Health Benefits of Yoga: More than you think!

Yoga – what’s it good for?

I hear many of the same questions being asked about the health benefits of yoga? For example:

 

  • Why is yoga good for you?
  • Is yoga food for you?
  • Does yoga help with weight loss? and
  • Does yoga tone your body?

Yoga seems to be the thing to do with more and more people doing it.  But, often times though our knowledge of yoga (particularly if we’ve never done it or are starting out) is limited to what we can see e.g. stretching.


More than you think!

The health benefits of yoga are actually very extensive.  And many we can’t see, but we can certainly feel and they can be profound.

To quote from the spiritual classic ‘I am that – talks with Sri Nisargadatta Majaraj’, “yoga is one of the six systems of the Hindu philosophy (from yuj, to yoke or join).  Yoga teaches the means by which the individual spirit (ji-vatma) can be joined or united with the universal spirit (Paramatma).

Yoga is an holistic and mindful practice that includes physical movements (asana), breathing (pranayama), meditation (dhyana) and relaxation (savasana).

Let me expand on these a little more by getting into the health benefits of yoga. Obviously, there are many forms of yoga some of which you may have heard of e.g. karma-yoga, bhakti-yoga, raja-yoga, hatha-yoga and kundalini-yoga to name but a few.

Most western forms of yoga are based on hatha-yoga, but my aim here however is to give you a general overview of what are the benefits of doing yoga.


Health Benefits of Yoga

1. Holistic

Fundamentally, practising yoga is believed to encourage union of mind, body and spirit and restore the whole person to balance.  An holistic approach to our health is imperative.  For optimum health we need to be aware of and actively care for our mind, body and spirit.

2. Meditative

You may have read my article “Is Yoga Meditation? 4 Activities You Never Knew Were Meditation”.  In that article I explained that yes, Yoga is a form of meditation but is a moving meditation or otherwise known as a movement meditation.

Why is it meditative?  Yoga is a focused activity that keeps you focused inwardly on your body, the sensations within your body and brings relief from mind activity (or rather takes us beyond the mind) and into being (the present moment).

A relaxed mind encourages the concentration and serenity that allows spiritual development.

Thus, yoga is meditative.  And there are a multitude of benefits related to meditation that encompass mind, body and spirit.  To learn more about the benefits of meditating you may like to read my article “What are the benefits of meditating? Here’s 4 plus 1 more BIGGY”.

3. Relaxation
As yoga is meditative it stands that it is also relaxing.  Relaxation is also achieved through focus on the breath and releasing tension in the body and relaxing muscles through focused stretching/poses.

4. Physical

  • Strength, Flexibility, Tone

Practising yoga will increase your strength and flexibility (improves suppleness that helps with mobility).  Though not technically deemed an aerobic form of exercise (where breathing and heart rate increases) depending on the type of yoga you practise it may be slightly aerobic if it is a more intense or fast-paced movement class.

  • Improved respiration, energy and vitality
  • Balanced metabolism
  • Asthma symptoms may reduce
  • Weight reduction
  • Pain reduction
  • Improves digestive function
  • Cardio and circulatory health

5. Physical cleansing

This can be quite detailed and technically specific, so I will not elaborate here.  It is also dependent on the type of yoga that is practised e.g. hatha-yoga. However, at a basic level, postures (asanas) are performed in a particular sequence, designed to exercise all the major muscle groups in the correct order, to encourage good circulation and to flush toxins out of the body (The Hamlyn Encyclopedia of Complementary Health, 1996).  There is also some evidence that it helps with draining the sinuses.

6. Correct Breathing

Yoga breathing encourages making full use of the lungs, increasing energy, vitality and improving circulation.

7. Exercise System

Though yoga is considered a gentle exercise system it increases our fitness level and physical function through simple movements.

Yoga is suitable for young and old and for people with physical limitations. It’s also suitable for men and women.

For those men out there who are a little unsure, remember that most Yogi’s (a person proficient in yoga), well those certainly that we see and are labelled as yogi’s are men.

Don’t be put off by this Yogi’s posture.  We do as little or as much as we personally can when we practise yoga.

8. Stress

Yoga relaxes the mind and teaches us how to control stress, destructive emotions and unhealthy habits.

9. Combination

A combination of all of these benefits means that we will lead and experience a much healthier and happier life.


Doing it!

We can’t always get to a weekly class or afford to go say 3 times a week at $15.00 a pop.  That’s $45.00 a week which can be hefty at times.  Or, we may be a little embarrassed when we first start out with everyone else appearing to be mini yogis and would prefer to try yoga in the comfort (and safety) of our own home first.Online Yoga Classes Yoga Download

So, I did a little research recently and came across YogaDownload.

You can stream unlimited yoga anytime anywhere for 2 weeks for only $1.

It has a whole host of different classes, programs and clothing too.

Try YogaDownload for $1 Now!

I’m trying it out myself!


