If your knowledge of Yoga comes from movies and TV shows, you might think that the benefits of Yoga are limited to having a flexible body. But this is far from the truth.
The system of Yoga contains many more aspects apart from physical exercise as we’ve discussed in previous articles. And the people that came up with the system of yoga had goals of enhanced physical, mental, and spiritual well being. Modern science confirms that it worked for them.
In this post, we’ll list out ten benefits of Yoga backed by scientific facts, studies, and research.
#1 YOGA MAKES YOU CALMER
Yoga keeps you calm by moderating the release of a hormone call Cortisol. Hormones are chemicals released by different parts of the body called glands, which regulate the metabolic processes.
Cortisol is released when you get stressed which makes you alert in a crisis situation but harms your body in the long run.
#2 YOGA STRENGTHENS YOUR IMMUNE SYSTEM
By moderating the production of stress hormone (cortisol), yoga also strengthens your immune system. Certain Pranayamas (deep breathing) and sitting positions such as sukhasana have also proven to improve immunity. We will talk in detail about this in another article.
#3 YOGA CAN DECREASE RISKS OF CANCER
It is observed that people who practice yoga have significantly higher levels of antioxidant enzymes. The function of antioxidant enzymes is to breakdown and remove “free radicals” by converting dangerous oxidative products, that contribute to diseases like cancer, into water.
#4 YOGA SLOWS DOWN THE AGEING PROCESS
By increasing your antioxidant levels Yoga also provides you anti-ageing health benefits. The healthy lifestyle also results in slowing down of ageing process, and yoga certainly contributes to that.
#5 YOGA MAKES YOU HAPPIER
Practicing Yoga, and Dhyana (meditation) which is a part of yoga, naturally increases your Dopamine levels thus making you happier. Dopamine is an important part of your brain’s reward system.
As Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi notes in his very popular psychology book Flow: the psychology of optimal experience, the practice of Yoga is designed to put you into flow state.
Flow state is a psychological state in which an activity leads to enjoyment as a result of total involvement. That’s another factor which adds to your levels of happiness.
It is highly likely that Yoga’s ability to induce flow state and natural release of dopamine are co-related.
#6 YOGA HELPS YOU DEAL WITH ADDICTIONS
Every time your comes in contact with a stimulus it releases dopamine and creates urge for more dopamine, this is how addictions are developed. So, by naturally releasing dopamine, Yoga also decreases your craving for addictions.
#7 YOGA INCREASES YOUR CONCENTRATION POWERS
Regular practice of Dhyana yoga trains your mind to pay attention on one thing (your breath or a mantra or a sensation) for continued periods of time.
There are certain Asanas (yoga postures) which have proven effective in sharpening a person’s concentration. These Asanas include Tadasana (mountain pose), Vrikshasana (tree pose) and Garudasana (eagle pose)
#8 YOGA STRENGTHENS YOUR LUNGS
The practice of Pranayama, which is only one part of the 8 aspects of Yoga, strengthens the lungs and can be used to treat various lung diseases like asthma, allergic bronchitis, occupational diseases and recoveries after pneumonia and tuberculosis.
Pranayama is also helpful for nasal passages and sinuses.
We’ve already written a Beginner’s guide to Pranayama to get you started with improving your lungs.
#9 YOGA IMPROVES YOUR DIGESTIVE SYSTEM
Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) and Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) which have become common nowadays can be treated with daily practice of Pranayama. It has proven effective in improving the digestive system and providing relief to the patients of IBS and IBD.
#10 YOGA MAKES YOU MORE FLEXIBLE
You don’t need to be very flexible to start practicing but regular practice of Yoga Asanas (postures) will surely make you more flexible over time.
With 3 to 6 months of practice your body will open up and gain more flexibility.