The Daily Dozen for Healthy Living with Kristin Myres & Nancy Neal

Nancy Neal & her daughter Kristin Myres Hosting our June 16th New Beginnings Lunch & Learn.

Nancy Neal & her daughter Kristin Myres Hosting our June 16th New Beginnings Lunch & Learn.

Sixteen of our New Beginnings Yoga and Wellness family had a great morning on June 16th at the home of Nancy Neal with her daughter Kristin Myres.  Kristin shared her inspiring story of implementing a plant-based eating regime in 2009 after the birth of her fifth child when she was struggling with her health.   Since her teenage years, Kristin had struggled with respiratory conditions, illness and fatigue.  Today, 8 years later and with the birth of two more children, bringing the total to seven, she has continued her healthy eating journey for herself and her family and now feels better then ever.  

Kristin discussing her delicious “Dairy Free Mock Parmesan” Topping.

Kristin discussing her delicious “Dairy Free Mock Parmesan” Topping.

Kristin shared that she initially met with a lot of resistance from both family and friends with her dietary changes. But now they embrace what she is doing and she is constantly being asked to address small groups on different aspects of her program.  We were lucky to have her share her experiences with us!

 

Healthy & beautiful food to share!

Healthy & beautiful food to share!

 

Kristin bases her program on the work of Dr. Michael Greger’s research based “Daily Dozen” essential foods to include in a healthy daily diet.  There is a link at the bottom of the article with more information on his program.

How to Implement The Daily Dozen

Kristin and Linda walked through a typical day from breakfast to dinner and shared smoothies, soups, appetizer, entree and dessert recipes needed to get the "Daily Dozen” essential foods groups into your diet.   

Planning ahead with chopped healthy vegetables and home made hummus make a great healthy & delicious wrap sandwich for lunch!

Planning ahead with chopped healthy vegetables and home made hummus make a great healthy & delicious wrap sandwich for lunch!

And did I mention we got to sample these delicious taste treats throughout the morning?

Nancy & Kristin will be putting together an additional electronic resource list for our group with all the recipes shared during the morning.  

Coming Soon!  Once we have the recipes, they will be posted in a new “Healthy Recipe” section on the New Beginnings Website as well as emailed directly to the meeting participants. 

Everyone walked away with so many good ideas and encouragement!

Everyone walked away with so many good ideas and encouragement!

More about Dr. Gregor’s Program

Did you know there are diets proven to not only prevent and treat but reverse our #1 killer, heart disease, along with other deadly diseases such as type 2 diabetes and high blood pressure? 

Dr. Greger believes that a significant part of the problem is that individuals who want to make the correct dietary choices for themselves and their families are faced with a deluge of confusing and conflicting nutritional advice. He has started a helpful resource to present you and your doctor with the results of the latest in peer-reviewed nutrition and health research, presented in a way that is easy to understand.  NUTRITIONFACTS.ORG is a strictly non-commercial, science-based public service provided by Dr. Michael Greger, providing free updates on the latest in nutrition research via bite-sized videos. There are more than a thousand videos on nearly every aspect of healthy eating, with new videos and articles uploaded every day.  Click on the link at the bottom of the page to find out more about this great resource.

Additional Tips & Resources Shared by participants during the morning. 

Tricia Douglas share some great resources including her favorite resource for getting some healthy hard to find items at great prices.  

  • Tharkari Indian Grocery Store: 3317 Long Prairie Rd, Flower Mound, TX 75022.  
  • She also mentioned a great book, "Life Changing Foods" - Hidden Healing Powers of Fruits & Vegetables by Medical Medium Anthony William.  
  • Some additional resources she mentioned included Coconut Aminos - soy free seasoning sauce - tastes like soy sauce.  Also Tom Thumb - Energy Mix - $11.99 on sale for $10.  She indicated she added a scoop to her smoothies for a little chewing action.  It is all nuts & seeds, (note it does have peanuts).  
  • Another helpful tip was using a Vinegar Rinse - a splash of cheap Apple Cider Vinegar in a basin of water to soak fruits & veggies.  5 min soak rinses off any fertilizer, insecticides, etc (if not organic) and helps preserve berries longer too.  She submerges the entire clam-shell container of berries for 5 mins, then lets them drain.

