Yoga is a 3,000-year old practice that originated in India that incorporates concentration, deep breathing, and physical poses.
As a form of mind-body fitness, yoga is a promoter of strength, flexibility, endurance, and self-control. Those who practice it regularly may experiment with both mental and physical benefits.
Recognizing the universal role of yoga, the United Nations proclaimed 21 June as the International Day of Yoga. This year, International Yoga Day is themed “Yoga for Well-Being,” focusing in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic on how the regular practice of yoga may improve health in individuals.
20 Benefits of Yoga
1. Corrects Posture
Among the top health benefits of yoga, postural correction is one of the most impactful.
Poor posture is favored by the modern sedentary culture where we find ourselves hunched over computers and desks for long hours. These movements tend to develop into postural problems with tension building up in our neck, back, shoulders, and spine.
If proper posture is maintained, there is less stress and pressure applied on joints and ligaments, eliminating muscular fatigue and allowing our muscles to work more efficiently .
A daily yoga routine with specific yoga movement poses (asanas) may correct posture and help prevent injuries.
2. Increases Balance and Flexibility
According to scientifically backed research, a daily yoga routine may improve balance and flexibility.
In this 12-week clinical study, a group of 54 elderly participants who practiced yoga demonstrated balance and mobility-related benefits.
Another study that focused on the impact of yoga for flexibility enhancement tested out 26 college athletes resulted in significant evidence of gains in flexibility and balance and consequently improved athletic performances.
3. Builds Muscle Strength
One of the many health benefits of yoga is muscle-building, thanks to specific asanas found in power yoga, one of the most athletic forms of yoga .
Here are two simple poses in which you can practice yoga for strength on your core:
- Plank Pose – Builds strength in the core, shoulders, arms, and legs. To intensify the challenge, add deep breathing exercises: inhale to enlarge the chest through the shoulders and exhale to strengthen the abs.
- Side Plank – Start in a traditional plank pose and then rotate your body 90 degrees. Control your breathing rhythm by taking deep inhales to expand your chest and then push the air out to strengthen the abs.
4. Increases Blood Flow & Circulation
If you have bad blood circulation, you’ve probably often experienced one of these symptoms: cold hands and feet, muscle cramps, swelling, and numbness. Luckily yoga can fix that.
Include the following sequence of poses in your daily yoga routine:
- Downward-Facing Dog – Facilitates blood flow to your head because the position requires putting your hips above your heart and your heart above your head.
- Warrior II – This asana compresses and releases the veins in your legs, which ultimately enhances circulation and improves muscle tone in the legs.
- Legs up on the wall – An inverted yoga position that encourages the flow of blood from the legs and pelvis back to the heart.
5. Provides Joint Support
Along with other health benefits of yoga, yoga is great for joint pain, joint flexibility, and joint support.
The Arthritis Foundation recommends people suffering from arthritis turn to gentle yoga exercises as a way of reducing joint tension and pain and lower stress.
Two types of yoga – Vinyasa yoga and Ashtanga yoga – both derived from Power yoga are good for building muscle mass, which, in return, provide extended joint support.
6. Provides Spinal Health
Maintaining a healthy and balanced movement pattern is the most effective strategy to keep your back and spine healthy.
A daily yoga routine that includes stretching, rotation, extension, and side-bending poses strengthens the spine. These are all-natural spine motions, but in our daily lives, it’s easy to perform too much of one and not enough of the other, resulting in physical imbalances.
When you practice yoga for flexibility, try out these eight asanas for spinal health:
- Downward-Facing Dog
- Extended Triangle
- Sphinx Pose
- Cobra Pose
- Locust Pose
- Bridge Pose
- Half Lord of the Fishes
7. Boosts Immunity
A natural way to stimulate immunity and lower stress is by practicing yoga. A study confirms that regular yoga practice is probably one of the most efficient ways to activate immunity. A daily yoga routine may stimulate the main physiological systems connected to our immune system: the circulatory, endocrine, and nervous systems. Specific yoga poses stimulate the lymphatic to get rid of toxins accumulated in the body, bringing oxygenated blood in the organs.
8. Lowers the Risk of Heart Attack
A sedentary lifestyle, high blood pressure, high levels of cholesterol, and triglycerides are all characteristics of heart disease. People with cardiovascular diseases have a high risk of heart attack. The European Journal of Preventive Cardiology cited that practicing yoga regularly may have the same potential to diminish risk factors associated with cardiovascular disease as other forms of traditional exercise, such as walking or biking.
9. Keeps Blood Sugar Under Control
Practicing yoga regularly reduces stress, increases mobility, lowers blood pressure, and improves general mental state.
With increased stress levels, our blood sugar level rises, triggering heart disease. Yoga for diabetes is considered a promising option in preventing and keeping the disease under control. Data from several studies suggest that yoga has a positive effect on blood sugar regulation .
