Yoga is often sold as a form of physical exercise for people who want something a little easier or more relaxing. The truth is that the ancient system of postures and breath control is much more intense than you may think, and it comes with surprising health benefits.

There is much more to yoga than twisting yourself into a human pretzel. Yes, the postures, or asanas as they are known, are central to it, but yoga also takes correct posture, proper breathing into consideration, and it has profound philosophical applications.

Better Flexibility

Considering some of the postures, enhanced flexibility may not be too surprising a benefit of yoga. It arguably is one of the benefits that you will notice first.

As you progress, you will find that you can do things that were almost impossible before. You also may find that, as your hamstrings become less tight, back pain decreases, and that, as your hips loosen, there is less strain on your knees because it allows your thighs and shins to align properly.

Improved Cardiovascular Health

According Harvard Medical School, several studies found that yoga has surprising benefits on cardiovascular health. One of those benefits was an improvement in lipid profiles in people with coronary artery disease as well as in healthy people.

Another benefit was lower blood pressure in people with hypertension. One possible explanation is that the exercise system has a beneficial effect on baroreceptor sensitivity. Yoga also is good to calm down after an intense session of sports betting from mobile.

Yoga was also found to lower high blood sugar levels in people with non-insulin dependent diabetes. These are some of the reasons why yoga increasingly is being recommended as part of cardiac rehabilitation programmes.

Greater Muscle Strength

Whereas regular gym usually builds muscle strength through using various types of equipment, yoga does it by using the body’s own resistance. Practising the postures regularly ultimately mean that you increase your muscle strength as you improve your flexibility. This is one up on regular gym, which may help you build greater muscle strength, but does not necessarily improve your flexibility.

Improved Breathing

Breath control, or pranayama, is an important aspect of yoga. It helps practitioners breathe properly, and it helps increase the capacity of the lungs. A study published in the Lancet medical journal in 1998 found that patients with lung problems caused by congestive heart failure had a respiratory rate of 13.4 breaths per minute.

After learning a yogic breathing technique, the rate decreased to 7.6 breaths per minute. Taking fewer but deeper breaths lead to an increase in their capacity to exercise. The study also found that there was more oxygen in their blood.

Improved Self-Esteem

It is important to not divorce the exercise aspects of yoga from the philosophy behind the system. The philosophical and spiritual aspects of yoga teach mindfulness, compassion, gratitude, and empathy, and they can help with depression and anxiety.

The philosophies can take you on an inner journey that results in improved self-esteem as well as an improvement in your relationships with others and with the world around you.