Thanks Kristin and Nancy for making it a morning to remember!  Blessings to all of our New Beginnings & Wellness Family.  

Brandy

Slacklining in Hawaii... a Life Lesson

Ever heard of the phrase, “slacklining”?  Recently, I heard the phrase for the first time and got the thrill of trying it out while in Hawaii for my son’s wedding.  

So what is Slacklining?  

Slacklining refers to the act of walking or balancing along a suspended length of flat webbing that is tensioned between two anchors, typically trees.

Slacklines are tensioned significantly less than tightropes in order to create a dynamic line which will stretch and bounce like a long and narrow 1.5 inch trampoline suspended about 3-5 feet from the ground.   The practice simultaneously develops focus, dynamic balance, power, breath, core integration, flexibility, and confidence.

So back to my experience in Hawaii and what I learned from it... 

While at a park one Sunday evening, a slackline had been set up between two coconut trees.   I was intrigued by what I saw and walked over to the line to watch young people with great balance lined up to give the slackline a try.

Some people would take a running leap to jump up from the ground onto the line (often falling off).  Others walked the line with confidence repeating the practice over and over getting better each time. Still others would try it and take a few steps, fall off and walk away and not try again.  

I was definitely a fish out of water with this group of young people and certainly the only grandma in the mix. I had a tingle to try it, but didn’t want to embarrass my kids by falling off and ending up in the ER.   But finally there was a gap in the people waiting to go on the line and I decided to try it.  

“Don’t look at your feet.  Look at the tree ahead of you.” 

With my kids on either side of me, I had a death grip on their hands as I stepped up to the line which was about 3 feet high.  After falling off before I even got up, I tried again. 

Looking ahead, not at your feet gets you to your goal!

Looking ahead, not at your feet gets you to your goal!

This time I made it, tightly holding to the hands of my supporters. 

 

I was tense from the top of my head to my toes and then the “trampoline effect” began with the line bouncing my feet up and down uncontrollably. The more I looked at my feet to try to stop it the faster and higher I was bouncing.  

A young woman saw what was happening and said, “Don’t look at your feet.  Look at the tree ahead of you.”  Suddenly the bouncing subsided a little. Then she said, “Press your feet down with confidence and tighten your core.”  

As I followed her directions, it was amazing, the strap suddenly got quiet and still.    I was able to walk almost the entire length holding my supporters hands without falling off.  I did it several more times and loved the feeling it gave me. 

The next Sunday, the only thing I wanted to do was to go back to that park and try it again. As the sun was setting on my last attempt, I was able to walk the length of the strap, with just two fingers on my son’s shoulder and end with a passable Warrior III balancing on one leg.  

So what did I learn from my experience?

  1. Don’t be afraid to try new things, they may be challenging but fun.
  2. Ask for support and help when you need it.  Those reassuring hands helped me have success.
  3. When life starts to get out of control, stop and look ahead to your goal and it will help you get back on track.  
  4. Walk with confidence. Rooting down with your feet one confident step at a time will help you stay present, focused and calm.
  5. Finding your inner strength that bends when needed, but is strong and sure, can bring joy and confidence to your life.

How many times in a yoga class have I told my students or heard it said to me when I was taking a class, to find a focal point and to press down on the four corners of their feet or tighten my core.  These instructions became so real to me on the line.  Let me tell you, to balance on a 1.5 inch piece of webbing lightly tensioned between two trees is not easy, and doing yoga poses on the strap was even more challenging.

Try new things, ask for help, focus on your goal, be confident and find the inner strength that is within you!
Not the best Warrior III, but I made it!

Not the best Warrior III, but I made it!

 

But remember, your real yoga starts when you step off the mat. My lessons from my first slackline experience will stay with me for the rest of my life.

