There is an abundance of different types of yoga available in today’s society. Yoga originated in India, over 5,000 years ago. The first type, and what most practices are based off of, is known as Hatha yoga. While each variation of yoga has nuanced benefits, there are some umbrella benefits that basically apply across the board. Yoga is most currently used as a form of exercise in the United States, but the benefits span far beyond improvements to one’s physical body. There are many pros to practicing yoga, for any individual. The top five benefits of practicing yoga are gaining breath control, increasing one’s ability to focus, building one’s physical strength, improving one’s flexibility, and simply being an overall happier person.

Breath

Improving one’s breath control is helpful for everyone. A large piece of traditional yoga is known as, pranayama. Pranayama is the formal practice of controlling one’s breathing. In many yoga practices, the breath is used as a counting mechanism for moving from one pose to the next, providing an individual with his or her own pace of movement. The ujjayi breath is most commonly used throughout various yoga practices. The ujjayi breath is a conscious form of deep breathing. When a person engages in deep breathing, he or she improves blood flow within his or her body, and also helps to stimulate one’s respiratory system in a positive way. Moreover, learning to control one’s breath can help to lower one’s anxiety levels. Conscious breathing is an integral practice that is deeply integrating into tradition yoga.

Increased Focus

Yoga requires a significant amount of commitment form an individual. A portion of yoga postures are balancing poses. Similar to the benefit of focusing on one’s breath, improving one’s focus through the practice of yoga can be applied to many areas of one’s life. Once a person is able to focus on how his or her body feels in any given pose, he or she will be able to expand his or her asana (yoga pose) repertoire. The increase in one’s focus through a regular yoga practice has been said to help to improve one’s coordination, increase one’s reaction response time, and even help to improve a person’s memory.

Strength

Regardless of the type of yoga a person wishes to practice, one thing that is inevitable is strengthening one’s muscles. Holding one’s body in a specific way, like is done in yoga, engages and strengthens certain muscles. Improving one’s physical strength can help a person in a myriad of ways. For example, if an individual experiences minor back pain, one remedy would be to strengthen his or her core muscles (the muscles located in one’s midsection). Strengthening one’s core muscles can remove some of the pressure and weight from ones back.

Flexibility

One of the first things that often comes to people’s mind when thinking of yoga is that flexibility is essential. This notion is actually a common misconception. A person does not have to be innately flexible to have a successful yoga practice. In fact, one of the main parts of yoga is to work on and improve one’s flexibility. Improving one’s physical flexibility can also help to improve one’s mental flexibility. Learning to stretch one’s body and experiencing how maintaining a regular yoga practice can actually yield physical results in one’s flexibility abilities can be very motivating.

Happiness

Believe it or not, practicing yoga can help a person to increase his or her overall happiness levels. There have been studies that have found that individuals who regularly practice yoga have higher levels of serotonin (the chemical in one’s brain that is most closely associated with happiness) and reduced depression. Additionally, being happier actually helps to increase one’s immune system. Hence, practicing yoga can help a person lead a happier and healthier life.

Yoga is a fantastic alternative, or addition to the more western exercise methods that are currently available. Yoga is an all-encompassing practice that engages one’s body and mind. If an individual is considering whether or not to try out a yoga class, it is important to remember that each class will be different. As previously stated, there are a number of different types of yoga available, each focusing on different aspects of yoga, as well as different teaching methods. Additionally, there is quite the range of levels of practice, starting with beginning all through advanced. Please feel free to reach out to a yoga studio or fitness facility to gain further information.

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