As I’m getting older, I’m noticing the aches and pains more. Muscles which used to be limber and flexible are now difficult to stretch and flex. When I was eighteen, I could reach back and touch between my shoulder blades with ease. Now I struggle to fasten my bra strap.
I’ve seen how popular yoga has become and my little home town has had at least four yoga studios pop up over the past 5 years. Why shouldn’t I get on board the yoga train? So, I started researching the physical benefits of yoga. I know there are many but it’s always good to have a list!
Physical Benefits of Yoga
Increased flexibility and protection from injury comes from limbering up muscles, which lends itself to improved athletic performance. Holding those poses leads to increased muscle strength and tone which can help maintain a balanced metabolism. All of this adds up to improved respiration, energy, and vitality. Who couldn’t use some more of those things?
Beginning practitioners will find many poses difficult, but by sticking with it, muscles lengthen, and ligaments loosen allowing for deeper, easier stretches. Not only will you find satisfaction from being about to do the yoga postures, you will find your neck may be less stiff and your back more relaxed and less achy. Your body will begin to change in subtle ways that will ease pain and create easier movement.
Protection for Bones and Joints
Yoga can also protect your bones and joints. Because you use a full range of motion during yoga, your joints are fully utilized. Doing so causes them to be lubricated and this keeps the cartilage from breaking down. Weight bearing exercises like down ward dog cause you to hold up your own body weight. This causes a strengthening of your bones because the stress on the bones causes them to draw in more calcium and hold on to it better. As you age, bones are prone to calcium loss, making yoga ideal for warding off osteoporosis.
Yoga helps improve respiration and improve blood oxygenation. Taking slow deep breaths is more efficient than frequent shallow breaths. Greater oxygenation is important for heart and cellular health and increases relaxation. Reduction of stress through deep breathing helps to rest the heart and bring down levels of cortisol, a stress hormone which causes damage when released into our bodies too often.
Yoga is Therapy
Yoga is not a magic pill and it doesn’t cure every physical malady, but it can help with pain management, increasing balance, flexibility, and strength, which decreases as we age due to the sedentary life we tend to live here in the developed world. These are only a few of the physical benefits of yoga. Yoga can give you a better sense of control because by practicing it, you are learning to gently train your body to move with ease and purpose through the world, confident, and calm. With that sense of calm, you are better equipped to face the stress of modern life by following this ancient practice.