Blessings!

Brandy 

TNT Healthy Year Tips - Find Your Gratitude and Blessings

If you have been in one of my yoga classes you may recognize that we always end our class in gratitude, reflecting on the blessings that are in our life.  

Living a life full of gratitude and recognizing the blessings that surround us each and every day can be a powerful positive force within our lives.  

It builds our expectations that good things will happen if we open our eyes and heart to see them.  It also helps us to find the good in times that are challenging.

This picture of out beautiful granddaughter, Gaia Love, makes me smile every time I look at it. The picture and her name are an inspiration to me to find the blessings, beauty and fun in our lives every single day.  

Sometimes blessings come in the shape of a funny crown & scepter that just makes you laugh.  Other days your blessing may be the stranger who lets you go ahead in line because you were in a hurry and they had time to wait.  Or the friend who looked you in the eye and said, “But how are you really?” and was willing to take time to listen.   The beautiful sunset, the striking red cardinal at the bird feeder, the smell of lavender.  The list can go on and on, if we stop and take the time to listen and look for blessings that come our way every day.  

Fostering a spirit of gratitude is a TNT (Tiny, New, Tangible) Healthy Year habit that gives back to you in abundance.  I have attached a beautiful 6 minute video that was recently shared with me by my friends at Inspire Yoga Studio.  I hope you will take a moment to watch.  

"The Gentle and Forgotten Art of Blessings.”  Click on the box below to watch and enjoy!

Brandy

New Beginnings February Potluck Party

Phil & I were thrilled to have 38 people at our home last night for the first New Beginnings Potluck Party.  Thanks to everyone for making it a great event.  The photography was not up to Ann Brackeen’s standards, but it gives a flavor of the night and the people who were able to join us.  Sorry that I was not able to get everyone into the pictures and I hope I got the pictures labeled correctly.  If not, let me know!  If you missed it this time, we will have another get together in the future!  

Click on the pictures below to advance through them.  There are also some class pictures from previous that are in our Gallery.

TNT (Tiny, New, Tangible) Healthy Year Tips

Avoiding Pitfalls That Take You Off Track From Healthy Weight

According to the NIH, 68% of adults are overweight or obese with increased risk for diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, osteoarthritis, stroke, and cancer. 

 

A TNT (Tiny, New, Tangible) Goal of losing as little as 5-10 pounds can help you feel better and put you on the road to better health. It is easy to fall into traps that take you off-track. Here are a few common pitfalls to avoid and stay on-track.

PITFALLS TO AVOID

LOOKING FOR THE QUICK FIX

The weight loss industry is overwhelmingly successful because they sell a quick fix. Instead, change the way you think about what you eat and drink as a lifelong way to nourish and build a strong, healthy body.

DEPRIVATION MINDSET FOCUSING ON WHAT YOU CAN’T EAT

Thinking of dieting as a deprivation focused short-term event is a huge pitfall. Many people embarking on a weight loss journey focus on what they can’t have— sugar, alcohol, dessert, bread, and cheese. Instead, focus on the vast array of delicious, nourishing food you can enjoy and will strengthen your body. 

ALL OR NOTHING ATTITUDE

Don’t eliminate all the foods you love. A mindset of deprivation can set you up for failure. Incorporate loved foods into your diet in a healthier way. If you love pasta, instead of adding a creamy, high fat sauce, add veggies and grilled shrimp, then toss in olive oil and garlic. 

NO GAME PLAN

Pressing on without a solid, realistic plan is a mistake. Set yourself up for success by coming up with small, challenging, yet attainable action. Start off with one or two TNT (Tiny, New, Tangible) Goals. Once you master those, add on. Before you know it, those action steps will become lifelong healthy TNT habits.

EATING TOO FEW CALORIES 

It is easy to fall into the calorie counting trap, leaving you hungry and slowing your metabolism. The answer is often to eat more instead of less, but of the right foods. All calories are not equal. Fill up on unprocessed, primarily plant based, minimally refined whole foods without added sugar.

