10 Little Known Benefits of Yoga: Say ‘Om’
In honor of September as National Yoga Month, take a breather and celebrate the benefits of yoga. While everyone knows how yoga can help with relaxation and overall physical fitness, we decided to dig around and have yoga experts share with us some of the other benefits of the sport.
So with no further fanfare, here are the top 10 little known benefits of yoga:
Boost Immunity: Yoga can boost immunity, thereby helping to fight off colds and flus, by stimulating the lymph nodes. Yoga has also been proven to lower stress which correlates to a higher immunity.
Improve Your Mood: Opening poses like Camel and Fish Pose help ease the blues and can leave you feeling lighter and ready to take on a challenge. Regular practice will help even out peaks and valleys in mood. Soon you will find a more harmonious way of being in the world, and with others.
Better Sex: Yoga helps us reconnect with our bodies in this moment, right now. This connection to self increases our sensation of pleasure, our degree of ease within our bodies, and our ability to communicate to our partner. Yoga can also help men and women have better orgasms by strengthening the pelvic floor muscles. (These are the muscles that contract during orgasm.)
Increased Sense of Connection to Others: One of the mysterious and surprising things about people who take up yoga regularly is that they feel increasingly connected to others. The feeling of “separateness'' has been blamed for everything from addiction to violence, and a regular yoga practice fosters peacefulness within one's own heart, which then extends to one's neighbor.
Breathe Easier: Yoga increases your lung/breath capacity. Studies show we may be using only about 30 percent of our lung capacity on a regular basis. Yoga trains you to breathe deeper and eventually can increase your breath capacity.
Make New Friends: People tend to stick around and chat after class, so it’s a great way to meet new people and make a few new friends.
Stress Management: The most profound benefit, especially in our fast paced, high-anxiety society is the ability to manage stress. We know that stress is linked to many physical ailments including disease. The demands of a yoga practice with all the bending, twisting and folding requires that all areas of the body participate. Areas that hold stress are generally hard to access and demand attention. By freeing those parts we defuse and release stress.
Freedom and Lightness of Motion: So many people complain of being stiff, stuck, tight or restricted. Most are resolved that it's just the way they are, a family curse or a dead-end. Yoga offers a process that can reverse that misconception as joints become more spacious and muscles become longer and leaner. As people experience a fuller range of motion they begin to move more efficiently and feel lighter.
Body Awareness: We could live our entire lifetime without feeling every inch of our bodies. Some might say, “Why should I?” and yoga instructors say, “Why not?” At the end of the day it's all we've got, why not know it inside and out? By coordinating your breath with the poses, you develop an extraordinary connection and synchronicity that leaves you feeling uniquely empowered.
So, go out and celebrate yoga month. There are free classes at yoga facilities nationwide in honor of the month. Keep in mind when looking for a new instructor that it’s not always one size fits all. Find a certified instructor and try a range of classes to see what suits you best.
Notice acronyms after an instructor’s name? It’s helpful to know what they mean! According to the Yoga Alliance, RYT and eRYT are designations to indicate that an instructor has met minimum requirements in training and continuing education. An RYT is an instructor who has completed either an approved 200 or 500 hour training program. An eRYT has completed the training plus has a certain level of experience teaching beyond that initial training. eRYT’s are also approved to train other teachers.
Sources: Jen Fink Oppenheimer, 200 eRYT certified yoga instructor in New York; Catherine Tingey, RYT 200 certified yoga instructor in Los Angeles; Sara DiVello, author, “Where in the OM Am I?” and certified instructor for both vinyasa and
restorative yoga; Celia Hirsch, certified yoga instructor in New York.