Did you know that over half a million people do yoga in Britain? That’s a lot of yoga going on.
In fact, by this point, you would have to be living under a rock not to notice the swelling popularity of yoga.
What is it about yoga that makes it so popular? Why are so many people doing it?
Well, the answer probably lies in yoga’s effect on one’s body, particularly flowing styles like Ashtanga yoga. The numerous benefits of Ashtanga yoga are enough to attract anyone to the practice and might surprise you if you haven’t done yoga before.
If you want to know what these startling Ashtanga yoga benefits are, then read on to find out why such a chunk of the population can be found doing the downward dog.
1. You Get STRONG
It’s easy to think that yoga is just a series of gentle movements that are not hard and do not provide any strength training.
But this is completely wrong when it comes to Ashtanga yoga. Ashtanga yoga contains some pretty strenuous postures, and it also involves a lot of movement. When you’re doing Ashtanga yoga, you will be moving in ways that you may never have before, and building muscle while doing this.
If ripped yogis aren’t proof enough, results from a published study showed that women who practiced Ashtanga yoga had more upper body muscular endurance than their counterparts who engaged in conventional exercises.
2. Your Stomach Will Look Great
Wanna guess what ‘increased upper body muscle endurance’ equates to?
During an Ashtanga practice, you will be doing loads of core-strengthening poses over and over again. This will build the muscles in your torso. Strong stomach muscles act to keep the ‘gut’ in and your stomach washboard flat.
At the same time, during a session of Ashtanga yoga, your heart rate will rise and stay elevated and your breathing will become fast. And that means that you will be burning fat.
These two elements, building abdominal muscle and burning fat stores, are a win-win situation for a flat and toned stomach.
3. Your Cardio Fitness Will Increase
Remember that elevated heart rate that we mentioned? Well, because it can be pretty fast-paced, Ashtanga yoga elevates your heart rate, gets your blood pumping, and creates heat in the body. That means you’re gonna get your sweat on!
Increasing your cardio fitness is a great way to ramp up your heart health, metabolism, and overall fitness levels. Engaging in cardio exercise also regulates blood sugar levels, can improve sleeping patterns, boosts your mood, strengthens your immune system, and burns fat.
4. You Get Flexible
One of the major benefits of all forms of yoga is increased flexibility. Ashtanga yoga provides strength training and cardio, and at the same time incorporates poses that stretch the muscles.
But is there any benefit to being flexible, other than for the sake of it?
Yup, there is! So much so that the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans listed stretching as one of their recommendations for all Americans.
Having increased levels of flexibility can prevent injury, allow your muscles to operate more effectively, and enable you to keep the full range of movement in your muscles and joints. This last benefit is increasingly valuable the older we get.
5. Your Blood Pressure Might Drop
During Ashtanga yoga, students practice a slow breathing technique called Ujjayi. This keeps students grounded, strong, and calm during the practice.
But science has revealed that Ujjayi also has a beneficial effect on high blood pressure levels. In a published study, participants who engaged in regular yogic breathing experienced a reduction in high blood pressure, even when exposed to stress.
6. You Might Become a More Mindful Eater
An amazing spin-off of both regular yoga and Ashtanga yoga is that your eating habits might change. That is, they will change for the better without any effort from you!
How does this work? Well, according to research people who practice yoga are likely to become more aware of how their body is feeling. This results in a decrease in things like emotional eating, eating when the body is not hungry, and eating while distracted by things.
7. Ashtanga Yoga Can Reduce Inflammation
Along with other mind-body practices, Ashtanga yoga might be able to fight inflammation within the body. Research has shown that these types of practices resulted in a reduction in some indicators of inflammation in study participants.
This is a valuable benefit as inflammation has been linked to many health problems, and has been cited as a leading cause of chronic degenerative disease. Furthermore, a study investigating the effect of inflammation on the risk of mortality shows that low-grade inflammation is a marked risk factor.
So, if you want to get literal, yoga could potentially increase your lifespan by lowering your risk of death.
8. Ashtanga Yoga Is Also Scientifically Proven to Induce Feelings of Happiness
Out of all of these amazing benefits, one of the best has to be this one.
Many people claim that yoga is good for the soul and spirit and that it makes you feel great. Now science is backing this up.
According to a published study on the emotional effects of Ashtanga yoga, participants showed significant improvements in anxiety and depression symptoms. What’s more, they also reported higher levels of self-esteem, an increased ability to connect with others, higher levels of assertiveness, and heightened awareness of personal needs.
This proves that not only does Ashtanga yoga pack a powerful punch of health benefits for the body, but it can also make you calm, happy, and confident as well.
Reap the Benefits of Ashtanga Yoga Yourself by Joining a Class
Ashtanga yoga is not only a superb form of exercise for the body—that will give you a cardio workout, build muscle strength and much more—but it is also great for mental health and combatting stress.
With all these benefits of Ashtanga yoga, are you tempted yet to try it? If you are, all we can say is go for it.
And if you are already a practicing yogi, Namaste!
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