A regular yoga practice has tons of health benefits, some of which may shock you! In this article, you’ll learn 10 health benefits of yoga and how to start your practice!
From stress relief to weight loss to lower blood pressure, there are a wide variety of benefits of yoga that come from a good yoga practice.
We narrowed down this list to the top 10 that we believe are most important and beneficial to your life.
We’ve started with perhaps the most obvious of the health benefits of yoga. Yoga poses are designed to strengthen and stretch the muscles, so increased flexibility is a natural outcome.
Increased flexibility in the muscles can help prevent injuries, heal aches and pains (especially back pain), help with balance, increase blood flow, and improve posture among many others.
So whether your goal is to be able to do the splits or not, increased flexibility is great for your body.
We could all use a little posture training in our lives. It’s becoming increasingly important these days now that many people sit hunched over computers all day long.
Most people underestimate just how important good posture is to maintaining a healthy lifestyle.
When you have good posture, your bones, muscles, and joints are in proper alignment and can work as nature intended them to. It also ensures that your organs are in proper alignment and can work as efficiently as possible.
Good posture affects about every system in your body, including the digestive, muscular, skeletal, circulatory, and nervous system.
Practicing yoga can improve posture and ensure that your body is in optimal functioning condition.
Relieves Aches and Pains
Aches and pains can be caused by a variety of factors, both internal (such as joint pain and aging) and external (such as environmental or injury related).
Whether you have temporary pain in the muscles or tendons or you suffer from chronic pain, yoga can help!
Researchers at Duke University Medical Center reviewed 20 years worth of studies and concluded that one of the health benefits of yoga is that it can help treat chronic pain caused by a variety of afflictions, including osteoarthritis, carpal tunnel syndrome, and fibromyalgia.
They also proved conclusively that the patients in the studies not only experienced a decrease in joint main and muscle stiffness but also experienced an increase in flexibility and muscle strength.
Exercises such as weight lifting and distance running can put more pressure and strain on the muscles that can further weaken them.
Yoga is a safer alternative because the fluid motions allow the inflamed joints to glide smoothly over one another. While pain pills can lessen the symptoms felt from joint pains, yoga takes it a step further to help remedy the problem completely in the long-term.
Aids in Weight loss
Many people believe that yoga is about meditation, deep breathing, and a little light stretching.
Many people believe that they must run for miles on end every day to see a drop on the scale. This couldn’t be further from the truth, because long distance running has actually been scientifically proven to RAISE cortisol levels in the body.
A regular yoga practice can help you burn calories, build muscle, and burn fat off of the body!
Relieves Stress and Anxiety
This is another benefit that a lot of people tend to underestimate in terms of importance in a healthy lifestyle.
People are busier than ever these days between work, family, and personal relationships and commitments. We have less time, less privacy, and more stress than ever.
It’s not just about feeling a little “calmer” in your life. Stress and anxiety can wreak major damage in your body if left unchecked.
As we just stated above, the stress hormone cortisol can lead to weight gain,which in turns leads to a whole host of other health problems.
Whether you include meditation in your yoga practice or not, yoga helps to relax the body and the mind, which will naturally lower your stress and anxiety levels.
Yes, a calm and relaxing yoga practice can actually help you build muscle strength without ever having to lift a weight!
Yoga is about slow and controlled movements, and you must call upon the muscles in the body to help you move and hold yoga poses.
Many of them require you to lift and/or hold a limb or portion of your body up in the air. This requires a lot of strength.
Yoga is essentially made up of “bodyweight exercises,” and you will progressively build more muscle if you continue to challenge yourself and improve in your practice.
The power of a good night’s sleep is yet another vitally important and often underestimated part of a healthy lifestyle.
Sleep is where your body and mind recover from the day’s activities. As we pile more stress and trivial tasks onto ourselves every day, our bodies need the time to recover more than ever.
It’s no wonder that doctors recommend getting as much sleep as possible when we’re sick. That is when our bodies heal.
You should always allow yourself to get at least 8 hours of sleep per night and never less than 7.
Some tips to sleep better:
- Keep the temperature in your bedroom at least 65 degrees.
- Use blackout curtains to block out all light in the bedroom.
- Do not use bright screens such as TVs and cell phones for at least one hour before bed.
The effect yoga has on calming the mind and the body will help you rest better at night.
For more information on how to use yoga to help you sleep better, check out our yoga poses for better sleep.
Some of us were naturally gifted with balance. Others were ironically nicknamed “Grace,” because of our ability to drop and run into anything and everything (guilty).
I’m sure you’ve begun to see the pattern here… Balance and stability are ALSO highly underrated when it comes to our well-being.
As we age, we naturally begin to lose our mobility skills. Some of you may relate directly to that sentence, and some of you may think you are eons away from feeling those effects.
Either way, yoga can help improve your balance and stability NOW and in the long-term. It’s important no matter what your age.
Yoga can help you build strength, balance, and stability, which can improve self-perception. This self-perception helps to train your muscles to be and do what you need them to without thinking.
We all have tension that builds up in our bodies due to a variety of factors.
One of these factors is, of course, STRESS! It often builds the most in the area of the neck and shoulders, which is why it always feels AMAZING when someone rubs your shoulders.
Our muscles also become tightened because of our increasingly sedentary lifestyle. Between sitting behind a desk all day to sitting in front of the TV at night, our bodies become stiff, sore, and underworked.
Yoga helps to strengthen, lengthen, and stretch the muscles, which can help relieve some of this tension.
Who has the time or money to spend on a professional masseuse anyway?
Lowers Blood Pressure
It’s no secret that high blood pressure is a BAD thing. But for those of you that don’t know the specifics, the dangers of high blood pressure include heart attack and disease, stroke, kidney damage, memory loss, and all kinds of other health problems that you don’t want in your life.
High blood pressure, also called hypertension, occurs when the blood traveling through the circulatory system exerts too much pressure on the walls of the arteries.
It can be caused by a variety of factors, including diet, disease, and stress, and many people take medication to keep it in check.
Yoga has the ability to reduce and even eliminate stress-induced high blood pressure when practiced mindfully.