Seven benefits of yoga

Yoga is an ancient practice that originated in the Indus Valley around 5,000 years ago. Eventually, yoga made its way to the US, and even though the practice was heavily westernized, anyone who incorporates yoga into their practice can reap the many benefits for their body, mind, and soul. Unlike many other forms of exercise, yoga does not discriminate. Regardless of age, weight, or injuries anyone can practice yoga, and the instructor will always provide modifications of poses and encourage people to take rest when needed. Although yoga has many smaller benefits, these are the top seven:
1. Increases flexibility and muscle tone. In a yoga class, an instructor takes the class through a series of poses that stretch and strengthen different body parts. After a few months, flexibility increases and muscles will become more defined.

2. Aids weight loss. Yoga helps lower cortisol levels, which is a hormone that is involved in our brain’s “fight or flight” reaction. Cortisol is responsible for storing fat, and the higher the level of cortisol the more fat is stored, therefore by lowering cortisol levels in addition to providing aerobic or anaerobic exercise, yoga can help people lose weight.

3. Alleviates symptoms. According to the National Institutes of Health, yoga has been linked to relieving some of the symptoms associated with diabetes, cancer, drug addiction, arthritis, high blood pressure, heart disease, migraines, and so on.

4. Improves mental and emotional health. According to Harvard University, yoga is very helpful in reducing anxiety and depression, because it regulates a person’s stress response system by lowering blood pressure and heart rate as well as regulating respiration. Since yoga emphasizes the harmony between body and mind, most classes will also have a meditative aspect that has proven to effectively reduce PTSD symptoms.

5. Detoxifies body. During yoga, the poses stretch and twist parts of the body which facilitates the removal of waste products such as carbon dioxide, lactic acid, and lymphatic fluid from the deep tissues, which cleanses the body.

6. Boosts immune system. Many poses in yoga can stimulate the thymus, the lymphatic system, and the nervous system which can result in a boosted immune response making people who practice yoga less susceptible to colds.

7. Heightens mental and intuitive awareness. According to a study done by the University of Illinois, a short 20-minute session of hatha yoga can improve focus and information retention. Another study of yoga and meditation practitioners found that they exhibited greater fluid intelligence and brain resilience in ageing compared to the control group.
Yoga has countless benefits, and everyone can benefit in some way from adding in a yoga class or two to their schedules. From weight loss to studying and sleeping better to increased happiness, yoga can help make all those goals attainable.