Let Us Count the Physical Benefits of Yoga!
I’m still basking in the afterglow of the yoga retreat I did last month in Hawaii. Last month, I wrote a post on the 10 Spiritual & Mental Health Benefits of Yoga. In this post, I’m focusing on the physical benefits of yoga.
12 Physical Benefits of Yoga
There are MANY physical benefits of yoga! Here are 12 of my favorites:
1. Yoga helps us sleep better.
It’s recommended that adults get 7-9 hours of sleep per night for optimum health and performance.
Most of us get MUCH less than this—and some of us even suffer from insomnia. Why? Because our NON-STOP society has created habits where we trade sleep for more hours working and getting stuff done and/or we are having side effects from menopause, stress, anxiety, and depression.
Besides our butts dragging, another system of a lack of sleep is a compromised immune system. Our risk of heart problems and cancer takes a jump.
And, guess what? We’re actually NOT more efficient when we put off sleep. Actually, the opposite is true.
There have been actual scientific studies that prove yoga helps us sleep better. Even menopausal women doing yoga slept better.
If you have any sleep issues whatsoever, consider doing your yoga workout later in the evening AND pay attention to your sleep patterns. Watch closely what happens as a result.
Sweet dreams naturally…without medication!
2. Yoga improves our ability to focus.
When we aren’t present in the moment, we lack focus and this decreases our productivity.
The great news is that yoga has also been scientifically proven to help us focus by centering us in the present moment.
At the center of yoga is an attention to mindfulness. By having us focus on our bodies, posture, and breathing, yoga calms and trains our minds so it can better tune out distracting thoughts.
As a result, we are able to react quicker, remember more, and even think better.
Being fully present when we plan, prep and shop for our food can completely change our relationship to food! Rather than being something we do unconsciously out of habit, nourishing our physical bodies becomes one of the most meaningful things we do in our day.
3. Yoga burns calories.
Yoga is NOT easy and, despite being low on the cardio spectrum, definitely helps us burns calories.
4. Yoga relieves stress.
Stress is worse when we don’t exercise, because our muscles stay tense, our breathing shallow, and our brain busy.
Stress relief is one of the biggest benefits of yoga! Yoga helps regulate our cortisol levels (the stress hormone) and promote general well being.
As I’m sure you know, stress is behind SO many health problems—from migraines to heart attacks.
Yoga shows us where we hold tension and gently helps us work it out. It also connects us with our inner strength so we can gain a sense of perspective that helps us deal with the frustrations and challenges of our everyday life.
Here’s exactly how:
- Rhythmic whole body exercises simultaneously exercise and relax the body AND pump it full of fresh blood, oxygen, and other nutrients;
- Consciously focusing on breathing, which helps us relax;
- Meditation to quiet our minds, still our bodies, and reconnect us to our inner resources.
Yoga slows down the mental loops of frustration, regret, anger, fear, and desire that stress us out. Studies have actually found that yoga reduces blood pressure—a sure sign that it can calm us down!
Doing yoga can literally add years to your life and life to your years.
5. Yoga improves our flexibility.
This is one of my favorite physical benefits of yoga—and exactly why I always come back to yoga if I stray for awhile.
Improved flexibility is usually one of the first and most noticeable benefits of yoga that will kick in. When you start, you may not be able to touch your toes. One of the most fulfilling things about yoga is to watch this change.
Yoga gradually loosens muscles all over our body—poses that we can not full do in the beginning will start to happen. This is a great feeling!
Increasing our flexibility also helps those aches and pains we may occasionally experience to go away. For instance, you may not have known this, but tight hips can cause knee pain and tight hamstrings can cause back pain. When our hips and hamstrings become more flexible, this related pains resolve. (This is exactly why I love to bring yoga or PiYo into the mix every so often!)
6. Yoga increases our physical strength.
Strong muscles do WAY more than look good—they protect us from arthritis, back pain, osteoporosis, and the risk of falling as a result of muscle weakness.
Working out without attention to flexibility can cause issues. This is one of the BEST things about yoga—it addresses BOTH strength and flexibility at the same time—gently and with virtually no discomfort!
