Benefits of Yoga
April 13, 2021 | Farah Jassawalla

Benefits of Yoga

Yoga is an ancient practice that brings together mind and body. It involves different kinds of breathing exercises, meditation, and poses. 

Yoga encapsulates all kinds of benefits ranging from physical to mental health benefits. Whether you’re mentally ill, recovering from a surgical procedure, or stuck with a lifelong chronic condition, yoga will help you with the healing process and deal with emotional distress in its full capacity.

Anyone can reap the benefits of yoga, doesn’t matter if you’re five or eighty-two. Here, we discuss some of those benefits with you.

Strength and Flexibility

Yoga poses such as downward dog improve upper-body strength. Other poses that involve standing are for strengthening your hamstrings, quadriceps, and abs.

Many yoga exercises involve the stretching of muscles. Such exercises take around eight weeks to make mobility easy for you without leaving you in a state of lethargy. They also build muscle tone. 

Stress management

Yoga exercises decrease the level of cortisol — the stress hormone. It improves our mental health and lowers stress, anxiety, fatigue, and depression.

You can also increase your quality of life by combining yoga with meditation. Both practices help develop a connection between your body and mind, making you feel “zen.”

Cardiovascular health

Your heart is a vital organ, an essential life force for the human body. It takes away carbon dioxide from your tissues and supplies them with oxygen and nutrients.

Yoga exercises like Downward Dog Pose slow down the progression of diseases and lower blood pressure, preventing heart attack and stroke. It also increases cholesterol and reduces the harmful LDL (low-density lipoprotein) cholesterol. For further medical care related to cardiovascular issues, contact Shifa4U.

Mental health

Yoga is often a part of combination therapies when it comes to treating mental illnesses. Take depression, for example. Yoga breathing exercises lower the levels of ACTH (a hormone that stimulates the production of cortisol) and cortisol (the stress hormone) while increasing the levels of serotonin. Such hormonal regulation helps control the symptoms of depression.

Mindful eating

Developing healthy eating habits helps you with eating disorders (binge eating disorder, for example) and other mental health conditions closely related to the appetite, such as depression and anxiety.

Yoga shifts your focus to the present, encourages mindfulness, and helps you stay in the moment. You can apply the same principle to eating. Mindful eating involves eating slowly without thinking of anything but the act of eating itself. It helps you know when your hunger is real and is not stemming from boredom. Follow when your stomach calls and stop eating when you’re full; avoid overeating.

Such mindful eating keeps your blood sugar levels in check and maintains a healthy weight.

A good night’s sleep

Again, your sleep-wake cycle, also known as the circadian rhythm, is closely related to many health conditions. Obesity, lymphoma (cancer of the lymphatic system), hypertension (high blood pressure) and depression — all are associated with poor quality of sleep.

Making yoga a part of your daily life improves your sleep quality as it increases the secretion of melatonin (a hormone that regulates the sleep-wake cycle). It helps you sleep early, reduce sleep disturbances while you’re asleep, and wake up feeling fresh and energized. It also cuts down on your need for sleep medications.

Relief from chronic pain

Chronic pain is persistent and lasts for weeks, months, or years for millions of people. Even after recovery from injuries, the pain signaling remains active.

Yoga exercises help reduce chronic pain and improve knee mobility in patients with osteoarthritis in the knees.

For people with carpal tunnel syndrome, eight weeks of yoga reduces pain and improves grip strength more effectively than wrist splints

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Farah Jassawalla

Farah Jassawalla is a graduate of the Lahore School of Economics. She is also a writer, and healthcare enthusiast, having closely observed case studies while working with Lahore's thriving general physicians at their clinics.