Published on January 26, 2021

Four Reasons You Should Practice Yoga

Yoga does a body good. Here are four good reasons to get started!

    1) Resilient Joints

    There is no impact stress on bones or joints in yoga. The gentle, repetitive movements in yoga sequences stimulate production of synovial fluid, the material that keeps joint tissue healthy and hydrated. Consistent practice helps your body’s joints to recover from soreness or injury, and it helps reduce the buildup of inflammation.

    2) Stress Management

    When stress pours on, you feel your heart pound. You experience intense emotions that pull you away from your focus and thought process. Maybe it turns into an angry outburst. Maybe it turns into frozen avoidance.

    Regardless of the outward behavior, stress that interferes with your life and relationships is an outcry for your awareness and support. Settling your nervous system is the first step toward processing your stress and anxiety in healthy ways, but many people struggle to achieve that first step. Yoga can help!

    In one breath, the human body engages both the sympathetic nervous system and the parasympathetic nervous system. The sympathetic nervous system is responsible for your body’s “fight” and “flight” responses. Your whole body prepares for movement and exertion when you inhale.

    The parasympathetic nervous system is responsible for your body’s essential “rest” and “digest” functions. Your whole body releases tension if you are exhaling properly. The breathing practices in yoga are methods to consciously engage each of these vital survival systems, as well as how to consciously transition from one to the other.

    3) Core Strength

    Yoga is known to improve your posture and functional movement. In fact, many people come to yoga for the first time when they have experienced a loss of function because of illness or injury. Yoga teaches consistent core engagement throughout each posture and transition.

    Core strength is much deeper and more comprehensive than the appearance of a visible “six-pack.” In fact, those surface muscles are only one part of an interactive system that also includes your deep transverse abdominals, internal obliques, erector and Q-L muscles of your back, and your psoas (deep hip flexor) muscle.

    Core strength and aerobic stamina are related and both rely on coordinated engagement of these deep body muscles with your breath. Core strength from yoga supports serious athletes with intense movement repertoires. For the rest of us, it enables independence through simple movements like carrying groceries and cutting our toenails.

    4) Digestion

    Many people say that they avoid yoga classes because they are worried about passing gas. This is actually a good thing, and it happens to everyone at some point!

    A typical yoga class will have you using deep core muscles and twisting postures. The internal massage created by these postures often stimulates and improves the effectiveness of the involuntary muscles lining your intestines. There are a lot of reasons--hormone levels, stress or a recent meal--that might cause someone to pass gas in a yoga class. Most yoga teachers and fellow students completely understand and are gracious when this inevitably happens!

    Many NMMC Wellness Centers offer yoga classes. Check your local Wellness Center for details.