Almost a year ago, I walked through the gates of a beautifully built yoga retreat center. Although the whole interior was very appealing and eye-soothing, what caught my immediate attention was a quote that was exquisitely displayed on the wall adjacent to the entrance. It said:
“Add years to your life and life to your years by incorporating yoga in your routine.”
Little did I know my own experience will prove the quote true in the coming days.
My doctor had advised me yoga sessions for a month for lower back pain management. Kudos to my instructor to help me manage that effectively. However, within two weeks, I was noticing so many other positive changes that I couldn’t agree less with the quote that I had read the first time I entered there.
Yoga asana ever since have been a part of my fitness regime. And although I am not the most diligent fitness freak you would ever come across, being reasonably consistent with yoga has transformed me both mentally and physically.
Want to know the advantages you can get by practicing yoga regularly? I’ll explain that in detail. But first, let’s learn the do’s and don’ts of yoga so that you can achieve maximum benefits by practicing it.
Yoga Do’s and Don’ts:
- Use a good quality, non-slip yoga mat.
- Never skip 2-5 minutes of relaxed breathing in between poses.
- Check with your doctor if you have any sort of injury before beginning yoga.
- Wear supportive undergarments like mypackage boxers for men or cotton briefs and a sports bra for women. The constant need to adjust while doing poses will be quite annoying.
- Any other garments, if worn, must be light, breathable, and formfitting.
- Eat a hearty meal just before doing yoga. Wait at least two hours after eating to practice your asana.
- Do exhausting exercises after yoga.
- Drink plenty of water after your session.
Once you get used to doing yoga regularly, you will start seeing immediate perks in a few days before the long-term ones kick in.
Immediate Benefits of Doing Yoga
Yoga is worth trying if you frequently suffer from digestive issues. Several postures in yoga cause increased blood flow towards the digestive tract. As a result, the organs in that region are stimulated, and it speeds up the process of digestion.
The cat-cow pose, seated side twists, and the bow pose will help your digestive system run effectively.
Yoga experts swear by the wonders specific yoga postures can do to cleanse the body from within. As the lymphatic system functions better, blood flow is increased, and liver function improves by regular yoga practice, our natural detoxification system gets a boost.
Two more aspects of doing yoga that aid in toxin elimination are exhaling and sweating. Note here that the results of detoxification are evident not just physically, but mentally as well.
Yoga Is a Quick Stress buster:
Even a single yoga session is enough to explain how impactful it is for stress release. Yoga involves deep breathing and mindfulness, both of which induce a calming effect on a person’s brain due to the increase in serotonin levels.
A study published in the Medical Science Monitor concluded that practicing yoga for three months showed a significant reduction of stress in distressed women.
Your Spine Gains Strength:
Bestselling author and fitness trainer Bob Harper once said, “Yoga is the fountain of youth. You’re only as young as your spine is flexible.”
It is my own experience that most of my spine-related issues, including lower back pain, improper posture, and inability to lift the weight, were resolved within a month of doing continuous yoga.
Some popular poses like the double angle and the cobra pose aim at stretching the spine, which strengthens the muscles that bend and stabilize your spine.
According to Dr. Lauren Elson of Harvard Medical School, mobility and strength can see a significant improvement if people practice yoga mindfully..
Better Sleep Quality:
As per a study published by NCBI, almost one-third of US adults suffer from insomnia. Seems like bedtime yoga should be promoted to help these suffering individuals.
Soon after adopting yoga as a daily habit, you will notice a difference in your sleep quality. You will fall asleep quickly, stay asleep longer than usual, and even if you get up all of sudden in the middle of the night, you will go back to sleep quicker than you did before.
Long-Term Benefits of Yoga
Builds a Strong Core:
It is crucial to strengthen your core for a healthy, stable body. Your core comprises of the muscles around your torso and pelvis. Therefore, one can imagine its importance. Muscles of this area engage in every movement of the body.
Yoga postures that build your core muscles are the basic plank pose, side plank, crow’s pose, and the chair pose. These postures, when done regularly, will help your body remain healthy and able even when you grow older.
Enhances Muscle Flexibility and Strength:
Any muscle of the body that is used less develops tightness, which hinders movement. The most common side effect of this issue is the misalignment of the vertebrae. Tight muscles can also cause musculoskeletal injuries that can be very painful, and the pain can turn chronic if not treated properly.
Yoga is very beneficial to improve flexibility as it helps builds leaner and longer muscles. People who consistently perform yoga to stay fit rarely face the above-mentioned health issues as their muscles are stronger.
Cures Breathing Problem:
According to the founder of “Iyengar Yoga,” BKS Iyenger, breathing exercises regulate breathing by aiding it to become slower and more regular.
Focusing on one’s breathing is a fundamental aspect of meditation in yoga. Therefore, long-term benefits of yoga include developing a habit to take deep, regulated breaths, which can ease symptoms of asthma. Mindful meditation is often suggested to chronic asthma patients.
Reduces the Risk of Cardiovascular Diseases:
Numerous comparative studies have shown how beneficial yoga is to keep heart diseases at bay. One such study, published by the International Journal of Yoga, states that yoga is instrumental in thinning the blood, which reduces the risk of stroke and heart attack.
A well-developed immunity is the greatest asset for one’s health, which can be acquired by regularly performing yoga asana.
According to a PLOS ONE journal study, yoga has been proven to rapidly effect circulating immune cells at the molecular level. This means that immunity-boosting yogic practices are a reality.
Aids Weight loss:
Yoga can help you reduce weight as it helps burn calories. Plank pose, for instance, is very effective. But you have to be consistent with it to see the results. It is especially lauded for burning the stubborn visceral fat. This means that you will be blessed with a toned body in the longer run.
Develops an Optimistic Approach:
Indian Journal of Physiology and Pharmacology published a study based on a clinical trial of students who performed yoga in comparison to those who didn’t. According to the feedback, the yoga group showed many improvements, including self-confidence, attentiveness, as well as optimism.
Reduction in anxiety as a result of yoga practices develop a positive outlook.
When it comes to yoga, there are many other benefits, along with the ones mentioned above. But you can only enjoy all of them if you pledge to stay consistent with it and make yoga an important part of your fitness routine.
Both the immediate and long-term effects of yoga are highly desirable. Therefore I would suggest you adopt it as a daily ritual rather than an infrequent one.