Eleven surprising benefits of yoga

  1. Aids concentration. Balancing poses (the ones where you have to concentrate on not falling over!) are thought to help focus the mind in daily life. Perfect pose: Eagle Pose (Garudasana)
  2. Lessens migraines. A three-month study by the University of Rajasthan showed certain yoga postures substantially reduced migraine attacks. Perfect pose: Child’s Pose
  3. Cuts coughs and colds. recent Norwegian study found yoga practice could boost immunity. Perfect pose: Downward Facing Dog (Adho Mukha Svanasana)
  4. Helps heart health. Emerging research suggests the combined effects of yoga muscle work, breathing, and relaxation can calm the nervous system and reduce blood pressure, allowing for less pressure on the heart. Perfect pose: Big Toe Lock (Padangusthasana)
  5. Reduces constipation. If you want to get things moving down there, then massage your digestive system with some yoga poses. Relaxation also helps things move more freely! Perfect pose: Chair Pose (Utkatasana)
  6. Boosts brainpower. Okay, so yoga doesn’t grow brain cells but studies have shown that the stress releasing and focusing properties of hatha yoga can help cognitive performance. Perfect pose: Tree (Vrikshasana)
  7. Gives a good night’s sleep. Relaxation and deep breathing = nodding off nicely, thank you. Perfect pose: Legs up the Wall (Viparita Karani)
  8. Boosts memory. Studies have shown regular meditation causes the brain’s cerebral cortex to thicken. Perfect pose: Corpse Pose (Savasana)
  9. Steps-up self-esteem. Abdominal strengthening poses and breathing techniques such as kalpalabhati are thought to help boost  self-esteem, motivation, motor skills, emotions and confidence.  Perfect pose: Boat Pose (Paripurna Navasana)
  10. Reduces blood pressure. The British Heart Foundations suggest breathing exercises, relaxation and meditation can, in some cases, lower blood pressure. Perfect pose: Easy Pose (Sukhasana) with breathing exercises (pranayama)
  11. Fights depression. Scientists from Boston University School of Medicine in the US found that levels of amino acid GABA (a chemical that helps promote calm in the nervous system) were much higher in yogis than those who did equivalent strenuous exercises such as walking. Mindfulness meditation has also been shown to cut the recurrence of depression by 50 per cent. Perfect pose: Standing Forward Bend (Uttanasana).

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