Yoga instructor Sarah Henry leads a class during a paddleboard yoga session at Adventure Sports Miami on July 10, 2011 in Miami, Florida. The paddle board is said to give the body?s core more of a workout then in a gym since the platform is unstable and one must use the muscles to remain balanced on the board. (Getty Images)more pics »Guess what? That yoga class you just sweated your way through not only toned your outsides, but gave the inside of your body a workout, too. Here are some of the benefits you may not see, but will surely feel:
You Improved Your Digestion
According to Ayurveda, healthy digestion is the key to good health, says the Art of Living Foundation. In fact, the Foundation explains, the root cause of most disease is weak or unbalanced digestive energy. By engaging you in postures that stimulate this energy, as well as deep, rhythmic breathing, yoga is a great, natural way to strengthen and balance your digestive system. (In particular, forward bends, twists, inversions, backbends like Camel Pose, and the Triangle Pose are a few of many that benefit digestion.)
You Revved Up Your Circulation
Cold extremities? Varicose veins? Swelling? Bloating, and all those other lovely situations caused by sitting at a desk all day? No problemo. Your yoga class just boosted your circulation and lymphatic system. Specifically, inversions from Headstand to Downward Dog, writes Holistic Nutritionist Ali Washington on YoungAndRaw.com, are great for bringing "fresh blood to the head and upper body, as well as encouraging the draining of built up fluid in the lower extremities."
You Washed Away Toxins
Not only did you sweat out toxins during that 90-minute flow session (some twists are like wringing out and cleansing your internal organs) yoga also improves your system's detoxifying capabilities off the mat. How? With regular practice, your lymphatic flow, digestion, and depth of breathing all improve, writes holistic professional Rachael Pontillo in Alignyo.com –– all of which increase the efficiency of your body's detox powers, which escalate into a host of other benefits, like...
...You Prettied Up Your Skin
Some of us wear our stress on our skin, be it in the form of red blotches, pimples, wrinkles, or dryness. We all know that a good, sweaty yoga workout can certainly bring on that healthy glow, but chances are, that Ashtanga class you rock twice weekly has also reduced your overall stress levels and improved your circulation and detox capabilities, which, explains Rachael, are gifts to your skin.
You Pretty Much Guaranteed Yourself a Good Night's Sleep
Hey, we all sleep better on the days that included a solid workout, and yoga ups the ante on that sleep quality by stimulating the parasympathetic nervous system (responsible for sleep and digestion), which creates a calming, soothing sensation that's the opposite of the "fight or flight" response stimulated by the sympathetic nervous system. In short, yogis sleep better, and according to the Huffington Post, studies have proved it. So don't be shocked if you conk out the moment your head hits the pillow. Sweet dreams!