Beyond just pulling off gravity-defying moves for Instagram, there are a lot of benefits to yoga, some more apparent than others. In celebration of International Yoga Month, here are all the things we love about yoga — the perfect head-to-toe picker upper that you can practice just about anywhere. If you’ve been putting off your practice or you’re looking for the nudge to try it for the first time, this is it!
Improve your flexibility and mobility
Probably the most obvious benefit of yoga is improved flexibility. Often, people are put off by yoga by how inflexible they are — but that’s exactly why you should practice. Even taking to your mat a few minutes a day practicing poses like the warrior or the downward facing dog, will soon make you really feel bendier than you are.
Anybody who’s never practiced yoga properly might lament that yoga is not for them because it’s too gentle, or too slow. The reality is that there are a lot of different kinds of yoga, and it’s really about trying as many as you can to see what works for you. While you’re not going to be swinging kettlebells in a yoga class, you’ll be carrying something far more important — yourself. What’s the point of carrying weights if you can’t carry even your own body weight?
When you practice yoga, levels of cortisol, the hormone released in response to stress, will be lowered, leading to less overeating. Forming a regular yoga habit also strengthens the overall mind-body connection, helping you deal more effectively with unpleasant emotions rather than reaching for food to suppress feelings.
Your yoga practice, even a short daily one, should be made up of three crucial elements; poses, breathing and meditation. There have been studies that show people who regularly practice all three elements are better able to regulate their heart-rate variability (HRV). This generally means that their heart rate is lower, aiding the body’s ability to respond to stress in a more constructive way,
Foster mental calmness
A yoga asana practice is intensely physical; when the mind is concentrating on all the various elements of a posture, it brings calmness. Yoga also teaches some form of meditation or another, how to focus on your breath and disengage from your thoughts — skills very useful when you’re faced with a stressful situation like an anxiety attack.