Stress Less: How Yoga can Help Physical and Mental Health

Although yoga has its origins in ancient India, its purpose is universal:to find peace and balance within your own life. Not only is yoga meant to be used as an exercise, but also as a type of therapy. Doing yoga regularly can help your physical strength as well as your mental strength. Some of the main benefits of yoga are; flexibility, strength, better breathing and balance.

Flexibility is something that we are all born with, but over time we begin to lose the range of motion we once had. Yoga can help bring it back better than ever. When doing yoga, better flexibility in your hamstrings, back, shoulders, and hips is very common.

Strength and muscle tone are certainly the biggest reasons why many people choose to exercise. Many yoga poses require you to support the weight of your own body in new ways. As you get stronger, you will see increased muscle tone. Yoga helps shape long, lean muscles.

Better breathing can be achieved through yoga and meditation. Most people take shallow breaths and don’t think about how they breathe. Yoga breathing exercises focus the attention on the breath and teach us how to take deeper breaths, which benefits the entire body.

Balance is perhaps the most important physical and mental benefit yoga has to offer. Learning how to be balanced can help with stress management. The way that your body moves and stretches while doing yoga makes for a stress free and pain free workout. You will get all of the muscle tone and strength with none of the day after sore-ness. Instead of dreading your workouts, you’ll begin to look forward to them. While finding the balance in your body, your physical state and mental state will become one.

Yoga also has fantastic mental benefits, including stress reduction and body awareness. Stress reduction can come from any type of physical activity but is particularly effective in yoga. Because of the concentration required to master the poses, problems seem to poof away during the time you are on the yoga mat. This makes for a perfect break from the thoughts that stress your mind. The emphasis on being in the moment can also help relieve stress. You will leave a yoga class feeling less stressed than when you started.

Body Awareness is a part of life that many people forget about. Yoga teaches the body to make small adjustments and movements in your core. This will help with alignment and eventually lead to increased comfort with your own body.

Yoga is a perfect exercise that helps heal your soul and body from the inside out. When yoga is done correctly, there are no negative effects. Yoga is not an aerobic exercise, but it involves almost every muscle and challenges the body effectively.

Doing yoga regularly can help your physical strength as well as your mental strength. This is why yoga is an excellent exercise for students. If you are interested in taking weekly yoga classes, come to the Student Life office every Monday at 2:30 p.m. for a free class, sponsored by the Student Wellness Club.

(This information from about.com, submitted by guest contributor Alexandra Olsen)