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6 mental and physical health benefits of yoga

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Take it upon yourself to learn the art of yoga in 2017.

Take it upon yourself to learn the art of yoga in 2017.

This year, you’ve vowed to take better care of your body with healthy food choices and more exercise. But that doesn’t mean you have to spend all of your time at the gym doing the same old treadmill routine. Why not give yoga a shot? Not only is it great for your physique, but it can also benefit your mental health, according to Natalie Nevins, D.O., a board-certified osteopathic family physician.

“The purpose of yoga is to create strength, awareness and harmony in both the mind and body,” she told the American Osteopathic Association.

Take it upon yourself to learn the art of yoga in 2017. It’ll positively impact you in more ways than one. Here are a few examples of how you’ll benefit from this form of exercise:

1. It’ll improve your brain function
Having trouble concentrating in class? A study by The University of Illinois found that just one 20-minute session of Hatha yoga improved memory, focus and overall brain function in its participants. And that was just with a single class! Think of how much fuel you’ll give your mind for those big tests by adding multiple days of yoga to your workout regimen.

Pro tip: Start with 20 minutes for each session, and then gradually increase time as yoga becomes more habitual. Wear your stylish BABY-G BGA195-7A watch while you’re on the mat and to keep track of time.

2. You’ll have a new outlet for stress
Practicing yoga will put you in a state of tranquility. If you’re feeling stressed about school, work, your parents or significant other, this exercise can put your mind at ease, according to Nevins.

“Regular yoga practice creates mental clarity and calmness; increases body awareness; relives chronic stress patterns; relaxes the mind; centers attention and sharpens concentration,” she said.

Use yoga as your outlet for the stress. Leave your worries at the door as soon as you enter the studio.

3. You’ll improve your flexibility and balance
As you stretch your muscles, you’ll increase their elasticity which improves flexibility. Bending your body into yoga poses also helps you work on your balance, which will improve tremendously over time, according to Fit Bottomed Girls. Both flexibility and balance are critical for protecting yourself against injury.

4. You’ll feel more confident about your body
According to Harvard Health Publications, yoga helps the body develop “inner awareness.” This means that the focus is taken away from worrying about appearance and centered toward strengthening the mind. Yoga encourages you to stop worrying about your physical body and channel positivity around your mind and soul. This in turn can promote higher self-esteem.

5. You’ll make healthier food choices
Because yoga helps the brain focus on what’s best in the present, you may notice mindfulness in other aspects of life, like eating habits. Research shows that people who practice yoga put more thought into the foods they eat, which inspires them to make smarter choices. Since practicing yoga encourages you to be more self aware in regards to how you’re feeling, it’ll keep you from eating when you’re bored, sad, stressed or full.

6. It’ll help you lose weight
Even though yoga will boost your confidence spiritually, it can still help you shed the pounds and feel even more comfortable in your own skin. A study by the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center found that practicing yoga regularly can help middle-aged adults lose and maintain weight. So what does that mean for you? Start incorporating yoga into your regular routine so that it becomes a habit and you’ll reap the benefits throughout your lifetime!

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