BENEFITS OF YOGA
Each time you practice yoga, you take your joints through their full range of motion. This can help prevent degenerative arthritis or mitigate disability by "squeezing and soaking" areas of cartilage that normally aren't used. Joint cartilage is like a sponge; it receives fresh nutrients only when its fluid is squeezed out and a new supply can be soaked up. Without proper sustenance, neglected areas of cartilage can eventually wear out, exposing the underlying bone like worn-out brake pads.
Yoga improves flexibility. Over the course of your treatment duration you will recognize a gradual loosening, as seemingly impossible poses become possible. Yoga helps aches and pains disappear. Flexible hips prevent the straining of knee joints from improper alignment. Loosened hamstrings disables flattening of the lumbar spine, and thus relieves back pain. Flexibility in connective tissues and muscles enables great posture. when your head is balanced directly over an erect spine, it takes much less work for your neck and back muscles to support it. Straining your muscles to hold up a forward-leaning head for hours a day can make you tired.
Yoga gets your blood flowing. More specifically, the relaxation exercises you learn in yoga can help your circulation, especially in your hands and feet. Yoga also gets more oxygen to your cells, which function better as a result. Twisting poses are thought to wring out venous blood from internal organs and allow oxygenated blood to flow in once the twist is released. Inverted poses, such as Headstand and Shoulder stand, encourage venous blood from the legs and pelvis to flow back to the heart where it can be pumped to the lungs to be freshly oxygenated. This can help if you have swelling in your legs from heart or kidney problems. Yoga also boosts levels of hemoglobin and red blood cells, which carry oxygen to the tissues and it thins the blood by making platelets less sticky and by cutting the level of clot-promoting proteins in the blood. This can lead to a decrease in heart attacks and strokes since blood clots are often the cause of these killers.
When you contract and stretch muscles, move organs around, and come in and out of yoga postures, you increase the drainage of lymph (a viscous fluid rich in immune cells). This helps the lymphatic system fight infection, destroy cancerous cells, and dispose of the toxic waste products of cellular function. Yoga's ability to lower levels of the stress hormone cortisol may help keep calcium in the bones.
Regularly practicing yoga increases proprioception (the ability to feel what your body is doing and where it is in space) and improves balance. Studies have found that yoga practice lowers the resting heart rate, increases endurance, and can improve your maximum uptake of oxygen during exercise—all reflections of improved aerobic conditioning. Studies have found that regular yoga practice improves coordination, reaction time, memory, and even IQ scores.