It is fair to say that the majority of people first take to the yoga mat in order to enhance their physical fitness and to enjoy some relief from stress. As time goes on, it is normal that the primary reason that a person continues to do yoga may change, and that they will experience a multitude of unexpected benefits!
Today I am going to discuss some of the most impressive unexpected benefits of yoga in the hope of encouraging more people to give this ancient practice a try!
Better Upper Body Strength
When you engage in a regular yoga practice, then it is inevitable that your upper body strength will begin to increase.
If you are going to do yoga then you are going to have to involve your entire body. This means you will be calling upon your upper body strength to hold yourself in new positions. As you continue to practice, your strength is going to naturally increase. You will be able to observe this for yourself as you get better at holding the poses for longer with more stability.
Better upper body strength is not only great for the progress of your yoga practice, but will also be helpful in your life away from the mat. You can expect to enjoy better posture, a decreased risk of upper body injury, and to enhance your performance during other physical activities.
Boost Your Mood
Exercise is a fantastic tool for people who experience depression or anxiety. It can help to get those wonderful endorphins flowing around your body, whilst also giving you a sense of accomplishment – both of which can be fantastic for your mental health!
If you do not struggle with depression or anxiety, but do sometimes find that your mood is low, then exercise can truly be a great pick-me-up.
On those days when you are feeling low, then it can be difficult to motivate yourself to exercise, or perhaps even do much at all. Pushing through these feelings and engaging in a physical act of self-care, such as going to a yoga class or hitting the gym, can help you to move through these feelings. This makes it much more likely that you will end the day on a positive note with brighter thoughts about the following day!
Alleviate Back Pain
Back pain can be a seriously debilitating problem. It may be something that you experience consistently, or even just from time to time. Depending on the severity of your back pain, you may find that it prevents you from doing certain things. You may also find that this pain impacts your mood, energy levels, and ability to sleep well.
Increasing how well the back is able to move, stretch and function, whilst also helping to alleviate pain, is one of the best unexpected benefits of yoga. The gentle movements that the body will flow through during a yoga class can help to bolster the back muscles. The whole back will also get a a good stretch.
Protecting the health of your back before a problem presents is a smart move for your future health, and this is something that yoga can help with!
Some experts believe that yoga has the potential to help increase fertility due to how well it can decrease stress. There are of course several factors at play as to how easy it is for a person to conceive, but keeping stress levels down has certainly been shown to be important!
It is also thought that as yoga can help to increase blood flow to the reproductive organs, that this can better enable conception.
The rate at which your body converts food and drink into energy, burning up calories as it does so, is known as your metabolic rate. Keeping active is a key contributor to upping your metabolic rate!
Most types of yoga require you to get your body moving, thereby helping to keep your metabolism up.
Additionally, the function of the circulatory system can impact the rate of your metabolism. If blood is not moving around your body at an optimum rate then this can slow the metabolism down. The deep breathing exercises that are called upon during a yoga class can be great for increasing blood flow. These exercises can also be utilised away from the mat!
Protect Heart Health
Working to maintain the optimum function of your cardiovascular system is one of the most important things that you can do for your health and longevity. In order to do this, it is important that you regularly get your heart rate up.
Certain types of yoga, such as the more restorative classes, perhaps won't offer ample heart-protecting benefits. But certainly the more vigorous classes can be great for this!
Arthritis is a condition that can afflict absolutely anyone, and can cause fairly consistent pain and discomfort. Arthritis can also reduce the normal range of function of the joints, decreasing the independence that a person is used to.
Regularly practicing yoga has been shown to help arthritis patients lower their pain levels, whilst also improving their vitality, ease of movement and quality of life.
The relaxing postures of a gentle yoga practice can be great for soothing insomnia and helping you to rest better each night.
Restorative yoga poses are arguably the best for aiding sleep, and you can choose a selection to flow through right before bedtime. You might even choose some poses that you can actually do in your bed, such as child's pose, or legs up the wall pose. This will mean that you can comfortably ease into a lying down meditation after your flow, and help yourself to find a deep sleep.
Restorative yoga poses are fantastic for calming the mind and body, and can also help to improve circulation. The combination of these things can go a long way to helping you get a good night's sleep!
As you continue to practice yoga, and feel your stress levels naturally drop, you may also observe that your memory is enhanced.
As this tension is released from your mind, and also from your body, your capacity for cognitive function can increase. This can mean that we are able to think with greater clarity, and more easily recall things.
Yoga Tips for Total Beginners
It can be easy to feel out of your depth as a total beginner to yoga. With so many different types of yoga to choose from, and so much new knowledge to soak up, it can be be difficult to feel as though you are getting it right.