Why should we all do yoga?

At Varchisa we obviously believe we all should follow a yogic lifestyle and practice as often as we possibly can, but why? What exactly are the benefits to practising yoga? Surely it’s just a case of bending into some pretty shapes, making ‘om’ sounds whilst trying to breathe and visualise peace and happiness? Oh no, it is so so much more than that.

Here are 21 benefits for the mind, body, soul and spirit to practicing yoga, some of which you may be very pleasantly surprised to read. If you’re still not convinced as to how regular yoga practice can help you then have a little read of our Varchisa Story here.

Our top 21 benefits of practicing yoga

1. You will learn to live in the present moment

Yoga practice encourages us to be fully present within each and every moment. As each practice helps us to direct our attention inwardly we start to become aware of our presence, our movement and sensation within each passing moment. Concentrating on posture, alignment and breath there is little room for much else thought allowing us to fully be present within each second of an asana practice. This is a wonderful skill we can use throughout every day and in every scenario to help us become more calm, centred and happy.

2. Your stress levels will be reduced

There are many different ways in which yoga helps to reduce stress; an epidemic which causes absolute havoc throughout our western world. Through deepening the breath, increasing the levels of oxygen within the body, calming the nervous system, relaxing the body and mind and releasing emotional tension the practice of yoga is notorious for altering our bodily state from a sympathetic to a parasympathetic response state. In other words we go from a heightened state of constant ‘fight or flight’ stress and elevated levels of cortisol (our stress hormone which causes chaos with our health) to a calmer state of relaxation, rest and homeostasis.

3. You will sleep better

Yoga aids great improvement in sleep quality from the onset of sleep (how quickly you fall asleep), how deeply you sleep and the time until waking after the onset of sleep. So many of us suffer with sleeping troubles, insomnia and getting a good night’s rest but through practising yoga, meditation and deep relaxation, yoga has been scientifically proven to improve sleep quality. Through the reduction of stress and rumination, calming of the nervous system, eliciting a relaxation response, balancing of hormones and the ability to observe one’s own mind yoga is a must for helping to get a good night’s rest.

4. Chronic pain can be reduced

Through increasing emotional control and awareness as well as cognitive control (the ability to override one’s thoughts) suffers of chronic pain are able to manage and control their pain through the practice of yoga. Yoga and meditation can be exceptional methods for those suffering with such as fibromyalgia, arthritis, migraine, chronic back pain as well as a whole host of many other forms of painful conditions. Mind-body practices such as yoga have been scientifically shown to help reduce the perception of pain as well as changes in brain chemistry and anatomy to assist in coping with pain management.

5. Bodily strength is greatly increased

Through challenging the body through physical movement and using one’s own body weight to hold and move through postures not only are the strength and tone of the skeletal muscles improved and the joints strengthened through stabilisation, but the density of bone is also improved further helping to ward off such as osteoporosis in later life.

6. Flexibility and mobility are improved

An increase in flexibility and mobility of the joints are the most associated benefits of yoga within the western world. But why are they such great benefits? Flexibility helps to warden off problems associated with the aging process, it improves posture, helps us rehab and prevent injury, allows the body to move more freely and generally increases comfort within one’s own body. Freedom of the mind and freedom of the body.

7. Organ function is improved

The movement and holding of postures allow the internal organs to be gently massaged, squeezed and stimulated helping to increase blood flow to our vital organs and therefore improve their functionality. Inversions for example help to increase blood flow back to the torso gently helping to improve cardiovascular health through reducing such as high blood pressure. Spinal twists help to stimulate the kidneys and intestines helping to improve the performance and efficiency of the digestive system and thus giving relief to digestive issues.

8. Helps the body to detoxify

Through postures such as spinal twists our organs responsible for helping our body to detoxify such as the liver, intestines and kidneys are positively stimulated. Through increased fresh blood flow and massage of vital organs yoga practice assists the body in working to its optimum helping the body rid itself of wasteful and toxic products and making room for revitalising processes and harmony within the body.

9. It improves the lustre of the skin

Through deeper and more fulfilling breaths, lower stress, improved sleep, increased blood flow to the head and improved digestion yoga brings a brightness and lustre to the skin by promoting all the factors that bring you a healthy, undeniable glow.

10. Hormonal balance is improved

By stimulating the endocrine system and massaging the glands of the body our hormonal balance is greatly restored through asana practice, pranayama (breathing techniques) and meditation. The vast majority of us suffer with an imbalance of at least one of the many hormones our bodies naturally produce which can lead to a multitude of issues including; depression, anxiety, thyroid and metabolism problems, fertility problems, chronic fatigue as well as many others. Consistent yoga practice can help to restore the balance of the endocrine system and all of its associated functions.

