17 Health Benefits of Yoga: Backed by Science

Practicing yoga can boost your flexibility, strength, and balance, while improving your lung function. It may also be beneficial for reducing anxiety, aiding in weight loss, and enhancing your sex life.

Yoga Benefits

Over 300 million people worldwide have fallen in love with yoga, and according to recent yoga statistics, the number continues to grow.

In this article we’ll explore the physical, mental and emotional benefits, with every claim backed up by scientific studies.

You’ll learn how practicing regularly can improve your flexibility, strength and balance, as well as reduce anxiety and boost your mood.

Whether you’re considering taking up yoga or you’re just curious about its merits, read on to learn more about the transformative power of the practice.

Benefit 1: Yoga can improve your flexibility & balance

1: Yoga can improve your flexibility & balance

It’s no surprise that people wanting to become more supple, choose to practice yoga for flexibility.

A study focused on male college athletes sought to see the ways in which 10 weeks of yogic exercises could impact on sporting performance.[1]

Results demonstrated increased flexibility and improved balance.

It was also suggested that it may in fact enhance any athletic performance that requires these skills.

Though considerably more women partake, this research highlighted just one of the many benefits of yoga for men.

Benefit 2: Yoga can boost your strength

2: Yoga can boost your strength

Strength, most notably core strength, can be built through regular stretching.

Following just 21 days of the Isha Hatha style, respondents in a 2016 project could be seen to have made significant gains in their core strength.[2]

Plus you can apply more resistance to your session by adding weights.

Asanas such as bridge, mountain and crow can be particularly strengthening, so ideal if you want powerful yoga poses.

Benefit 3: Yoga may perfect your posture

3: Yoga may perfect your posture

Strike the right pose and you can improve your posture.

More research still needs to be done, however early studies have highlighted that it can enhance posture stability.[3]

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

This correction in your posture can also have a big impact on your self-esteem.

A fascinating article showed how adopting ‘power poses’, which are expansive positions, made respondents feel more energetic, empowered and in control.[4]

It was these feelings that led to higher levels of self-esteem.

Benefit 4: Yoga can improve your lung function

4: Yoga can improve your lung function

Yoga is a physical practice, but involves a lot of breathing exercises.

Scientists working with young competitive swimmers, aimed to find ways they could enhance their respiratory endurance.[5]

Participants demonstrated significant progress following yogic breathing.

Test subjects were also able to increase their number of strokes per breath.

Benefit 5: Yoga could be beneficial for anxiety, stress & depression

5: Yoga could be beneficial for anxiety, stress & depression

The mental health benefits of yoga can’t be understated.

A systematic review of eight in-depth studies revealed the amazing impact it can have on anxiety in particular.[6]

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

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.[7]

In terms of depression, a review of existing research at the University of Cincinnati sought to see how yoga can be effective for treating the issue.[8]

Out of 18 projects reviewed, 17 of them proved that it was able to significantly reduce depressive symptoms.

Another 2005 study worked with 24 women who were experiencing mental distress.[9]

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

If you’re struggling with your mental wellbeing, there are specific asanas for depression and anxiety that can be powerful.

Benefit 6: Yoga can be powerful for chronic pain

6: Yoga can be powerful for chronic pain

A leading chronic pain journal published findings to show how yoga could improve the quality of life for people dealing with the condition.[10]

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 asana practice.

The conclusion drawn was that the exercise could be used as a tool to help patients manage their pain.

Many studies have also shown that it’s particularly effective for treating back pain.

This includes the Yoga in America study which compared it to other complementary treatments.[11]

A project published by the National Institutes of Health focused on those suffering from moderate to severe lower back pain.[12]

It looked specifically at underserved communities, rather than those from middle class backgrounds which studies had previously focused on.

They reported relief from their discomfort after they attended yoga for back pain classes for just 12 weeks.

Benefit 7: Yoga may reduce inflammation

7: Yoga may reduce inflammation

Frontiers in Human Neuroscience reviewed the activities and vitals of a team of yogis on a three month retreat.[13]

Those involved practiced controlled breathing exercises, meditation and physical poses.

It was concluded that inflammation and stress within the body were reduced, and that feelings of depression and anxiety were also diminished.

