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Yoga Benefits

40 Yoga Benefits: The (Unmatchable) Workout For Mind, Body And Soul

There are thought to be over 300 million yoga practitioners worldwide and that number is growing year on year.

But really it’s no surprise, yoga has so many benefits, some expected, others surprising and many just simply amazing!

Yoga Benefits for Your Physical Health

Benefit 1: Improves Flexibility

1: Improves Flexibility

It’s no surprise that yoga is shown to improve flexibility. A research project conducted in 2014 in Slovenia looked at the impact of hatha yoga on the bodies of young women.

The results demonstrated how the flexibility of the skeletal muscles was increased following regular yoga practice.

Benefit 2: Improves Balance

2: Improves Balance

It’s proven that yoga can also improve your balance. A review of all research surrounding balance and yoga was carried out in 2015.

The findings highlighted how yoga can help to improve balance within a healthy population however it was felt that further investigation was required to reinforce this conclusion.

Benefit 3: Increases Strength

3: Increases Strength

Strength, most notably core strength, can be built through practicing yoga.

Following just 21 days of Isha Hatha yoga, respondents in a 2016 project could be seen to have made significant improvements in their core strength as well as their balance.

Benefit 4: Improves Posture

4: Improves Posture

Strike the right pose in yoga and you can improve your posture.

More research around yoga and posture benefits still needs to be done, however early studies have highlighted that it can improve posture stability.

For people over 65 it is thought that regular yoga practice could result in less trips and falls.

Benefit 5: Improves Lung Function

5: Improves Lung Function

As well as the physical practice of yoga there are also the benefits of the breathing exercises. Research which looked at competitive swimmers and how they could enhance their respiratory endurance.

The results included significant improvements following yogic breathing with test subjects shown to increase their number of strokes per breath.

Yoga Benefits for Your Mental Health

Benefit 6: Cultivates Mindfulness

6: Cultivates Mindfulness

One of the cornerstones of yoga practice is mindfulness, the state of being completely conscious or aware of the moment you’re living in.

Those living with depression trialled mindfulness-based cognitive therapy in a 2014 study. Results showed that the practice helped prevent the reoccurrence of a depressive episode.

Benefit 7: Encourages Spirituality

7: Encourages Spirituality

Spirituality is having a strong belief or focus, and it sits at the core of yoga practice.

It doesn’t necessarily have links to any religion, yoga enthusiasts simply believe that it gives you a stronger sense of self and the focus and strength to handle difficult situations as they arise.

Benefit 8: Helps with Anxiety

8: Helps with Anxiety

Encouraging findings from a systematic review of Yoga for Anxiety findings demonstrated the impact it can have on the condition.

Yoga Nidra in particular, which is a deep form of meditation, has been shown to significantly reduce anxiety and depression.

Kamini Desai, PhD, is a leading educator in to the practice at the Amrit Yoga Institute. Her book Yoga Nidra: The Art of Transformational Sleep explains how the practice:

“Brings you to deep states of non-doing that help you sleep better, neutralize excess stress and restore profound peace, relaxation and rejuvenation to the body”.

Benefit 9: Treats Depression

9: Treats Depression

Yoga is not only good for your physical health but for your mental health too. A study at the University of Cincinnati found that yoga was effective for treating clinical depression.

Further research conducted in 2018 on women living in Iran found that symptoms of depression were significantly reduced after just twelve hatha yoga sessions.

Benefit 10: Decreases Stress

10: Decreases Stress

If you’re feeling the stress then it seems that yoga can help. A 2005 study looked at 24 women who were experiencing mental distress.

The women took part in 3 months of lyengar yoga and huge improvements were seen in their stress levels following the practice.

Benefit 11: Improves Memory

11: Improves Memory

Though evidence is currently limited, a study funded by the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease did find that yoga had a positive influence on memory.

In fact it was concluded that yoga might be as impactful as memory training in terms of improving brain connectivity.

Benefit 12: Improves Self-Esteem

12: Improves Self-Esteem

The yoga poses you choose can have a big impact on your self-esteem.

A fascinating piece of research showed how adopting ‘power poses’ in yoga, which are expansive positions, made respondents feel more energetic, empowered and in control.

It was these feelings that led to a high level of self-esteem.

Benefit 13: Stabilizes Mood

13: Stabilizes Mood

A controlled study published in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine compared yoga to walking as a way to control your mood.

