Yoga has been practiced for more than 5,000 years, and currently, close to 11 million Americans are enjoying its health benefits.
Yoga and Flexibility
The series of yoga poses called asanas work by safely stretching your muscles and soft tissues of your body including ligaments, tendons and the fascia sheath that surrounds your muscles This releases the lactic acid that builds up with muscle use and causes stiffness, tension, pain, and fatigue In addition, yoga increases the range of motion in joints. It may also increase lubrication in the joints. The outcome is a sense of ease and fluidity throughout your body .In one study, participants had up to 35% improvement in flexibility after only eight weeks of yoga. The greatest gains were in shoulder and trunk flexibility.
Yoga and Strength
Hatha Yoga, which focuses on less movement and more precise alignment in poses, can provide strength and endurance benefits.
Many of the poses, such as downward dog, upward dog, and the plank pose, build upper-body strength. This becomes crucial as people age. The standing poses, build strength in your hamstrings, quadriceps, and abdominal muscles. Poses that strengthen the lower back include upward dog and the chair pose.
Yoga Can Help Posture
With increased flexibility and strength comes better posture. Most standing and sitting poses develop core strength. That's because you're counting on your deep abdominals to support and maintain each pose.
Yoga Benefits Breathing
Because of the deep, mindful breathing that yoga involves, lung capacity often improves.Most forms of yoga emphasize deepening and lengthening your breath.
Yoga Means Less Stress, More Calm
Even beginners tend to feel less stressed and more relaxed after their first class.
Some research points to a boost in the hormone oxytocin. This is the so-called "trust" and "bonding" hormone that's associated with feeling relaxed and connected to others.
Yoga, Concentration, and Mood
Nearly every yoga student will tell you they feel happier and more contented after class. Recently, researchers have begun exploring the effects of yoga on depression, a benefit that may result from yoga's boosting oxygen levels to the brain.
Yoga's Benefits the Heart
Perhaps one of the most studied areas of the health benefits of yoga is its effect on heart disease. Yoga has long been known to lower blood pressure and slow the heart rate. Yoga has been associated with decreased cholesterol and triglyceride levels as well as a boost in immune system function.