Blue Cross Blue Shield of Mississippi

Go With the Flow

Forget exercise trend… this one has stood the test of time! More than 5,000 years to be exact! Originating in India, the practice of yoga made its way to the western world in the late 1800’s to early 1900’s and has evolved over time to now include a number of varieties. And there’s no denying the mind and body health benefits of yoga. So, if you’ve never tried yoga, here are some of the reasons you might want to!

Increased Metabolism
Increasing movement overall can boost your metabolism and burn calories, however yoga also improves digestion (think about the twisting of your core), and improves circulation which boosts metabolism itself. Yoga also uses large muscle groups working together, which builds muscle, thus burning more calories.

Prevents or Reduces Depression
Any physical activity is proven to increase your sense of well-being since it activates endorphins – aka the hormones that make you feel good. But practicing yoga, especially in a group setting, can stimulate production of oxytocin which is the love and bonding hormone. The mindfulness that comes with practicing yoga also increases serotonin, which is the happiness hormone. People who practice yoga for long periods of time also show more mass in the brain area associated with contentment.

Strengthens Bones
Weight-bearing exercises, like many in yoga, strengthen bones. Yoga also lowers the stress hormone, cortisol, which can help retain calcium in bones.

Boosts Immunity
The intensity and twisting of many yoga movements, as well as contracting and stretching muscles, increases the draining of lymph nodes which helps to fight infection, can destroy cancer cells and rid the body of toxins.

Lowers Blood Pressure, Cholesterol and Blood Sugar
Two studies published in the British medical journal, The Lancet, found that the Savasana pose which is essentially a relaxed posture lying down, was associated with a 26 point drop in systolic (top number) blood pressure and 15-point drop in diastolic (bottom number) blood pressure. Yoga also lowers the bad (LDL) cholesterol while raising good (HDL). And it helps to lower blood sugar in several ways, including lowering cortisol and adrenaline levels and supporting weight loss.

So, now you know some of the lesser-known health benefits of yoga. There are different styles of yoga, ranging from gentle to much more intense. Take a look at some of the different types of yoga to decide which one(s) suits your personality and level of fitness. Yoga classes are offered at many local health clubs, can be done at home or you can find a yoga studio or instructor near you!

Go ahead…strike a pose!

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