Subjects in the study who practiced yoga gained improvements in their mood and decreased anxiety levels.

Benefit 14: Improves Mental Clarity

14: Improves Mental Clarity

Yoga practitioners report improved mental clarity following regular sessions.

Data published by the Yoga Journal and Yoga Alliance reported that a huge 86% of yogis describe themselves as having a strong sense of mental clarity.

Yoga Benefits for Different Conditions

Benefit 15: Treats a Number of Different Conditions

15: Treats a Number of Different Conditions

Many different studies and pieces highlight how beneficial yoga can be for a number of different conditions, including Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, Asthma, Epilepsy, Menopause, Sciatica and Arthritis.

One of the most significant findings relates to how yoga has been shown to stop the onset of Alzheimer’s disease.

The findings published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Research found that yoga as well as meditation could delay the cognitive impairment that is normally the first indicator of the development of Alzheimer’s.

Benefit 16: Helps Heart Health

16: Helps Heart Health

The British Heart Foundation recognises the benefits of yoga for the heart. Though they do acknowledge that the evidence is still quite limited, emerging studies deliver promising findings.

The European Journal of Preventative Cardiology also promotes how yoga can help with improving your heart health. They believe it can help to lower the risk of heart disease just as much as brisk walking.

Benefit 17: Improves the Quality of Life for-Cancer Patients

17: Improves the Quality of Life for Cancer Patients

Yoga is recommended as a tool for cancer care, however it is felt that further analysis still needs to be done.

Research in 2010 focussing on patients with breast cancer looked at how yoga could help them with both their mental and physical health.

Results did demonstrate that yoga was valuable in helping patients to relax and reduce their stress levels.

Patients also reported a general improvement in their quality of life and their ability to perform daily tasks.

A further study in 2015 also looked at breast cancer and showed how yoga could help with the depression, pain and fatigue often associated with the condition.

Anticancer: A New Way of Life by David Servan-Schreiber, MD, PhD, is a book that has been well received by those living with cancer.

Yoga practice is one of the alternative therapies recommended and many readers of the book identified yoga in particular as helping them manage their symptoms.

Benefit 18: Reduces Headaches and Migraines

18: Reduces Headaches and Migraines

Yoga can be used to manage the impact of headaches and migraines.

The US National Library of Medicine published a study which looked specifically at migraines and how using yoga could replace high-cost migraine medications.

Results showed that it enhanced the vagal tone, the nerve which when stimulated can reduce the frequency and intensity of migraines.

The study concluded that yoga should be utilized in line with other treatment options for migraine patients.

Benefit 19: Reduces Inflammation

19: Reduces Inflammation

Yoga practice has been proven to reduce inflammation. The publication Frontiers in Human Neuroscience looked at respondents on a three month yoga retreat.

Participants enjoyed controlled breathing exercises, meditation and practiced physical poses.

The results concluded that inflammation and stress within the body was reduced.

Benefit 20: Reduces Blood Pressure

20: Reduces Blood Pressure

Patients with prehypertension or hypertension (also known as high blood pressure) have been shown to enjoy benefits from yoga.

A major systematic review of yoga for hypertension demonstrated that yoga was responsible for a significant reduction in blood pressure.

Benefit 21: Lowers Pulse Rate

21: Lowers Pulse Rate

It takes only one month of yoga practice to reduce your pulse rate, according to research conducted in India in 2013.

50 respondents underwent one month of yoga training and showed a reduction in heart rate by an average of 22.2 beats per minute.

Benefit 22: Reduces Blood Glucose Levels

22: Reduces Blood Glucose Levels

Those suffering from Type 2 Diabetes could benefit from regular yoga sessions.

In fact in a project published in the US National Library of Medicine yoga was found to be highly effective at reducing blood glucose levels delivering what researchers referred to as “a highly significant result”.

As well as reducing blood glucose levels, a 2016 study published in the Journal of Diabetes Research, proved it had additional benefits.

It was concluded that regular yoga practice would be beneficial in managing the condition including lipid levels and body composition.

Benefit 23: Improves Digestion

23: Improves Digestion

Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) is significantly impacted by yoga practice.

In a 2015 study yoga showed itself to be an affordable and effective way to manage the symptoms of IBS as well as the associated problems such as fatigue and depression.

Another study looked at IBS in young people in particular. Their condition improved following the sessions.

