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Benefits of Yoga

Yoga is great for the mind, body and soul. Just ask the millions who have been practicing it for hundreds of years. When I first started doing yoga 7 years ago, I did so because a friend I worked out with recommended it to alleviate some of the nagging injuries I had and he said not only will your body feel better, but you'll also feel a great sense of energy afterwards.

Here are our top 10 reasons to do yoga:

1. Flexibility is an important asset in everyday life from reaching for things in the overhead kitchen cabinet to picking up toys from the floor. Without flexibility, you will not be as productive as you want in your personal and professional life. With regular yoga sessions, your muscles will be stretched to their limits albeit in a safe, gradual and effective manner. You may even be able to have the grace of a gymnast or a ballerina.

2. Yoga exercises strengthen your muscles with the emphasis on your core muscles, which are essential in anchoring all the other muscle groups in the body. You need not worry about large muscles because yoga exercises are designed to improve muscle tone and strength, not muscle bulk. You will also observe an increase in the synergy between muscles so that you have an easier time lifting things without straining.

3. Better posture can be achieved through a combination of factors including the increase in flexibility and strength, which allows the muscles to support the entire back in a better manner. The yoga poses that emphasize the deep abdominal muscles also extend the posture while the increased body awareness alerts the mind to poor posture and then corrects it.

4. Because of the cardiovascular exercises involved, yoga also provides for biochemical benefits in the sense that beneficial chemicals are released and harmful chemicals are reduced in the body. Just to name a few of these biochemical reactions, yoga lessens glucose and sodium levels in the bloodstream while increasing levels of haemoglobin, haematocrit and ATPase. Even protein serums, thyroxin, and Vitamin C are increased during yoga exercises.

5. Keep in mind that yoga is considered as a cardio exercise so it comes as no surprise that it has its fair share of cardiovascular health benefits

6. Because of the increased blood flow into the brain during yoga exercises, it is nourished with more oxygen and nutrients that, in turn, enhance cognitive function, memory and depth perception, among other neurological benefits. Besides, you will feel refreshed in your mind and body after a yoga session.

7. Have you observed that infants use their diaphragm when breathing, thus, the gentle rise and fall of their abdomens while adults use their lungs? Yoga brings back the health benefits of deep breathing that infants unconsciously use, said benefits of which include enhancing lung capacity, increasing oxygen intake to the cells, and improving stress management, to name a few. Think of it: When you practice deep breathing, you will be calmer despite the stress in your environment

8. After a yoga session, your mood will be better, your outlook will be more positive, and your happiness will be more palpable. It may be the "happy hormones" released during exercise responsible for such feelings but it must be noted that psychotherapists use yoga as adjunct treatment in patients with attention deficit disorders and obsessive compulsive disorders.

9. Deep breathing techniques, effective flexibility and strength training exercises, and meditation in motion – all of these aspects of yoga contribute to the stress reduction benefits of the ancient practice. Stress has been closely linked to a wide range of diseases including hypertension, diabetes and even cancer metastasis.

10. But when you come to think about it, yoga provides for these benefits because the mind has more clarity, more calm and more awareness. The result: You can tap into your inner self for the creativity and intuition that no other exercise can offer.

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