AVOIDING HEALTHY FATS

Many people eat low-fat or fat-free versions of processed food which actually have higher sugar and salt content. Healthy fat protects your brain and heart and gives you a feeling of fullness. Include healthy fats found in nuts, seeds, avocados, oily fish and healthy oils (monounsaturated, polyunsaturated, including omega 3’s). AVOID any food with trans fat on the label.

Good luck on your journey to achieve your TNT Health Year Goals one step at a time!

Regards,

Brandy

TNT Healthy Life Year Commitment

Start the new year off right with a TNT Healthy Life Commitment to improve your health and well being.

What’s in it for you and why bother? 

Every year you read about New Year’s resolutions to make a change for the better.  With over 88% of people who make a new year resolution failing to achieve them, why bother?  Because in four words…it is worth it.  

Recently I heard someone say, “I feel so much better when I start my day right, with 10 minutes of moving and stretching’. A small change, with positive results.  This is a great example of a “TNT Habit” (Tiny, New, Tangible).

Set yourself up for success by making a wellness goal tied to TNT habits that are concrete, achievable and sustainable.  A resolution is abstract. However, building a new habit to meet a goal is concrete, measurable and you know when you have achieved it.  The key to long term success is making any goal a habit first.

Maybe you can’t scale a rock wall like my son Ryan in the picture below, but you can start on the path to a healthier year with your own TNT habits. 

Here are 3 examples of new year’s resolutions that overwhelmingly fail versus habits that overwhelmingly succeed.

Resolution:  Eat healthy food vs. TNT Habit: Start substituting that 1 daily morning pastry or sugary cereal for fresh fruit.

Resolution: Lose weight vs. Habit: 5 times a week, go for a 20-30 minute walk around the block.

Resolution: Manage stress vs. Habit: Take 5-10 slow, deep breaths throughout the day whenever you are feeling stressed or anxious.

Next Steps… Set yourself up for success!

 

 

Step 1 Define Your Goal and potential TNT habits to get there

  • Figure out what you want to change, or goal you want to achieve
  • Explore possible TNT (Tiny, New Tangible) habits to get on the road to your wellness goal. 

Step 2 Get Started on Your TNT Healthy Life Plan

  • Set 1-3 TNT habits (Tiny, New, Tangible) habits that will help you achieve your healthy life goal.  
  • Be realistic
  • Make sustainable lifestyle decisions, not temporary "quick fix" changes
  • Put it in writing
  • Enlist a support team of friends and family to help you maintain focus
  • Engage the help of a medical or fitness professional to help guide you as needed with your TNT Healthy Life Plan.
  • Let technology help you track your success (food and fitness trackers are great tools)

How to Get Started on Your TNT Healthy Year Life Plan Join us in February for tips to help you get started on your own TNT Healthy Life Plan. Watch for more information on this free seminar. Contact brandywismer@gmail.com for more details.

 

 

Find the Balance & Stillness in Your Life

As the Christmas Season is upon us, I am reminded of the importance of finding balance and a moment of stillness in our lives.  I love this picture of our beautiful daughter-in-law Emily Wismer, taken at Big Bend National Park.  

Standing in the moving stream, with the wind buffeting around her at the top of the mountain, she found strength and balance to maintain this beautiful dancer’s pose.

As our “To Do Lists” become long, take a moment to take a breath (or several) and find strength, balance and stillness in your life.    

Clean Slate with No Regrets

What’s Your Biggest Regret?

I seldom share videos I have received from someone else on my Facebook page, but today I did.  In the video, someone put up a chalkboard on a busy sidewalk and it had one question 

“What is your biggest regret?” There was chalk for people to write their thoughts. Soon the board was filled with people’s regrets.  There was one thing that was in common with all the regrets.  It was filled with chances NOT taken, words NOT said, dreams never pursued.  Then people were given an eraser and given the opportunity to erase the regrets and start over with a clean slate.

