Although yoga has been around for thousands of years, it has become increasingly popular in modern culture. As a form of exercise, yoga is a great way to get your body moving, but the practice also provides plenty of mental and physical benefits.
1. It allows you to practice mindfulness
Caring for our mental wellbeing is just as essential as making sure we’re physically well. In tandem with its stress-reducing benefit, yoga can also help you practice mindfulness. By focusing on your breath and your body in the moment and quieting the distractions of daily life, you can find a mindset that’s more keenly attuned to the present. The lessons you learn about being mindful in yoga can instill that same mindfulness in your daily life.
Trataka — a pose traditionally performed with a candle where you concentrate your gaze on a single point — can help settle your thoughts. The exercise helps develop the skill of internal visualization.
2. It increases flexibility
Those who practice yoga tend to be more supple, flexible, and physically able. Even if you don’t consider yourself a flexible person, yoga poses and stretches help to gradually loosen and strengthen the body. Regular yoga practice can even improve your posture, as you strengthen your core and become increasingly flexible.
You’ve probably heard of the Downward Dog pose – it’s one of the most famous yoga poses. For those who haven’t: Both hands and feet are on the mat, with your toes tucked under and your hips lifted to the sky. While helping to stretch your body and increase flexibility, Downward Dog also stimulates your circulatory system — energizing your neck, head, and shoulders.
3. It improves cardiovascular health
Yoga is also great for your overall cardiovascular fitness. As part of a healthy lifestyle, yoga can help lower blood pressure, increase lung capacity, improve respiratory function, and boost your heart rate and circulation, according to the American Heart Association.
A review of yoga and cardiovascular disease also found that the practice may even help lower your risk of heart disease, much like regular exercise. Yoga poses that stretch and exercise your muscles also help them become more sensitive to insulin, which is key for controlling blood sugar. When combined with deep breathing—which can help lower blood pressure—and stress-reducing meditation, these elements of yoga can aid in cardiovascular disease prevention.
A pose that is great for stimulating blood circulation in the brain and optic nerve is a Shoulder Stand. Lie down on the mat and extend your legs up to the ceiling, feeling the blood flow from your toes towards your heart.
4. It’s great for stress management
As mentioned, the key benefit of yoga really lies in its ability to reduce stress. Stress can manifest in both physical pain and the inability to focus, and has even been found to contribute to musculoskeletal disorders. Thanks to the combination of meditation and breathing practices, yoga is thought to calm the body and mind, and allow you to re-center your attention and awareness.
It’s important to take time each morning to de-stress and focus your energy on the day ahead, and one of the best ways to do this is with the yoga practice of Palming. This involves placing your hands over your eyes, breathing deeply, and relaxing your mind.
Thanks to its many physical and mental benefits, yoga is a great addition to your daily routine. Regular yoga practice can improve your focus — both mentally and visually — and prepare you for whatever your day may bring.
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Information from: Mashable