If you had to pick a couple words to describe yoga, what would you choose? I’d say yoga is calming, because it incorporates breathing exercises, meditation and poses designed to encourage relaxation and reduce stress. I’d also say yoga is valuable because you’ve got all the benefits of the therapeutic meditation that can boost your mood, along with the physical poses to promote a healthy body. It’s an amazing practice that’s super easy to slot into your daily routine, so what benefits could you see if you stretch out your yoga mat?
Yoga can help sleep
Yoga is therapeutic. It calms your body and mind, which is exactly what you need for a restful night’s sleep. Practicing yoga has been shown to increase the level of melatonin in your body, a hormone that regulates sleep and wakefulness.
If you struggle to get a good night’s sleep and find it difficult to switch off before bed, try lying flat on your back on the floor. This traditional resting pose is perfect for encouraging your body into a restful state. Dim the lights, light a scented candle and just lie on the ground with straight stretched legs. Relax your arms each side with your palms facing upward. Keep your mind on your breath while you slowly inhale and exhale. It’s such a simple yoga pose but so effective in helping you let go of the day’s stresses.
Yoga can give you glowing skin
Would you have ever thought yoga could give you glowing skin?! Practicing yoga causes something called vasodilation. This basically means your enlarged blood vessels increase the blood flow to your skin, providing it with more oxygen and nutrients, leaving you with a lovely glow. By enhancing blood circulation, you’re improving lymphatic drainage which brightens your complexion and reduces puffiness around your eye area.
What yoga moves promote a glowing complexion?
Try the mountain pose. This simple standing pose helps alleviate stress and oxygen flow. Getting more oxygen into your body through controlled breathing helps the body release harmful toxins too, keeping skin healthy and glowing. Inversions, where you lean forward with your head towards the ground, is another great way to encourage blood flow to your face. If you don’t have a huge amount of time to commit to a yoga session, then a quick five minutes turned upside down lets gravity do all the hard work for you.
Yoga improves flexibility and balance
Yoga stretches your muscles and helps you move better and feel less stiff. It helps your body awareness so you you’re more likely to notice if you’re slouching or slumping and then you can adjust your posture. Loads of people add yoga to their fitness routine just to improve their flexibility and balance. When you start practising yoga, you’ll probably notice benefits pretty soon after! Your leg muscles might feel a little less tight, or your lower back might loosen up.
Less vigorous styles of yoga can provide strength and endurance benefits, while power yoga is much more physical and will help you improve muscle tone. Most sitting and standing poses help you develop core strength as you need your core muscles to support and maintain each pose. And when you’re stronger and move flexible, your posture improves.
Yoga may reduce inflammation
Yoga is a great way to protect yourself against chronic inflammation alongside caring for your body, reducing stress and eating a healthy diet. Inflammation is your immune system’s natural way of responding to infection, injury or stress. It can actually be a good thing to help combat small problems. But chronic inflammation can contribute to the development of pro-inflammatory diseases and cause visible signs of ageing.
Those who practice yoga regularly are more likely to have higher levels of leptin and adiponectin in their bodies. These natural chemicals work to alleviate inflammation in your body.
Try the warrior II pose. It’s the perfect pose for tackling inflammation as it helps relieve muscle aches while improving circulation and respiration. When your respiration and circulation are at an optimum level, your body is much better equipped to tackle stress effectively.
Yoga relieves anxiety
Whether it’s can’t-sit-still-nerves or butterflies in your stomach, we experience anxiety in many different ways that tend to be unpleasant and endurable. Yoga brings together mental and physical disciplines that can help you achieve peacefulness of body and mind, and that can help you manage stress and anxiety.
You can turn to yoga during times of stress or when you feel your anxiety levels start to creep in. You might find that focusing on your breath and your ability to be present in every pose can help quieten all the busyness in your mind and help boost your overall mood.
There’s absolutely no pressure to dedicate yourself to an hour-long yoga sequence. It’s all about doing what you can. Practicing one or two postures for just a few minutes a day can have a major impact on your overall well-being.