This is a guest post by Mike McLeish
If you’re frequent yogi you’ve probably noticed some health benefits – perhaps you’re sleeping
better? Or maybe you’re getting fewer colds? Or are you just feeling a little more at ease with
yourself and the world around you?
Sadly, if you were to tell a newbie about the benefits of yoga, you’d most likely find that
explanations such as “it increases the flow of prana” or “it brings energy up your spine” fall on
completely and utterly deaf ears.
Most skeptics are more likely to invest in supplements than a yoga mat.
luckily it doesn’t have to be this way anymore as researchers are starting to provide some concrete
proof that yoga improves health, heals those aches and pains, and it even helps to keep sickness
1) Improves your flexibility
Improved flexibility is one of the first and most obvious health benefit experienced by people have
taken up yoga. When starting it’s unlikely you’ll be able to touch your toes (I know I can’t)! Never
mind some of the more adventurous moves involved.
Make sure you stick with it, though. Over time you’ll begin to see improvements in your flexibility as
you loosen up. Eventually the seemingly impossible will become easy. You might even notice that
other aches start to improve as well. That’s no coincidence. For example, a tight left shoulder could
actually manifest itself as pain in your right knee!
Practicing flexibility will clear up muscles imbalances and help to correct poor posture developed
from years of using the body inefficiently.
2) Improves Muscle Strength
Strong muscles aren’t there just to enhance physical appearance. They hold the bodies posture
and protect from conditions such as back pain and arthritis. The strength from yoga is different to
the strength built in the gym. You’re able to build functional power that eases the inconveniences of
3) Enables You To Sleep Deeper
Being stimulated is good but too much stimulation is taxing on the nervous system. Yoga can
detach the body away from the chaos of modern life. The forms of relaxations taught provides
downtime for the nervous system. This has a positive effect on your sleep, meaning you’re able to
bee less tired, less stressed and more content with life in general.
4) Eases Pain
Yoga can cure other pains within the body. Several studies have demonstrated that asana and
meditation reduced the pain people experienced who had arthritis, carpal tunnel syndrome, back
pain and fibromyalgia. When chronic pain is relieved the body relaxes, your mood improves, and you’re more inclined to
leave a happy and fulfilling lifestyle.
5) Encourages self-care
Not surprisingly the vast majority of medicine consists of passive behavior from the patient. This
isn't the case with yoga. With yoga, it’s what you do for yourself that has an impact on your
situation. It gives you the tools to help change.
6) Uses Sounds To Soothe Your Sinuses
The very basics of yoga (pranayama, asana, and meditation) will all work to improve your health,
but there’s more to yoga than just that. If you consider chanting. It tends to prolong exhalation,
which shifts your balance toward the parasympathetic nervous system.
When you do this in a large group, chanting can be particularly powerful tool to connect with
others. Slow, hypnotic humming sounds help you to become more in time with your body than a
military style watch. A recent study suggests that these humming sounds (like the ones created
while chanting the Om, can open your sinuses and facilitate clearing.
7) Gives you Inner Strength
Yoga can help you to make significant changes in your life. You could argue that’s its biggest
health benefit. The strength developed can extend to the other aspects of your life. You may find
that after you undertake yoga you decide to eat better, exercises a little more and finally kick
smoking for good.
8) Improves self-esteem
Low self-esteem is a crippling emotion to experience. Handled negatively it’s easy to over-eat,
work too much, and think negative thoughts. As a result of this, your physical, mental and social
wellbeing will pay the price.
If you tackle the issue with a positive intervention such as yoga, you’ll learn not only the
movements of but the philosophy. If you practice regularly with the intention of self-reflection and
self-improvement, you’ll unlock a different side of your thoughts.
This will enhance feelings of gratitude, empathy, and forgiveness, as well as the sense that you’re
part of something bigger.
Yoga is excellent at teaching perspective and enables the practitioner to look inwardly at the
person they are and why they feel certain ways.
9) Helps you keep you drug-free
If your medicine cupboard is filled with supplements and pills, maybe it’s time you attempted yoga.
Studies of people with asthma, high blood pressure, Type II diabetes and obsessive-compulsive
disorder have shown that yoga helped them lower their dosage of medications. In some
circumstances, patients were able to come off of medication altogether.
The benefits of taking fewer medications and supplements? It’ll be cheaper on your wallet, and
you’ll have much less chance of the dangerous side effects associated with high intakes.
Mike McLeish is the owner of the bicycle blog Pinch-Flat. He’s currently taking full advantage of the
of the warm weather in SE Asia. You can find him cycling through traffic in Kuala Lumpur,
attempting to drink coffee from a plastic bag, or eating Nasi Lemak at a local corner shop. Follow
him on Twitter at @Pinch_Flat.