by Denelle Numis: The mental, emotional, and physical benefits of yoga are being acknowledged, accepted, and celebrated by our society more than ever before!
Just a quick #yoga search on Instagram offers up 75 MILLION posts – most of which showcase yogis of all shapes and sizes performing numerous forms of asana! And while the importance of the physical practice over the other Eight Limbs is debatable, the physical poses, or asanas, are still a significant part of the modern yoga practice.
While there are so many benefits to our beloved yoga practice, this article will highlight the top ten physical benefits of yoga. Read on!
Here Are 10 of the Best Physical Benefits of Yoga:
The physical benefits of yoga are plentiful, but here are the top 10.
1. Increased Muscular Strength
While a consistent yoga practice often gets recognized for improving flexibility, many overlook its ability to improve muscular strength as well. Poses like Down Dog and Plank, along with all the Warrior Poses build up muscle fibers to tone and strengthen your muscles.
And while many forms of physical fitness emphasize muscle strength, yoga balances both strength and flexibility. Yoga is a practice that creates balance (both mind and body) so we must remember to incorporate both if we want to maintain a sustainable practice to last us a lifetime.
2. Increased Flexibility and Mobility
Often the most recognized physical benefit of the practice is an increased range of motion in the tissues, joints, and muscles of the body. The yoga asana practice introduces a myriad of poses (forward bends, backbends, twists, hip openers, standing poses, supine poses, etc.) and all of these postures ask the body to form extraordinary shapes.
While yoga asana supports flexibility of the major muscle groups, joints, and tissues, what is often most evident is improved posture, increased range of motion in the joints, and less pain in the body.
3. Increased Bone Density
Through our study of human anatomy, it is already understood that weight-bearing exercises improve the density of your bones as you age.
A 2016 study performed over a 10-year period proved that a consistent yoga practice raised the bone density of the spinal column and the femur bones in its patients.
Poses like Down Dog, Plank, or the Warrior Poses strengthen our bones that are particularly vulnerable to osteoporosis and ultimately help us avoid bone loss in those areas as we age.
4. Injury Prevention
With improved muscular strength, stronger bones, and healthy joints, your body is more prepared to handle load and a healthier range of motion, thus preventing strained muscles and/or broken bones.
Furthermore, yoga introduces several balance postures, which improves coordination and prevents injury.
Curious to learn more? Here’s How to Prevent Injury When You Practice These 9 Common Yoga Poses
5. Improved Circulation and Blood Flow
Inversions, including beginner poses like Standing Forward Fold or advanced poses like Handstand, encourage blood flow from the legs and pelvis to the heart.
When blood gets pumped back to the heart, it gets an extra dose of oxygen from the respiratory function of the lungs. Improved circulation of your blood helps you feel more alive and may even help you appear physically younger than you actually are.
6. Improved Metabolism and Digestion
You may be surprised to learn that the physical practice of yoga asana was originally designed for purification purposes.
One of the ancient yoga texts, the Hatha Yoga Pradipika, introduces several cleansing practices including Mayurasana (or Peacock Pose) – a shape which attempts to stimulate purification, either through vomit, urine, or bowel movement.
Twists are also believed to stimulate and aid in the digestive process and while there is not much scientific evidence to back that up, asana was designed to “stoke the digestive fires” which certainly helps to get things moving in and out of the body.
Want more twists in your life? Practice These 9 Spinal Twists for Beginner to Advanced Yogis
7. Increased Energy
A well-rounded yoga asana practice revives, renews, and refreshes your mind, body, and spirit bringing prana (otherwise known as life-force energy) to your body.
While you may feel supremely relaxed after a yoga class, a consistent practice continues to gift you a new sense of vitality to your life off the mat.
8. Increased Sex Drive and Libido
Yes, its true! Testosterone gets released in both female and male bodies during a yoga practice inspiring us to get busy in the bedroom.
Whether you want to enjoy an orgasm by yourself or with a significant other, yoga primes you to enjoy a sensual release with pleasure post-practice.
9. Better Sleep
While a dynamic practice like Vinyasa helps to stimulate and boost energy levels in the body, the close of every practice encourages rest. Savasana, or Corpse Pose, is always performed at the end of every practice and supports us in the process of surrender.
Thus, yoga has been proven to improve sleep quality and to aid in insomnia. A study performed at Harvard Medical School in 2012 found that yoga can help to improve sleep among people suffering from chronic insomnia.
Having trouble sleeping? Legs Up the Wall Pose or Supported Savasana are perfect poses to practice before bed to help induce sleep.
Need some more yoga for sleep? Practice This 30-Minute Bedtime Yoga Sequence For Better Sleep (Free Class)
10. Improved Mood
In addition to all the physical benefits of yoga listed above, yoga asana supports a mindful way of life. Pranayama, or regulation of the breath, incorporated with the physical asana practice helps to calm the central nervous system.
There’s No Shortage of the Physical Benefits of Yoga!
Bottom line? While we already know that a yoga practice benefits us on a mental, emotional, and physical level, this top 10 list offers us enough reasons to keep up with our practice #everydamnday.
Discipline, or tapas, is key to reaping the rewards. Carve out at least 10 minutes of your day to sit, breathe, and move the issues around your tissues and improve your well-being. Your body will thank you!