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The Benefits of Yoga

 Niki Perry, Founder of Blessed

Wow – where to begin?! After 23  years of practising, I’m honestly still discovering, every day, the incredible benefits that yoga offers.  Yoga has so many layers to peel back and explore. The deeper you explore, the more life-changing the physical, mental and emotional benefits will be. And it’s important to recognise that these will be different for everyone; yoga is your journey, your own practice.  I could talk about the gazillions of benefits of yoga all day! But I’ll keep it concise and give you an overview of the enhancements to your body, mind and health that come from regular practice.

My key message is that the more you practise, the more improvements you’ll notice; you will become stronger, brighter, flow more naturally, sleep better – and you will be hooked!

The Benefits of Yoga

Yoga shifts your mood and resets your mind.

Your mat is much more than something simply to practise on – it’s a place of safety and grounding. Every time you arrive on your mat, you’re giving yourself permission to release, calm your mind, reset and refocus.

Whatever has been before, just coming to your mat – breathing, focusing on your body and feelings -will allow you to shift your mind and mood. Every single time I finish practising, I feel 100 times better than when I started. For me, it’s a guarantee. Having yoga in my life, I can deal with the ups and downs with clarity and focus. Daily life puts a lot on us – by letting all that go, you strip back to who you really are and connect with how you really feel.

Yoga eases aches and pain.

Yoga stretches every single muscle in your body; it eases stiffness and builds strength and stamina. This not only helps you to feel strong and agile in day-to-day life, but can relieve long-term, chronic pain. I’ve known people due to have spinal surgery, who started practising yoga and cancelled the operation. Others, who took painkillers every single day, no longer need them. Ailments disappear, pain reduces and stiffness subsides.

Building a strong core, will reduce back pain. Working your legs and arms in key yoga postures eases shoulder discomfort, knee pain and general joint ailments. You will release tension in your hips. 

It may take months, even years. It will take commitment. Yoga will become a way of life, enriching your body and mind. 


Yoga builds bone density.

As well as strengthening your muscles, yoga helps build density in your bones by bearing weight on your hands, spine and hips. By pushing down on your mat, you’re supporting your bone health, reducing your chances of injury and osteoporosis as you age.


Yoga helps you sleep. 

Better sleep means a sharper mind, more energy and productivity. Most people experience improved sleep patterns from yoga. Studies show that yoga can even help with chronic insomnia. If drifting off (and staying asleep) is a struggle, choosing to practise in the evening, perhaps through restorative, calming poses, can help you wind down and still your mind before bed.

The Benefits of Yoga

Yoga for depression and anxiety

Yoga has exploded in popularity in recent decades. Experts now consider yoga as a useful way to treat mental health conditions, with overwhelming evidence emerging in this area.

This is, first and foremost, because yoga helps you breathe properly. (Yes, there is a correct way to do it!) Many people who struggle with anxiety simply forget to breathe. When the breath is high in the chest, rapid and shallow, it sends signals to your brain to trigger the ‘fight or flight’ response, releasing adrenaline and cortisol, the stress hormone, linked to mental health conditions as well as high blood pressure and heart disease. By slowing down the breath, we calm the mind and body – and reduce the amount of cortisol.

Even companies are realising the benefit that yoga can have on their workforce, reducing stress levels and boosting mental wellbeing.

Yoga supports your lymphatic system

It’s well known that yoga increases circulation, flushing your body with fresh, oxygenated blood and rinsing your organs of toxins. As a consequence, practising yoga supports your lymphatic system, the network of ‘motorways’ which filters toxins and transports the good stuff, such as antibodies, throughout your body.

Any amount (or type) of yoga will improve your lymphatic system – even holding a shoulder stand for a couple of minutes will allow blood to drain down your legs to flush your lymph nodes. Downward dog, eagle pose, bridge, bow, and extended triangle are all great poses to help stimulate and rejuvenate parts of your lymphatic system, and get everything moving.

Yoga spreads happiness

A more indirect benefit of yoga is the way it affects those around us. By coming to your mat, focusing and grounding yourself, you’ll leave feeling positive and energised, perhaps making you a calmer father, wife, lover or friend. My children love seeing me practise – they often join in. I’m incredibly proud that they are growing up surrounded by yoga. I hope they will continue to practise throughout their lives, encouraging others – and eventually their own children!

 

Experience the power of meditation

Meditation is a key aspect of yoga. Connecting breath and body can create the most powerful form of moving meditation. For most people, this comes at the end of a practice, during shavasana – a pose for ultimate relaxation and a pause for deep healing. This supine posture brings about a deep, meditative state of rest, which helps in the repair of tissues and cells and releases stress. It also gives time for your practice to sink in at a deeper level.

I could go on – the list is endless. As you practise yoga more, you’ll notice how yoga enriches you personally – how you approach work, relationships or challenges. You’ll notice your body become longer and stronger and daily chores become easier. You’ll realise that painful niggle has gone. However you practise, wherever you practise, I promise you it will be a long, exciting journey of discovery. 

Namaste!

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