The hidden benefits of yoga

Yoga_Oct12_AWhile many of you already know that yoga helps increase flexibility and boost endurance, and allows you to breathe your way to a calm mind, the fact is that yoga can do more than help you twist your body and find inner peace. With that in mind, we’ll explore the benefits of yoga that you may not know about, but will be glad that you do now!

Boosts immunity

According to research from the University of Oslo, just two hours of practicing yoga can cause your genes to change. Specifically, it turns on 111 genes that help regulate your immune cells. The changes start to occur the moment you’re on the mat, and rev up your immunity better than going on a nature hike while listening to soothing music, which turns on only 38 genes. Not only that but, as you breathe better, move better and circulate better, all other organs in your body function better too.

Eases migraines

If you suffer from migraines, then you already know how painful and disruptive they are to your daily life. But believe it or not, research from Headache: the Journal of Head and Face Pain shows that migraine sufferers have fewer, less painful migraines, and use meds less often after only three months of yoga practice.

What’s more, certain yoga moves can help alleviate migraine pain in no time. For starters, lie on your back with your knees bent and your feet hip-distance apart on the floor. With your hands resting on the floor, begin to press down into your legs and draw your hips toward the sky. Keep your shoulders in line with the base of your neck, moving the back of the shoulders together so your shoulder blades are close. Lift your chest towards your chin but move your chin away from your chest. This causes the upper trapezius muscles to flow away from the head, which will ease your pain.

Improves sexual performance

You read correctly, yoga actually improves things in the bedroom! Studies have found that 12 weeks of yoga can improve sexual desire, arousal, performance, confidence, orgasm and satisfaction for both men and women. How? Yoga increases blood flow into the genital area, which helps with arousal and erections. It also strengthens the pelvic floor muscles, and the breathing techniques you get from the practice can help with endurance and performance.

If you really want to take things up a notch, try sitting with your feet together and your knees bent and reaching toward the floor. Then slowly fold over your feet while trying to bring your knees closer to the ground, moving the groin back, and engaging the pelvic floor muscles. This is a great hip-opener, plus the pelvic floor engagement tones the muscles for orgasm.

Relieves PMS cramps

Three specific yoga poses — the cobra, cat and fish, were found to significantly reduce the severity of young women’s menstrual cramps. It is best to perform these poses at the start of, or mid-way through, your period cycle.

Try the cobra pose, lying face-down on the mat with your palms down by the sides of your rib cage and the tops of your feet pressing into the floor. Press into your hands, puling the floor toward your toes as you lift your chest forward off the floor, and then lower down again. Focus on your abdominal connection and avoid lifting your leg off the floor.

Quells food cravings

Researchers from the University of Washington found that regular yoga practice helps with mindful eating by causing breath awareness. This strengthens the mind-body connection and helps you tune in to emotions involved with certain cravings. You’ll also slow down and make better choices when cravings do strike.

The next time you have the munchies, try laying down in a comfortable position and bringing attention to the natural breathing movement in and out through your nose. Then bring attention to the triangular area around the tip of your nose and upper lip, while also focusing on your breath hitting this space as you exhale, the temperature of your breath, and the nostril you’re breathing through. No moving, no reacting; just stay present. Try this for two minutes or more.

Stops embarrassing leaks

Believe it or not, yoga can treat urinary incontinence. This mainly affects women after having given birth, and often takes its toll on them at the gym or while they’re running. However, women who took part in yoga programs designed to target the pelvic floor muscles experienced a 70 percent reduction in the frequency of their leaks.

These are just some of the benefits of practicing yoga that will help enrich the quality of your everyday life. If you would like to know more about how yoga can benefit your mind and body, or would like to talk to an expert about getting started, just give us a call today and we’ll be happy to help.

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