7 Incredible Benefits of Yoga and Meditation
By now, it’s no secret that yoga and meditation are two amazing ways to boost the health of your body and mind. These ancient practices have evolved over centuries to become beacons of the health industry. Yet, there is still an air of mystery around these ageless exercises. Have you ever wondered why they’re so great? I sure have!
Let’s break down some of the most common health benefits of yoga and meditation to see why they work.
Health Benefits of Yoga
When you contract a muscle, usually with weight, you’re strengthening it. When you elongate the muscle through stretching, you lengthen it. With more length comes more flexibility.
In a regular yoga practice, you’ll feel more limber and your body will be more supple – meaning you’re far more likely to reach your toes without having to bend your knees. Yoga is called a practice for a reason. You’ll need to be consistent with your yoga to see progress. There are forms that take yogis years to stretch into, so you’ll always be able to push towards a new goal.
Relieves Stress and Anxiety
Yoga helps to relieve your stress and anxiety by reducing the production of one of your 3 major hormones: cortisol, which has literally been nicknamed “The Stress Hormone” by doctors. Scientists believe this stress relief comes from the deep breathing that’s encouraged in yoga classes; your attention naturally turns inwards to your breathing, rather than focusing on the daily stressors in your life. It’s even been called “The Relaxation Response”. The drop in cortisol levels is what helps you ease into the zone, where you feel your stress deplete and your anxieties melt away.
Prepare to sleep more soundly because yoga can absolutely help you to both fall and stay asleep. Yoga, unlike most other exercises, gives you the head space to silently think about your day, analyze your thoughts, and sort through feelings so they won’t be replaying in your head when you’re trying to get some shut eye the night before an early morning.
Yoga may be mentally relaxing, but it requires physical energy so you’ll be tired! This is a good thing, because it makes it easier to hit your REM cycles, aka a deeper, more restful sleep so you feel refreshed when you wake up.
Yup, yoga can improve your balance because of 3 key things. When you transition asanas or move between poses (like from Downward Dog to Cobra) you use your abdominal muscles strengthening your core.
This is really common in Vinyasa yoga styles. By holding those asanas or poses for longer periods of time, you also work out your stabilizer muscles, which don’t often get a workout. Lastly, all of that stretching helps to lengthen your spine. This strength increase is concentrated like a cylinder down the core of your body, where your center of balance lies, making it easier for you to balance.
Benefits of Daily Meditation
Aids Mental Health
There are a lot of benefits to your mental health that are derived from mindfulness or meditative practice, but let’s talk specifically about the benefits of daily meditation.
While the occasional session can provide a sense of calm or clarity for a short period of time, daily meditation can actually improve your overall emotional intelligence. You’ll also find yourself more resistant to addictions, meaning you may be able to finally quit smoking or reduce your alcohol consumption. Meditation increases mental acuity, making it easier for you to focus, remember, and learn.
Scientific research is finding more and more evidence that meditation literally slows your aging – at a cellular level. There’s no proof that we can become immortal (yet), but meditation has been shown to increase your longevity. Not only will you live longer, but you’ll have a better quality of life in your golden years. Because meditation can affect your cells, it means your body will be able to repair itself after injuries, fight off developing chronic diseases like Alzheimer’s and become more resilient in both body and mind.
Gratitude is a meditation style that you can practice daily or in concurrence with another meditation practice. By focusing your thoughts on both the big and small things you’re grateful for, you can develop a deeper appreciation and happiness for your life. It’s popular for a reason! Gratitude journaling or meditation can help you shift your mindset, create more self-love, and develop more empathy for others.
Do you have a gratitude journal? I just started one this year and it really can make a difference!
What benefits have you guys found from practicing yoga & meditation?