Why Yoga?

Improved Flexibility
Improved flexibility is one of the first and most obvious benefits of yoga. Most students find that during their first class they aren’t able to touch their toes, never mind do a backbend. With a consistent practice you will notice a gradual loosening and freedom in the joints, ligaments, bones, and eventually, seemingly impossible poses will become possible.

Pristine  Posture
Our heads are like bowling balls  — big, round, and heavy. When the head is balanced directly atop a healthy, erect spine, it requires less effort for your neck and back muscles to support it. Poor posture can cause back, neck, and other muscle and joint problems. As you slump, your body may compensate by flattening the normal inward curves in your neck and lower back. This can cause pain and degenerative arthritis of the spine.

Supple  Spine
Spinal disks – the shock absorbers between the vertebrae that can herniate and compress nerves – crave movement. That’s the only way they get their nutrients. Yoga helps keep your disks supple.

Increased Blood Flow
Yoga sequences - comprised of asanas, breath, flow - are designed to help improve your circulation, especially in your hands and feet. Yoga also boosts levels of hemoglobin and red blood cells, which carry oxygen to the tissues. And it thins the blood by making platelets less sticky and by cutting the level of clot-promoting proteins in the blood, which can lead to a decrease in heart attacks and strokes.

Healthy Heart 
When you regularly encourage your heart rate into optimal aerobic range, you lower your risk of heart attack and can relieve depression. Even with a mild YIN-style of yoga practice cardiovascular conditioning is improved.

Lower Cortisol
Yoga lowers cortisol levels, a stress hormone. Excessive cortisol has been linked with depression, osteoporosis (it extracts calcium and other minerals from bones and interferes with the laying down of new bone), high blood pressure, and insulin resistance. In rats high cortisol levels lead to what researchers call “food seeking behavior” (the kind that drives you to eat when you’re upset, angry or stressed). The body takes those extra calories and distributes them as fat in the abdomen, contributing to weight gain and the risk of diabetes and heart attack.

Lose Weight
Move more, eat less-that’s the adage of many a dieter. Yoga can help on both fronts. A regular practice gets you moving and burns calories, and the spiritual and emotional dimensions of your practice are known to encourage  a heightened awareness, encouraging you to perhaps address any eating or weight concerns on a deeper level.

Be Here Now
An important component of yoga is focusing on the present, via the breath. Studies have found that regular yoga practice improves coordination, reaction time, memory, and even IQ scores. People who practice meditation demonstrate the ability to solve problems and acquire improved memory and recall - often because they are less distracted by thoughts, which are endless detractors from present moment.

Balance +
Regularly practicing yoga increases proprioception (the ability to feel what your body is doing and where it is in space) and improves balance. People with poor posture or dysfunctional movement patterns usually have a poor proprioception, which has been linked to knee problems and back pain. Improved balance equates to fewer falls and accidents.

Release  Tension
As you practice yoga, you begin to notice where you hold tension: It might be in your tongue, your eyes, or the muscles of your face and neck. If you simply tune in, you may be able to let it go.

Immune Boost
Asana and pranayama improve immune function, but, so far in this area, meditation has the strongest scientific support . It appears to have a beneficial effect on the functioning of the immune system, boosting it when needed (for example, raising antibody levels in response to a vaccine) and lowering it when needed (for instance, mitigating an inappropriately aggressive immune function in an autoimmune disease like psoriasis).

Waste Not - Want Not  
Ulcers, irritable bowel syndrome, and constipation – all these can be exacerbated by stress. So if you stress less, you’ll suffer less. Yoga, like any physical exercise, can ease constipation – and theoretically lower the risk of colon cancer – because moving the body facilitates more rapid transport of food and waste products through the bowels.

Divinity & Sacredness 

Surprisingly, many of us suffer from chronic low self-esteem. Practicing yoga regularly with an intention of self-examination and betterment – not just as a substitute for an aerobics class – you will access a unique dimension of your existence, which has been known to initiate  feelings of gratitude, empathy, forgiveness, and the sense that you’re part of something bigger (divinity). While better health is not the goal of divinity or spirituality, it’s often a by-product, as documented repeatedly in scientific studies.

Decreased  Habituation 
Yoga can help you make changes in your life. In fact, that might be its greatest strength. Tapas, the Sanskrit word for “heat”, is the fire, the discipline that fuels yoga practice and that regular practice builds. You may find that without making a particular effort to change your habits, simply by the multi-level transformation and balance derived from your practice ,  you may begin to  eat better, exercise more, or finally quit smoking, after years of failed attempts.

Fewer Drugs
Studies of yoga practitioners with asthma, high blood pressure, Type II diabetes , and obsessive-compulsive disorder have shown  yoga helped them to lower their dosage of medications and, in some instances, eliminate prescription drugs entirely.  There are numerous benefits to taking fewer prescription drugs, and your yoga practice has no harmful side effects or risks associated with drug interactions, and { if your list of meds is long } you might even spend less money on yoga.

For More Information regarding the health benefits, visit Yoga Health Foundation (www.yogahealthfoundation.org)



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