There are many ways to get the exercise your body needs. I recently took a month totally away from the gym and instead did hot yoga 3-5 days a week. My own experience was so positive and important for me, that I wanted to write a bit about yoga.
While its history is a long and winding one, yoga can be very simple. Yoga has many benefits, both physical and mental. Many of the benefits are obvious, some not as much. So we’ll start with the physical side.
While not necessarily the goal, yoga involves quite a bit of stretching. Aside from the obvious benefits of flexibility, muscle control, etc., the stretching done in most yoga also improves secretion of hormones and salivary immune function. Following yoga sessions, study participants secreted significantly: less cortisol (stress hormone) and more testosterone and immunoglobulin A (vital antibody). Regularly attending yoga also helps the brain. Participants were tasked with using a brain-computer interface to control a computer with only their thoughts. The participants who regularly (twice a week) attended yoga were twice as successful in doing the simple tasks assigned in the experiment.
Health, in a more broad sense is also positively impacted by yoga. Body weight and composition are improved with regular attendance of yoga classes. Hypertension (high blood pressure) is reduced and type 2 diabetes/blood glucose levels are improved with regular yoga. Lipid profiles, think cholesterol levels, tend to be better and incidence of coronary heart disease is lower. Even COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease) sufferers were able to use medication less often and have an overall better quality of life.
There are also many seemingly intangible benefits of yoga, though they can outweigh the physical. Yoga is shown study after study, to reduce anxiety and stress. Not only during and immediately after, but in daily activities. Not only were “average” stress and anxiety levels reduced, but people with diagnosed stress, anxiety, and depressive disorders reported less symptoms when taking yoga classes.
There are so many different ways to do yoga that if you take a little time, you can find the one that works for you. From the physical to the mental, yoga is a great way to get exercise, meditate, generally increase your quality of life, and be happier.