1. PREVENTS CARTILAGE AND JOINT BREAKDOWN
Yoga takes joints through their full range of motion, which helps joint cartilage receive fresh nutrients, prevents wear and tear, and protects underlying bones, preventing arthritis.
2. INCREASES BONE DENSITY AND HEALTH
Weight-bearing asanas such as the warrior poses, planks, and arm balances increase bone density. As we get older, our bones tend to become brittle, but through yoga practice, our bones adapt to the regular exposure to physical stress and become and remain strong.
3. INCREASES BLOOD FLOW
The heart pumps blood away from the heart, but not back to it. Asana practices cause the blood to return to the heart through movement and the flexing of muscles. Relaxation helps circulation. Twisting wrings blood out of the internal organs which allows fresh blood to flow into them. Inversions reverse the flow of blood from the legs to the heart and brain. Yoga increases hemoglobin levels in red blood cells, preventing blood clots, heart attacks, and strokes.
4. CLEANSES LYMPH AND IMMUNE SYSTEMS
Yoga asana aid in draining lymph, allowing the system to better fight infection, destroy diseased cells and rid toxins from the body. Asana, pranayama, guided relaxation, and meditation optimize the immune system by switching the body out of the stress fight or flight mode, which suppresses the immune system, into the rest and digest mode.
5. STRENGTHENS YOUR HEART
Surya Namaskara or Sun Salutation entail physically demanding slow movements coupled with slow breathing train the heart to beat slower and work with less oxygen. This increases endurance. Pranayama (rhythmic slow breathing and holding the breath) further trains the heart to beat slower and work with less oxygen. Scientific studies have shown that athletes who practice pranayama regularly experience an increase in endurance. As we get older, this will help to lower the risk of heart attack and relieve depression.
6. REGULATES YOUR ADRENAL GLANDS
Chronic low-level stress triggers the adrenal glands to produce the hormones epinephrine and cortisol. Persistent epinephrine surges can damage blood vessels and arteries, increasing blood pressure and raising the risk of heart attacks or strokes. Elevated cortisol levels create physiological changes that help to replenish the body's energy stores that are depleted during the stress response. But they inadvertently contribute to the buildup of fat tissue and to weight gain. For example, cortisol increases appetite, so that people will want to eat more to obtain extra energy. It also increases storage of unused nutrients as fat.
7. LOWERS BLOOD SUGAR
Yoga lowers blood sugar and LDL "bad" cholesterol and boosts HDL "good" cholesterol. In people with diabetes, yoga has been found to lower blood sugar by lowering cortisol and adrenaline levels, encouraging weight loss, and improving sensitivity to the effects of insulin. Lowering blood sugar levels decreases your risk of diabetic complications such as heart attack, kidney failure, and blindness.
8. IMPROVES YOUR BALANCE
With age comes a decrease of proprioception, the ability to sense what your body is doing and where it is in space. This leads to loss of balance and the sense of space between ourselves and the things around us, leading to tripping and falling. A regular yoga practice will maintain proprioception, good balance, and awareness of the things around us.
9. CALMS NERVOUS SYSTEM AND HELPS YOU SLEEP DEEPER
It is normal nowadays to suffer from chronic low-level stress. This is a constant state of "fight or flight" that never peaks and cycles out. This keeps us up at night, worrying about all our problems. Yoga and meditation encourages turning inward of the senses and removal of stimuli, which provides a much needed downtime for the nervous system, switching our bodies to "rest and digest" mode. This means better sleep and having more energy.
10. INCREASES LUNG CAPACITY
Yogis tend to take fewer breaths of greater volume, which is both calming and more efficient. Yogic breathing has been shown to help people with breathing problems through maximum inhalations and exhalations, and slowness of breathing which allows greater absorption of oxygen with each breath, which not only increases the health of the lungs, but of the whole body. Yoga also promotes breathing through the nose, which triggers relaxation, and filters, warms, and humidifies the air. This can help during asthma attacks and also prevent dust particles from entering the body.
11. IMPROVES DIGESTION
Yoga promotes healthy digestion by moving the body in ways that facilitate more rapid and efficient transport of food and waste products through the bowels. Healthy digestion helps lower the risk of colon cancer and diseases of the digestive tract.
12. ENCOURAGES SELF-CARE AND A HEALTHY LIFESTYLE
Perhaps the greatest benefit of yoga is its ability to inspire and improve self-care and healthy living. As yogis tend to be more involved in their own health and care, they discover they have the power to effect positive change in their lives and tend to adopt more healthy habits. Over time, healthy living has a large impact on life expectancy.