Final Words

I hope you have found this article about yoga useful.

As always, I share what I believe will help to improve health and wellbeing (mind, body and spirit).

Please feel free to browse my site.

If you have any questions or comments, please drop them below or email me.  I always appreciate them.

I’d also like to hear what you think of YogaDownload once you’ve tried it out.

Until next time, go forth with ease and just be!

Martine

18 Comments

  • Cherise

    I have just started yoga, and in such a short time I have already benefited tremendously. I joined mostly for the meditative and breathing benefits. But I already feel more toned and flexible. Great read
    Thanks

    • Martine

      Yes, it doesn’t take long to feel much more flexible too does it. It’s amazing how stiff you can become in a short period of time but how quickly you can work this out. I have always felt at my best when I meditate, do yoga and practice being more aware. Thanks for your coment Cherise.

  • Daniel

    I am unfortunately guilty of postponing when I do actually start my yoga classes. I have done a bit of reading on yoga and have come to believe the health benefits my body starts to gain from it.

    Benefits such as reduced stress, pain reduction, increased flexibility and the boost in cardiovascular health makes doing a yoga a no-brainer. It’s about time I start my yoga classes!

    Thanks a lot for sharing!

  • Kyle

    I have wanted to start yoga on a more regular basis. Thanks for sharing the health benefits, and tying it to meditation. For some reason I never placed yoga and meditation in the same category. Since I’m looking to increase my meditation and exercise practices, perhaps Yoga is a great fit for me.

  • Larisa Maxwell

    Hi

    I have enjoyed reading this as I am having a bit of rethink about where my life is at this point in time. I need to get a bit more active but I have not really found anything the perked my interest. Yoga is something that I have been aware of but have not found the time to try it out, I feel having the ability to stream classes at home could be the way to start for me could be.

  • Will

    Personally I’ve found Yoga great for recovery from exercising both at the gym and running. It has helped control my breathing and is great for eliminating stress! I’ve met some of kindest down to earth people doing group Yoga classes and can’t recommend the practice highly enough! You definitely have made it clear the benefits of Yoga and the positive impact it can have for people in many areas of their lives.
    -Will

  • Paulina

    It is amazing how yoga can have so many benefits when you practice. I know for myself that when I practice yoga I feel more calm and relaxed, physically and mentally. I liked the fact that you mentioned the holistic aspect of yoga, most people are interested in the physical health benefit of yoga, so it is good to mention and know that the health of the mind is as important.
    Paulina

  • Natalie

    Yoga is always something I wish I did more of- I’d also really like to try kundalini yoga as I keep hearing good things about it, and hot yoga. I like that you said it’s meditation with movement- I’ve been looking to mix up my meditation practise so maybe yoga is the perfect place to start. I may just have to try that 60 day free trial.

    Would you say it’s easier to start at home, or to get myself into a class first for that extra support?

    • Martine Brooks

      Hi Natalie, I have mixed feelings about hot yoga although some swear by it. I personally don’t think it’s necessary, but if it’s something you want to try go for it. If you are able to get to a class that’s great, I just find that sometimes it is easier to do it at home with everything else going on. But, there are benefits to both. Obviously if you do it at home it’s on your schedule and it will cost you much less. On the other hand it can be good to connect with others and have someone there to ask questions if necessary. Classes can be trial and error to find one you like. That’s also the case with online yoga too though or even DVDs. I like to do a little yoga even if it’s brief followed by a sitting meditation. The free trial is 60 days. No harm in gving it a go. Good luck and thanks for your comment and question.

  • Manuela

    Hi, I enjoy doing Yoga and this was a very well outlined article on the benefits. I try to do it regularly at home using videos on Youtube, but I must say that I would much rather participate in a class and sometimes the Youtube videos are not what I am looking for. I am a lot more motivated doing Yoga with others, but, you are right, it can get pricey and that’s what I haven’t don’t it at all lately. I struggle quite a bit finding a class on Youtube that I like, so thanks for the suggestion. I will check it out!

    • Martine Brooks

      It’s good to have an alternative to having to go to a class or if you can’t find a class that suits for any number of reasons. There are many classes to choose from so I’m sure you’ll find something to suit. Good luck!

  • Andrew

    Hi Martine,
    Good information. Thanks for sharing. I love the fact that yoga is holistic as it affects all aspects of our lives, the mental, emotional, physical and spiritual.
    When all aspects are brought into balance we will be living in ‘Heaven on Earth,’ and I believe that yoga is one of the few systems available that is able to guide us to living a satisfying, fulfilling life.
    It doesn’t matter if we do it at home or in a class, we will always benefit if we have a good attitude. Yoga is a system designed to bring about personal development, so if we always remain aware of ourselves (body, mind, and emotions) we will learn a great deal about ourselves which will help us to create a better life for ourselves and those we care about.
    I wish you all the best,
    Kind regards
    Andrew

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