Everyday is a clean slate and opportunity to do the things you will regret not doing!  Decide to take action to start your day with a Clean Slate and see what happens. 

Thanks so much for my New Beginnings Yogi Friends and Mike Waterhouse who took this great picture of our Saturday class at Robson Ranch. 

Be Thankful

The following words of wisdom were recently sent to my sister when she was having a tough week.  They were sent to her by a dear man from Triune Mercy Center in Greenville, S.C.  Triune Mercy Center is a non-denominational church that works alongside the homeless in Greenville, S.C. and provides assistance to those indeed with hot meals, laundry, groceries and other assistance.  

I shared this with my yoga class and several people asked me to share the words of wisdom with them, so here it is. 

IMG_1767.jpg
Be thankful that you don’t already have everything you desire.  If you did, what would there be to look forward to.  
Be thankful when you don’t know something, for it gives you the opportunity to learn.  Be thankful for the difficult times. During those times you grow. 
Be thankful for your limitations, because they give you opportunities for improvement. Be thankful for each new challenge, because it will build your strength and character. 
Be thankful for your mistakes. They will teach you valuable lessons. 
 
Be thankful when your tired and weary, because it means you have made a difference. 
It is easy to be thankful for the good things.  A life of rich fulfillment comes to those who are also thankful for the setbacks. 
Gratitude can turn a negative into a positive. Find a way to be thankful for your troubles and they can become your blessings. 
Sent to Susie Smith by Clifford Giles 

Benefits of Yoga for the Athlete

As the winter is coming to Texas, our love of sports does not stop. But have you thought about how adding yoga may help your other athletic activities either in the off season or through the cold winter months?

As winter comes, our love of sports doesn’t stop!

As winter comes, our love of sports doesn’t stop!

Yoga is a great complement to your fun athletic activities and can help you stay flexible and build strength to avoid injuries.  Whether it is tennis, cycling, pickleball, golf or softball improving your strength, flexibility, balance and focus can make your time on the courts, field or road safer for your body and more enjoyable because of your increased performance. It is also a great complement to help “destress” your body.  

Strength

One of the major benefits of a regular yoga practice is improved strength and endurance.  “It can help strengthen the places that get too weak when we spend too much time on one sport and have overuse injuries or actually under development and tightness in areas..  

Areas like the shoulder, back, core, and upper body can often be subject to over use injuries for the avid racket sport player or golfer.  Or can be underdeveloped in cyclists making them prone to stiffness or injury after rides.  Or can become stressed for an individual who does not work those areas much in the off season for games such as softball.    Weaknesses in some of the stabilizing muscles like those in the ankles, hips and groin that are very important can also cause an injury.

Flexibility

My husband Phil Wismer plays just about any sport and works out regularly.  I often hear him called “Speedy Gonzales” on the softball field for his fast running.  Over the past few years, Phil has become a true believer in the benefits of yoga for his performance.  He often tells me, and I can see it with my own eyes, how his yoga practice has increased his flexibility, strength and balance. The Motrin pain reliever no longer comes out of the medicine cabinet after a hard work out, or game.

Focus & Stress Relief

Some of the non-physical aspects of yoga, such as mental focus and breathing, can be just as important.  From doing yoga, your body is used to being stressed but remaining calm. Holding these poses is just like sprinting to the line or climbing a big hill.  It requires that focus, that endurance, and that understanding that you might feel like you’re going to lose it, but if you can hold it a little longer you can reap some benefits, whether it’s winning a tennis match or dealing with the stresses in your everyday life.

Balance and Injury Prevention

Injuries often plague older individuals and often are a result of some sort of imbalance. For example, weak backs, and sometimes weak cores as well can result in overuse injuries in the stronger parts of the body that are picking up the slack.

I use to suffer from nagging pains in my knees and hips and lower back regularly.  However, when I am diligent with my own regular yoga practice, my entire body feels better and stronger. Not only can yoga help prevent overuse injuries, but it can help prevent or minimize the impact or reduce the chance of a fall from balance problems.

