THIS ARTICLE FIRST APPEARED ON FIT AND ME.
Yoga is an absolutely phenomenal form of physical exercise, mental discipline, and spiritual healing. You know something is awesome when it can do all of those things at once. Anyway, there is a long list of benefits that you can and should take advantage of that all come with the simple thing that is Yoga. You may think that Yoga is only for women, but that is not so, especially seeing as more and more men are taking it up every day. No matter if you are a man or woman, Yoga has many different advantages for the mind and body, all of which you absolutely need to start taking advantage of as soon as possible!
What Is Yoga?
Yoga is originally a Hindu form of exercise, stretching, and mental training. In fact, it is also seen as a spiritual and ascetic discipline as well as a physical one. Yoga is widely practiced around the world and is revered for its mental and physical benefits. It involves a lot of mental focus, breathing control, meditation, and simple poses which are meant to strengthen both your body and mind. There are many different variations of Yoga, with a popular one being hot Yoga, a type which is practiced in a very hot room.
Benefit #1: Muscle Strengthening
One big benefit that you get from doing some regular Yoga is the strengthening of your muscles. Yoga involves a lot of positions and movements that force you to hold up your body weight in one way or another, and in some pretty odd looking positions too. The obvious result of this is that your muscles will become stronger over time.
A big part of this involves your back muscles and your core, as many Yoga poses are oriented towards challenging those muscles. This is however also true for virtually every other muscle in your body too. Everything from your forearms and shoulders to your glutes and calves will become stronger thanks to some Yoga classes.
Of course, we all want strong muscles, and that is not only because they look sexy. Strong muscles help to increase our physical performance, they make sports easier, they make us run faster and jump higher, and they help to make a plethora of daily tasks much easier, not to mention that it doesn’t hurt our self-esteem either.
Benefit #2: Cartilage & Joint Protection
Yet another benefit that you can reap from doing Yoga is that it is fantastic for the health of your cartilage and for your joints. This is in part due to your increased flexibility thanks to Yoga, especially when it comes to the health of your joints, but there is even more to it than that. You see, the problem is that as you age, especially if you are not physically active, your joints, or to be exact, the cartilage that helps your joints move smoothly, starts to break down and deteriorate.
This can cause some seriously painful problems such as arthritis in your old age, plus having no cartilage between your joints will be painful either way, not to mention cause a limited range of motion. Yoga is a great way to mitigate the effects of disability and prevent things like arthritisbecause of the nourishing effect it has on the cartilage in your joints. You see, the cartilage in your joints requires nutrients just like every other part of your body.
The difference is that your cartilage really only gets necessary nutrients when it is in motion, such as during Yoga. Yoga has the effect of squeezing your cartilage, which is very beneficial because your sponge-like cartilage needs to be squeezed to get nutrients.
Benefit #3: Flexibility
One of the biggest benefits that you will be able to reap thanks to some regular Yoga is increasing your flexibility. You may not be all that flexible yet and touching your toes might seem akin to flying under your own power when it comes to your first Yoga class. However, as you go back to your Yoga class day after day, you will notice your muscles, joints, and ligaments getting looser and looser.
Before you know it, you will be bending over backward and wrapping yourself up like a pretzel without any issue at all. Many, if not all of the poses that you do in Yoga will stretch out your body in one way or another, thus making you more flexible as time goes on. Being more flexible is great for many different things including preventing pulled muscles and other injuries, plus it can be pretty useful when it comes to your love life as well.
Being more flexible is also useful in terms of relieving certain aches and pains. For instance, having tight hips can cause knee pain, a tight upper back can cause back pain, and tight hamstrings can lead to severe lower back pain, all problems that can be solved with some simple Yoga.