The yoga practice acts as a therapeutic tool to heal the body and the mind. When you practice yoga regularly, the numerous health benefits become apparent. The yoga postures (asanas), breathing exercises (pranayama), and meditation come together to yield a large number of physiological and psychological changes:

Physiological Benefits of Yoga

* increases muscle flexibility and joint range of motion
* increases muscular strength, endurance, and joint stability
* improves posture, steadiness, coordination, and balance
* decreases joint and back pain
* increases immunity
* improves sleep and increases energy levels
* decreases heart rate and increase cardiovascular efficiency
* decreases respiratory rate and improves respiratory efficiency
* reduces high blood pressure
* improves digestion and normalizes gastrointestinal function
* improves excretory functions and reduces constipation and Irritable Bowel Syndrome
* improves flow of lymphatic system, thus helps in removal of toxins
* normalizes endocrine (hormone) function
* normalizes weight and body composition
* increases bone density and decreases onset of osteoporosis
* decreases blood sugar levels
* decreases sodium
* decreases total cholesterol
* increases HDL (good) cholesterol /decreases LDL and VLDL (bad) cholesterol
* decreases triglycerides
* increases grip strength
* EEG – alpha brain waves increase leading to a restful mental state
* brings autonomic nervous system to stable equilibrium
* improves dexterity, reaction time, and depth perception
* increases Galvanic Skin Response (GSR)

Psychological Benefits of Yoga

* improves concentration and attention
* decreases anxiety, internal stress and depression
* improves mood and sense of well-being
* increases self-acceptance and self-actualization
* improves learning efficiency and memory
* increases somatic and kinesthetic awareness (body/mind connection)
* decreases aggression and hostility
* increases social skills
* improves depth perception

If you have any health concerns, consult a medical professional before entering a yoga program. When performing the poses, maintain awareness on each movement and the alignment within each position. Remember, strain or fatigue should be avoided. The more mindful and respectful you are with your body, the better it will respond to the practice. Listen to the demands of the body, observe without judgment, and always find a place of joy and contentment within each pose.