How to Get Started? 

First find a class that is right for you.  You need to feel comfortable with both the class and the instructor.  

After the new year, I will be starting an 8 week class designed for our athletic crowd at Robson Ranch.  It will focus on strength, balance and flexibility to prevent common upper body and lower body injuries. More to come on that class soon.   It will be a good intro class for anyone wanting to build their strength, balance and flexibility involved in athletic activities at Robson.

Remember to be patient with yourself...there is a learning curve.  My husband Phil says, the stereotype that yoga is just for girls who want to stretch...needs to be wiped away.  It’s one of the harder workouts that he does.  You get out what you put in.  You’re going to get stronger, you’re going to go faster, and you’re going to be more flexible.   But most importantly,is going in with an open mind and have fun.

Respect, Communicate and Trust

Keys to happy relationships!

 

Recently I got the opportunity to do Acroyoga with my son Ben at the base of a beautiful Redwood in California.  Being surrounded by majestic towering trees that have been there for hundreds of years was inspiring. Experiencing the opportunity to do Acroyoga with Ben, in this setting touched me deeply.

With Acroyyoga, one person is the base and one is the flyer.  It requires both people to put great trust in each other.  You can be in control of yourself, but you can’t control your partner, so you need to learn to first respect your partner, then communicate and trust each other.   

As I think of it, this is a good recipe for a strong marriage or relationships with our family and friends too.  Communication, trust and respect... key ingredients to success in all of our relationships in life. 

12 Symptoms of Inner Peace

Last night I saw a friend who has been experiencing some challenges in her personal life I asked her how things were going. With a resigned look on her face she said, “About the same, which isn’t good.”  I thought to myself, there is acceptance, but no inner peace.  Two words, that sound so easy, but are so hard for all of us to achieve.  Having spent 24 years in healthcare we identified symptoms of illness, but we never thought about “Symptoms” of a positive situation, so here are 12 Symptoms to think about of someone who experiences inner peace.

12 Symptoms of Inner Peace~ Saskia Davis

  • An increasing tendency to let things happen rather than make them happen.  
  • An unmistakable ability to enjoy each moment.
  • A loss of interest in interpreting the actions of others.
  • A loss of interest in judging other people.
  • A loss of interest in judging self.
  • A loss of interest in conflict.
  • A loss of the ability to worry.
  • Frequent, overwhelming episodes of appreciation.
  • Contented feelings of connectedness with others and nature.
  • Frequent bouts of smiling.
  • A tendency to think and act spontaneously rather than on fears based on past experiences.
  • An increased susceptibility to the love extended by others as well as the uncontrollable urge to extend it.

Look for ways to find your own “symptoms of inner peace” in your practice and in your heart.  Be at peace with where you are in your practice and in your life.  You are just where you should be.  As you listen to the music I encourage you to awaken the inner peace within you.


Yoga & Heart Health

A group of researchers set out to study whether yoga can modify traditional cardiac risk factors. They did what’s called a meta-analysis, in which smaller studies are combined to answer a larger question. They found 1404 studies on yoga – 37 were direct comparisons of yoga to either no exercise, or traditional aerobic exercise.

The results of yoga versus no exercise were clear. Compared to non-exercisers, those who practiced yoga sustained significant improvement in cardiac risk factors. On average, yogis lost 2.35 kg of body weight, lowered their blood pressure by 5 mm/hg, and improved their cholesterol profiles by reducing LDL and increasing HDL.

The more remarkable findings came when the researchers looked at how yoga compared to regular aerobic exercise. Namely, there was no difference. In nine studies, yoga practice was comparable to aerobic exercise for weight loss, blood pressure and cholesterol measures.

The more remarkable findings came when the researchers looked at how yoga compared to regular aerobic exercise. Namely, there was no difference. In nine studies, yoga practice was comparable to aerobic exercise for weight loss, blood pressure and cholesterol measures.  Take a moment to check out the full article from Web MD Website which is of my favorites sites for information and motivation.  I have signed up to receive helpful and encouraging articles almost everyday.

