Yoga is a tried and tested holistic health practice that originated in ancient India and has spread as far as Hollywood homes, exercise videos and studios around the world. From the outside looking in, yoga might seem like a series of stretches and "om”s, but to those who have incorporated it into their lifestyles, yoga is not only an exercise but a discipline. The systematic breathing forces you to be intentionally present. The uncomfortable stretches encourage you to push past your personal limitations to reach a goal. The deliberate silence is an opportunity to detach from the noisy regularity of everyday bustle. However, even these feats of victory are small compared to the many surprising benefits of yoga.
Beyond improving flexibility, yoga can help with sleep, asthma relief, and even aiding fertility, this age-old practice has more perks than expected. Here are 10 shocking benefits that might urge you to hit the mat.
1. Hangover Detox - If you’re waking up from a night of heavy drinking, exercise might be the last thing on your to-do list, but you may want to reconsider. According to an article from Yoga Journal, certain yoga poses can help the liver’s cleansing process and relieve the common curse of morning-after stiffness - especially if you fell asleep on the couch.
2. Improves Memory - Neuroscientists at UCLA discovered that a three-month yoga and meditation course can boost memory problems. The study found that yoga worked better than brain games like puzzles and sudoku when it came to cognitive problem management. Feel free to swap your crossword app for a 10-minute meditation app.
3. Helps Asthma - Since breathing is the main principle of yoga, it is a great way to ease the effects of asthma, which is a condition caused by constricted airwaves. Doing certain yoga poses can reduce the pain of asthma and help improve the condition over time.
4. Reduces The Occurrence Of Migraines - If you suffer from migraines, maybe a moment of silence in child’s pose will help. Next time you want to grab pain pills, try migraine-relieving yoga poses. Incorporating a daily yoga routine can even work to prevent future migraines from popping up at all.
5. Yoga Improves Your Sex Life - We might want to add yoga to the running list of aphrodisiacs because the practice can improve sex life in multiple ways. It not only increases energy - #stamina - but it also boosts your sex drive and encourages stronger orgasms. Pro Tip: All that flexibility can inspire some new positions to practice in the bedroom.
6. Increase Fertility - Women’s fertility is both a highly-sensitive and complicated topic, but there a few ways yoga can fit into the baby-making process. Yoga helps directly with pelvis alignment, blood flow, and relaxation. Gynecologists and yoga instructors have agreed that yoga increases the blood flow in the body, keeping yogis calm, which is a huge factor in improving fertility. Not only does it improve ovarian function, but it has been known to increase IVF success rates.
7. Reduces the Risk of Heart Disease - According to the American Heart Association, incorporating yoga into your regular routine can reduce the risk of heart disease. While it does not fit into the cardio category of boosting heart health, it is still focused on the idea of internal well-being, which creates a mindset of living a healthier, more conscious overall lifestyle.
8. Yoga Strengthens Your Bones - What you can see: Your yoga instructor’s sculpted abs and Michelle Obama-level biceps. What you can’t see: Increased bone density in shoulders, hips and spines. Yoga utilizes the body’s own weight to achieve the bone-building phenomenon known as osteoblasts, which is when the body creates regenerative cells to forge new bone tissue in response to bone resistance and pressure (both of which happen during yoga).
9. Yoga Cures Depression - Any form of exercise is known to improve mood due to an increase in dopamine (endorphin that promotes a sense of personal enjoyment). But if you aren’t in the mood for a jog around the block or spin class, try yoga! In one study, people with clinical depression were asked to take up regular yoga. After three months, most of the subjects lowered their scores on a depression screening test by at least 50 percent. Experts say the mood boost could be related to the positive effects of yogic deep breathing, or the reduction of physical arousal measures like heart rate and blood pressure. Practicing in community with a group also helps build social connection, another proven defense against depression.
10. Yoga Makes you Look Great and Feel Confident - According to Harvard Medical School, people who practice yoga on a regular basis experience more satisfaction and less critical attitudes toward their bodies. They also report feeling more in tune with their physical selves, indicating that the mindful awareness employed during yoga has staying power beyond the studio. Practicing in a safe space with others of all ability levels likely compounds this sense of personal acceptance.