With its origins estimated as being 5,000 years old, there is a reason that Yoga has endured for so long. (Even if the loincloth hasn’t survived :-)).
We know that Yoga can help you find a greater connection to a more flexible, stronger body and improve your mental health. But, a regular Yoga practice can do more than that; it can improve your whole life; From loosening up creaky joints to even changing your brain anatomy, consistent Yoga practice is a reliable way to enhance your quality of life.
Read on to learn why you should be hitting the mat in 2024.
Yoga practice can make you more resilient to stress and develop equanimity in the face of difficult emotions. But, how does this work?
Asana practice with breathwork can create a meditative state, influencing the central nervous system. When the body and mind are relaxed, calming neurotransmitters start talking to each other. Resultantly, these tiny nerve cells flood the central nervous system with feel-good hormones (such as serotonin and dopamine) that produce feelings of calm and well-being.
If your mind is clogged with worries a Yoga session can offer some ‘you’ time, to help you find your centre and perspective. From this space, navigating life’s ups and downs can become easier. When it feels like a storm is blowing, you remain strong, rooted, and unflappable.
Improves Your Sports Performance
Has your running or climbing progress hit a lull? Well, try regular Yoga practice for three weeks.
The lengthening and strengthening aspect of Yoga can condition your body, giving you more power and preventing injury. Fascia, tendons, and muscles get a good stretch during Yoga, enabling them to glide against one another efficiently.
The endurance aspect of asana practice with meditation also cultivates staying power. Resisting the urge to shout swear words while you hold a pose for a ‘few breaths’ does just that. You learn to work with discomfort as if you were on a run.
If your forty winks are more like ten, Yoga can help. Research shows that Yoga can improve sleep quality and help you to fall asleep quicker at night. Much in the same way benzodiazepines such as Diazepam or Xanax can.
Rather than take medications with potential side effects, regular asana practice and meditation can relax the central nervous system for a deeper sleep. For a delicious, refreshing sleep, the brain has slow, long-burst brain waves called delta waves. If the brain doesn’t achieve this state, it doesn’t get the rest it needs to function correctly.
Because Yoga and meditation cultivate an overall sense of relaxation throughout the day, it primes the brain and central nervous system. So, it is much easier to nod off at night. The brain is also better able to progress through the stages of sleep to reach the deep sleep state it needs.
The Sleep Stages
If you’re not aware, the brain cycles through the following four stages of sleep:
- Light sleep
- Deep sleep
- REM sleep (Rapid Eye Movement)
REM sleep is the most restorative stage and is crucial for emotional, physical and cognitive well-being. After 90 minutes of sleep, the brain reaches REM sleep. The brain is most active at this stage. Dreams start and the eyes move quickly, even though they are closed.
REM sleep periods increase in the second part of a night’s sleep. But, many light sleepers can struggle to get enough REM sleep cycles. A recent review of research shows that Yoga can help to improve long-term sleep quality.
But, the trick is to practice Yoga regularly over the long term to see the real benefits.
Keeping good posture while desk working, standing, and even running is vital for joint health. If you already suffer from bad posture, Yoga naturally helps you to improve how you sit and stand.
After about a month of consistent Yoga practice, many people find they sit and stand tall without thinking about it. Yoga increases spine flexibility, strengthens the muscles that support the bones and improves self-awareness of the body.
Life’s hurdles can take a chunk out of you. Childhood trauma, setbacks, and stress can affect everyone. Unfortunately, there is no shortage of events that can result in anxiety, low self-image, and a lack of confidence.
Luckily, Yoga is a powerful therapy for low self-esteem. Countless studies consistently conclude that regular Yoga practice increases self-esteem. Yoga is now taught in orphanages, schools, and prisons because it’s so effective at making people feel great about themselves. In one study, it took just two weeks of Yoga practice to improve the self-esteem of children living in an orphanage.
Another study looked at the effect of Yoga on the self-esteem of burn victims. After four weeks of three Yoga sessions a week, the burn victims improved their body perception.
Yoga can relax the mind and body, releasing negative thoughts that clog the mind. Silencing the negative voices in the subconscious mind creates space for positive thoughts to surface. When positive thoughts start in the stage of the mind, self-esteem can improve profoundly.
It’s not fully understood, as yet, why Yoga improves self-esteem. One study suggests that the physical aspect of performing ‘expansive’ postures positively influences a person’s state of mind. Another study suggests that Yoga practice improves emotional regulation through meditation. Either way, science agrees that it helps. Imagine what you could achieve if you weren’t held back by that naughty little devil on your shoulder. Practice regular Yoga and send them packing!
Can Boost Heart Health
It’s not just sweating it out at the gym that makes your heart healthier, Yoga is great too.
While exercise revs up the bpm’s to strengthen your heart, Yoga decreases stress, the main culprit for cortisol and adrenaline surging through your body. While these hormones have their uses, too much of them can be bad for the heart.
Yoga can decrease cortisol levels, the primary stress hormone, which can lead to plaque and fat deposits clogging the arteries (called hardened arteries). Deep breathing and focusing mentally during a Yoga session can offset stressful thoughts. So potentially, harmful hormones decrease, and calming hormones increase.
And guess what happens when you feel less stressed? Yep, you guessed right, you feel happier, calmer, and healthier!
Get In the Flow
You don’t need to be able to do handstands or any advanced poses to reap the benefits of Yoga. From a strong Ashtanga practice to a Yoga Nidra, the practice can give your mind and body the space to cultivate a profound sense of well-being.
Regular Yoga practice, whether it’s an online class or in the Yoga studio, can produce significant benefits.
So, get your glow on and make this year count. We’d love you to come and join us and lots of other friendly folks at our Yogafurie studio. Or why not treat yourself to a Yoga retreat?
Book in with us today and start making positive waves in 2024.