Check out the full article by John Mandrola, MD below.

http://blogs.webmd.com/heart-disease/2015/01/yoga-for-heart-health.html?ecd=com_blogs_yogahearthealth

Hope you have a great week!

Brandy

Yoga for Healthy Aging: Too Young to Feel So Old

Yoga for Healthy Aging is a great resource for older adults who are doing Yoga.  I was excited to be selected to be featured with my prize winning “Wild Thing” photo featuring women over age 50 doing yoga.  I also was honored to be asked to share my story on what yoga and moving to Robson Ranch has meant to me.  To read more click on the link below.  Thanks so much to dear daughter-in-law, Emily Wismer and son Ryan for a fun photo shoot at the US National Arboretum. 

http://yogaforhealthyaging.blogspot.com/2015/06/too-young-to-feel-so-old.html

 

Wednesday night gals!

I’m so blessed for the women who have found their way to my yoga class and trusted me to be their guide in their journey to learn new ways to care for themselves and their bodies.  Their smiles make me happy and their willingness to try new things is inspiring.  We have so much we can learn from each other.   Each has a unique and precious spirit and it is my honor to have them in my class.  

We tend to forget happiness doesn’t happen as a result of getting something  we don’t have, but rather recognizing and appreciating what is already in our hands. 

Thanks Janelle Roth, Mary Alice Benton, Bobbie Splawn, Pam VanOverwalle, Joan Doyle and Debby Redden.

Brandy Wismer

 

19 Benefits of Yoga You May Not Have Known!

1. Improves your flexibility

Improved flexibility is one of the first and most obvious benefits of yoga. During your first class, you probably won’t be able to touch your toes, never mind do a backbend. But if you stick with it, you’ll notice a gradual loosening, and eventually, seemingly impossible poses will become possible. You’ll also probably notice that aches and pains start to disappear. Tight hips can strain the knee joint due to improper alignment of the thigh and shinbones. Tight hamstrings can lead to a flattening of the lumbar spine, which can cause back pain. And inflexibility in muscles and connective tissue, such as fascia and ligaments, can cause poor posture.

2. Builds muscle strength

Strong muscles do more than look good. They also protect us from conditions like arthritis and back pain, and help prevent falls as we age. And when you build strength, flexibility & balance through yoga it is a recipe for injury prevention and well-being as we age.

3. Improves your posture

Your head is like a bowling ball—big, round, and heavy. When it’s balanced directly over an erect spine, it takes much less work for your neck and back muscles to support it. Move it several inches forward, however, and you start to strain those muscles. Poor posture can cause back, neck, and other muscle and joint problems. As you slump, your body may compensate by flattening the normal inward curves in your neck and lower back which can cause pain and degenerative arthritis of the spine.  

4. Prevents cartilage and joint breakdown 

Each time you practice yoga, you take your joints through their full range of motion. This can help prevent degenerative arthritis or mitigate disability by “squeezing and soaking” areas of cartilage that normally aren’t used. Joint cartilage is like a sponge; it receives fresh nutrients only when its fluid is squeezed out and a new supply can be soaked up. Without proper sustenance, neglected areas of cartilage can eventually wear out, exposing the underlying bone like worn-out brake pads.

5. Helps protects your spine

Spinal disk, the shock absorbers between the vertebrae that can herniate and compress nerve, crave movement. That’s the only way they get their nutrients. A well-balanced practice can help keep healthy disks supple.

6. Improves your bone health

It’s well documented that weight-bearing exercise strengthens bones and helps ward off osteoporosis. Many postures in yoga require that you lift your own weight. And some, like Downward- and Upward-Facing Dog, help strengthen the arm bones, which are particularly vulnerable to osteoporotic fractures. Yoga’s ability to lower levels of the stress hormone cortisol may help keep calcium in the bones.

