Contribution by freelance writer Sally Writes.
Wonder why so many yoga practitioners embark on meditation retreats regularly? Simply put, they’re investments in yourself. We all know that exercise is supposed to make us feel great. But yoga, which has been around for over 5,000 years, not just improves your physical health, but also enhances your mental and emotional wellbeing. Some benefits, such as improved flexibility and stress relief, have been well-documented, but there are quite a few lesser-known benefits that may surprise you. Here are just some of them.
Revamps Your Eating Habits
Yoga and mindfulness practice go hand-in-hand. Practicing yoga increases mindfulness even outside the yoga studio. Though yoga isn’t at all about reaching your “ideal weight”, it helps you get on the path to self-improvement. That includes making better choices and taking better care of your body. Research has found that people who practice yoga are more mindful with their eating habits, as their yoga practice helps them become more aware of how their body feels.
Gives Your Skin A Yogic Glow
Because certain yoga poses are supposed to help detox the body, may yoga practitioners have observed healthier, glowing skin. One yoga pose that is supposed to be great for your skin is the sarvangasana (or shoulder stand), which improves blood circulation in your face. Another is the matsyasana or fish pose, which is said to balance your hormone levels. Even just the simple mountain pose, which lets you concentrate on your breathing, can help make your skin healthier.
Because controlling your breathing is a huge part of yoga, yoga has been lauded by many experts as an effective asthma relieving exercise. Yoga helps reduce stress, which can trigger asthma symptoms, so observing a regular yoga practice can help prevent these symptoms altogether. Yogic breathing techniques can also help alleviate asthma attacks, potentially saving lives.
Boosts Your Brain Power
Today’s world is full of distractions, making it increasingly difficult to focus on a single task. Yoga can help with that, especially within the context of a yoga and meditation retreat, as it gives you the perfect opportunity to disconnect from the world, quiet your mind, and let it rest. Research has found that yoga can positively affect your brain’s neural patterns, improving your ability to focus. Yoga also helps improve your memory. In one study, participants demonstrated better memory, speed, and accuracy in a test after completing a 20-minute yoga session. Talk about a brain power boost!
Rebuilds Your Self-Esteem
Many yoga practitioners say that yoga has helped improve their self-image. Yoga helps you feel good in your own skin and encourages you to be more forgiving and patient with yourself and others. It teaches you calming techniques that help you gain perspective in stressful situations. The yoga community is also usually supportive and encouraging, helping you come out of your shell and learn to accept yourself.
Yoga isn’t just a great workout. It’s a transformational practice and fantastic form of self-care. It can give you the tools to improve your relationship with yourself, with others, and the world around you. If you haven’t practiced in a while, there’s no better time than now to dust off your mat, take a deep breath, set your intention, and restart your practice.