No other physical activity could match how yoga embraces a full rejuvenation and rehabilitation of mind, body and spirit. For whatever reason you might decide to embark on a yoga journey, the benefits you’ll gain will be more than what you probably aimed for in the first place.
For some, yoga might be a means to lose weight, heal a bothersome shoulder or gain strength. You will eventually come to realize though that yoga gives you more than what you expected and you might just end up being surprised at the changes that happen to your body with the regular practice of yoga.
How could yoga possibly replace an aerobic exercise as a means to burn calories and lose weight? How can it make me a happier person? How can it cure me of my illness? These are just some questions you might never have thought of to ask.
Activities such as running or cycling raise your heart rate enough to burn those calories and have been generally accepted as some of the best means to lose excess weight but regular yoga practitioners will be quick to disagree.
A study was conducted regarding the effects of yoga and how it changed people’s psychological, physical, mental and emotional states through practice. 20 subjects participated in the study and reported major changes in their overall health and wellbeing.
The study concluded that yoga benefits not just the body but provides positive changes to a person’s mindset and outlook.
So what happens to your body when you practice yoga?
Yoga affects almost all major systems in your body. It may look easy to maneuver those yoga poses and you may wonder how yoga can possibly change your life as a lot of people might say.
A combination of postures, breathing and meditative practices push your body to its limits and cultivates mindfulness, strength and endurance. Before you start your yoga practice, you need to know how yoga affects your body systems in order for you to understand how this could work for you.
How does yoga affect your muscles?
Every yoga pose you do requires you to stretch the muscles, nerves, and glands in your body.
Stretching your muscles increase your blood flow bringing valuable oxygen and nutrients to your active tissues. It builds muscle strength that helps your muscles function properly and repair damaged tissues more quickly. When you stretch those muscles, the muscle fibers lengthen and re-align enabling them to recover from damage.
It also allows the movement of sugar from your bloodstream into your muscles, thereby lowering your blood sugar levels. The stretches from yoga poses develops flexibility and help you avoid stiffness and tightness. With regular yoga practice, your muscles become less prone to damage and reduce your chances of developing osteoarthritis.
Why is proper breathing essential in the practice of yoga?
An essential component of the practice of yoga is your breathing. It is the essence of yoga. Yoga instructors emphasize conscious breathing and connecting to your breaths.
You need to pay attention to how you breathe and when you breathe. Inhaling allows energy to enter your body and exhaling helps you release tensions in your body.
Deep breathing in yoga also stretches your lungs. Stretching your lungs makes it stronger and more able to take in precious oxygen into your system. When tensions become tough, isn’t it wonderful to just breathe?
Proper breathing techniques developed through the regular practice of yoga allows you to oxygenate your body systems making it faster to rejuvenate and rehabilitate. Apart from this, conscious breathing brings you in a state of semi-meditation when you become totally connected to your body.
How does yoga improve your cognitive function?
A study was conducted among 30 young college students on the effects of yoga on cognitive functions compared to aerobic exercises. Cognitive tests were conducted after the yoga session and after the aerobic exercise session and results found indicated that scores were much better for the yoga sessions compared to the aerobic exercises.
After yoga practice, the participants to the study processed information much quicker were better able to focus their mental resources, learn and hold information more effectively than after the aerobic exercise.
Because yoga emphasizes awareness and focuses on breathing and improves specific parts of the body, the study concluded that yoga improves general attention abilities. Some participants also reported feeling tired and fatigued after their aerobic exercises compared to feelings of relaxation and calmness after yoga.
Practicing yoga on a regular basis will improve the way you process information and understand your thoughts through your experiences and senses. It gives you a sharper, more focused mind able to handle the challenges that come your way everyday.
How does yoga keep your heart healthy?
The calming exercise of yoga benefits your heart health. It relaxes your mind and body through breathing and mental focus thereby reducing stress. Emotional stress wreaks havoc on our bodies when it releases cortisol and adrenaline. The tension narrows our arteries resulting in high blood pressure and affects the way our heart functions.
The Yoga My Heart Study sought to examine the effects of yoga on patients with Atrial Fibrillation. The study also looked into how depression and anxiety were affected by regular yoga practice. Participants underwent twice-weekly 60 minutes of yoga sessions for 3 months.
It concluded that yoga improved the patient’s symptoms, heart rates, blood pressures and exhibited favorable scores for anxiety and depression. It also noted the patient’s improved quality of life.
Exerting physical effort is not the only way to achieve a healthy body. Numerous studies and research have been made about the effects of yoga on our health. This is because people have noticed how much change it brings to our overall health and wellbeing. Yoga’s calming and relaxing poses benefits not just the body but calms the mind as well.
Regular yoga practice builds a mind-body connection. It brings about long-term results that change lifestyles and habits and allow us to live a better quality of life.
Let us know if you think yoga will work for you or if you have been practicing yoga. It would be great to hear from you.