7. Yoga improves our posture.
I cannot reiterate enough how important posture is for our bodies—it takes much less work for our neck and back muscles to support our head when it is properly aligned with our spine. If it’s even slightly off, our muscles are strained.
The symptoms of poor posture include fatigue and chronic or degenerative back, neck, muscle, and/or joint issues.
Not all workouts help improve our posture—but, yoga definitely does. It’s important to make sure you really dial in on doing your poses correctly, so you are reaping this important benefit to the max (and not actually hurting your posture).
8. Yoga improves our breathing.
Did you know we take about 25,000 breaths per day?
If you don’t do yoga, it’s highly likely your breathing is unconscious and tense, shallow, and erratic. We gasp, hold our breath, pant…all of which negatively affect our nervous system.
Yoga teaches us how to breath smoothly and deeply—and that helps our body and mind relax and focus better.
Here’s a reminder how to practice abdominal breathing—place both hands lightly on your tummy. Exhale ALL the air out your lungs through your nose. Then, inhale slowly through your nose all the way down into your belly while pushing your hands gently outward. Exhale again—every last bit of that air. Inhale deeply again while continuing to move your hands with your breath—up and down, up and down.
9. Yoga improves our balance.
Balance is NOT just something for older people to be concerned with. All of us, regardless of age, rely on good balance when we walk, get out of our cars, put on our pants, play a sport, etc.
It’s been found that our risk of a twisted ankle drops by 77% when we do exercises that help with our balance.
Our ability to balance is affected by our sight and inner ear, which deteriorate with age and can be impacted by health problems (like diabetes or arthritis). So, as we age, it’s extra important to do things to help improve our balance.
Yoga moves improve our stability by strengthening our body awareness and giving us a better sense of where our body needs to be without relying on sight.
Moves like the tree post, mountain pose, and triangle pose also teach us to distribute our weight equally over our two feet. The result is we’re more steady on our feet.
10. Yoga boosts our immunity.
When we contract and stretch muscles, move our organs around, and come in and out of yoga postures, we increase lymph drainage (lymph is a thick fluid filled with immune cells), which helps our lymphatic system fight infection, destroy cancerous cells, and dispose of toxins.
Blood flow is also increased, which keeps our organs healthier.
Also, as I mentioned above, reducing stress through yoga boosts the effectiveness of our immune systems as well.
11. Yoga can relieve pain.
When done correctly and regularly, yoga has the ability to ease our aches and pains.
Several studies have found that yoga reduces pain in people with arthritis, back issues, fibromyalgia, carpal tunnel syndrome, and other chronic conditions. This has a positive chain reaction effect of improving mood, increasing activity levels, and reducing the need for medication.
If you’re in doubt, just go into child’s pose and feel your body thank you. This is one of the most calming and restorative of yoga poses—and my absolute favorite. It relieves back, shoulder, neck, and hip strain. If you completely let go and let gravity do its thing, it will fill you with a great sense of physical, mental and emotional relief.
12. Yoga can benefit us in the bedroom. 😉
Okay, this may be my favorite of the 12 physical benefits of yoga! 😜
Remember I talked about yoga helping us be more flexible and increasing our blood flow and stamina? And, we all know that when we feel better about our bodies, we use them more, right?
On top of this, all of the spiritual benefits of yoga combine to open up our ability to be more intimate and connect at a deeper, more authentic level.
Guess what this all means??? It means we can let go and enjoy ourselves!!!
3 WEEK YOGA RETREAT
If I were a perfectly consistent person, I would do yoga every day—but, I’m so not.
I vary my workouts and either go to the occasional yoga retreat or I go to Beachbody on Demand.
Beachbody on Demand enables me to work out ANYwhere and ANYtime—as long as I have a mobile device and internet access—and give me access to the 3 Week Yoga Retreat.
This is a FABULOUS program to do every few months to get grounded and more flexible.
CONSIDER USING A PERSONAL COACH
If you’re ready to accept the guidance of a personal coach on your journey to a healthy lifestyle, let’s connect!
As a coach, I help my customers benefit from the physical benefits of yoga and teach them how to use many other tools that guide us toward a mindful and healthy lifestyle.
Let’s get you started today!