Some Benefits of Yoga

Improves your flexibility

If I asked you to name a benefit of yoga improved flexibility is probably one of the most obvious answers. As we get older we tend to loose that rubber band stretch we had as kids.  One of the things I love about yoga is that it not only restores our flexibility but it also teaches us patience.  There are a lot of poses I couldn't do when I first started yoga. But because I stuck  with it, I noticed that poses gradually got easier to do.  

Builds muscle strength

Strong muscles are important! They protect us from things like arthritis and back pain and help prevent falls in elderly people.  When you build strength through yoga, you're balancing it with flexibility.

Increases your blood flow

Yoga gets your blood flowing. I remember connecting the importance of yoga to blood flow one day in my Anatomy and Physiology class when learning about the cardiovascular system.  Essentially, yoga gets more oxygen to your cells, which function better as a result. Twisting poses are thought to wring out venous blood from internal organs and allow oxygenated blood to flow in once the twist is released.

Drains your lymph nodes and boosts immunity

When you contract and stretch muscles, move organs around, and come in and out of yoga postures, you increase the drainage of your lymphatic system. The lymphatic system fights infections, destroys cancerous cells, and disposes of toxic waste products of cellular functioning.  So giving your lymph nodes a nice massage is critical to maintaining good health. 

Increases your heart rate

When you regularly get your heart rate up, you lower your risk of heart attack and can even relieve depression. Although all yoga isn't aerobic, certain vinyasa classes can kick your butt and boost your heart rate into the aerobic range. Even yoga flows that don’t get your heart rate up can improve your cardiovascular conditioning. Studies have found that yoga practice lowers the resting heart rate, increases endurance, and can improve your maximum uptake of oxygen during exercise.

Makes you happier

Feeling sad?  One study found that a consistent yoga practice improved depression and led to a significant increase in serotonin levels and a decrease in the levels of monoamine oxidase (an enzyme that breaks down neurotransmitters) and cortisol.