Even though yoga is an ancient practice that is thousands of years old, it wasn’t until the 20th century that its popularity in the U.S. began to take off. Today, over 36 million Americans practice yoga and the number of yoga enthusiasts in the U.S. increased by 50% between 2012 and 2016—and continues to grow.
The reasons why are obvious: yoga doesn’t require a large amount of space nor any fancy equipment or expensive workout gear. But it also delivers numerous physical and emotional health benefits that can intensify over time when you’re dedicated to making yoga a part of your life. Here are the top reasons why you may want to practice yoga regularly.
It’s Good For Your Muscles
Yoga gently stretches your muscles and increases your flexibility. It’s a full-body workout, so you’re likely to engage just about every major muscle group when you run through a set of moves.
It also strengthens your muscles. You will not bulk up like you do when lifting weights or using a workout machine, but you will be supporting your body weight which leads to better balance and flexibility. Many yogis also do other forms of exercise and enjoy yoga as a way of keeping their muscles supple in between workouts.
It Decreases Stress
An Iranian study found that women who completed 12 yoga classes reported feeling less stressed, depressed, and anxious. Yoga forces its participants to be in the present moment by concentrating on their breathing and the poses. In doing so, your mind is no longer focused on whatever is worrying you. Yoga has also been found to decrease cortisol—your body’s stress hormone—as well as histamine, which means it may be effective at minimizing inflammation in the body.
It Helps You Sleep
Are you sleep deprived? As yoga decreases stress and anxiety, it shouldn’t be surprising, then, that it can be incorporated into your bedtime routine to help you fall asleep and stay asleep through all of the sleep stages required for your body to restore itself. The controlled breathing and poses help your body relax and prepare for slumber. It can even help people who suffer from insomnia. Do yoga poses an hour or half-hour before getting into bed for it to be the most effective.
It Decreases Pain
Yoga can be effective at easing pain, even if it’s chronic. People with back pain or rheumatoid arthritis can benefit from practicing yoga poses regularly. It’s important to note, however, that not all poses are suitable for all medical conditions. People will neck issues may find poses such as downward facing dog may exacerbate their discomfort. Consult with your doctor before taking a yoga class to learn which poses may do more harm than good.
Make Yoga a Regular Practice
Regularly practicing yoga poses can work wonders and make a difference in your daily life. Start small by performing basic yoga poses and then progressing to different types of yoga (such as hatha, bikram, kundalini, and more) to find the style that works best for you.
Here at the University of Wellness, we help you find mind-body events, courses, and workshops to improve your physical and spiritual connection. Read up on our latest blog posts to learn more about yoga, as well as learn health and wellness tips!