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Health and Fitness News

Why Yoga?

Seven benefits of practicing yoga.

For most people, yoga starts out as a way to get exercise, manage stress, or improve health. And for some, this is enough to stay at it for a lifetime. Others, however, begin to notice new ways yoga benefits both mind and body. Ask anyone who practices yoga the reasons why they do it and you’ll hear a variety of answers.

Here are seven of the most common reasons people keep coming back to yoga over and over again.

1. Physical Health

Like all proper exercise, yoga is good for your physical health. It helps you get in shape and burns calories to you help you lose weight. Additionally, yoga improves your balance, mobility, and flexibility, while strengthening and toning muscles you didn’t know you had.

Yoga’s physical perks don’t end with a stronger, better body. It’s also helpful for boosting your immune system; lowering your risk of disease; and managing conditions such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, heart disease, obesity, chronic pain, arthritis, anxiety, depression, diabetes, chronic fatigue, multiple sclerosis, and asthma.

2. Self-Awareness

Along with meditation, journaling, and feedback from trusted friends, yoga is seen by many people as a way to increase self-awareness. As you progress through various poses and postures with a trainer who helps focus your mind, you gain a greater understanding of your thoughts, beliefs, emotions, strengths, and weaknesses. Some call this getting in touch with your true self.

3. Focus

Yoga is known to strengthen your mind as well as your muscles. Frequent reminders to reflect and relax train your mind to concentrate and focus on the moment. With an increased ability to focus and live in the moment, you gain a better sense of control over the things in your life and mind that cause stress and distraction. You’re also better able to focus on those around you.

4. Stress Management

Yoga has been shown to reduce the amount of the stress hormone cortisol in the body, reduce anxiety, and relieve tension. This is largely due to yoga’s emphasis on controlled breathing. While performing the various poses and going through mental imagery, you’re also learning to breathe.

The breathing techniques you learn during yoga can be used in everyday life. That’s because breathing is connected to your emotions. When stressed, you may forget to breathe or may take shallow breaths. At certain times, you’ve probably been told to take a deep breath—and for good reason. A deep breath tells your brain that everything is okay. Your brain then tells your adrenaline to stop pumping. Once this happens, your breathing and heart rate slows, your muscles relax, and your mind clears and quiets.

5. Brain Changes

Studies of people who regularly practice yoga show changes in the brain. As you age, your brain shrinks, but magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) of the brain has found that yoga, like meditation, slows the rate of the decline of gray matter in the brain. People who practice yoga aren’t just more relaxed. They also have larger brains that appear much younger.

6. Sleep Improvement

Exercise is known to help you sleep better. Add in the stress-relieving benefits of yoga and you should sleep even better. People who suffer from insomnia may find they fall asleep faster and stay asleep longer with regular yoga.

7. Confidence Boost

It’s not easy doing many of the postures and poses of yoga. You learn patience as you practice perfecting your form, and since it is a non-competitive form of exercise, there is no risk of being judged when you make mistakes. As you see your progress and learn from your mistakes, you gain self-confidence. This confidence will carry over into other areas of life and help you become the person you want to be.

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