Mind Body and Spirit Yoga – Yoga Benefits for the Mind and Body
If your body aches, your emotions are running hot, or your mind is scattered, yoga may be for you. Yoga is a set of ancient Indian techniques that regularize a practitioner’s breathing, tone the inner organs, purge the body of toxins, and stretch and strengthen the muscles. Whether you’re an experienced yogi or yogini or you’re just getting started, here are some of the yoga benefits you can expect from a regular practice.
A Calmer, More Focused Mind
One of the more famous yoga benefits is its ability to calm the mind. In yoga positions and in yogic breathwork, or pranayama, practitioners deepen and regularize the breathing. When the body’s panicked or stressed and increasing levels of adrenalin and cortisol, these hormones increase the heartrate, as well as the speed and the shallowness of the breath. But with yoga, the heartrate decreases and breaths slow down and deepen, which helps the body decrease levels of these stress-creating hormones. As a result, yogis and yoginis find that their mind feels much clearer and calmer after a yoga session.
A Leaner, More Toned Body
Though this practice offers inner peace, one of the more famous yoga benefits is what it can do for your figure. Yoga isn’t an aerobic exercise, so it doesn’t burn fat, but it does strengthen the muscles. This makes the body more taut and supple. But the changes aren’t just cosmetic: as practitioners continue, their increased strength and flexibility allows them to assume more challenging yoga poses, so they can reap more exciting yoga benefits.
Better Posture and Fewer Muscle Pains
Many people come to this practice seeking one of the most storied yoga benefits: decreased pain. Many muscle pains are actually overuse injuries, or postural imbalances. If you suffer from back pain, for instance, this is often caused by excessive hunching, or by walking with a sway back. Chairs and desks crunch our bodies into positions that tighten certain muscles, like the hip flexors, and the chest, while lengthening and weakening the muscles in the back.
Over a few weeks of regular practice, practitioners usually notice one of the more desirable yoga benefits: these muscle imbalances correct themselves. Muscles that are tight stretch and lengthen, and weak muscles strengthen, so the body can more naturally assume healthier postures that result in less pain, and decreased wear and tear on the body.
Deep yogic breathing, as in some poses or in a regular pranayama practice, produces yoga benefits in the form of clearer breathing in everyday life. The sinuses and bronchial passages clear, reducing some of the symptoms of allergies, asthma or even sinus infections. Some pranayama exercises can even strengthen the muscles of the throat and mouth, resulting in decreased snoring during sleep — one of the most unexpected yoga benefits!
Many people come to yoga with no experience. They may think of themselves as weak or inflexible. Yoga teachers are carefully trained to adjust the difficulty of poses for individual bodies. One yoga benefit is for many people completely unexpected: they find a physical activity that they can fall in love with, and start on a journey to become healthier, stronger and happier.