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Mental Health / Wellbeing

The Benefits of Yoga on Your Mental and Physical Health

Have you uncovered the benefits of yoga to your mental and physical health yet?

In today’s fast-paced modern world, many of us face a lot of stress and pressure, both physical and mental.

Sometimes it’s hard not to reach for a glass, or even a bottle of wine and a packet of crisps to help ease the stress, rather than doing something healthy such as going for a walk or a run and eating healthy.

If this is you, then yoga could be a far better – and healthier – option.

The health benefits of yoga

When we are stressed, our body releases cortisol, the stress hormone. And cortisol is the thing that triggers our body’s fight-or-flight response, something that is useful if you come face-to-face with a bear in the woods but less useful if the thing you’re worried about is the presentation you need to give tomorrow. 

Personally, I find that yoga is a great way to help reduce stress, especially when combined with meditation. In most yoga classes, yoga and meditation go hand-in-hand, with classes incorporating at least a few minutes of meditation as part of their wind-down. 

Yoga is also a fantastic way to stretch out the body whilst allowing you to breathe easier, gain clarity of mind and help you relax. Focusing on deep breathing and long, slow stretching, your body transitions from fight-or-flight to a much more relaxing rest-and-digest state. 

Yoga Improves Your Flexibility

Most of us live sedentary desk-based lives, working jobs where we stare at a screen and sit on our bums a lot! However, our bodies didn’t evolve to behave like this. We were designed to move – regularly! 

A regular yoga class helps to loosen up your body, to feel lighter and a lot less stressed – just make sure you find a style of yoga that works for you. I prefer Hatha yoga myself. It’s gentle, relaxing, and gives the mind and body a good workout.

I love Yoga With Adriene. She has a fabulous yoga workout for everybody.

Yoga Strengthens Your Body

Unlike other exercises that work for particular muscle groups, yoga gives the entire body (and mind) a workout and is great for toning and sculpting your overall body.

It’s common for beginner yogis to comment after their first class that ‘I didn’t even know I had a muscle there!’ I still do!

Yoga Can Help You Sleep

Ah, sleep. Nothing is better for your physical and mental health than quality sleep. But a lot of us don’t even know what that is!

A gentle 15-30 minute yoga session before bed is the perfect way to prepare your body and mind for sleep. Slow stretching and deep breathing help to lower your body’s blood pressure and slow down your heart and breathing rate. 

The importance of a good pre-bed routine and exercise are two things the team at Sleepadvisor.org discuss. 

Yoga Helps You Focus

Both yoga and meditation can help you focus on other areas of your life. By encouraging your mind to ‘focus on the now, you can gain a new sense of clarity.

Personally speaking, this has been a huge help to me in recovering from depression and in controlling my anxiety!

A few years ago, I did a casual mindfulness course that involved 8 weeks of gentle yoga stretching, meditation and non-pushy theory. I then enrolled in an 8-week intensive Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction course (MBSR for short) which helped me ID the stressors in my life, baggage I had carried around for years, and the impacts all of this had on my physical health, as well as teaching me techniques to heal myself. Long story short, I resolved years of the stomach and other health issues and completed the program with an arsenal of stress management tools for life.

With so many health benefits, why not check out a yoga class near you, or pick up a cheap yoga mat and take up a home yoga practice?  

*This is a collaborative post 

About Author

Changed careers in my 30's. Became a freelancer writer & marketer. I'm a proud redhead, fangirl, wife & step mum. And I'm a lover of all things books, movies, podcasts, dogs & naps.

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