Amazing health benefits of yoga! Yoga is a great way to work on your flexibility and strength. Just about everyone can do it too – it’s not just for people who can touch their toes or want to meditate.
Derived from the Sanskrit word “yuji,” meaning yoke or union, yoga is an ancient practice that brings together mind and body. It incorporates breathing exercises, meditation and poses designed to encourage relaxation and reduce stress.
Practicing yoga is said to come with a lot of benefits for both mental and physical health.
Here are the 6 evidence-based benefits of yoga:
1. It decreases stress
Yoga is known for its ability to ease stress and promote relaxation. In fact, multiple studies have shown that it can decrease the secretion of cortisol, the primary stress hormone.
Try It: Corpse Pose (Savasana)
Lie down with your limbs gently stretched out, away from the body, with your palms facing up. Try to clear your mind while breathing deeply. You can hold this pose for 5 to 15 minutes.
2. Relieve anxiety
Many people begin practicing yoga as a way to cope with feelings of anxiety. Interestingly enough, there is quite a bit of research showing that yoga can help reduce anxiety.
Try it: Tree Pose
Balance on one foot, while holding the other foot to your calf or above the knee (but never on the knee) at a right angle. Try to focus on one spot in front of you while you balance for one minute.
3. Improve heart health
From pumping blood throughout the body to supplying tissues with important nutrients, the health of your heart is an essential component of overall health. Studies show that yoga may help improve heart health and reduce several risk factors for heart disease.
Try it: Downward Dog Pose
Get on all fours, then tuck your toes under and bring your sitting bones up so that you make a triangle shape. Keep a slight bend in your knees while lengthening your spine and tailbone.
4. Fight depression
Some studies show that yoga may have an anti-depressant effect and could help decrease symptoms of depression. This may be because yoga is able to decrease levels of cortisol, a stress hormone that influences levels of serotonin, the neurotransmitter often associated with depression.
5. Promotes sleep quality
Poor sleep quality has been associated with obesity, high blood pressure and depression, among other disorders. Studies show that incorporating yoga into your routine could help promote better sleep.
Try It: Legs-Up-the-Wall Pose
Sit with your left side against a wall, then gently turn right and lift your legs up to rest against the wall, keeping your back on the floor and your sitting bones close to the wall. You can remain in this position for 5 to 15 minutes.
6. Yoga helps with back pain relief
Yoga is as good as basic stretching for easing pain and improving mobility in people with lower back pain. The American College of Physicians recommends yoga as a first-line treatment for chronic low back pain.
Try it: Cat-Cow Pose
Get on all fours, placing your palms underneath your shoulders and your knees underneath your hips. First, inhale as you let your stomach drop down toward the floor. Then, exhale as you draw your navel toward your spine, arching your spine like a cat stretching.