Yoga: Benefits for the Body and Mind

Yoga is a mind-body practice that involves breath control, specific bodily postures, and mindfulness. It’s a comprehensive yet simple system that promotes physical and psychological wellness. The workout regimen improves your flexibility, strengthens your muscles, bones, and joints, and stimulates your body’s natural way of balancing itself. We’ve called out eight ways that practicing yoga benefits your physical and psychological well-being.

Slashes stress

Yoga is a serious stress buster. Practicing for just a few minutes each day changes the way your body responds to day-to-day stressors by slowing down physiological markers of stress, like your heart rate, and decreasing stress-related chemicals.

The result? Your mind and body relax, and you feel cool as a cucumber, even in the face of bumper-to-bumper traffic.

Boosts brain power

While practicing yoga, you focus your mind on your breathing and are aware of your body’s posture. This type of focus is similar to meditation, and the benefits include a boost in concentration and memory. The brain-boosting benefits of yoga extend beyond your workout, enabling your brain to perform better.

Fights diabetes

The next time you find yourself in the downward dog pose, consider that you’re fighting against diabetes. Just as regular exercise has a positive influence on blood sugar levels, yoga improves your body’s sensitivity to insulin, a hormone that controls blood glucose levels. In people with Type 2 diabetes, regularly practicing yoga lowers blood sugar and improves the way the body handles glucose.

Strengthens joints

Yoga exercises take your joints through a full range of motion, building strength and improving joint function. It also boosts joint flexibility and strengthens the muscles surrounding your joints. If you struggle with joint pain, yoga can provide relief and protect your joints from further breakdown.

Regularly practicing yoga has been shown to reduce the pain, stiffness, and swelling caused by osteoarthritis, the most common form of arthritis.

Protects your spine

You build strength in your core when you practice yoga. Think of your core as the center where every movement originates. Having a strong core makes your spine less vulnerable to injury.

Yoga movements decompress the shock absorbers between your vertebrae known as spinal discs. The gentle twisting and bending improves the mobility of your spine, and the results are better posture, reduced back pain, and lower risk of back injuries.

Lowers blood pressure

Hypertension affects nearly half of adults in the United States and increases the risk for heart disease. Incorporating yoga into your exercise regimen is a healthy way to protect your heart. The calming movements and focus training drops blood pressure and improves circulation.

If you have high blood pressure, regular yoga practice is shown to significantly improve systolic and diastolic blood pressure. The top number — systolic — refers to the force against your artery walls when your heart beats; the bottom number — diastolic — measures the pressure on your blood vessels between beats.

Improves bone health

Yoga may protect against osteoporosis. Certain yoga poses do an excellent job at strengthening your bones. Many poses require you to lift your own weight, and it’s this weight-bearing aspect that helps to keep your bones healthy as you age.

Performing 20 minutes of yoga each day is shown to increase bone density and reverse the bone loss seen in osteoporosis. Additionally, if you have osteoporosis, yoga increases balance and coordination, which helps lower the risk of falling — a major cause of fractures in people with bone loss.

Combats depression and anxiety

With its ability to lower blood pressure, heart rate, and stress hormones, yoga has been proven to fight mood problems like anxiety and depression. Its positive effects on your body’s stress response and the release of relaxing and happy chemicals ward off the blues. Doing just 20 minutes of gentle yoga poses has mood-altering effects, relieving stressful thoughts, and boosting your feeling of well-being.

At 23 Sandstone Body & Mind Spa, we believe in whole health. From yoga classes and nutrition counseling to specialized spa services, we help you look and feel your best. Call or book online today to schedule a consultation.

Author
Dr. Alice Mckee Dr. McKee grew up in Leland, Mississippi, before attending both the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) and Barnard College of Columbia in New York City, where she earned her bachelor’s degree. Before beginning medical school, she worked at the National Institute of Health in Bethesda, Maryland.

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