3 Ways Yoga Benefits Your Health from Head to Toe - Yoga Journal

3 Ways Yoga Benefits Your Health from Head to Toe

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You know yoga calms your body and mind, but did you know that certain poses and practices can also boost your immunity, rev up your brainpower, and lubricate your joints? Try the following postures to support your physical and mental health.

Yoga Poses for Immunity 

Yoga may promote good digestion, which has been linked to immune system support. Larissa Hall Carlson, former dean of Kripalu's School of Ayurveda and co-leader of Yoga Journal's Ayurveda 101, recommends the following 3 poses to help you support your health all year round:

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1. Rotated Chair Pose

Gently building heat and boosting metabolism to burn off toxins is key for supporting your health throughout the year, says Carlson, and this twisted squat is just the thing for getting warm fast and wringing out congestion. From extended Mountain Pose with arms overhead and palms together, inhale deeply, then squat and twist right on exhalation. Inhale back up to extended Mountain, then squat and twist left. Create a toasty mini vinyasa with Ujjayi pranayama--continue for 1-2 minutes.

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2. Dolphin Pose

This fiery inversion drains excess lung congestion while building arm strength, Carlson explains. With forearms grounded, spine straight, and legs lengthening down through the heels, close the eyes and take 6-10 deep full-body breaths. Keep a tissue handy to clear out mucus from the lungs and sinuses after you come out of the pose. Experience the enhanced invigoration and clarity.   

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3. Constructive Rest pose

Stress may not be good for the immune system, Carlson says, so soothing the nervous system and calming the mind may be a good idea. By binding the legs, relaxing the torso, and crossing the arms, a deep sense of relaxation sets in, and after 10-20 minutes, the whole system feels rejuvenated. Make sure to stay warm, though--put on socks and cover up with a blanket if you tend to run cold.    

Yoga Poses for Joint Health

A 2015 study published in the Journal of Rheumatology suggests that yoga classes may help sedentary individuals with arthritis safely increase physical activity and improve physical and psychological health. Plus, rheumatologist Sharon Kolasinski at the University of Pennsylvania's School of Medicine has told Yoga Journal that yoga "not only safely exercises the muscles, ligaments, and bones in and around the joints, but may also trigger a relaxation response that might help improve functioning."

Looking to keep your joints healthy? Try this simple warm-up to increase circulation and lubricate the joints.

Yoga Poses for the Brain

Studies have linked mindfulness and meditation to significant increases in gray matter and reduced stress and anxiety. Meditation may also help you concentrate. Learn 6 ways to sit for meditation, plus learn more about mindfulness meditation here.