You don’t have to be the most flexible person to appreciate the beauty of yoga. This ancient practice stretches your muscles and allows your mind to focus, training your brain for meditation.People of any skill level can participate; you only need to move as far into each pose as you can. The only imperative is to take deep belly breaths using your diaphragm, by pulling the lungs down during inspiration. To avoid compromising this golden rule, stop any yoga poses that keep you from breathing deeply. It’s so important because most of us don’t take a single deep breath all day long.To exhale, suck your belly button in toward your spine to push the diaphragm up and empty the air from your lungs. Inhaling deeply brings nitric oxide from the back of your sinuses and nose, into your lungs. This short-lived gas dilates the air passages in your lungs and the blood vessels surrounding those air passages, so you can get more oxygen into your body. Nitric oxide doubles as a neurotransmitter to help your brain function.QUIZ: How Healthy Do You Feel?Here are some other benefits of yoga…â— Yoga and deep breathing create a negative pressure in your lungs, drawing lymphatic drainage back into your veins. What are your lymphatics? When your tissue is fed by blood, some of the waste material seeps into spaces between cells and becomes lymph. Your lymph nodes act as a portal, passing waste material back into your lungs for cleansing. These same nodes get inflamed when you’re sick, which is why you can feel them getting enlarged. Yoga stimulates the lymphatic system flow, by exercising your muscles, and through the vacuum action of deep breathing.â— Yoga trains you to loosen the joints and muscles you ignore in your day-to-day life. Routines get blood flowing as you warm up, freeing your body to experience the new stress you’ll inevitably face. The practice helps you handle the weight of your body more effectively. It builds muscle and bone strength so you’re more resilient and improves your balance.MORE: Yoga Moves for Sculpted Absâ— Yoga helps you focus your mind on remote body parts, like muscles and tights joints, as you gently but firmly deepen into your poses. The mind wanders, so attaining the empty mind of meditation can be difficult. But if you can concentrate on the tension in your hip, for example, as you focus your mind on your pose, then you’re on your way. The goal is not emptying your mind, but rather freeing it to let ideas rapidly pass through, without any attachment.