International Day of Yoga: 21 ways yoga is beneficial for you

If you are still wondering what the yoga hype is all about, here are 21 benefits of regular yoga practice you could use.

Published on:June 21, 2016 9:00 am

Yoga is a holistic wellness system that boosts mental, physical and spiritual health. Over decades, yoga has gained a lot of popularity and is perfect for those who complain of having no time to exercise. If you still haven’t jumped on to the yoga bandwagon and are wondering what the hype is all about, here are 21 benefits of regular yoga practice you could use.

1. Aids weight loss: Surya Namaskar and Kapal Bhati Pranayama are effective for weight loss. Continued practice of yoga tunes the body to its needs, therefore regulating appetite and consumption of different kinds of food. Many practitioners find their craving for junk food reduce with sustained yoga practice.

2. Stress relief: Yoga postures, Pranayama and meditation are effective in stress relief, especially with prolonged practice. In the rush of modern life, meditation helps bring a much-needed anchor to calm the mind.

3. Improves immunity: The immune system benefits tremendously from the practice of yoga. Yoga poses massage organs and strengthen muscles, improving their efficiency. Halasana and Bhujangasana directly improve the immune system by releasing white blood cells.

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4. Increases energy: Starting the day with some yoga poses and meditative exercises can help you start your day on an energetic note, and maintain those energy levels too. Surya Namaskar, Ustrasana and Virabhadrasana are only some of the asanas that can replace that daily espresso shot.

5. Improves sleep quality: Yoga aids in curing insomnia and abnormal sleeping habits. Hastapadasana increases blood supply to the nervous system, while Marjariasana massages the digestive organs and improves digestion, thereby, helping you sleep well. Regular practice of yoga also helps calm the mind which further aids in sleeping well.

6. Improves flexibility and posture: Yoga asanas stretch and tone the body muscles and make them strong. This in turn helps improve your body posture when you stand, sit, sleep or walk. The change is apparent and almost automatic after regular practice of yoga.

7. Relieves ache in joints: Balasana is effective in relieving neck, back and hip strain — which are common complaints of the modern tethered-to-desk lifestyle.

8. Regulates menstrual function in women: Sukhasana is one of the asanas that help relieve menstrual pain in women. Moreover, restorative yoga poses — along with meditation — help ease cramps, pain and mood dysfunction during menstruation.

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9. Helps fight lifestyle diseases: Chronic lifestyle diseases like hypertension, hormonal imbalances, diabetes, reproductory disorders and respiratory and cardiovascular related health concerns have risen in the past few decades and are increasingly being diagnosed among the younger population. Regular practice of yoga helps keep these at bay, or manage them if you already suffer from them.

10. Improves bone health: Those prone to, or already suffering from, osteoporosis can benefit from yoga greatly as it increases bone density and growth.

11. Counters harsh effects of ageing: Yoga improves blood flow in the body and increases oxygen supply to body cells. It helps improve the sense of balance that gets affected when one ages.

12. Improves overall mental health: Regular Pranayama leads to better balance between the right and left brain, helping in achieving a balance between emotional and rational thinking. Meditation enables introspection and brings about clarity and focus in one’s life.

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13. Aids treatment of neurodegenerative diseases: A scientific study found that a three-month course of Kundalini yoga and Kirtan Kriya meditation practice helped minimise the cognitive and emotional problems that often precede Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia, brain disorders that impair the memory.

14. Improves memory: Kirtan Kriya — which involves chanting, hand movements and visualisation of light — helps prevent cognitive decline in older adults.

15. Improves limb efficiency: Parvatasana strengthens legs and arms, stretches calf and spine muscles and relieves varicose veins.

16. Protects joints: Yoga takes your joints through their full range of motion, hence, mitigating disability — such as degenerative arthritis — by squeezing and soaking areas of cartilage that normally aren’t used.

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17. Protects spine: The only way to maintain spinal health is by ensuring regular spinal movement. A holistic asana practice with plenty of backbends, forward bends and twists helps in achieving just that.

18. Improves blood circulation: Inverted yoga poses facilitate blood from the legs and pelvis to flow back to the heart, where it is pumped to the lungs to be freshly oxygenated. Moreover, yoga boosts haemoglobin and red blood cell levels, which carry oxygen to the tissues.

19. Improves cardiac health: Yoga thins the blood by making platelets less sticky and by cutting the level of clot-promoting proteins. This is beneficial as blood clots are often the cause of heart attacks and strokes.

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20. Improves respiratory health: Yoga has been shown to improve various measures of lung function, promotes breathing through the nose, which filters the air, warms it and humidifies it, removing pollen and dirt and other potential allergens.

21. Improves digestion: Yoga eases constipation and has been found to ease symptoms of ulcers and irritable bowel syndrome.