As we say goodbye to September, I’d like to note that September is actually National Yoga Month! To honor it, I’d like to present a few health benefits you can get from yoga:
1. Increases Flexibility
As you stretch and move through the yoga sequences, you’ll notice that over time, your body becomes more and more flexible. You’ll notice one day you were only able to touch your fingers to your shins, then a few weeks later your fingers grace your toes. Maybe after a few more weeks you can touch your toes to your knees!
As your muscles stretch and become more flexible, you may notice a decrease in pain in certain areas of your body too. Stretching and strengthening areas of your body, like your core, can help protect and reverse pain in other areas, such as your lower back!
2. Builds Muscle
With flexibility also comes strength. Throughout your practice, especially those chatarungas, you’ll notice certain muscle groups become stronger. As those muscle groups become stronger, they’ll work to protect other parts of your body. Strengthening your thigh and calf muscles can help to protect your knees, for example.
3. Improves Posture
This ebb and flow of strength and flexibility create a natural stacking in your spine and bones. Your alignment and posture naturally improve because each posture feels better when it is in proper alignment. Tuning into your body and really noticing how it feels in certain poses will help to improve your posture and protect your body from injuries and strain.
4. Improves Breathing
The breath is one of the most basic and yet key aspects of the yoga practice, and of life! Through the melding of the breath and movement in each yoga pose, the practice opens your awareness allowing you to notice how you are breathing. This allows you to not only maintain but also improve your lung capacity. The longer you practice pranayama as well as the asana of yoga (that is, the breath and poses), the more you will notice you can breathe in for longer counts and exhale completely. This will help increase the amount of oxygen in your body.
5. Strengthens Bones
Certain poses, such as chatarunga and headstands, help the strengthen your bones. These poses are weight-bearing poses which force the bones, as well as the muscles, to really work to hold up the body. Plank is a good pose not only to help improve bone strength but also to strengthen the core muscles.
6. Improves Joint Health
Like Tai Chi, yoga can help with joint pain. The flow through the yoga asanas really help lubricate the joints by stimulating synovial fluid. This fluid helps in the movement of your joints, so you don’t get bone to bone friction.
These are just a few of the health benefits of yoga. Yoga not only helps the body physically, but it helps the mind too. By allowing the mind to be more present, the practitioner, or yogi, can really observe their body through the yoga sequence.
Yoga is ultimately a holistic practice, truly helping improve mind, body and spirit.
So Happy National Yoga Month to you all! I hope you continue to choose your own yoga adventure!
*All images from Google Images