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10 Benefits of Yoga Backed by Science

Yoga is a distinctive form of exercise with many faithful practitioners. Maybe you’ve considered giving yoga a try but are not sure if it’s worth your time. Here are ten scientifically proven solid reasons for incorporating yoga into your schedule.

Yoga was developed as a mind, body and spirit practice thousands of years, and there are vast quantities of scientific research studying the physical benefits of yoga. If you’re looking for a safe and effective way to get a good workout, yoga might be an option to consider. Yoga has a lot to offer.

Ten advantages of yoga:

1. Reduces Stress

Of course, exercise, in general, is a great way to combat stress, but yoga goes beyond cardiovascular and strength training benefits by bringing awareness to the breath. By coordinating movement with breath, we leave less space in our minds for ruminations, worry, or stress.

2. Increased muscle strength

Yoga might seem like a gentle, flowing exercise best suited for those who eat nuts and berries, but some poses are incredibly demanding. Some are so difficult that only a few people can accomplish them. Like the handstand scorpion – or Vrikshasana in Sanskrit – requiring perfect balance, good flexibility, and a heavy dose of strength. Yoga is a superb way to increase bodily strength.

Yogi couple in yoga Scorpion Pose

3. Enhances breathing and lung function

Regular yoga practitioners can take larger breaths than the average person and take fewer breaths per minute. Yogic breathing techniques also increase athletes’ performance and treat those with lung problems from congestive heart failure.

4. Weight loss

Getting a good workout on a regular schedule will help you burn calories and lose weight. There are gentler types of yoga (restorative or some hatha yoga classes) that don’t push your cardiovascular system but, vigorous forms like Ashtanga Yoga are terrific calorie-burning activities.

5. Enhances bone health

There are yoga postures that call for you to hold your weight in out of the ordinary ways. This controlled strain is excellent for building muscle strength, which, in turn, increases bone strength and may help prevent osteoporosis.

6. Lowers blood pressure

Yoga improves circulation and lowers blood pressure. There are a variety of poses in yoga that help move blood through the body. Inversions like downward-facing-dog or adho-mukha-svanasana in Sanskrit – position the head below the heart and increase blood flow to the brain and fluids in tissues of your lower extremities drain as well.

"If you can remain in an inverted posture for just 3 to 5 minutes, the blood will not only drain quickly to the heart, but tissue fluids will flow more efficiently into the veins and lymph channels of the lower extremities and of the abdominal and pelvic organs, facilitating a healthier exchange of nutrients and wastes between cells and capillaries."

David Coulter, PhD., Author of Anatomy of Hatha Yoga Tweet

7. Boosts immune function

Yoga movements increase lymph circulation throughout the body. Unlike the heart, this clear, watery fluid gets pushed and pulled through the body by muscle contractions and gravity versus a pumping heart. As it moves through the body, it filters bacteria and viruses out via the lymph nodes. Yoga sequences typically cycle through standing and sitting poses, twists, inversions and backbends extending and contracting muscles and tissues and effectively cycling lymph through the body.

8. Enhances sleep

Yoga relaxes your mind and body. A national survey on wellness reported that 55% of regular yoga practitioners sleep more deeply. If you’re nights arent as peaceful as well as you’d like, a restorative yoga sequence may be a potential solution for better sleep.

9. Improves balance

Yoga has many standing poses that put a massive demand on your balancing skills. Poses that activate the toes increase lower leg muscle activity targeting the primary balance muscles. Yoga can also improve posture, and seniors that practice yoga regularly are less likely to suffer from falls.

 

Young woman doing yoga balancing exercises

10. Pain relief

Yoga reduces pain in those suffering from a variety of conditions, including low back pain, arthritis, fibromyalgia, and carpal tunnel syndrome. A study published in Annals of Internal Medicine found that a weekly yoga class increased mobility more than standard medical care for chronic low back pain people.

11. Reduce inflammation

Yoga is particularly helpful in reducing inflammation. A 2014 analysis found that yoga reduces inflammation-based blood markers. 

"When you look at the aerobic exercise necessary to decrease inflammation, people have to maintain very vigorous levels." But not with yoga... Even practices with minimum levels of physical activity can have large effect sizes."

Michael R. Irwin, M.D., UCLA Brain Research Institute Tweet

Another benefit of group yoga classes is that you can also expand your social circle and potentially make new friends. If you’re looking for a quality workout, and your social life could use a pick-up as well, try joining a regular yoga class.

Yoga is a complete method for developing the mind, spirit, and body. The majority of people consider yoga a form of exercise, but there is much more to yoga than the workout.

There are just as many different styles of yoga with modifications and props as there are individual exercise requirements. It is an excellent idea to research types ahead of time and decide on the best option for you.

Joining a yoga class might feel a little intimidating for beginners. You might believe that you’re not in good enough shape or flexible enough to participate, but you can always start with a beginner’s or gentle class or try a few online videos first and progress from there.

Give yoga a try. Practice two or three times a week for six to eight weeks and enjoy all the benefits it has to offer.

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