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September is National Yoga Month! This month we educate and raise awareness of the health benefits of a daily practice and promote the importance of a healthy lifestyle.Whether you’re experiencing physical or mental ailments, yoga has many advantages. It can increase physical stamina, strength, and flexibility, boost self-esteem, and promote self-reflection. It’s plain to see that there are many benefits of yoga that can greatly improve your quality of life!

1. Improved Flexibility and Strength

It’s common that when people cite why they don’t do yoga, they say that they aren’t flexible enough to participate. What they fail to realize is that yoga actually improves one’s flexibility and strength. As you increase your levels of mindfulness, you’ll find that you have an easier time connecting your movement to your breath and in turn pushing further into each stretch and pose and achieving a new level of strength. Listen to your body, make adjustments when necessary, and eventually, you’ll find that you can reach and achieve poses you never dreamed of.

2. Decreased Stress and Anxiety

Researchers found that women diagnosed with an anxiety disorder who practiced yoga twice a week had significantly lower levels of anxiety after two months. Exercise in of itself is known to stimulate oxytocin and serotonin, both of which contribute to feelings of happiness and belonging. Similarly, meditation and mindfulness, which are the main parts of a daily yoga practice, promote inner peace, which aids in stress relief through the mind and body.

3. Pain Reduction

Those who suffer from chronic pain experience pain reduction from daily yoga practice. In fact, in a study of those with carpal tunnel syndrome, they found that regular practice was more effective than wrist splinting. Similarly, yoga has been shown to improve physical function and decrease pain in those with osteoarthritis of the knees. With a focus on healing thoughts, sensations, and emotions, practitioners are able to rest their body and focus on recovery.

4. Increased Concentration

Yoga is centered on concentration and focus! Practitioners are encouraged to be aware of their breath, their alignment, and their movement… And depending on the pose, one must be present in the moment and concentrated on the task at hand to achieve the proper form. Research shows that even just twenty minutes of yoga daily can improve your brain’s cognitive function, which in turn, makes it easier to focus and process information! It’s this attention to detail, this achievement of equilibrium that can improve your ability to hone your mindfulness and focus in your day to day life!

5. Improved Heart Health

Heart health is crucial in promoting overall health and yoga can improve heart disease and reduce risk factors associated with heart disease. In a comparative study done, researchers found that participants over the age of 40 who practiced yoga for five years or more had lower blood pressure and pulse rates than those who did not. It’s no secret that lowering your blood pressure can reduce the risk of heart attack and stroke! In conjunction with healthy eating, yoga can decrease risk factors associated with heart disease!

This National Yoga Month, spend time practicing and finding ways to incorporate this full body form of exercise into your daily routine! Take a class at a studio or in the park! Try something new or meditate! Find new ways to practice mindfulness of invite a friend to your class! Physical activity is important to one’s overall health, especially as we age! The clear benefits of yoga make it the perfect way to get some daily exercise for everyone, no matter how young or old they are!