The Benefits of Yoga

Musculoskeletal Benefits

The musculoskeletal benefits are probably among the first we think of. Yoga has been found beneficial for:

  • Back pain 
  • Sciatica 
  • Neck issues 
  • Shoulder complaints 
  • Wrist issues 
  • Knee problems 
  • Hip issues 
  • Headaches 

Regular practice improves posture, strength, flexibility and mobility. You can begin to address muscular imbalances on the mat as you start to notice how your body moves, and the habitual patterns you use. Questions like “Why can I balance on one side better than the other?” or “Why is my left shoulder stronger than my right?” for example, start that journey into exploring how we can move better. The weight-bearing nature of yoga means it helps maintain bone density, and arthritic joints are soothed by moving through their full range of motion. 

Mental Benefits

The mental benefits of yoga are well documented. Stress, although a natural and necessary human response, has become an issue for many in modern life. The survival response was supposed to be short-lived, and we would return to a calm state when the danger had passed. Our bodies cannot recognise the difference between a charging bear and an email eliciting a stress response – stress is stress. The sustained level that we experience nowadays can affect the body-mind. That’s where yoga comes in. A combination of breathing techniques, postures and meditation can soothe the nervous system and bring the body-mind into a relaxed state. This aids digestion and repair, to name a few.  Anxiety and depression are also improved by a regular yoga practice. The type of breathwork, the speed of the class, the focus of postures and the intention are all changed to suit the needs of the students at the time. Concentration and mental clarity are also improved as you work in the present moment on your mat. As you exercise your body, so you exercise your mind, making it more adaptable, flexible and stable. 

Now we get into some of the less readily identifiable benefits… How about yoga to address hormone imbalances? Your hormones are governed by glands throughout the body called endocrine glands. These glands can be influenced by physically compressing or releasing the corresponding area, using a mantra, meditation, breathing and relaxation techniques. Inversions and backbends are so beneficial for hormone balancing but don’t worry, you don’t have to balance on your head to achieve the benefits! 

Yoga is a physical, mental, and spiritual practice. By moving the body, releasing the tension, and focussing the mind, we can aid the major organs and systems of the body. This gives us important general health benefits: 

  • Respiratory health 
  • Brain re-mapping 
  • Improves circulation and can influence blood pressure 
  • Lymphatic drainage  
  • Digestion and elimination 

I could go on…! Your yoga sessions encourage you to leave feeling happy, sleep better, and be motivated to keep making small changes to improve your healthy lifestyle. Yoga empowers you to be the guardian of your health. For years we have lost connection to our bodies, our food and our environment, and handed over responsibility for our health. The tide is turning, and people are choosing healthier behaviours. We want to feel good, for ourselves and the people around us. Yoga is just one of many tools we can use to take back responsibility. The Awareness Foundation advocates this holistic approach to healthcare and will be producing more content to inspire you to find your way on the path to improving and maintaining your health.

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