Yoga has been with us for quite a while. And, with it, has also come a lot of studies to find out how exactly these exercises are good for us. Let’s take a closer look at the benefits of yoga and why you should start integrating it into your life as soon as possible.
1. Better Flexibility
This one comes as no surprise since the entire core of yoga is to move your body into stretching positions. But it’s not just in places like your hamstrings and hips. Places like your back and shoulders love this kind of workout.
Also, if you spend a lot of time sitting or are getting older, you might notice your flexibility suffering. Yoga can help counteract this.
2. Improves Balance
Unless you’re a dancer, expanding your balance doesn’t usually pop into people’s heads. But working on this point can help with posture and functionality. Also, having a good level of agility can help you avoid things like stumbling and falling.
“According to the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, falls are incredibly common among older adults in nursing facilities, and even the simplest ones can lead to an increased risk of death.”
Thankfully, there are beginner poses out there if your balance isn’t that great.
3. Back Pain Relief
Sitting wrong or holding certain postures for too long are just a couple of reasons we can end up with serious back pain. Another problem is it’s not a part of the body we often think of stretching. Yoga movements also promote blood flow, which is always fantastic for areas that are aching.
4. Ease Arthritis Symptoms
This one might come as a surprise. But anyone with arthritis knows that many exercises have a higher impact on the joints. This makes it hard or even impossible to work out (physically and mentally). And according to a Johns Hopkins review of 11 recent studies showed yoga helps with swollen and tender joints.
The next in the list of benefits of yoga ties directly to arthritis problems…
5. Builds Strength
We must engage our core and use key areas of our body to support whatever pose we’re in. This will inevitably lead to muscle building of some kind.
And when we build muscle around places like our joints, it can take some of the burdens off those areas. So, instead of the ligaments and joint taking 100% of the toll, they can have a bit of a “break.” Studies in the air force have also experimented with integrating yoga as a way to build strength.
6. Helps the Heart
If you’ve never heard of “yoga breathing” before (AKA Pranayama), it’s a fundamental part of any pose or transition. It’s deep, controlled breathing that you take from your core.
The Journal of Ayurveda and Integrative Medicine published a review of 1,400 studies that showed that the cardiovascular system had amazing boosts from proper breathing. There were also positive data that suggested the brain’s cardiorespiratory center could have better functioning.
7. Improves Bone Health
Many poses use isometric contractions. This is just a fancy way of saying you’re using 100% of that muscle area without making it longer. So, something like Plank uses the same muscles as a push-up but without the stretch. Because remember, we get stretching in other aspects of yoga.
8. Better Posture & Body Awareness
Yoga will strengthen all parts of the body, including the back. And many poses force you to focus on sitting up straight. Plus when you execute each pose (with your proper breathing), you are forced to look inwards and see your body in new ways.
9. Improves Sleep
Insomnia or poor sleep hygiene can affect so many other parts of our daily lives. We need good sleep to be healthy. Studies have revealed that practicing yoga can help this because of the exercises calming nature.
Blooming Lotus Yoga gives this list as good poses for going to bed.
- Cow Pose (Bitilasana)
- Happy Baby (Ananda Balasana)
- Legs Up the Wall (Viparita Karani)
- Corpse Pose (Savasana)
- Standing Half Forward Bend (Ardha Uttanasana) at the Wall
- Legs on a Chair Pose
- Reclining Bound Angle (Supta Baddha Konasana)
- Child’s Pose (Balasana)
- Reverse Pigeon Against Wall Pose (Custom Sucirandhrasana)
- Supine Spinal Twist (Supta Jaṭhara Parivartānāsana)
10. Manages Stress
This is another one that comes as no surprise – since it’s one of the major reasons most people go into yoga. For one thing, any kind of physical activity is great for reducing stress. Second, many poses need a significant amount of concentration. So, instead of worrying about stressors in your life, you get a 15 to 30-minute (or more) break.
Since things like burnout, lockdowns, job loss, and decreased living quality are skyrocketing, it’s more important than ever to have something to counteract these anxiety sources.
11. Improves Mental Health
Here is where we see a wonderful snowball effect in the benefits of yoga. Since yoga makes us improve many aspects of our body and mind, it’s obvious there would be an improvement in mental health. We reduce stress, have fewer issues with our body to worry about, etc.
12. Helps Brain Functioning
Other studies have shown that doing yoga is fantastic for the brain. It targets things like motivation, executive functioning, attention, and neuroplasticity.
13. Boosts Immunity
Did you know that chronic stress is absolutely horrible for your body? This includes the immune system. We can handle normal doses of tension, but when it goes on too long, we can end up getting sick more frequently. The stress reduction aspect of yoga works directly with better immunity.
14. Promotes Better Self-Care
Better mental health, in turn, can make us want to take care of ourselves even more (in areas other than yoga). This can include things like eating better (because when we feel awful we crave comfort food, which isn’t always healthy), looking at improved skin care regimes, drinking more water, etc.
Since we set aside yoga as a time to improve our bodies, we are already learning to set aside self-care time. So, adding on another 15 minutes before or after our exercises doesn’t end up feeling like a lot.
15. Improve Self-Esteem
So, imagine you’re now feeling better about your body, and you are also taking care of your mind now too. You’re getting much-needed exercise and your stress levels are going down. There might even be a bit of weight loss in there. How could you not feel better about yourself?
This especially works if you are part of a supportive yoga community that can cheer you on when things get tough, but also recognize the strides you’ve made and how much work went into them.
Benefits of Yoga – Conclusion
Some people might have had a tough first experience in a yoga class. Or something made them not really like these kinds of exercises. However, that could have been from a poor instructor, the wrong level, or even an incorrect set of poses for your body.
Seeing all the benefits of yoga, it’s very much worth the time to look into it again.