10. Improves Breathing
Yogic breathing, also known as pranayama, represents a yoga practice focused on the way we control our breath through systematic breathing exercises.
Whether you are practicing yoga for flexibility or muscular relaxation, you are also unconsciously using different breathing exercises.
A 2009 scientific research has observed improved breathing and better lung function in patients with bronchial asthma of mild to moderate severity.
11. Reduces Chronic Pain
A consistent daily yoga routine may significantly reduce chronic pain caused by injuries, carpal tunnel, or arthritis.
A study carried out on patients suffering from carpal tunnel syndrome to determine the health benefits of yoga observed that subjects in the yoga groups had significant improvement in grip strength and pain reduction .
12. Alleviates Inflammation
Although inflammation is a natural immune response, it may also lead to the development of inflammatory disorders, including heart disease, diabetes, and cancer.
According to this 2015 clinical trial on the health benefits of yoga on Levels of Inflammatory Markers after moderate and strenuous exercise, patients who practiced yoga regularly demonstrated lower levels of inflammatory indicators as opposed to those in the control group who showed no significant result.
13. Stress Relief
Studies on the effects of yoga reveal that yoga may decrease the secretion of cortisol – the stress hormone .
Pranayama and meditation are very suitable for reducing stress, releasing the body from tension by combining total relaxation of the body with the conscious state of mind – one of the most amazing health benefits of yoga.
14. Fights Depression
Kundalini, Iyengar, and Ashtanga are 3 types of yoga that help fight depression.
Kundalini yoga involves simple and static poses that invite relaxation and internal calm.
Iyengar yoga implies deep meditation, concentration, and focused attention.
Ashtanga yoga involves meditation, including the 8 principles of yoga.
15. Eases Anxiety
Research indicates that yoga practice and mindfulness techniques may reduce feelings of anxiety .
Irrational fear, constant tension, worry, tremble, nausea, internal agitation, and heavy breathing are characteristics of anxiety. Meditation influences the amygdala, the fear center of the brain, and the caudate nucleus, which is associated with obsessive thoughts and obsessive behavior.
16. Promotes Rest
Diseases such as obesity, high blood pressure, and depression  may be due to sleep deprivation. Inadequate sleep may also lead to the inability to concentrate, fatigue, and irritability.
Ending the day with 15 minutes of yoga will make you feel better and prepare your body to rest. Yoga has different styles, but for better sleep, avoid vigorous exercises that will invigorate your body. Focus on breathing and light movements.
17. Boosts Libido
One of the less-known health benefits of yoga is that it can increase libido and sex drive.
When you practice yoga for flexibility, it also allows you to try new sexual positions. Even though it is a practice meant for relaxation, yoga includes poses that require even 90% of the body’s muscles. Thus, some yoga positions help strengthen the pelvic muscles, which can improve sex life.
18. Helps Decrease Migraines
A study published in the International Journal of Yoga shows that yoga combined with conventional therapy may reduce migraine intensity and frequency .
If your goal is to reduce migraines and you are a beginner in yoga practice, then you should look for yoga styles such as yoga for stress reduction, yoga for toning, Hatha, or Kundalini.
19. Helps Lose Weight
Not many people see this, but yoga can be a true ally in weight management and weight loss journeys.
According to a study published in the American Journal of Lifestyle Medicine, practicing yoga for strength can help you lose weight by burning calories, lowering stress, and making you feel more connected to your body, which curbs hunger, preventing overeating.
20. Keeps the Mind Sharp
Just like yoga for strength or flexibility, you should consider the same for your brain. After all, the brain is an organ that requires exercising to function properly.
Brain function can be increased with a daily yoga routine, preventing your brain to deter as a result of stress, worry, or aging. The vagus nerve, which controls your body’s mood and stress levels, is regulated by yoga.
A daily 20-minute yoga session is recommended to improve brain capabilities.
As laid out in this article, there is a wide array of scientific-based health benefits of yoga for the mind and body for those who practice it regularly.
You can practice yoga for strength to boost immunity, correct your posture, fight depression, or spice up your sex life.
Find the time to practice yoga a few minutes a day every week and you will soon see a huge difference when it comes to your health and well-being.
2] ↑ https://www.acatoday.org/Patients/Health-Wellness-Information/Posture
3] ↑ https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3289222/
4] ↑ https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4437062/
5] ↑ https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/9820263/
6] ↑ https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4784068/
7] ↑ https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/19341989/
8] ↑ https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/26429750/
9] ↑ https://www.researchgate.net/publication/264056358_Effect_of_Yoga_on_migraine_A_comprehensive_study_using_clinical_profile_and_cardiac_autonomic_functions