before, that yoga is great for increasing flexibility, it eases back pain, is good for heart health, weight loss and getting some quality shut eye. Not to mention reducing stress, easing anxiety symptoms, depression and many other mental health benefits.
But what happens when you step off your mat?
Is it possible to benefit after your 10 minute morning flow?
If your already a practising yogi I don’t think you need much telling how amazing yoga can be for your body and mind, that even in your darkest most stressful days yoga is there for you, you step on the mat feeling anxious, tense maybe angry but you know you need to because when you've finished your practice you can think clearly again and face your challenges head on.
Although, I have no doubt at all that this is not an opinion shared by everyone because I hear it daily, I see the way a more sceptical mind will look at me when I say I have to pause my whole day at 11am to practice yoga because I know that if I don’t I will feel dishevelled, unorganized and agitated before the end of the day.
But hey humour me for a minute while I tell you all the wonderful ways yoga can help enhance your life!
1. Muscle strength – muscle strength enhances the quality of your life which in turn gives you the ability to easily carry out everyday activities that you might otherwise struggle with, our muscles protect our joints from injury, giving us better balance reducing the risk of falls, as we age this can help maintain your independence, yoga does not just increase muscle strength but also flexibility.
2. Improves your posture – we all do it, we find ourselves slumped at a desk when we are exhausted, walking with our shoulders hunched when the rain is heavy and stress and tension are coursing throughout the body and shoulders. When we practice yoga asanas or poses we take the time to position our body correctly, we notice the joints lining up, we begin to straighten the spine, balancing the head directly on top of the neck working all the way down to the feet which support and ground us. By practising yoga daily we are continually telling our body that our back and neck muscles are happier if they are in the correct posture and preventing long term conditions such as joint problems and arthritis.
3. Lifts your mood – many studies into consistent yoga practice have found that it improves feelings of depression and increases the level of gamma-aminobutyric acid or (GABA) a chemical in the brain that helps regulate nerve activity. Just a single class of yoga can begin changing your brain chemistry and improve your mood. Those that stick to a regular yoga routine report feeling happier, healthier, less fatigue, anxiety and anger.
4. Better quality sleep – we all know that a good nights sleep is essential, some benefits include, reducing the risk of serious disease, improving brain performance, mood and immune system sounds great doesn’t it? But when those z’s are hard to come by and you just can’t drop off you can be left feeling the complete opposite, that’s where you guessed it, yoga can be useful. Restorative styles of yoga such as Yin or Nidra can provide relief from from the hustle and bustle of modern life, encouraging the mind to wind down and signalling the nervous system to slow down.
5. Boosts immune system functionality – the immune system is incredibly important to us, it has a vital role in protecting the body from harmful substances, germs and cell changes, anything that could make you ill you bet your immune system is trying its best to come to the rescue, in fact we rarely give it much thought until we do find ourselves heading downhill with the winter flu. Traditional yoga asanas or poses do help but what we really want to tap into is the breathe (pranayama) and meditation, it has strong scientific backing, it appears to help boost our immune systems when we are beginning to feel we might need it.
Don’t take my work for it, try a daily yoga practice for yourself then come back to me with your results!
Emma is a 200hr qualified yoga teacher, specialising in Hatha Yoga and breathwork, aside from this she has completed many CPD yoga courses and recently completed a 'flexibility workshop'.
She is currently teaching voluntarily online and being inclusive to every student is always at the forefront of her mind when setting up a class.
Using social media and the discovery of Instagram she has been able to reach out and share the joys of practicing yoga with many other likeminded people.