Benefits of yoga: how to improve your health in many ways

Yoga Cobra pose - Bhujangasana (photo: rilueda, Getty Images/iStockphoto)

Yoga Cobra pose - Bhujangasana (photo: rilueda, Getty Images/iStockphoto) - Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

‘It’s not all about putting your body into pretzel shapes’ – Herts-based British Wheel of Yoga teacher Clare Cornell outlines the many health benefits of yoga

Yoga can help everyone to live well, feel good and age gracefully. It increases flexibility and reduces stress.

It gets the blood flowing. The relaxation exercises can help circulation, especially in hands and feet. It gets more oxygen to your cells, which function better as a result.

It lowers cortisol. Adrenal glands secrete cortisol in response to crisis, which temporarily boosts immune function. If your cortisol levels stay high even after the crisis, it can compromise the immune system.

Recent studies suggest yoga and meditation is associated with cellular changes that affect the body’s aging process. Each cell has structures called telomeres, bits of DNA that get shorter each time a cell divides. Yoga may help to preserve their length.

Yoga quells the fluctuations of the mind and can aid sleep. It slows down the mental loops of frustration, regret, and fear that can cause stress. And since stress is implicated in so many health problems from migraines and insomnia to high blood pressure and heart attacks, if you learn to quiet your mind, you’re likely to live longer and be healthier.

As you discover ways yoga improves health, you’ll notice overlap. Change your posture and you change the way you breathe. Change your breathing and you change your nervous system. This is one of the great lessons of yoga - everything is connected, your hipbone to your anklebone, you to your community, your community to the world.

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