Is yoga the new fountain of youth, or an overhyped new trend? Despite the fact that yoga has been one of most well-known fitness practices out there, numerous people still don’t believe the yoga benefits and the hype surrounding it. Before it became a mainstream thing in the United States, yoga has been practiced in the East for countless of centuries not only for fitness, but for its health benefits as well.
“Is yoga the new fountain of youth, or an overhyped new trend?”
Sure, 90 percent of folks practice yoga to improve their flexibility, to stay fit, and to manage their stress levels. However, there is so much more to it than that. It helps provide practitioners with a sound mind, body, and soul—to the point where doctors report that yoga has helped their patients lower their blood pressure and cholesterol and that it can also help prevent the decline of gray matter in your brain in the long run.
If those little facts still won’t convince you to introduce the ancient art of yoga to your weekly routine, here are just some of the benefits that you can get from practicing it. No need to wait for many sessions before you feel any changes, because some of these can take effect within an hour or so after you’re done. The longer you do yoga, the better the effects are to your mind and body.
Immediate Benefits Of Yoga
It can alter gene expression
AKA altering genes that affect your immune cells. While you may not really feel this, it’s still a good side effect to doing yoga. This means you won’t get sick as much or as quickly (which is essentially a win-win, especially if you’re a parent who just cannot get sick at any moment.) One research even reveals that meditation and yoga can change “genes associated with energy metabolism, mitochondrial function, insulin secretion, and telomere maintenance were turned on, while those involved in inflammation were turned off.” And the longer you practice yoga, the better the improvements are to your system.
Brain function improves
Many variations of yoga help calm the mind and allow for the brain to function clearer. With Hatha yoga specifically (which focuses more on your physical posture instead of your flow or sequence,), you only need 20 minutes to boost your focus, improve cognitive function, and have a better memory. A study from the University of Illinois showed that those who practiced Hatha yoga had better performance of brain function tests after a 20-minute session compared to those who do aerobic exercises.
Helps with lowering stress levels
It’s no joke why so many people credit yoga for helping them relax and release stress. There are countless of studies out there and testimonials from people who have first-hand experience with yoga’s powers when it comes to de-stressing.
Meditation alone is already effective enough, but doing yoga makes you more aware of the connection between your mind and your body. Stress can put your body into overdrive, thereby affecting how your mood changes daily. So why choose to have negative effects to your body and soul when you can change everything for the better by doing yoga a few times per week instead?
Your flexibility and strength will improve
Those who practice Bikram yoga (a variation of yoga that requires 90 minutes of performing a series of 26 postures inside a heated room) have reported better flexibility and strength after each session. They’re also the ones with less body fat compared to practitioners of other forms of yoga.
Wouldn’t it be nice to have less body fat and have better flexibility and core strength? It’s insane how we all forget to develop these because we’re too busy being stagnant at our day-to-day jobs.
Health Benefits Of Yoga After A Few Months
Better lung capacity
You don’t have to be a smoker to have horrible lung capacity, especially for those who live in the city. No matter how clean you think the air you breathe is, air pollution will still wreak havoc on those fun bags inside your ribs. Your vital lung capacity gets improved immensely and you’ll find yourself getting less winded while climbing up the stairs once you do yoga regularly.
A few months of practicing Hatha yoga can improve your vital lung capacity. It’s essentially the amount of air that you exhale after taking a long, deep breath.
Helps reduce chronic neck and back pain
Just a month of practicing Iyengar yoga (a variation of Hatha yoga that focuses on proper posture and alignment with the use of props) can help significantly reduce chronic neck pain in adults. Aside from that, people with chronic back pain have used the same variation to reduce discomfort and improve their moods—which they claim is more effective than a standard medical treatment. Another bonus? Iyengar yoga improves the sense of balance, which prevents older adults from suffering from falls.
However, there are some yoga poses and variations out there that might cause more damage to your neck and back if you don’t do them properly. So always make sure you have an experienced yogi present during sessions if you’re still a beginner. Some yoga practitioners who opt to do their first few tries of the art end up straining their backs and necks instead of experiencing the proper benefits it could have for you.
Helps lower blood pressure
While yoga may not be of much help if your hypertension is off the charts, it can still provide improvements for those who have mild to moderate levels of it. Researchers from the University of Pennsylvania found that yoga practitioners had better blood pressure levels compared to those who use other nutrition and/or weight/fitness programs. You’re more relaxed and fit, so your arteries won’t have to put too much work into pumping blood to your heart (thus saving you from expensive medical bills due to high blood pressure).
Better sexual performance
Yoga is from the same land of people who invented the Kama Sutra, so it’s no surprise that it can also help with your sex life. Since practicing yoga can help you become more in tune with your body, it can help you determine what you want during sex, paving the way to better satisfaction with your significant other in the bedroom. Increased flexibility also leads to the ability to engage in new sexual positions which weren’t previously possible.
