Yoga is more important than ever. It can be the antidote for what ails you. According to research, around 90 percent of the doctor’s visits are due to stress-related complaints. Amidst the ever-connected digital world, yoga can provide you with strong physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual underpinnings.

Yoga is the only science that can provide multifaceted benefits to you. From improving your strength, flexibility, and balance, yoga gives you an opportunity to step back and live in the moment.

Yoga works in multiple ways on your body and mind to help reduce the risks of chronic diseases, boost immunity and ease aches and pains. The more frequently you practice yoga, the more you experience positive emotions like joy, satisfaction, and general well-being. According to a 2015 Harvard study in the journal PLOS One, a regular practice of yoga can result in 43 percent less utilization of medical services leading to savings in health care costs.

Yoga is for one and all. Yoga is not just twisting and turning the body in gravity-defying postures, it is a five thousand years old science that unites the mind, body, and soul through postures, controlled breathing, deep relaxation, and meditation. The more physical limitations you have, the more important it may be for you to try yoga.

In this background, we present to you top 8 benefits of yoga.

Top 8 Benefits of Yoga

Yoga can invigorate your immunity

Yoga boosts your body’s natural defense mechanism. A 2015 pilot study found that 12 weeks of daily yoga, strengthened the immune system and raised levels of natural antioxidants in the body. Antioxidants neutralize the deleterious effect of free radicals responsible for causing damage to the cell, tissues, and the DNA.

Further, yoga by reducing the stress hormones amps up the immune system and reduces the circulating levels of inflammation-producing cytokines in the body.

Yoga reduces inflammation

A regular practice of yoga reduces the chronic markers of inflammation such as C-reactive Protein (CRP), cytokines, homocysteine, and others. Inflammation is not necessarily bad for you.

An acute inflammation protects you from invading pathogens, cuts, and injuries. Redness, swelling, warmth, pain, some form of inflexibility and immobility that you experience during a trauma are the symptoms of this ongoing repair work. However, when this balance is disrupted, the inflammation persists even when there is no threat of a foreign invader. That is when inflammation becomes bad for health and causes many debilitating conditions in the body.

 A regular practice of yoga and meditation keeps inflammation at bay. A 2014 meta-analysis of 34 studies showed a remarkable reduction in markers of inflammation in the people practicing yoga and meditation.

Yoga reduces stress

 A single 90-minute practice of yoga session can lower the stress hormones or cortisol in the body. Yoga goes a long way in revving up your response to a stress situation.

It does so by influencing your autonomic nervous system. The autonomic nervous system consisting of the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous system controls most of the internal organs functioning. The sympathetic nervous system comes into action whenever you are in a stress situation. It controls the fight-or-flight mode of the body. It tells the body to pump more blood, increase blood sugar and heart rate to face a threatening situation. The parasympathetic nervous system, on the other hand, has the opposite effect. It is responsible for maintaining your body’s vital functions during the time of relaxation.

In the current times, the sympathetic nervous system dominates over the parasympathetic system making you more vulnerable to stress and related conditions. Yoga comes handy in such situation as it reduces the sympathetic response and all its damaging effects and turns on the parasympathetic response, with all its calming effects.

Yoga tones the vagus nerve

The vagus nerve originates from the brainstem and links the brain to the heart, lungs gut, gallbladder,  female fertility organs, and kidney. It is the force behind the parasympathetic nervous system. It regulates your digestion, breathing, heart rate, and other important functions. The activity of vagus nerve determines the health of your parasympathetic nervous system and the ability of your body to handle stress. Yoga by optimizing the overall functioning of the heart, lungs, and digestion gives you high vagal tone. This good vagal tonality ensures that you do not get overwhelmed by stress and remain insulated from depression, chronic pain, and post-traumatic stress disorders.

Yoga rewires your brain

Your brain is plastic and mouldable. You can train it to alter its structure, function, and responses. The latest research on yoga shows that yoga and meditation make positive changes in various part of the brain. It invigorates the happy side of the brain and brings in the balance between the left and right side of the brain. Mediation and yoga help you to better control your emotions. You become less reactive and more responsive towards stressful situations.

Yoga turns on your good genes

In 2003 when the entire human genome was mapped, scientists thought they can solve all the health problems. Little did they know that knowing genes ain’t enough. You not only need to know all your genes but also which genes are expressed and which are not.

The expression of a gene is determined by the factors outside the genes such as your diet, lifestyle, and environment. A regular practice of yoga and meditation results in switching on the good genes while downgrading the bad genes. 

Yoga prevents diseases, relieves chronic pain and provides emotional equanimity

Yoga reduces the risk of heart diseases, increases insulin sensitivity, eases chronic lower back pain and arthritis pain. It provides you with a sharper brain, helps you grow more brain cells, lifts your mood, makes you sleep better, and keeps you away from depression and anxiety. Even a little bit of yoga goes a long way in the maintenance of mental health.

Yoga may even trump drugs for the management of depression. In a 2013 study, when depressed men and women chose yoga over drugs showed greater improvements in their symptoms compared with participants who chose to take antidepressants alone.

Yoga can keep you young

Yes, you have heard it right. Yoga can help you to remain youthful for longer. Your youthfulness is dependent on the length of your telomeres – a component of DNA that helps protect your chromosomes. While shorter telomeres are associated with disease and death, longer telomeres ensure youthful looks and vigor In a study done by Harvard Medical School researchers found that people practicing Metta or loving-kindness meditation had longer telomeres than those who did not meditate.

Knowing the top 8 benefits of yoga should inspire you to buy a yoga mat and make the practice of yoga a part of your life.

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