Everyone knows that yoga is good for you. Yoga creates strength, balance, and flexibility. Yoga is also known to bring about profound states of inner peace. Many people know that they should be going to yoga classes every week but, for some reason, they can never get around to actually doing it. If you fall into this category, then perhaps we need review some of the lesser known benefits of regular yoga practice:
1. Boost Immunity
A recent Norwegian study found that yoga practice results in changes in gene expression that boost immunity at a cellular level. The researchers found that changes occurred while participants were still on the mat, and they were significantly greater than a control group who went on a nature hike while listening to soothing music. Yoga also helps to boost immunity by simply increasing overall health, says Mitchel Bleier, a yoga teacher of 18 years and owner of Yogapata in Connecticut. "As you breathe better, move better and circulate better, all the other organs function better."
2. Ease Migraines
Research shows that migraine sufferers have fewer and less painful migraines after three months of yoga practice. The cause of migraines isn't fully understood, but Bleier says it could be a combination of mental stressors and physical misalignment that create migraines and other issues. Hunching over a computer or cell phone with your shoulders up and head forward causes overlifting of your trapezius and tightening of the neck. This pulls the head forward and creates muscle imbalances that can contribute to headaches and migraines.
3. Boost Sexual Performance
Studies have found that 12 weeks of yoga can improve sexual desire, arousal, performance, confidence, orgasm and satisfaction for both men and women. How? Physically, yoga increases blood flow into the genital area, which is important for arousal and erections, says Bleier, and strengthens the "moola bandha," or pelvic floor muscles. Mentally, the breathing and mind control involved with the practice can also improve performance.
4. Sleep Better
Researchers from Harvard found that eight weeks of daily yoga significantly improved sleep quality for people with insomnia. And another study found that twice-weekly yoga sessions helped cancer survivors sleep better and feel less fatigued. This can be attributed to yoga's ability to help people deal with stress, says Bleier. "Sleep issues are like anxiety. Your head can't stop spinning, you don't know how to relax," he says. "Breathing and mental exercises allow the mind to slow down, so you're going to start to see yourself sleep better."
5. Fight Food Cravings
Researchers from the University of Washington found that regular yoga practice is associated with mindful eating, an awareness of physical and emotional sensations associated with eating. By causing breath awareness, regular yoga practice strengthens the mind-body connection, Bleier says. The awareness can help you tune in to emotions involved with certain cravings, and yoga breathing exercises can help you slow down and make better choices when cravings strike.
Well Being is now offering a special introductory rate to first time students: 30 days for $30. How many more reasons do you need? Begin your regular yoga practice today and enjoy all of these health benefits and more. See our yoga page for more details.
This article was edited from the article, "5 Surprising Health Benefits of Yoga" by Kristen Domonell. The full article can be found here.
Are you looking for a good reason to get a massage? How about nine good reasons?
1 – Reduce Muscle Tension
Muscle tension can cause aches and pains throughout the body. Chronic or recurring pain is often the result of excess muscle tension. Regular massage can help relieve muscle tension and thus helps to reduce chronic and/or recurring pain.
2 – Boost the Immune System
One benefit that massage has on the immune system is the stimulation of the lymphatic system. We also see improvements in the circulation of blood which nourishes the whole body. Studies have found an increase in serotonin in massage patients, along with an increase in the production of T-cells which are the first line of defense for the immune system.
3 – Beat Anxiety and Depression
Getting a therapeutic massage can help us to feel better mentally, emotionally and physically. Massage is well known for its stress reducing benefits and therefore it can help combat depression. People who get massages tend to feel more relaxed and less overwhelmed by life's challenges. As a result, the chances of feeling anxious and/or upset after a massage are greatly reduced.
4 – Make Exercise Easier
Starting an exercise routine is often difficult due to the aches and pains that we feel afterwards. Massage can reduce inflammation which helps to soothe aches and pains. Also, getting a massage after an exercise session will reduce your recovery time. When working out is less painful, people will tend to work out more often, leading to greater overall health.
5 – Pain Relief
Even if you are experiencing pain that has nothing to do with muscles and/or muscular tension, massage can help. This is because pain is often made worse by feeling tense or stressed. Massage is a great way to relieve stress. One benefit of stress relief is that pain felt throughout the body, even if it seems unrelated, can be reduced.
6 – Help With Arthritis
Many people suffer from arthritis. It has been found that massage can help to reduce arthritic pain. It has been shown to help with grip and motion in the hands, wrists and upper joints which are often affected by arthritis.
7 – Improved Balance
As you age, you might find that your balance, neurological, and cardiovascular measures decrease. Many studies have shown that massage can improve this condition. It is suggested that people undertake at least 6 weeks of therapy to see a benefit.
8 – Reduced Blood Pressure
High blood pressure can cause a whole host of long term health problems. Although your doctor can offer lifestyle change advice and/or medication to help with this – massage has also been shown to reduce high blood pressure.
9 – Helps With Fibromyalgia
Fibromyalgia is associated with widespread chronic pain, fatigue, memory problems and mood changes. Massage therapy can improve circulation in the muscles, which increases the flow of nutrients and eliminates waste products. This is particularly beneficial for those with fibromyalgia as it can reduce heart rate, relax muscles, improve range of motion in joints and increase production of the body's natural painkillers.
*This list was edited from an article by Onsite Plus.
Nick Hughes is a massage therapist, yoga instructor and co-owner of Well Being.