Yoga is a 3000-year-old tradition that originated from ancient Indian philosophy and gives a holistic approach to health. Practicing yoga regularly can promote strength, flexibility, endurance, and cultivate calmness, well-being, compassion, and self-control.
Sustained practice can also bring changes in life perspective, self-awareness, and a great sense of energy to live a fun-filled life. Yoga can improve your stress response bringing a sense of balance and union between the mind and body (1).
Along with muscular activity, it teaches you to focus on self-awareness, breath, and energy.
Applying yoga for therapeutic benefits began in the early twentieth century and is based on various psychological benefits of this practice. People identify yoga only with asana or physical practice, but asana is just one of the many healing tools of yoga.
8 Amazing Health Benefits of Yoga
One of the distinct benefits of yoga is improved flexibility. When you practice yoga consistently, there will be loosening of the muscles and connective tissue that are surrounding your bones and joints.
This effect of yoga results in reduced aches and pains. With excellent muscle building and muscle strength, you can prevent conditions like arthritis and back pain.
Growing evidence of yoga techniques supports the belief that it improves physical and mental health through down-regulating action on the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis and the sympathetic nervous system.
1. Improves cardiac health
Heart attack due to high blood pressure and diabetes is becoming increasingly common even in the younger generation. Antihypertensive medications cause several undesirable side effects.
Researchers suggest that regular yogic practice can be effective medical therapy in controlling blood pressure (2).
According to the European Journal of Preventive Cardiology, practicing yoga can help to modify cardio-metabolic health (3).
Overall being consistent with your yoga can lower your blood pressure and strengthen your heart health.
2. Helps achieve ideal weight
Yoga is incredibly helpful in managing obesity. Regular practice of yoga can improve your diet.
Yoga brings a mental shift towards healthy eating through mindful eating and reduced stress eating. With increased self-awareness, you learn to make a conscious selection of food.
Yoga can help you to put the right mindset for weight loss. With regular yoga practice, you learn to adhere to a healthy diet and attain ideal weight (4). Also, it strengthens your metabolism and digestion, leading to muscle build-up and calorie burning.
3. Reduces chronic pain
Chronic pain can affect daily life, causing depression. Several studies have revealed that yoga is extremely useful in treating conditions with chronic pain. Yoga offers various kinds of approaches to relax, energize, rejuvenate, and strengthen the body and mind.
In most chronic conditions, the pain gets aggravated by a sedentary lifestyle, lack of exercise, and poor posture. Asanas optimize your tissue functioning, bring steadiness, and lightness to the body.
Different asanas compress and decompress the blood flow and lymph flow of underlying tissues through abdominal muscular stretches along with appropriate spinal movements.
With awareness and progressive relaxation, a significant amount of pain is taken away, and you feel more controlled (5).
4. Boosts your mental health
Exercises are considered as viable treatment options for depression. Research studies suggest that yoga is an intellectual and mental exercise, which improves healthy feelings.
Yoga encourages you to leave behind all the stress and anxiety and brings mental balance.
When you start your practice with the right intention, you focus more on your breath. You feel the free flow of energy in your body and develop a positive outlook towards life.
Studies suggest that yoga can be used as adjunctive therapy to manage patients with depression and anxiety disorders (6).
5. Promotes your sleep
Various health issues, stress, and anxiety can disrupt your sleep. Including yoga in your daily routine can improve your sleep quality.
Yoga brings together postures, breathing techniques, and meditation. This results in reduced blood pressure, relief from anxiety, and other sleep disturbances, thus helping you achieve quality sleep.
Studies also revealed that when practiced long-term, you will experience fewer sleep disturbances and good sleep quality (7).
Mindfulness, as an integral part of yoga; it improves sleep by increasing melatonin levels, reducing anxiety, and addressing stress-related issues (8).
6. Brings respiratory regulation
Yoga and pranayama focus on the respiratory aspect through enhancing lung function.
Controlled breathing technique, prolongation and shortness of breath, and sometimes even holding your breath, activates the voluntary control of respiratory muscles.
According to research studies, yoga improves pulmonary functions in healthy individuals and reduces the risk of respiratory diseases in the future (9).
It is also believed that pranayama can improve respiratory breathing capacity by increasing your chest wall expansion and forcing expiratory lung volumes.
7. Increases strength and flexibility
Along with flexibility, yoga also carries strength-building capacity. There are certain poses that work similarly to ‘power poses,’ making you feel powerful.
These poses affect your physical as well as psychological state. The daily practice of these yoga poses can improve your strength and endurance (10).
Yoga enhances your physical fitness. Various postures of yoga help you to tone your muscles and build flexibility. With a complete body movement, yoga releases tightness and soreness from muscles.
A 12-week long Hatha yoga study revealed that yoga could help you gain muscular strength, endurance, and flexibility (11).
8. Increases positivity
Your thoughts affect your mental and physical health. Yoga aims to minimize wandering of your mind with awareness and focussed attention.
You learn to accept your thoughts and let them go without judging. It helps you develop compassion and gratitude, creating a positive impact on your life.
Yoga should begin with setting intentions for your practice. By living in the present moment, you become aware of your negative thoughts. When you try replacing those negative thoughts with positive ones, it improves your overall attitude.
Before you go…
Though we are familiar with yoga, it is not prescribed for any health condition due to a lack of empirical support.
Practice yoga every day and make it an integral part of your life. Yoga can prevent various lifestyle diseases, delay the aging process, promote mental and physical health.
Yoga is linked to better health and quality of life. Start your day with yoga to lead a life filled with health and happiness.
Anju Mobin is a certified nutritionist with a 3-year graduate degree in B.Sc. Home Science (Clinical Nutrition and Dietetics). With an additional 4-year graduate degree in Fine Arts (BFA Applied Arts), she combines her passion for advertising with her knowledge of the health industry to create, develop and execute content marketing campaigns for healthcare products. She is the founder and managing editor of the health website fitnesshacks.org.