Modern society is a big proponent of holistic solutions to common physical and mental health problems. Yoga is one of the most popular of these all-natural, pharmacy-free remedies. It can be used to treat joint problems, stress, insomnia, and much more. However, many women are understandably wary of the validity of yoga as an effective physical and mental health treatment. Yoga is tossed about as a solution for so many ailments, from arthritis to anxiety, that it’s easy to write it off as a hokey fad and a waste of time.
In reality, yoga is much more than a passing trend. It is an ancient practice that originated more than five thousand years ago and has been used as a solution for physical and mental health problems for just as long. Yoga has gained so much popularity in recent years because more people are finally willing to accept it as a valid practice that comes with real, life-changing benefits for your mind, body, and soul.
1. It Prevents Breakdown
As the human body ages, it naturally breaks down. Your joints get more stiff, your circulation becomes less effective, your posture slumps, your bones get more brittle. Regular body movement can slow down and even reverse the effects of the body’s natural process of decay. The movement involved in common yoga poses is actually one of the most effective types of movement for preventing breakdown.
Many yoga poses require you to lift your own weight, which increase bone density and helps stave off brittleness. Fundamental yoga poses also involve keeping your spine straight as you stand or sit in a certain position. Holding these poses can keep your posture straight long after your yoga class ends. Practicing yoga forces you to stretch your body and move it in ways you normally wouldn’t. This movement keeps your joints flexible and pain-free and preserves your circulation.
2. It Improves Focus
Yoga is not a fast-paced activity. Practicing yoga involves holding poses for a certain length of time while maintaining a deep and even breathing pattern. Staying in these yoga poses–sometimes for several minutes at a time–requires a tremendous amount of focus and concentration. The emphasis yoga places on paying attention to and regulating your breathing also helps you learn how to keep your mind in the present. It prevents you from letting your thoughts drift into worrying about the past or the future.
Going through a full yoga routine also requires memorization. Those who practice yoga seriously are expected to learn multiple series of poses and be able to perform them from memory. Regularly learning and memorizing new things increases your ability to focus and can even prevent degenerative mental diseases such as dementia and Alzheimer’s.
3. It Promotes Healthy Living
Taking up the practice of yoga represents taking a step toward living a healthier lifestyle. You might not plan to change the way you live your life beyond building a few weekly yoga classes into your schedule.
However, people who start practicing yoga are much more likely to add other healthy habits–like a nutritious diet and other forms of exercise–into their lifestyle as well. Practicing yoga is a regular reminder to yourself that you care about your mental and physical health and want to make an effort to take better care of your body and your mind. Making healthier choices tends to have a domino effect. Each new healthy habit you form encourages you to develop more.
4. It Reduces Depression and Anxiety
One of the most popular benefits of yoga is its ability to reduce anxiety, stress, and depression. Yoga lowers your cortisol levels, puts your heart rate in the aerobic range, and stimulates your left prefrontal cortex. All of these effects can relieve symptoms in those who struggle with depression.
Yoga is a low-intensive form of exercise that elevates your heart rate through calm, slow movements and regulated breathing. This type of movement helps you relax both physically and mentally, which in turn reduces stress and anxiety. It can also help you fall asleep more easily and sleep more deeply. Healthier sleep patterns can in turn reduces depression and anxiety as well. Click here to find the best yoga mats.
5. It Helps You Reach Your Fitness Goals
Don’t discount yoga as an effective way to reach your fitness goals. Although it might not burn as many calories as high-intensive cardio or build six-pack abs as quickly as a strict strength-training routine, practicing yoga can help you lose weight and tone your body.
Yoga poses involve moving your body and lifting your own body weight. Over time, repeating and mastering these poses does help you visibly trim and tone your frame. Practicing yoga can catalyze your body transformation and help you achieve your fitness goals more easily in less time.
6. It Boosts Self-Confidence
Yoga is a very self-focused practice. Every time you practice yoga, you do it for yourself and your own well-being. In this way, yoga is an ideal form of self-care. It allows you to check in with yourself and show attention and love to your body and mind.
Proving to yourself that you care about your own well-being by practicing yoga on a regular basis can transform your sense of self-confidence and self-worth in a positive. Improving your yoga skills and feeling the gratification that comes from mastering new poses also encourages you to try new things and push yourself out of your comfort zone even if it scares you. Click here to find the best yoga pants/leggings.
7. It Catalyzes the Placebo Effect
The placebo effect is a real psychological phenomenon. If you believe that doing something–taking a certain pill, for example–will cure an ailment or improve your life in some way, taking that pill will likely have the positive outcome you expected even if it has no real effective properties.
Yoga is a time-tested practice that has been shown by countless scientific studies to have certain positive physical and mental health benefits. However, if you are among the many people who are hesitant to believe in the power of yoga, just try it as a test of the placebo effect. Will yourself to focus on the benefits you want to get out of yoga and commit yourself to your yoga practice even if you’re skeptical of its validity.
Yoga is not the answer to all of life’s problems. For most people, mastering the sun salutations can’t cure their anxiety disorder and no amount of hours in child’s pose can cure their chronic migraines. That being said, the benefits of yoga are real and life-changing. At the very least, yoga can act as a supplementary practice that boosts the effectiveness of your other healthy habits and makes life’s challenges feel a little more manageable.