How Does Yoga Change Your Body? Just One Session Can Make A Difference

Rob and Julia Campbell/Stocksy

Yoga has been around for thousands of years but it's only in recent times that its true benefits have been uncovered. One of the only forms of exercise that places equal emphasis on the body and mind, just one session can leave you feeling relaxed and ready to take on the world. But how does yoga change your body? Well, there are also a number of slightly strange things that can happen even after just one session.

As well as the obvious increase in strength and flexibility, you may notice you now possess the ability to remain calm in stressful situations. A quick glance in the mirror and you might be surprised to see a glowing reflection staring back at you. And if you struggle to sleep at night, you'll be ecstatic when you realise that insomnia has become a thing of the past.

These claims may sound too good to be true (and some will only come over time) but a month or two of yoga has been proven to have some serious advantages. I started practicing the mindful workout a few weeks ago and already feel like everything from my productivity to my posture has improved.

Here's just a few of the things that you might experience after a few weekly yoga sessions.

1Glowing Skin

Studio Firma/Stocksy

Yes, experts love to tout the ability of absolutely anything to give you great skin. But yoga has been scientifically proven to leave your skin with that glow that's all over Instagram right now. According to doctors, the practice causes vasodilation; a process which enlarges the blood vessels in your body. This then leads to improved blood circulation to the skin, feeding it good nutrients and flushing out any bad toxins that can cause things like acne, premature ageing, and discolouration.

2Reduced Stress

Kayla Snell/Stocksy

While it's obvious that an hour of mindfulness will leave you feeling on top of the world, yoga's stress-relieving benefits last longer than you may think. A review of several studies concluded that yoga can allow people to handle stress in a better way. It works to regulate the body's stress response systems and reduces the impact of any stressful situation. This in turn can lead to a reduced heart rate and lower blood pressure. Nifty, huh?

3A Good Night's Sleep

Milles Studio/Stocksy

Anyone who struggles to get eight hours' kip each night will like this one. A study carried out in 2011 found that yoga has the ability to produce a sound night's sleep. It's no secret that sleeping better and for longer can boost productivity and brainpower as well as increase your overall sense of wellbeing. I can personally attest to this one. Prior to starting yoga, I only found myself nodding off in the early hours of the morning. Now, I can fall asleep within minutes and wake up feeling refreshed rather than groggy.

4Increased Productivity

Jovo Jovanovic/Stocksy

In 2013, a small-scale study pubished in the Journal of Physical Activity & Health found that just 20 minutes of yoga helped people's brains to function better. The people involved in the study were able to complete tests quicker and more accurately than those who had undergone 20 minutes of aerobics. This suggests that yoga allows the brain to focus and complete tasks in a sharper fashion than before. I'll take that over a HIIT class any day of the week.

5Plenty Of Aches & Pains

Gabrielle Lutze/Stocksy

Yoga may seem easy but getting into those positions takes a lot of strength. And it'll leave your body feeling something rather unexpected. While you won't ever be encouraged to compete with anyone else in the room, you will find it hard to resist challenging yourself to hold the pose for longer. This inevitably results in aches from muscles that you never knew existed. After a few weeks, these will disappear but don't let anyone tell you that yoga is for whimps.

6A Better Sex Life

Jovo Jovanovic/Stocksy

Yes, really. Yoga can not only increase arousal and general sexual satisfaction (and reduce pain) but it can also give women the chance to understand and explore their own bodies, boosting the possibility of a more pleasurable experience in the bedroom. What's not to love?

7Increased Flexibility

Clique Images/Stocksy

When I first started yoga, I struggled to master downward dog. But now, my feet can rest firmly on the floor without me wheezing or even trying super hard. There is some scientific evidence to suggest that yoga can improve flexibility — especially in young people. A group of healthy young adults were asked to attend 24 yoga sessions in two months. When compared to a control group, they showed a substantial increase in lower back and hamstring flexibility as well as increased deadlift strength and decreased body fat.

Spurious claims regarding yoga are all over the internet but there is some scientific proof to back up quite a few of these potential benefits. While I and plenty of others will sing yoga's praises high from the rooftops, be aware that it may take weeks — or even months — for you to really feel its effects.

Don't be downhearted if nothing happens straight away. Just keep calm and carry on. Namaste.