A Guest Blog by Nicholas Napier
Often, the greatest perks of what we’re doing aren’t obvious at first. Only when truly immersed in our practice are the most fruitful benefits revealed. Yoga training is this way as well. Without even knowing it, every pose and every drop of sweat serves as a sign that you’re improving your body and mind. Thanks to Leanne for the opportunity to write for Epic Yoga in Nashville, a studio that brings out the best in every student who walks through the door.
6 Unforeseen Benefits of Frequent Yoga Practice
What’s the main reason you practice yoga?
A recent survey of the readers of Yoga Journal found that the top reason people keep coming back to their yoga practice is wellness. Since the second and third place answers were calmness and health respectively, it’s clear that many people love yoga for the its benefits to their mind and body. But what about the lesser known benefits of yoga practice? Explore six of the unforeseen advantages that come only from practicing yoga on a regular basis.
1. Improve Your Ability to Sleep
Have you noticed better quality of sleep since practicing yoga? Many people do, and there are a lot of excellent reasons for it. From enhancing the ability to calm your nervous system to providing relief for stress and anxiety, frequent yoga practice is a phenomenal sleep aid. A study published in Psychology Today confirmed that after just 8-weeks of yoga practice, participants improved their sleep in the following categories:
- Sleep efficiency
- Total sleep time
- Total wake time
- Sleep onset latency (the amount of time it takes to fall asleep)
- Wake time after sleep onset
Although not the most widely discussed advantage, the fact that yoga enables you to sleep so much better helps you be the best version of you on a daily basis.
2. Enhance Your Cognitive Function and Ability to Focus
Whether your job has you behind a counter, a jackhammer, or at a desk for hours at a time, the ability to think clearly and focus is crucial. Fortunately for those who regularly practice yoga, its connection to better focus is supported by science. The author of a study published at the University of Waterloo summed it up like this:
“There are a number of theories about why physical exercises like yoga improve energy levels and cognitive test performance. These include the release of endorphins, increased blood flow to the brain, and reduced focus on ruminative thoughts. Though ultimately, it is still an open question”.
Although we aren’t 100% clear why, we do have theories, and more importantly, results that show evidence of yoga’s positive effect on our ability to focus.
3. Recover from and Prevent Injuries
Do you cross-train in another sport along with your yoga practice?
With its emphasis on self-assessment combined with stretching and strengthening the joints, yoga is one of the best ways to recover from injuries or to prevent new ones. For example, if you like to hit the gym, dojo, or rugby field on days you’re not doing yoga, your yoga practice will give your body an edge that is missing from those who don’t.
Joints that are regularly flexed throughout their full range of motion become strong, and strong joints are far more likely to prevent arthritis and avoid serious injuries.
4. Makes Your Skin Look Healthier
Notice a change in your skin since practicing yoga?
Our skin is the body’s largest organ, and it often reveals when we’re not as healthy, well-rested, or hydrated as we should be. Factors like stress and mineral deficiency can cause blemishes, acne, and other highly-visible skin problems.
Luckily, those who practice yoga often stop skin problems before they develop. Since yoga teaches practitioners to minimize stress, control their nerves, and remove toxins via sweat and exhalation, it serves as a natural path to healthy, glowing skin.
5. Improves Your Oral Health and Prevents TMJ Issues
We know that yoga is great for decreasing stress and keeping your joints limber – but did you know that it can help your smile too?
No one wants dental problems. From simple issues like cavities, to more complex problems like the need to replace missing teeth, treating dental problems at a reputable local dentist is sometimes necessary, but it’s also time consuming and can be a drain on your finances.
Yoga helps improve your oral health in multiple ways. First, blood pressure medications are some of the most widely-prescribed in the country, but most of them have the side effect of causing dry mouth which creates a dry, vulnerable condition for your mouth. Regular yoga practice lowers your blood pressure naturally, eliminating the need for medication. Plus, the improved posture from yoga encourages proper alignment of your teeth and jaw. This can prevent painful TMJ and dental issues from developing, saving you from trips to your local dentist.
6. Enhances the Digestion Process
Yoga aids the digestive process, and it’s mostly due to one of the greatest strengths of the practice – decreasing stress while promoting a sense of calmness.
While stress is a cause of many unwanted health conditions, it’s also the main cause of a wide range of digestive problems, from minor stomach irritation to more severe stomach ulcers. We’ve all heard the comment about having butterflies in our stomach at one time or another. That metaphor clearly shows the link between stress and your digestive health.
With the emphasis on rhythmic breathing, a well-aligned posture, and decreasing stress, yoga is an excellent way to prevent digestive problems. Experienced yogis recommend twisting poses for this purpose as they’re particularly useful for targeting the digestive tract.
Consistent Yoga Practice Yields Epic Results
To reap the benefits of any activity, it’s not enough to just experiment with it once or twice. In the case of yoga, those who choose to dedicate themselves to frequent training are the ones who will see the fruits of their practice. From improved sleep to better digestion, the benefits derived from yoga practice combine to enhance your life as a whole. Are you ready to begin a journey to a healthier mind and body? Contact Epic Yoga to see which classes are right for you.