It’s no secret that yoga is great for you – both for body and mind. However, there are numerous great benefits of adopting a regular yoga practice that aren’t immediately obvious. In addition to strengthening your body and helping with flexibility, yoga can work to benefit your internal organs, help with anxiety, and so much more. Even though yoga has been around for thousands of years, the practice has gained popularity (especially among westerners) over the last decade.
Today there are many different styles of yoga – allowing you to choose the one that best fits your needs and even mood. From fast-paced vinyasa classes to yin yoga classes that are more about deep stretching and getting into the fascia level of tissue, the world of yoga is vast. I think most people know that yoga is good for flexibility and mobility but it is good for so much more. So, just what are some of the lesser known benefits of yoga? Read on to find out.
- Yoga is great for your organs. Many people don’t think about this aspect of yoga, but one of the top benefits of the practice is that it can benefit your internal organs. Yoga gets your blood pumping and encourages mindful, deep breathing, which is excellent for your heart and lungs. Many poses also help the digestive tract, working towards a healthier system overall. Finally, certain yoga poses can ‘massage’ the internal organs (especially twists and deep stretches performed in yin classes).
- Yoga is great for your brain. If you practice yoga in any capacity, chances are you know just how good it is for your brain. Yoga requires a great deal of mental focus, training your brain to become more mindful and calm. This is a great skill to have both in your personal and professional life. The more yoga you do, the more your brain will be stimulated and strengthened.
- Yoga encourages creativity. Not only does yoga encourage mental focus and clarity, but it can also help you tap into your creative side. Many people credit the head-clearing practice of yoga with helping them open up space in their brain – and life – for more creative ventures.
- Yoga helps with stress and type A tendencies. If you are a ‘type A’ person who always has to be in charge and control, yoga may be just what you need. The calming, nurturing nature of yoga is wonderful for relieving stress and letting bygones be bygones. This practice can help you let go of certain things and become a better person, overall.
- Yoga helps digestion. There are plenty of high-fibre and probiotic-rich foods that can help get things moving, but practicing yoga can also benefit your digestive system. There are many postures, especially twists, designed to massage the internal organs and keep food moving along. Easier digestion equals more energy for the body. In yoga, you always twist right first, then left, to follow the path of the digestive system – just a fun little fact.
- Yoga helps fight food cravings. Sometimes you can’t help but shovel food into your mouth, especially post-workout when your body is desperate for some fuel. However, yoga can build up your defences against the urge to go overboard. A study published in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association found that a steady yoga practice is tied to mindful eating, particularly through breath awareness, which strengthens the mind-body connection. The quality of the breath is a direct reflection of what is going on in the body. Yoga helps to enhance the quality of breathing.
- Yoga challenges the entire body. Are you a slave to weight machines at the gym? Well, if you do yoga regularly you are already doing your share of resistance training. When we do yoga poses, you’re putting your body in positions that require a great deal of strength to hold the poses. Considering that sports like hockey or tennis only demand resistance from approximately 15-percent of our muscles—yoga offers a whole body workout employing full support from the cardiovascular, skeletal, muscular, and endocrine systems.
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