It’s really no surprise, when you consider that yoga has so many advantages for both your mental and physical health.
We’ve taken a look at all the yoga benefits, including some that might surprise you:
Surprising Yoga Benefits!
1: Slows the Aging Process
One of the most fascinating findings from yoga research has to be the fact that yoga has been scientifically proven to slow down the aging process.
In 2017, a group of 96 healthy individuals took part in 12 weeks of yoga and meditation.
Results 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.
2: Boosts the Immune System
We know that yoga can reduce inflammation within the body, however findings published in the Journal of Behavioral Medicine identified that it can also help with your immune system.
This 2018 systematic review discovered that yoga can boost your immune system, particularly for individuals dealing with diseases with inflammatory components.
Further investigation is recommended, but initial results are positive.
3: Makes You More Environmentally Conscious
Yoga takes care of the individual, but stats also show that yogis are concerned with looking after the planet too!
A paper reflecting on 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.
Trusted yoga brand Manduka recognize this value in their products.
If you’re searching for an effective prop for your practice, take a look at their Cork Yoga Block.
The material is naturally harvested, meaning the cork is only taken from a tree once it’s 25 years old.
4: Improves Productivity
If you’re struggling with procrastination then you can improve your productivity with yoga.
Workplace stress was the focus of a 2017 study conducted by the CDC.
Practicing yoga in the workplace was not only proven to improve an employees’ wellbeing and decrease stress, but also to increase their level of productivity.
5: Improves 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 at six different areas, desire, arousal, lubrication, orgasm, satisfaction and pain.
Findings highlighted how roughly 75% of the respondents reported improvements in their sex life after 12 weeks of yoga.
6: Helps You Recover from a Hangover
Experienced yogis are keen to highlight how positive the practice can be after a night of drinking.
International yoga teacher and YouTube sensation Adriene Mishler, describes how key postures can help to ease a throbbing headache and realign your body.
Those struggling with migraines, even without a night of drinking, found that the techniques demonstrated were really powerful.
Watch below to see Adriene in action:
7: Inspires Creativity
Entrepreneurs are perceived as some of the most creative people in the world.
Which is why a project, published in 2013, looked at the impact of both yoga and meditation on this group.
Amazingly, after just twelve weeks of yoga and meditation, creativity was enhanced across the sample of 40 entrepreneurs.
Yoga Benefits for Your Physical Health
1: Improves Flexibility
It’s no surprise that yoga improves flexibility, with some asanas more powerful for increasing suppleness than others.
A study focused on male college athletes sought to see the ways in which 10 weeks of yoga could impact on sporting performance.
Results demonstrated increased flexibility and improved balance. It was also suggested that yoga may in fact enhance any athletic performance that requires these skills.
2: Improves Balance
It’s proven that yoga can also enhance 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.
3: Increases Strength
Strength, most notably core strength, can be built through practicing yoga.
There are lots of creative ways to add even more resistance to your session – take a look at Bala Bangles!
Weighing just 1lb each, they’re ideal if you looking to build strength through your practice.
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.
5: Improves Lung Function
Yoga is a physical practice, but involves a lot of breathing exercises (which have their own range of benefits!).
Research looking at young competitive swimmers, aimed to find ways they could enhance their respiratory endurance.
The results showed significant improvements following yogic breathing, with test subjects increasing their number of strokes per breath.
Yoga Benefits for Your Mental Health
1: Cultivates Mindfulness
One of the cornerstones of yoga practice is mindfulness, which has its own wonderful range of advantages for your wellbeing.
Mindfulness is 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 project.
Results showed that the practice helped prevent the reoccurrence of a depressive episode.
2: 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.
3: Helps with Anxiety
A systematic review of many anxiety research studies showed the amazing impact yoga can have on the condition.
With a number of asanas particularly powerful for reducing anxious and worrying thoughts.
Yoga Nidra, which is a deep form of meditation, has been shown to significantly reduce anxiety and depression.
Kamini Desai, PhD, is a leading educator in 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”
4: Treats Depression
Over 17 million American adults will suffer from depression in any given year.
A review of existing research at the University of Cincinnati sought to see how yoga can be effective for treating the issue.
Out of 18 projects reviewed, 17 of them proved that yoga was able to significantly reduce depressive symptoms.
5: 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.
6: 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.
7: Improves Self-Esteem
The yoga poses you choose can have a big impact on your self-esteem.
It was these feelings that led to higher levels of self-esteem.
8: 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
1: Treats a Number of Different Conditions
One of the most significant findings relates to how yoga can slow 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.
2: 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 lower the risk of heart disease just as much as brisk walking.
3: 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, focusing on patients with breast cancer, looked at how yoga could help 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 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.
If you want to read more about the benefits, 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.
4: 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.
5: 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 practiced controlled breathing exercises, meditation and physical poses.
The results concluded that inflammation and stress within the body was reduced, and that feelings of depression and anxiety were also diminished.
6: 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.
7: 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.
8: Reduces Blood Glucose Levels
A project published in the US National Library of Medicine found yoga to be highly effective at reducing blood glucose levels delivering what researchers referred to as “a highly significant result”.
There are also other benefits! Research has highlighted that regular yoga practice can be beneficial in managing associated symptoms of the condition including lipid levels and body composition.
9: Improves Digestion
Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) is significantly impacted by yoga practice.
Through 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 project looking at IBS in young people, saw their condition improve following the sessions.
Adolescents taking part described how helpful it had been and said they would continue to practice.
Yoga Benefits for Pain
1: Reduces Chronic Pain
It’s shocking to read that chronic pain is the leading cause of disability in the US, however it can be positively impacted by yoga.
A leading chronic pain journal published research to show how yoga could improve the quality of life of people dealing with chronic pain.
Results were gauged on the “gap theory”, described as 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.
2: 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.
Yoga in fact, is as effective as many other complementary treatments for people with back pain.
A project 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 studies had previously focused on.
They attended classes for 12 weeks and reported relief from their pain.
If you’re looking for help with back pain, there are lots of tools out there for you to try, even ones specially designed for yoga.
UpCircleSeven, for example, have created a Yoga Wheel, that users have reported to be positive for back pain.
It might seem counterintuitive, however it supports your back as you enjoy a full stretch of the spine.
Yoga Benefits for Children and Young People
1: Helps with Childhood Conditions
As well as being great for adults, yoga practice has 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 piece of research 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.
2: 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.
3: Increases Focus and Concentration
Those with a short attention span should also benefit from a yoga session or two.
Even just a single yoga session has been found, through research, to help respondents perform better in speed and accuracy tests, and improve their overall cognitive performance.
It also highlighted that respondents could maintain their focus easier and also better absorb new information.
General Yoga Benefits
4: Improves Sleep
The number of people suffering from sleep conditions, particularly insomnia, is growing fast.
Luckily, there are a number of sleep-inducing asanas that can help!
A report published by the US Department of Health and Human Services highlighted that nearly 60% of yogis described how practicing yoga helped to improve their sleep.
Not only that, it also highlighted that yoga helps people to fall asleep quicker.
5: 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.
6: 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.
7: Increases Energy Levels
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.
8: 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.
9: It’s Accessible
With 36 million Americans practicing yoga, it’s unsurprising that yoga is now really accessible, plus it’s affordable to practice.
You can find classes in your local area, tons of free instructional videos online and a wide range of different accessories sold at many outlets.
Yoga mats, for example, can be obtained really cheaply, starting at just $10.