Plus feedback from the adolescents included in the study was that it had been helpful and that they would continue to use it.

Yoga Benefits for Pain

Benefit 24: Reduces Chronic Pain

24: Reduces Chronic Pain

It’s shocking to read that chronic pain is the leading cause of disability in the US, however research shows that it can be positively impacted by yoga.

Published in 2010, the Perspectives on Yoga Inputs in the Management of Chronic Pain journal looked at how yoga could improve the quality of life of people dealing with chronic pain.

Results were gauged on the “gap theory” the space between how an individual wishes to live their life and the way they feel it’s actually being lived.

The gap was significantly reduced following yoga sessions. The conclusion drawn was that yoga could be used as a tool to help patients manage their pain.

Benefit 25 Relieves Back Pain

25: Relieves Back Pain

Back pain is a real problem for society, with 8 out of 10 Americans experiencing back problems at some point in their lives.

Many studies have shown that yoga is effective for treating back pain, in fact a 2016 project demonstrated that it is as effective as many other complementary treatments.

A further study published in 2017 reinforced these positive findings for those suffering from moderate to severe lower back pain.

It looked at those who live in underserved communities, rather than those from middle class backgrounds which the research had previously focussed on.

They attended classes for 12 weeks and reported relief from their pain.

Yoga Benefits for Children and Young People

Benefit 26: Helps with Childhood Conditions

26: Helps with Childhood Conditions

As well as being great for adults, yoga practice has been shown to have a number of positive benefits for children, too.

A study carried out in Spain looked at children with Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and how physical exercise could alleviate some of the symptoms.

It was through this study that they found that yoga was particularly good at helping to manage the condition.

Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) also responded well to yoga practice.

A research project in 2018 demonstrated that Mandala yoga in particular was beneficial in helping to develop stronger social and emotional skills.

Passionate yogi Uliana Klepinina has created a fun book of games, Yoga and Mindfulness for Kids: 25+ Fun Activities to Stay Calm, Focus and Peace.

Those who purchased the book felt it was a fun way to introduce the practice to their children, and that their family had responded well.

Benefit 27: Leads to Better Academic Performance

27: Leads to Better Academic Performance

Yoga can even help you perform better at school! 800 students were monitored in a study by the MGN College of Education.

It reported that students who completed the yoga module performed better academically than those who didn’t.

Benefit 28: Increases Focus and Concentration

28: Increases Focus and Concentration

Those with a short attention span should also benefit from a yoga session or two!

A study initially published in the Journal of Physical Activity and Health demonstrated how just a single yoga session helped respondents perform better in speed and accuracy tests and improved overall cognitive performance.

It showed respondents could maintain their focus better and also absorb new information.

General Yoga Benefits

Benefit 29: Boosts the Immune System

29: Boosts the Immune System

We know that yoga can reduce inflammation within the body however research published in the Journal of Behavioral Medicine identified that it can also help with your immune system.

This 2018 systematic review deemed though further investigation is required, yoga is shown to boost your immune system particularly for individuals dealing with diseases with inflammatory components.

Benefit 30: Improves Sleep

30: Improves Sleep

The number of people suffering from sleep conditions, particularly insomnia, is growing fast. Yoga has been proven to improve sleep.

In fact a report published by the US Department of Health and Human Services has shown that nearly 60% of yogis found that practicing yoga helped to improve their sleep.

Not only that, it also highlighted that yoga helps people to fall asleep quicker.

Benefit 31: Aids Weight Loss

31: Aids Weight Loss

Weight loss is also a key benefit of practicing yoga, however not simply because it’s exercise.

A study by the National Institutes of Health Clinical Center confirmed that yoga can help you to lose weight.

Respondents took part in Iyengar yoga, an approach to yoga which suits people whatever level of fitness and experience they have.

Conclusions drawn showed weight loss but more notably a changed mindset that made them eat healthier.

Benefit 32: Promotes Healthy Eating

32: Promotes Healthy Eating

Enjoying regular yoga sessions can also encourage you to eat healthier.

In 2018 the University of Minnesota conducted a major project that looked at the eating habits and activity levels of young adults.

Researchers spotted a pattern in the results that those that practiced yoga reported better eating habits. This compelled researchers to look in to the research further in the second wave of the study.

It was found that the young yogis ate more fruit and vegetables and less fast food. Conclusions stated that the concept of mindfulness, that is such a pillar of yoga practice, supported this approach to eating.

