Yoga Benefits for a Healthy Lifestyle

Yoga Benefits for a Healthy Lifestyle

Diet and exercise are key components to developing a healthy lifestyle, but many forget mental health's role. Yoga offers benefits that can help improve both your physical and mental well-being, so you may want to incorporate it into your daily routine.

What is Yoga?

"Yoga is an ancient system of physical, mental and spiritual practices that have been passed down through the generations from teacher to student," according to Yoga Basics. "Yogic practices include breathing techniques, postures, relaxation, and other meditation methods. There are many different styles of yoga, each with their own unique focus and approach to creating a unitive state."

Hatha yoga is what most Westerners picture when they think of yoga, but there are many other yoga styles, including the following:

  • Ashtanga yoga
  • Hot yoga
  • Iyengar yoga
  • Kundalini yoga
  • Power yoga
  • Restorative yoga
  • Vinyasa yoga

Benefits of Yoga

Even though yoga has been around for thousands of years, scientific research on its health benefits is still preliminary; however, the initial evidence is promising. Here are some of the potential benefits of yoga to your overall well-being.

  1. Improve Flexibility – Improving flexibility is one of the leading reasons many people practice yoga. Several studies have shown a significant increase in flexibility after practicing certain yoga practices.
  2. Relieve Stress – Relieving stress is the second most cited reason for practicing yoga, which is why it is increasingly used in clinical settings.
  3. Improve Balance – Good balance is essential to good health, and one study found that the "ability to balance is linked to a longer life." Poses such as the mountain, balancing table, and tree pose, help improve balance.
  4. Improve Strength – Many yoga poses – such as downward-facing dog, plank pose, and tree pose – can improve strength.
  5. Increase Energy – Research has found that practicing yoga may release hormones that help you feel happier and more energetic.
  6. Boost Immunity – A weak immune system can increase the risk of infections and make you more susceptible to pneumonia and other conditions. Chronic stress or insufficient sleep can weaken your immune system, and research shows that yoga can help both.
  7. Improve Cardiovascular Health – Johns Hopkins Medicine reports, "…practicing yoga may help lower blood pressure, blood cholesterol, and blood glucose levels, as well as heart rate…."
  8. Improve Bone Health – The National Center for Biotechnology Information reports, "Twelve-minute daily yoga regimen reverses osteoporotic bone loss."
  9. Help Relieve Back Pain – CPR News reports, "New research finds that a yoga class designed specifically for back pain can be as safe and effective as physical therapy in easing pain."
  10. Improve Mental Health – The American Psychological Association reports, "…there is a growing body of research documenting yoga's psychological benefits. Several recent studies suggest that yoga may help strengthen social attachments, reduce stress, and relieve anxiety, depression, and insomnia."
  11. Reduce Inflammation – Inflammation can cause your immune system to attack healthy organs and tissue in your body, which can lead to cancer, diabetes, heart disease, and rheumatoid arthritis. Several studies have found that yoga can help reduce inflammation.
  12. Improve Sleep – Regular sleep is a crucial part of your health, and many studies link the benefits of yoga with better sleep.
  13. Improve Posture – The National Library of Medicine reports that yoga can help release tight muscles, improving your spine's mobility and posture.
  14. Improve Brain Function – "Yoga strengthens parts of the brain that play a key role in memory, attention, awareness, thought, and language," Harvard Medical School "Think of it as weightlifting for the brain."

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