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13 health benefits of yoga that will boggle your mind

You will be surprised to know how yoga can alleviate a multitude of your health woes!

Written by Pavitra Sampath |Updated : March 29, 2018 3:21 PM IST

Read this in Hindi.

If you thought yoga is just for those interested in slow and boring movements you are quite wrong. Yoga can actually help you deal with a variety of issues, it improves your sexual health, helps you lose weight, improves your stamina and even beats migraines and insomnia. Sounds interesting, doesn't it? Well, here are the 13 health benefits of yoga that you must know about.

1. It's a total body workout:Working out has now become synonymous with huffing and puffing away at the gym. But that is not necessarily the only way to workout. Yoga gives you all that a gym can but in a peaceful, safe and more holistic way. It stretches out the muscles in your body, gives you rock hard abs, strong arms, toned buttocks, a strong back and legs. What more could you ask for? The best part about this workout is that it can be done at your pace and combines cardio, functional and strength training all in one.

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2. It will help you master breathing properly: When you perform any pose in yoga, you are taught to breathe in and out with a certain pace and manner. This repeated and controlled breathing helps supply a large amount of fresh oxygen to all parts of your body. Considering oxygen is the one thing that is required in abundance while working out, yoga gives your body and muscles all they need to become healthy and toned. Moreover all the breathing increases your lung capacity, prevents the onset of cramps, gives you a natural glow and helps your entire body work optimally. So no more panting after a workout, only serenity and a calm mind.Moreover deep breathing has been known to help fight off lifestyle diseases like diabetes, heart disease, and high cholesterol. Read more about how kapalbhati pranayam benefits the entire body.

3. It will calm your mind:Yoga demands that the practitioner concentrate and focus on what their body is telling them to notice their breathing pattern, concentrate on any aches and pains they might feel and calm the mind to simply concentrate on themselves. Moreover, this entire practice does not over stimulate the body and mind making you calmer and more poised. Apart from that the deep breathing also helps you focus more efficiently, making you better in all aspects of your life.

4. It will improve your flexibility:Ever wanted to touch your toes with your fingers without bending your knees? Well, yoga can help with that. The practice of yoga helps the body gently regain its flexibility by stretching out the muscles of various areas without causing any harm to them. The best part about yoga is that as you keep performing it, you will see that your flexibility greatly improves. Flexibility is not over rated; it not only helps you get common everyday chores done with ease but also helps protect you from injuries while working out. Yoga helps you become stronger and more capable of keeping up with the demands of everyday life.

5. It will help you lose weight:A study published in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association{5} found that practising yoga can actually help promote mindful eating. This is a practice where one pays attention to the food they are eating and make mindful choices about what s good for their body. The study found that due to the breathing techniques followed during the practice of yoga, it strengthens the mind-body connection and helps you deal with emotions that fuel stress eating. Apart from that yoga is a very effective form of exercise that can be performed even by obese people, giving them the chance to lose weight by engaging in a form of exercise that tones the entire body, fuels the metabolic system and helps burn fat leading to weight loss. Read more about yoga pose for weight loss.

6. It's a great stress buster :Stress is usually thought of as an innocuous condition that can be ignored, but it can actually wreak havoc on your body. Apart from releasing harmful free radicals, it also damages the body s immunity and leaves you tired and irritable. Here s where yoga comes into the picture. Not only does it help calm the mind but also helps beat the ill effects of free radicals and helps build your immunity. Read more about yoga poses to beat stress.

7. It will boost your immunity :A recent Norwegian study {1} found that yoga actually affects the way your body reacts to attacks on your immune system. It stimulates changes in gene expression and boosts your immunity at the cellular level. Apart from that, the study found that not only is the change almost immediate but yoga was found to help improve one s immunity by improving your overall health.

8. It will help beat menstrual pain:Yoga is a very effective tool to help beat the pain and discomfort associated with menstruation. Not only do the poses help ease the pain by stretching out the muscles, but it also helps relieve the cramping one normally experiences. Yoga also helps to calm the mind, reduce irritation and helps the body deal with the fatigue associated with menstruation. Read more about the yoga poses you can do to help beat menstrual pain.

9. It will help you improve your posture:Suffering from a nagging back pain? Or maybe just aching all over due to walking all day? Well, your posture may be to blame and yoga can help you correct that. A bad posture is partly due to bad habits and weak muscles. Yoga helps stretch and tone muscles all over the body, making them stronger which in turn gives you better posture.

10. It will protect you from injuries:Yoga not only makes you flexible, it also makes your muscles stronger. This is one of the main reasons that practising yoga can actually help preventsports injuries and those caused due to overexertion of muscles. Apart from that since the practice makes your muscles stronger, it is also a very effective rehabilitative tool for recovering athletes. Manchester United legend Ryan Giggs who's still playing his trade at the age of 41 believes yoga is one of the primary reasons for him avoiding injuries over the years and his longevity.

11. Improve your overall sexual health:Research has found that practising yoga for 12 weeks continuously can improve all the aspects of sexual health. A study performed in Guru Gobind Singh-Indraprastha University {6} found that in men the practice of yoga improved desire, intercourse satisfaction, performance, confidence, partner synchronization, erection, ejaculatory control and helped the man have a more powerful orgasm. Another study {7} performed by the same university also found that in women the practice of yoga helped improve desire, arousal, lubrication and satisfaction. It also helped reduce the pain women experienced during sex and helped them have more powerful orgasms. Read more about yoga poses to beat premature ejaculation.

12. It will help you beat migraines:Migraines and headaches are common problems in many people these days. The primary cause of migraine attacks is the lack of oxygen to the brain. Practitioners of yoga say that practising sirsasana or the headstand is known to increase the flow of oxygen to the brain, which helps relieve a migraine. Apart from that yoga helps relieve stress which is another cause for migraines. A study performed at the University of Rajasthan {2} found that by practising yoga for three months, people suffering from migraines found they suffered with lesser number of migraines. It also showed that the amount of pain they suffered from was significantly lesser showing that the practice of yoga can actually help people deal with migraines better. Here are some more diseases that yoga can help you overcome.

13. And also help you sleep better: Suffering from insomnia? Well, yoga might just be what you need. A study performed in the Brigham and Women's Hospital, Harvard Medical School {3} found that the regular practice of yoga helped chronic insomniacs deal with the disease. It helped improve their sleep patterns helping them sleep better, stay awake during the day and made them feel more energetic. Apart from that yoga has been found to help cancer patients as well{4}. It was found that the practice of yoga helped them cope better with the pain and stress helping them sleep better. So if insomnia is your worry, try these yoga poses to help you deal with the problem.

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{1} Rapid gene expression changes in peripheral blood lymphocytes upon practice of a comprehensive yoga program --

{2} Effectiveness of yoga therapy in the treatment of migraine without aura: a randomized controlled trial --

{3} Treatment of chronic insomnia with yoga: a preliminary study with sleep-wake diaries --

{4} URMC Study: Yoga Improves Sleep, Quality of Life for Cancer Survivors -

{5} Development and validation of the mindful eating questionnaire. -

{6} Yoga in male sexual functioning: a noncompararive pilot study. -

{7} Yoga in female sexual functions -

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