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Do you ever see someone super limber and think “yeah, (s)he does yoga…”? You can tell just by looking. Some physical benefits of yoga can be enjoyed by noticing in the mirror and others can be felt.
Whether you’re a fitness fanatic or a laidback will-start-tomorrow sort of person, spending a few minutes on a yoga mat can help you reach your goals.
Yoga is an all-are-welcome kind of practice with almost limitless health benefits. There are asanas for absolutely everyone.
A lot of men tend to keep their distance from yoga, perhaps concerned that flexibility, lycra leggings and age-old philosophy are not for them.
But remember this, from the very first moment you start doing yoga, your body begins to transform. It only gets better after that.
The benefits of yoga transform everybody on a personal level but here’s what every yogi experiences.
1. After A Few Classes…
-Lower Stress Levels
A 2017 study stated that people who practice yoga regularly have low cortisol levels which are further linked to reduced stress and inflammation.
– Improved Brain Function
20 minutes of Hatha yoga can improve cognitive function, boost focus and working memory.
In a University of Illinois study, participants performed better on brain functioning tests after practising yoga, as compared to their performance after 20 minutes of aerobics.
-Alter Gene Expression
A 2013 Norwegian study from the University of Oslo suggested that yoga practices can have an almost immediate impact on gene expression, particularly in immune cells.
-Increased Flexibility & Mobility
Mobility is how you get from point A to B and flexibility is how far you’re able to go into point A or point B. Both are equally important.
A study done by the Colorado State University found that Bikram yoga—a series of 26 postures performed for 90 minutes in a heated room—can improve shoulder, lower back and hamstring flexibility. It can also help increase strength and decrease body fat.
Not just that, yoga can improve the range of your joints’ movement through its socket aka mobility.
2. After A Few Months…
– Toned Body
Many postures like the warrior series, Utkatasana or Chaturanga Dandasana are meant to build strength and muscles. When you tone the body through these asanas, you build more muscles resulting in burning more calories even when your resting.
You’ll experience toned biceps and triceps, chiselled calf muscles and a whittled waist as a result of strength building, core engaging yoga asanas.
-Balanced Blood Pressure
People with high blood pressure might benefit from practising yoga, as a 2013 study stated that yoga could help in lowering blood pressure levels.
The participants who practised yoga witnessed greater dips in blood pressure compared to the participants who chose to walk, control their diet or went ahead with a weight counselling program.
-Boosted Lung Capacity
Practising Hatha yoga for 15 weeks can significantly increase your vital lung capacity—the maximum amount of air exhaled after taking a deep breath—as per a 2000 Ball State University study.
There’s a growing body of research that suggests that yoga can help erectile dysfunction.
In 2010, 65 men took part in a study on yoga and male sex function. These men had an average age of 40 and they saw a significant improvement in sexual score after 12 weeks of practising yoga.
– Reduced Chronic Neck & Back Pain
As per a study published in The Journal of Pain, after four weeks of practising Iyengar yoga adults suffering from chronic neck pain experienced it with lesser intensity.
Researchers at West Virginia University also found that this type of Hatha yoga can effectively reduce lower back pain and improve overall mood.
– Reduced Anxiety
A 2010 Boston University study showed that 12 weeks of yoga could help to reduce anxiety by increasing gamma-aminobutyric (GABA) levels in the brain.
Lower GABA levels may lead to depression and anxiety disorders.
-Steady Blood Sugar Level In Diabetic Patients
According to a 2015 Department of Physiology and Diabetic clinic study, just three months of yoga can result in a decrease in body mass index, as well as no increases in blood sugar levels.
In fact, many diabetic patients have observed a difference in their blood sugar levels after few weeks of practising Mandukasana, Shashankasana, Yoga Mudrasana, Vakrasana and Gomukhasana at home.
-Improved Balance & Better Posture
Iyengar yoga program is designed for older adults. According to a 2008 Temple University study, it helps improve balance and prevent falls in older age.
Yoga practices also make you hyper-aware and help your bones align properly. As you continue to practice yoga, you re-train your body to unlearn bad postures and replace them with good posture habit.
Holding good posture make you feel fitter, leaner, taller and more confident. Not just that, good posture is a blessing for your digestion system.
3. After A Few Years…
– Lower Risk Of Heart Diseases
According to a 2014 study, when practised daily, yoga may lower the risk of cardiovascular diseases such as blood sugar, high blood pressure and cholesterol.
– Stronger Bones
A 2016 study claimed that 12-minute daily yoga practice could improve bone density amongst older adults and reverse osteoporotic bone loss. Bone mineral density improved in the spine, hips, and femur.
No yoga-related serious injuries were reported. Bone quality improved in yoga practitioners.
– Healthy Weight
Researchers from the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle found a link between regular yoga practice and weight management.
Out of 15,000 healthy, middle-aged adults, the ones who were overweight and were practising yoga began to lose weight while non-practitioners gained weight.
– Healthy Mind
You live in a state of pure bliss. No anger. No anxiety. No depression. If you combine yoga with a few minutes of meditation, there isn’t much you can’t do.
Your brain structure changes with a yoga practice, literally. A 20-minute yoga session can improve your brain’s memory, speed and focus.
The brain structure of yoga practitioners has a higher grey matter in the prefrontal cortex that’s responsible for decision making and cognitive behaviour.
Start with a 20-minute yoga session and see where it takes you!