7. Increases your blood flow

Yoga gets your blood flowing. More specifically, the relaxation exercises you learn in yoga can help your circulation, especially in your hands and feet. Yoga also gets more oxygen to your cells, which function better as a result.

8. Ups your heart rate

When you regularly get your heart rate into the aerobic range, you lower your risk of heart attack and can relieve depression. While not all yoga is aerobic, if you do it vigorously it can boost your heart rate into the aerobic range. But even yoga exercises that don’t get your heart rate up that high can improve cardiovascular conditioning. Studies have found that yoga practice lowers the resting heart rate, increases endurance, and can improve your maximum uptake of oxygen during exercise—all reflections of improved aerobic conditioning.

11. Helps regulates your adrenal glands

Yoga lowers cortisol levels. If that doesn’t sound like much, consider this. Normally, the adrenal glands secrete cortisol in response to an acute crisis, which temporarily boosts immune function. If your cortisol levels stay high even after the crisis, they can compromise the immune system. Temporary boosts of cortisol help with long-term memory, but chronically high levels undermine memory and may lead to permanent changes in the brain. Additionally, excessive cortisol has been linked with major depression, osteoporosis (it extracts calcium and other minerals from bones and interferes with the laying down of new bone), high blood pressure, and insulin resistance. In rats, high cortisol levels lead to what researchers call “food-seeking behavior” (the kind that drives you to eat when you’re upset, angry, or stressed). The body takes those extra calories and distributes them as fat in the abdomen, contributing to weight gain and the risk of diabetes and heart attack.

12. Promotes a healthy lifestyle

Move more, eat less—that’s the adage of many a dieter. Yoga can help on both fronts. A regular practice gets you moving and burns calories, and the spiritual and emotional dimensions of your practice may encourage you to address any eating and weight problems on a deeper level. Yoga may also inspire you to become a more conscious eater.

13. May help to lower 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 in several ways: by lowering cortisol and adrenaline levels, encouraging weight loss, and improving sensitivity to the effects of insulin. Get your blood sugar levels down, and you decrease your risk of diabetic complications such as heart attack, kidney failure, and blindness.

14. Encourages relaxation and calmness

Yoga encourages you to relax, slow your breath, and focus on the present, shifting the balance from the sympathetic nervous system (or the fight-or-flight response) to the parasympathetic nervous system. The latter is calming and restorative; it lowers breathing and heart rates, decreases blood pressure, and increases blood flow to the intestines and reproductive organs.

15. Improves your balance

Regularly practicing yoga increases proprioception (the ability to feel what your body is doing and where it is in space) and improves balance. People with bad posture or dysfunctional movement patterns usually have poor proprioception, which has been linked to knee problems and back pain. Better balance could mean fewer falls.

16. Releases tension in your limbs

Do you ever notice yourself holding the telephone or a steering wheel with a death grip or scrunching your face when staring at a computer screen? These unconscious habits can lead to chronic tension, muscle fatigue, and soreness in the wrists, arms, shoulders, neck, and face, which can increase stress and worsen your mood. As you practice yoga, you begin to notice where you hold tension and can learn to release it.

17. Gives your lungs room to breathe

Yogis tend to take fewer breaths of greater volume, which is both calming and more efficient. Yoga has been shown to improve various measures of lung function, including the maximum volume of the breath and the efficiency of the exhalation.

18. Helps reduce stress

Yoga teaches techniques to address the mental loops of frustration, regret, anger, fear, and desire that can cause stress. And since stress is implicated in so many health problems—from migraines and insomnia to lupus, MS, eczema, high blood pressure, and heart attacks—if you learn to quiet your mind, you’ll be likely to live longer and healthier.

19. Builds your inner strength

Yoga can help you make changes in your life. In fact, that might be its greatest strength. Building the discipline that fuels yoga practice and that regular practice builds can be extended to the rest of your life to overcome inertia and change dysfunctional habits. You may find that without making a particular effort to change things, you start to eat better, exercise more, or finally quit smoking after years of failed attempts.