Benefit 8: Yoga can enhance your immune system

8: Yoga can enhance your immune system

Findings published in the Journal of Behavioral Medicine identified that yogic exercises can help to boost your immune system.[14]

This 2018 systematic review also discovered that it can be particularly useful for individuals dealing with diseases that have inflammatory components, such as arthritis, diabetes and asthma.

Further investigation is recommended, but initial results are positive.

Benefit 9: Yoga could help you sleep better

9: Yoga could help you sleep better

The National Health Statistics Report from 2015, detailed how nearly 60% of yogis said the practice helped them get better sleep.[15]

Not only that, it also highlighted how it can help you to fall asleep quicker.

A gentler form, restorative yoga, is thought to be particularly powerful.

Desperate for a great night’s rest?

There are a number of poses for better sleep that you could try tonight!

Benefit 10: Yoga might improve your heart health

10: Yoga might improve your heart health

The British Heart Foundation recognises the rewards for the heart.[16]

Though they do acknowledge that the evidence is still quite limited, emerging studies deliver promising findings.

Yoga can also help people with cardiovascular problems, as published in the European Journal of Preventative Cardiology.[17]

They believe it can lower the risk of heart disease just as much as brisk walking.

Benefit 11: Yoga may reduce your blood pressure

11: Yoga may reduce your blood pressure

A major systematic review of yoga for hypertension demonstrated that it was responsible for a significant reduction in blood pressure.[18]

It takes only one month to lower your pulse rate, according to research conducted in India in 2013.[19]

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

Benefit 12: Yoga could aid weight loss

12: Yoga could aid weight loss

A study at the National Institutes of Health Clinical Center in Maryland confirmed that you can lose weight through yoga.[20]

Respondents took part in Iyengar yoga, an approach that suits yogis whatever level of fitness and experience they have.

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

Benefit 13: Yoga can improve your digestion

13: Yoga can improve your digestion

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.[21]

Another trial looking at IBS in young people, saw their condition improve following the sessions.[22]

Adolescents taking part described how helpful it had been and said they would continue.

Benefit 14: Yoga may reduce headaches and migraines

14: Yoga may reduce headaches and migraines

The International Journal of Yoga published a study which examined migraines and how using yogic exercises could replace high-cost medications.[23]

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

Experts concluded that the practice should be utilized in line with other treatment options for migraine patients.

Benefit 15: Yoga can boost your productivity

15: Yoga can boost your productivity

Workplace stress was the focus of a 2017 study conducted by the CDC.[24]

Practicing in the workplace was not only shown to help an employees’ wellbeing and decrease stress, but also to increase their level of productivity.

The University of Waterloo in Ontario, explain that one reason it increases your energy levels, is because it helps to remove unnecessary thoughts and information from your mind.[25]

Even just a single session has been found to help respondents perform better in speed and accuracy tests, and enhance their overall cognitive performance.[26]

Benefit 16: Yoga can enhance your sex life

16: Yoga can enhance your sex life

The Journal of Sexual Medicine looked at how yoga could influence the sex lives of women over the age of 40.[27]

Gauged using the Female Sexual Function Index, six different areas were reviewed including desire, arousal, lubrication, orgasm, satisfaction and pain.

Findings highlighted how roughly 75% of the respondents reported improvements in their sex life after 12 weeks.

If you’re a woman interested in mind and body movement, then it’s not just your sex life that will be improved, there are a number of advantages of yoga for women’s health.

Benefit 17: Yoga might even make you look younger!

17: Yoga might even make you look younger!

Innovative new research has suggested that yoga could slow down the aging process.

In 2017, a group of 96 healthy individuals took part in 12 weeks of mind and body practices.

DNA damage and telomere shortening (which are the caps that protect our chromosomes), were reduced.[28]

It was concluded that by adopting a lifestyle, there’s the potential to slow down cellular aging.

Yoga can even have perks for little ones!

There are a number of childhood conditions that can be improved through regular practice.

If you want to boost your child’s academic performance and support them emotionally, then you need to read the benefits of yoga for kids.

Laura Smith


Laura Smith

Associate Editorial Manager

Specialist health & wellbeing writer, passionate about discovering new technologies & sharing the latest research.


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