Yoga benefits all three main aspects of life, the spirit, mind and body. There are some basic practical yoga benefits that should be mentioned:

•Increases flexibility
•Increases lubrication of the joints, ligaments and tendons
•Massages all organs in the body
•Complete detoxification
•Excellent toning of the muscles

Consider the simplicity and ease of yoga, it fits into your everyday life as easily as any basic workout program. And unlike many programs, you don’t need any special equipment other than a spot on the floor, your mind and your body.

The yogic system of asanas (meaning steady pose) emphasizes deep breathing, relaxed movements, and mental concentration. Asanas develop the entire body/mind/spirit. Practicing asanas can also help you discover your true potential.

In all the different forms of yoga, there are literally hundreds of yoga poses that you can perform. I recommend that you learn some basic poses in the beginning and add to those as you build strength in the muscles and then edit your list down for your own practice at home.

 Beginning Precautions

When you’re starting up, you should consult your physician and you shouldn’t do anything your body isn’t ready for. No head stands, backward bending or forcing yourself into a cross-legged position. Using props, such as blankets, blocks and straps for some of the poses can and will be encouraged in the beginning. In fact, I recommend that you focus on learning the breathing techniques that go along with yoga first. You must allow yourself to understand the importance of breathing with every yoga pose that you encounter because this will set a foundation of handling daily living, whether you encounter a crisis and/or complete joy for the rest of your life. Without the emphasis of breathing before, during and after each yoga pose, yoga becomes too hard for the mind, body and spirit to decipher. The breath will allow you to continue on the path of a healthier mind, body and spirit through yoga.

 Biochemical Effects

The biochemical profile improves, indicating an antistress an antioxidant effect, important in the prevention of degenerative diseases.

•Glucose decreases
•Sodium decreases
•Total cholesterol decreases
•Triglycerides decrease
•HDL cholesterol increases
•LDL cholesterol decreases
•VLDL cholesterol decreases
•Catecholamines decrease
•ATPase increases
•Hemtocrit increases
•Hemoglobin increases
•Lumphocyte count increases
•Thyroxin increases
•Total serum protein increases


Physiological Benefits of Yoga

•Stable autonomic nervous system equilibrium
•Pulse rate decreases
•Respiratory rate decreases
•Blood pressure decreases (of special significance for hyporeactors)
•EEG – Alpha waves increase (theta, delta, and beta waves also increase during various stages of meditation)
•Cardiovascular efficiency increases
•Respiratory efficiency increases
•Gastrointestinal function normalizes
•Endocrine function normalizes
•Excretory functions improve
•Musculoskeletal flexibility and joint range of motion increases
•Breath-holding time increases
•Grip strength increases
•Eye-hand coordination improves
•Dexterity skills improves
•Reaction time improves
•Posture improves
•Strength and resiliency increases
•Endurance increases
•Energy level increases
•Weight normalizes
•Immunity increases
•Pain decreases
•Steadiness improves
•Depth perception improves
•Balance improves
•Integrated functioning of body part improves
•Psychological Benefits of Yoga
•Somatic and kinesthetic awareness increase
•Mood improves and subjective well-being increases
•Self-acceptance and self-actualization increase
•Social adjustment increases
•Anxiety and depression decrease
•Hostility decreases
•Concentration improves
•Memory improves
•Attention improves
•Learning efficiency improves
•Mood Improves
•Social skills increase
•Well-being increases
•Symbol coding improves


      Yoga Benefits versus Exercise Benefits

 Yoga Benefits

•Parasympathetic Nervous System dominates
•Sub-cortical regions of brain dominate
•Slow dynamic and static movements
•Normalization of muscle tone
•Low risk of injuring muscles and ligaments
•Low caloric consumption
•Energizing (breathing is natural or controlled)
•Balanced activity of opposing muscle groups
•Awareness in internal (focus is on breath and the infinite)
•Limitless possibilities for growth in self-awareness


 Exercise Benefits

•Sympathetic Nervous System dominates
•Cortical regions of brain dominate
•Rapid forceful movements
•Increased muscle tension
•Higher risk of injury
•Moderate to high caloric consumption
•Effort is maximized
•Fatiguing (breathing is taxed)
•Imbalance activity of opposing muscle groups
•Competitive, goal-oriented
•Awareness is external (focus is on reaching the toes, reaching the finish line, etc.)
•Boredom factor

 Yoga Benefits Sports

Yoga postures are the physical positions that coordinate breath with movement and with holding the position to stretch and strengthen different parts of the body. Asana practice is the ideal complement to other forms of exercise, especially running, cycling and strength training, as the posture systematically work all the major muscle groups, including the back, neck, and shoulders, deep abdominal, hip and buttocks muscles and even ankles, feet, wrists and hands.

By their very nature, asanas effect major and minor muscle groups and organs as they simultaneously import strength, increase flexibility and bring nourishment to internal organs. Although most poses are not aerobic in nature, they do in fact send oxygen to the cells in the body by way of conscious deep breathing and sustained stretching and contraction of different muscle groups.

Whatever sport you choose to practice, yoga can enhance and complement your ability. Most sports build muscular strength and stamina, often in specific areas of the body. Yoga can help to check any imbalance in muscular development and will enable both your body and your mind to function more efficiently. If your body is flexible and supple you will be less prone to sports injuries, as your joints will be kept lubricated.

Skiing demands mental alertness as well as good balance. Yoga asanas strengthen your muscles, releases physical tension and improves your concentration and poise. Yoga makes your limbs balanced, strong and relaxed. Golfers may be prone to one-sided or uneven muscle development. Yoga asanas can strengthen weak areas and ease muscular tension. The standing poses improve balance and muscle flexibility.

Yoga breathing techniques help swimmers to breathe in a relaxed way when exercising.

For bicyclists, back bends can relieve any stiffness caused by bending over the handlebars. Because a cyclist’s back stays in one position for long periods, the muscles may become tense. This can be remedied with stretches. Gentle stretching exercises also ease stiffness in the legs and shoulders. Yoga asanas will also improve flexibility.

Racket sports often involve intense physical effort. Yoga practice can help players to relax and replenish their energy after strenuous games. It also promotes calm, clear thinking, even in situations that call for fast reactions. Asanas for joint mobility can make hips and shoulders more flexible.

© Balance Yoga. All Rights Reserved.