6 Amazing Things You Probably Didn’t Know Yoga Can Do For Your Body

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Laura Beil |

Thought yoga was just about twisting your body into weird and wonderful Insta-worthy positions? Nope. Here’s how practice gives you more than flexibility gains…

Your Brain

What seems like a slow start – breathing deeply in and out – actually fires up your prefrontal cortex, your brain’s centre for higher thought. You just got smarter: in a Journal of Physical Activity and Health study, people scored higher on cognitive tests after 20 minutes of yoga. Your intense focus helps quieten your amygdala, aka your emotional centre. That means more control over feelings like anger and fear. Happy brain chemicals, like GABA, may rise too, making yoga a natural treatment for a funk.

Watch: What You Need To Know About Doing Yoga To Lose Weight

Your Nervous System

The triple threat of breathing, focus and movement ignites the parasympathetic – or “rest and digest” – nervous system, the antidote to the fight-or-flight stress response. The vagus nerve, one of your body’s neural highways, carries that chill-out message to all your internal organs.

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Your Lungs And Heart

Memo received: your lungs expand to keep the belly breaths (and oxygen) coming. Your heart also benefits. The effect is so strong that a regular yoga practice can lower your resting heart rate – in and after class.

Watch: This 9-Minute Yoga Routine Will help You Ditch Lower Back Pain

Your Hormones

Your adrenal glands ease back on production of the stress hormone cortisol, which has been linked to cravings for fatty foods. It may be easier to resist snacking post-savasana too.

Your Immune System

That vagus nerve may also alert your immune system, which releases immunity-enhancing cells. You’re now better primed to fight off infections.

Watch: “I Did A Naked Yoga Class – And This Is What It Was Really Like”

Balance And Strength

Feel like Bambi learning to walk? Keep at it. Yoga – even just twice a week for a month – can improve your balance (key for cruising through your days uninjured). Folding yourself into positions also stretches your muscles, tendons and connective tissues close to their maximum capacity. The result: flexibility. Win!

Watch ON: Fitness Fitness Advice Yoga