We all know that yoga can help lower stress levels, so everyone should also be aware that the long-term practice of it can relieve anxiety, since it helps increase the gamma-aminobutyric (GABA) levels of the brain. Lower levels of this has been attributed to depression and various other disorders.
It is common for people who suffer from anxiety disorders to practice yoga to reduce the frequency of their panic attacks. Although it’s still not as good or effective as medications, yoga is the go-to workout for those who want to supplement those meds. They remain fit and mentally sound.
Help maintain blood sugar levels for diabetics
While yoga may not be a magical cure for diabetes, it’s still a great regimen to help with the maintenance of blood sugar levels in the body. Around 3 to 4 months of yoga (along with medication and dietary recommendations by an endocrinologist of course) can reduce a diabetic’s body mass index and help with the decline of blood sugar levels.
Long-Term Health Benefits Of Yoga
Reduced risk of heart disease
People who practice yoga(along with a healthy lifestyle outside of it) have significantly lower blood pressure, cholesterol, and blood sugar levels. This, in turn, puts them out of risk of suffering from cardiovascular diseases.
Better weight maintenance
Researchers have discovered that regular practitioners of yoga have better body mass index and better weight maintenance compare to other adults. They also shed extra weight quicker compared to those who are at the same health levels but don’t practice yoga.
Strengthens the bones
Yoga has been discovered to help older adults have better bone density. Since ageing can disintegrate a person’s bones, researchers were surprised that those who did yoga actually ended up gaining bone instead.
Additional Reasons To Do Yoga
The following are just some additional effects of yoga that you may experience by practicing it.
Develops muscle strength
When you have strong muscles, you don’t just look fit and strong, but you also get enough solid meat on your bones to support your whole body. More lean muscle mean less back pain/arthritis and better balance. When you use yoga to build your strength and muscles, you also end up adding flexibility to the mix- making it a complete workout.
Improves your posture
From births to our adulthoos, the head is like a bowling ball on top of our shoulders. If your spine is erect and structured properly, your neck and back muscles won’t have to get strained while supporting your head. Bad posture can make you feel fatigue and cause issues in your back, neck, and other joints and muscles. Doing yoga will teach you proper posture and you won’t have to suffer from long-term effects of having a strained spine (and many other negative poor posture-inducing effects)
Inhibits the breakage of joints and cartilage
Each yoga session you have puts your joints into good use. You’re essentially “oiling up” your joints by doing yoga. This helps keep your whole body running smoothly, no matter how hard you’re working.
Drains your lymph nodes
The lymph nodes are tubes inside our bodies that contain lymph (a thick fluid that can be found within immune cells). Having too much of this liquid may inhibit your body’s natural defenses against infection, germs, and diseases. By moving and stretching your body, yoga drains the lymph nodes.As a result, this can significantly reduce the levels of toxic waste in your system as well as improve your immunity.
It can make you happier
Yoga isn’t the magical cure for depression or other mental health issues. But a study found that practicing yoga consistently helped improved depression and stimulated the ride of serotonin levels in the body, therefore effectively improving the mood and happiness of a person
It can kick start a healthy lifestyle
When you’re doing yoga regularly and it becomes a habit, it can help you with forming other positive habits and improving other aspects of your life (including diet, relationships, etc). You most likely won’t want to go back to feeling sluggish or eating junk once you’ve done yoga religiously.
Improves your focus
One important component of yoga is focusing on the present. The consistent practice of yoga can improve your IQ, reaction time, memory, and coordination. Those who dabble in Transcendental Meditation can also enjoy the benefits of recalling things better and being less distracted from their thoughts.
Your nervous system gets relaxed
Yoga essentially gives your central nervous system a “deep massage,” which can help with different aches and pains. Women who are trying to get pregnant (or even just relax) commonly work on improving their blood flow during yoga sessions, so their system can remain fresh and healthy. They get less stressed and don’t get sick as much because their mind is relaxed.
Helps prevent chronic tension
Chronic tension is a common problem among adults because of poor aligment/posture and other bad habits. A simple grip of something can cause stress and soreness to someone who has chronic tension. When you begin practicing yoga, your body and mind end up connecting and your body will tell your brain where you body keeps all of the tension within.
Helps you sleep better
Since yoga is a meditative technique as well, it can provide you a better way of helping induce sleep, especially if you’re a bit of an insomniac. Restorative asana, yoga nidra , Savasana, pranayama, and meditation encourage pratyahara, which means “turning inward into the senses” This helps put your nervous system in a more relaxed and calm state.
With all these benefits of yoga from 20 minutes after a session to years of practicing, it’s probably not that far-fetched to think that yoga (when practiced properly) is a new form of the fountain of youth—or at least, something that can extend one’s youth. Since it’s been practiced in the East for so long, it’s definitely not just a passing fad popularized by celebrities. Yoga is a real health and fitness practice that has proven effects in the short and long run.
Did you benefit from this article? Did I miss anything? Any feedback or suggestions would be appreciated – please post in the comments and I will personally respond!
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