There are the many well-known health benefits of yoga. These include improving flexibility and balance, building strength and endurance, developing focus and concentration, de-stressing and helping with sleep. Yoga can also help you maintain a strong, healthy spine through a better posture.
However, there are a whole host of hidden health benefits of yoga too. Here are five that you may just not know much about.
5 yoga health benefits
Below the surface, but just as amazing
Often when talking about yoga people focus on things that can be seen as a result of efforts applied. We can physically see weight loss, muscle definition, a straighter spine and the difference between not being able to touch our toes and touching them.
However, whilst yoga is a fantastic way to keep subtle, flexible, lean and strong, there are also many health benefits of yoga that could help you with processes and problem areas below the surface.
(1) Yoga can boost your immune system functionality
Yoga is known to keep you fit and healthy in general, by expelling toxins through sweating, breathing out mucus from your nasal passage and generally living an active lifestyle with a positive outlook.
A recent study by a team in The University of Oslo, Norway, provided evidence that yoga changed the gene expression at cellular level, boosting 111 genes that help to regulate immunity. This was seen even as quickly as during the yoga session.
During the experiment two groups of healthy adults were tested. One half participated in a comprehensive yoga regime, the other half went on a walk in nature whilst listening to relaxing music.
The results of the yoga group were significantly higher than the walkers. Subsequently, it is expected to form the basis of other biological experiments to gather further data around the health benefits of yoga.
(2) Yoga can put a dampener on food cravings
Yoga tends to naturally promote a healthy existence and most yogis like to keep in shape. Many yogis will follow an organic, vegetarian or vegan diet but it isn’t a requisite, of course.
Almost everyone from time to time will have a craving for something sweet or fatty. Yoga, due to it’s mindfulness training aspect, can really help to overcome giving-in to cravings. It teaches the mind-body connection, which further links the emotional connection with food and eating. It works by bringing it into your conscious space so that you can breathe and refocus on making better decisions around food.
This was backed by a study by the University of Washington.
(3) Yoga can improve sexual desire and performance
Guess it’s logical that both women and men regularly report an improvement in sexual performance after taking-up yoga. Not only is the increased flexibility and endurance useful between the sheets. But yoga increases the flow of blood to the genitals important for erection and arousal.
In addition, a woman’s pelvic-floor muscles are worked-out during a yoga session. Studies show that after just 12 weeks, women reported increased libido and lubrication, enhanced arousal, orgasm and overall sexual satisfaction. Plus, they experienced a confidence boost.
One particular study – published in the Journal of Sexual Medicine – concluded that yoga could assist with sexual dysfunction issues, which are common in women and generally get little clinical attention.
(4) Yoga can help prevent IBS and other digestive disorders
Any physical exercise is able to help with keeping waste flowing through the digestive system. This in turn keeps your internal organs, particularly the bowels, happy and constipation-free, which can reduce the risks of colon cancer.
Certain poses in yoga, squeeze certain parts of the digestive tract. Whilst not scientifically proven, this is believed by yogis to specifically help to move waste along and keep constipation at bay.
If you experience digestive health issues such as IBS, constipation and ulcers, you may be aware that they can be caused by, or exacerbated by, stress. The meditation element of yoga can help to provide you with an overall sense of calm and provide tools to manage stress better.
(5) Yoga can ease PMS cramps
PMS can affect some women more than others.
A study of young women, published by the North American Society for Pediatric and Adolescent Gynaecology, demonstrated that three specific yoga poses reduced the effects of pre-menstrual cramps. This was both in terms of pain level and pain duration.
Cobra, cat and fish were the three poses tested and found to have positive results. Participants in the study performed these poses during the weeks following ovulation, before their period started.
In general though yoga can help us to manage challenging situations. It can encourage a positive outlook even at times when you may not feel 100 percent.
This alone can help women ride through the discomfort of the monthly menstrual cycle.
There are many more health benefits of yoga
There are many more yoga health benefits below the surface of your body. Because yoga is a full body and mind work-out and incorporates life values into the practice, it can be helpful for everyone and anyone willing to give it a try.
If you have a particular ailment that perhaps conventional medicine isn’t resolving, speak to a qualified yoga teacher about if yoga could help you. Whilst yoga is still going through the phases of being scientifically tested, it is making progress. Many studies can be found already to support practicing yoga as a direct benefit to your health.