While yoga has exploded in popularity in just the last 20 years or so, people have been practicing yoga for literally thousands and thousands of years – all over the world – largely in part because of the way that it builds healthier, stronger, happier bodies.
Anyone wondering is yoga good for you should be able to put their mind at ease recognizing that it’s unlikely anything would last for more than a couple thousand years if it didn’t have a host of benefits.
Sure, there’s a lot of marketing buzz around different kinds of yoga (and we’ll dig deeper into that just a second) – some of it touting benefits of yoga that seem too good to be true. But this ancient method of moving your body and meditating in motion is very much the real deal and we will get into that in just a bit, too!
What is Yoga?
At its core, yoga is little more than what we mentioned above – meditation in motion – and a way to closely link your mind, your body, and your spirit in a way that gently tugs and pulls at your muscle mass to build a stronger, healthier, and happier you.
Not only is this a form of physical and mental exercise, but it’s also great way to build healthy habits. You build better discipline, better emotional control the ability to compartmentalize, and the ability to experience life “in the moment” in a way that is pretty tough otherwise.
These are just some of the good things about yoga, some of the advantages of doing yoga that often go overlooked. Yes, you’ll be able to lose weight, build muscle, and improve your flexibility with yoga – but there are other benefits of daily yoga that go far beyond the physical.
Where Does Yoga Come From?
There are seemingly about a million and one different yoga origin stories out there, with every different region around the world that’s been practicing yoga for a couple of thousands of years claiming that they were first to do it.
The truth, however, is a little bit muddier and a little bit murkier.
Some of the first recorded histories of yoga come from India and a compilation of books and manuscripts that were created well before 400 A.D. when they were rediscovered.
Most historians today link the creation and genesis of yoga with early Indian culture, though there are some that believe yoga began in Asia (particularly China) – though the evidence there is a little bit tenuous as of right now.
How Does Yoga Work?
As highlighted above, those wondering how effective is yoga or what is yoga good for will have most of their questions answered when they start to better understand how yoga actually works.
Though there are different forms of yoga (including Anusara, Ashtanga, Bikram, Hatha, Hot Yoga, Iyengar, Restorative, and Vinyasa yoga), at the end of the day almost every form of yoga focuses on the same core principles and foundations.
First, yoga involves very controlled and very deliberate movements and motion.
These movements have been practiced for thousands of years to improve your flexibility, your strength, your mobility, and your balance but they’ve also been carefully honed to improve your overall control physically as well as mentally.
It’s not at all uncommon for people that have practiced yoga for a couple of years to feel as though they have a much better “feel” for their body, control over their movements, and a real ownership of who they are as a person because of it.
Secondly, yoga taps directly into your mind through the deliberate motion and control you need to exert.
Stress not only wears us out mentally and emotionally but it also begins to accumulate a number of stress hormones and biochemicals throughout our nervous system. This can make it biologically difficult to rest, relax, and recover – but the breathing exercises tied into the movements and meditation aspects of yoga help to clear your system. Think of this as a moving detox, if you will.
What Are The Health Benefits Of Yoga?
Flexibility is obviously a huge benefit of regular yoga practice. It’s absolutely impossible not to become more flexible and more limber when you are regularly stretching your body strategically, working your muscles, your joints, and your tendons and allowing your body to unclench.
Every form of consistent and diligent exercise is going to promote muscular growth, and you’re going to find yoga to be a great way to lean out, to build stronger muscles, and to develop the kind of natural strength you wouldn’t have been able to otherwise.
Your posture will inevitably improve thanks to the stretching and muscular growth and stability benefits that yoga brings to the table. As you relax and release muscles that were locked up and frozen by stress and tension (as well as inactivity and atrophy) you’ll find that your body naturally rests with perfect posture – something that can help your health and wellness as well as your confidence almost immediately.
Every single yoga session is going to put your body through spaces, moving joints throughout their full range of motion and helping to “workout” areas of your joints and cartilage that might not have been worked out otherwise. This improves and lubricates these areas, strengthens them significantly, and also floods these parts of the body with fresh nutrients that fuel them for the long haul, too.
If you’ve ever seen people go through an intense yoga session you’ll likely have seen them breathing heavy and sweating profusely – and that’s how you know that yoga is a whole lot more than stretching into funky positions and waiting around a bunch.
Through the breathing exercises and the vigorous motion you’re going to be able to oxygenate your blood cells, increase your overall blood flow, boost your cardiovascular health, and generally improve your overall wellness through your circulation.
Another of the more important facts about yoga and health has to be the ability to improve your immune system through yoga.
By working out your major muscle groups, moving into and out of each individual yoga position, and “squeezing” your body throughout the process you’re able to drain out lymph fluids from your body. Your boost your overall lymphatic system, fight back against viral of tax and infection, and give your immune system on nice bump.
It’s critically important to make sure that you are taking care of your cardiovascular system for obvious reasons, but there aren’t a lot of people that want to pound the pavement or spend hours and hours on a treadmill.
The fact that you’ll get your heart rate moving, your circulation flowing, and better oxygenation throughout your body have to be some of the biggest health benefits of yoga exercise that often times go overlooked.
A number of independent studies have shown that those living with high blood pressure are able to significantly drop those numbers (by anywhere between 15 points and 30 points) almost overnight with regular and diligent yoga practice.
Another independent study focused on those living with diabetes (both Type I and Type II diabetes) has conclusively shown yoga to lower overall blood sugar and blood glucose levels. It’s also been able to have a positive effect on LDL-cholesterol (lowering it) and HDL cholesterol (raising it) – all while helping to drop your cortisol and adrenaline levels.
At the end of the day, your body needs to rest, relax, and recuperate – not only from the stress and pressures of your day-to-day life but also from all the physical assaults on your body (whether they be worn out muscles and fatigue, bacterial or infection assaults, or something else entirely).
Regular yoga is going to fatigue your body just enough to make it easy to drift off to sleep, but it’s also going to improve your ability to recover from the day as well. Elevated oxygen levels through the blood, better control over your blood pressure, improvements to core biochemical releases that promote improved sleep are just some of the ways that yoga helps you to rest better each night.
The Wrap Up
When you get right down to it even just asking is yoga good for you it’s kind of a crazy question.
Of course it is!
Best of all, yoga is infinitely accessible to pretty much anyone and everyone that wants to improve their lives, their health, and their well-being.
You don’t have to be in great shape, you don’t have to know all that much about yoga, and you don’t have to go out and buy all kinds of fancy equipment to dive right in. All you really need is a couple of quick YouTube videos and a little bit of floor space and you are off to the races.
Let’s put it this way – What is yoga good for?
Just about anything and everything, truth be told!