Benefit 33: Increases Energy Levels

33: Increases Energy Levels

Yoga can lead to increased energy levels. Comparing Hatha yoga and meditation in a 2017 project demonstrated that yoga was much more powerful than simply meditation alone.

The University of Waterloo attributed one reason that yoga increases energy levels to the fact that yoga helps you to remove unwanted and unnecessary thoughts and information from your mind.

Benefit 34: It's Low Risk

34: It’s Low Risk

Yoga is a low risk form of exercise, making it accessible to many. In fact statistics show that the incidence of yoga injuries is just 1.18 injuries per 1000 hours of yoga.

It was also found that of those injuries they tended to impact the lower extremities most notably the hip, hamstring, knee, ankle, foot and toe.

Benefit 35: It's Accessible

35: It’s Accessible

With 36 million Americans practicing yoga, it’s unsurprising that yoga is now really accessible. You can find classes in your local area, tons of instructional videos online and a wide range of different accessories sold at many outlets.

Benefit 36: It's Affordable

36: It’s Affordable

One of the major benefits of practicing yoga is that it’s affordable to practice. Yoga mats can be obtained cheaply, starting at just $10.

Classes again range in cost, however YouTube contains a number of instructional videos (like the one below) that you can access for free.

Surprising Yoga Benefits!

Benefit 37: Makes You More Environmentally Conscious

37: Makes You More Environmentally Conscious

As well as looking after yourself when you practice yoga, statistics show that yogis are concerned with looking after the planet too!

A paper published about Yoga in America in 2016 reported that those that enjoy yoga are more likely to volunteer in their local community, live green and eat sustainably.

Yogis can even demonstrate their respect for the environment by purchasing an eco-friendly yoga mat like Heathyoga’s Eco Friendly Non Slip Yoga Mat that contains no toxic or harmful chemicals.

Benefit 38: Improves Productivity

38: Improves Productivity

If you’re struggling to stop procrastinating then you can improve your productivity with a little yoga.

In fact research conducted by the CDC showed that practicing yoga in the workplace not only helped to improve an employee’s level of productivity but also improve their wellbeing.

Benefit 39: Slows the Aging Process

39: Slows the Aging Process

One of the most surprising findings from yoga research has been the fact that yoga has been shown to slow down the aging process.

The 2017 study conducted in India followed healthy individuals as they undertook 12 weeks of yoga and meditation.

Findings showed that DNA damage and telomere shortening, which are the caps that protect our chromosomes, was reduced.

Conclusions stated that by adopting a lifestyle that involved both yoga and meditation you could slow down cellular aging.

Benefit 40: Improves Your Sex Life

40: Improves Your Sex Life

Practicing yoga can even improve your sex life! Research published in The Journal of Sexual Medicine looked at how yoga could influence the sex life of women over the age of 40.

Results were gauged using the Female Sexual Function Index which looks as six different areas, desire, arousal, lubrication, orgasm, satisfaction and pain.

Results evidenced that roughly 75% of the respondents reported improvements in their sex life after 12 weeks of yoga.

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6 comments

  1. The main reason why I became engaged in yoga was the fact that I had back problems, and because of this there were other side problems. My manual therapist advised me to practice yoga, I began with Hatha, then Ashtang. Now I am going to move to new levels. Everything is fine with the back, and in general many aspects of life have become better. I advise everyone to practice yoga!

  2. I like the point you made about mindfulness-based cognitive therapy from yoga helped prevent the reoccurrence of a depressive episode. I’ve been struggling with depression and have been a little lost on what to do for it. I would love to go to a yoga studio and get some help with mindfulness practice and see how it helps me.

  3. I had no idea that yoga was effective in treating back pain as you said in the article. My sister has been struggling with back pain for the last few years, and no amount of medication seems to help her. It might be beneficial for her to find a facility that can teach her how to do yoga so that she can learn new techniques to take care of her back.

  4. Very nice and helpful article, Thanks for sharing.

  5. That is a good point that yoga is shown to improve flexibility. That is something I would want to have so I could feel my flexibility improve sometime soon. Then maybe I could do some other types of activities that require some better flexibility.

  6. I was interested to know if yoga can benefit diabetes? I’m a type 1 diabetic that eats fairly healthy and exercises, however, I’m always looking for new ways to improve my health. Thanks, Kenny

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