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Yoga’s Five Spectacular Benefits: Say Yes to It!

The regular practice of this exercise is proven to increase blood circulation — but that's just for starters

Yoga classes are all the rage right now, for people of all ages.

Here are some of the most positive impacts on health and wellness that you need to know about when it comes to the regular practice of yoga.

1.) It increases blood circulation. Yoga is proven to increase blood circulation throughout the body. And with increased circulation comes a boost in the amount of oxygen and nutrients that reach each individual cell — in turn offering aid to every organ in the body.

Perhaps one of the most sought-after benefits of yoga and oxygenation-yielding circulation is lowered blood pressure. As strains on the heart are alleviated, the body calms down, resulting in a significant decline in blood pressure.

Metabolism also stands to benefit, leading to more energy and easier weight control.

2.) It boosts mood and busts stress. Yoga is a form of meditation, one that correlates with better mood control.

In addition to lower levels of the stress hormone cortisol, yoga helps with the release of certain “feel-good” chemicals in the brain, including serotonin, dopamine, and GABA (gamma-amino butyric acid). These neurotransmitters are associated with happiness, pleasure, and lowered stress levels.

These same neurotransmitters are the ones targeted by anti-anxiety and anti-depressant medications.

In a 12-week Boston University study, GABA levels were found to increase by around 27 percent among the group that practiced yoga, compared to that of the other group, which only walked. This group experienced results nowhere near their yoga-practicing counterparts.

The stress hormone cortisol can prove detrimental to the brain, as it triggers the amygdala, also known as the fear center. In supplement, it also shrinks the pre-frontal cortex, which acts as a sort of director of the brain, as it is responsible for coordinating cognitive behaviors, self-control, decision-making, and expression of personality.

Yoga not only provides the brain with neurotransmitters that mitigate stress, it also provides the brain with feel-good chemicals.

What a conductor is to a train, the prefrontal cortex is to the brain. This region of the brain is worth taking care of well. Yoga not only provides the brain with neurotransmitters that mitigate stress, it also provides the brain with feel-good chemicals.

3.) It provides better overall brain function. In addition to lowered stress and better mood, yoga is also linked to both enhanced focus and better information retention.

With such negative influences as anxiety, stress, and depression alleviated, the brain can better allocate its time and energy toward useful processes that serve to help us as human beings.

Aside from the chemical component that involves the presence of (or lack of) neurotransmitters in the brain, yoga teaches us to live in the moment. The concept of being present, as simple as it may sound, is shown to increase mood by itself when practiced. We tend to spend way too much time either regretting past events or dreading possible future events, most of which will never happen.

Through the incorporation of mindfulness and an emphasis on breathing, much of the practice of yoga aims to sustain focus on the present moment. What ensues may very well be the best precursor to optimal brain function: peace and clarity of mind.

4.) It helps with pain prevention and treatment. Because so many people lead sedentary lifestyles today, our back muscles aren’t engaged as much as they should be.

For those of us experiencing back pain, the stretching and relaxation that accompany the exercises can serve to ease tension in stressed muscles. If we have a serious back injury or experience pain upon performing an exercise, we should stop what we’re doing and see a doctor.

Weakness in certain areas of the back can leave us vulnerable to various injuries and discomfort. That said, it’s always easier (and more pleasant) to prevent these than to treat them. Many yoga exercises work to strengthen and relax the back and core, giving us a significantly higher chance of avoiding unwanted pain. And with better back health comes better posture.

5.) It boosts our immune system and longevity, too. With the increased circulation of nutrients and oxygen-rich blood that comes with the exercises, the body automatically becomes more resilient and immune, as every cell in the body is enriched. Yoga movements also support lymph drainage, which allows the immune system to better combat infection, kill diseased cells, and clear the body of harmful toxins.

With lowered weight, blood pressure, and stress — combined with increased cardiovascular health — the risk of heart disease plummets.

As cortisol levels decrease, bones retain calcium more efficiently. Supplement this with the bone fortification that comes with strength training, and the likelihood of contracting osteoporosis decreases. Low levels of GABA are said to be responsible for the inception of Alzheimer’s disease. Yoga raises the amount of this neurotransmitter in the brain.

With stress lowered and physical exercise promoted, the production of insulin in the pancreas is also encouraged — which helps fight type II diabetes.