Yoga, originated in ancient India is a practice that brings together mind and body. Practicing yoga on a regular basis, you can experience the healing power of yoga in a very real way. There are many types of yoga. Hatha (a combination of many styles) is one of the most popular styles. It is a more physical type of yoga rather than a still, meditative form. Hatha yoga focuses on pranayamas (breath-controlled exercises). These are followed by a series of asanas (yoga postures), which end with savasana (a resting period).
Some evidence-based benefits of yoga on physical & mental health are explained-
1. Sleep Better
Regular practice of yoga induces sound sleep as it relaxes your nervous system. Yoga provides relief from the hustle and bustle of modern day life. Studies has shown that people practicing yoga fell asleep faster, slept longer and felt more well-rested in the morning.
2. Boost Immune System
Yoga 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).
3. Fight Depression
Yoga is found to reduce levels of cortisol - the stress hormone present in the body. It makes you feel happier by raising serotonin levels causing an anti-depressant effect and reducing symptoms of depression.
4. Improve Cardiovascular Health
Studies show that yoga may help improve heart health and reduce several risk factors for heart disease. Yoga practice lowers the resting heart rate, increases endurance, and can improve your maximum uptake of oxygen during exercise—all reflections of improved aerobic conditioning. One study found that subjects who were taught only pranayama could do more exercise with less oxygen.
5. Improve Flexibility
Improving your flexibility and functional movements is the most obvious impact of yoga practice. During your first class, you probably won't be able to touch your toes, never mind do a back bend. But if you stick with it, you'll notice a gradual loosening, and eventually, seemingly impossible poses will become possible. Practicing just 15–30 minutes of yoga each day could make a big difference for those looking to enhance performance by increasing flexibility and balance.
6. Build Muscle Strength
Lower muscle strength or muscle percentage in the body leads to faster aging & problems like arthritis. Building muscle strength through yoga is accompanied by improved flexibility as well in the body.
7. Increased Concentration
How many of you are constantly distracted by your past or thoughts keep running in your mind like an endless loop? Practicing yoga helps you focus on the present and improves productivity, reaction time & memory.
8. Weight Management
One of the positive repercussions of Yoga is mindful eating. Researchers found that people who practiced yoga for at least 30 minutes once a week for at least four years, gained less weight during middle adulthood. People who were overweight actually lost weight. Overall, those who practiced yoga had lower body mass indexes (BMIs) compared with those who did not practice yoga.