11. Depression, anxiety and panic disorders are greatly improved

Asana practice, meditation and breathing techniques are of the most suggested non medicinal aids to helping improve mental health complications such as depression, anxiety and panic attacks. Physical exercise increases the release of dopamine and the ‘happy’ hormone or endorphins, not only does yoga provide this physical benefit but also helps with mental health complications through improving the quality of breath from short, shallow breaths to deep, long breaths, filling the body with oxygen and increasing blood flow, two vital aspects to supporting mental health. Yoga also provides a wonderfully supportive, like-minded community, calms the stress response and levels of cortisol within the body and teaches students how to gain a sense of calm not only within the yoga studio but within day to day life as well.

12. Your self-confidence, self-compassion and self-care will all improve

The physical strength developed with strong poses as well as improvements in posture will transfer themselves into feelings of empowerment and improvements in self-esteem. When we stand tall and proud, we feel confident and strong. Many of us suffer with low levels of self-esteem but consistently taking part in activities which promote self-care will start to see the rise of levels of self-worth through realising the power of the ability to change and heal, feeling the effects and benefits and beginning to appreciate the mind, body, soul and spirit as separate entities. The feelings of being a part of ‘something bigger’ will assist in bringing you to taking care of the unit self, i.e. you.

13. You become more capable of managing your weight

Through increasing physical activity and thus calorie expenditure, intense yoga classes such as Ashtanga and Vinyasa flow classes can help us to lose a little weight. By increasing mindfulness however and how we relate to our bodies, via increased self-awareness and self-esteem, we can see much more impactful changes through directly influencing the choices we make outside of the studio, e.g. what other activities we engage in and what our food choices are. Changes in our attitudes and compassion towards ourselves can oversee great changes within our overall lifestyles.

14. A warm and welcoming community is inescapable

The yoga community is full of warm, open-hearted and like-minded people all of whom are on their own path of spirituality, better health and happiness. There is no competition in yoga, the focus is on your journey and your journey alone but you will just happen to have the support and care of some other great people along the way.

15. Increases contentment, gratitude, love and kindness

Contentment known as ‘Santosha’ within yogic teachings is developed as we become more mindful of ourselves, our lives, what we have and things within our lives we should be grateful for. As yoga encourages you to look inwardly we begin to find our own inner peace and through our ability to increase love and kindness towards ourselves we become more capable of also being more compassionate and caring towards others. The stronger our relationship becomes within ourselves the stronger our relationships become with others.

16. Your sex life will improve

Without needing to highlight the popularity of the Karma Sutra, consistent yoga practice will also help to spice up your life within the bedroom through many other wonderful ways. Increased confidence and self-awareness, the ability to live in the moment mindfully, balanced sex hormones, increased energy and a more positive outlook on life will all advocate a happy, healthy sex life. Not to mention the increase of blood flow and use of the pelvic floor muscles in pretty much all asana postures.

17. Brings a new perspective to life

Within western society we tend to associate yoga only with asana practice or the practice of physical postures. There are in fact 8 limbs of yoga with the physical aspect being only one of those 8 limbs. Moreover, yoga is full to the brim with philosophy, yogic teaching s and a whole new way of viewing the world and life. Every passionate yoga teacher will strive to share some of this beautiful philosophy and teachings within every class.

18. Your concentration levels will improve

As the 6th limb of yoga referred to as Dharana, the practice of yoga greatly increases the ability to concentrate. Through calming the mind and clearing headspace of distracting and negative thoughts both memory and concentration are improved as the mind makes space for positive thoughts and rest.

19. Your relationships will become stronger

Through improving self-acceptance, calmness, patience, gratitude, energy, compassion, love and kindness and through the reduction of anger, agitation, defensiveness and argumentativeness relationships can be greatly improved bringing us closer to the people who matter the most. As mentioned previously intimate relationships can also be brought closer, helping to improve the longevity and quality of our most treasured romantic relationships.

20. Mindfulness will become a part of your daily life

Learning the practice of mindfulness will bring nothing but positivity to life. Mindfulness is a mental state in which we become capable of observing and accepting one’s own mind and thoughts and become fully present within each and every moment and activity performed. Mindfulness induces a sense of calm, allows us to greatly learn about ourselves, reduces stress by inducing a relaxation response, alleviates emotional disruption, reduces levels of anxiety and depression and helps us to deal more positively with pain both mental and physical in nature. The ability to become fully absorbed within each and every moment allows us to appreciate life and quietens the mind of restlessness and relentless thoughts.

21. Posture will be greatly improved

Through western lifestyle our postures have become curved and out of alignment. We are only as young as the spine is flexible. Through modern day life our spinal health has become largely under threat. Through increasing bodily awareness, strength, flexibility and lengthening of the torso and limbs our posture can become greatly improved through the physical practice of yoga asanas and seated meditation.