Commitment + Clinical Leadership = Better Outcomes
10 Amazing Health Benefits Of Yoga
Yoga is a practice that combines the body and mind through various postures, meditation techniques, and breathing exercises. Yoga is believed to originate from India, and over the years it has expanded into different styles, utilizing different poses and mindfulness practices.
Yoga can benefit people of any age, and it is an accessible activity for people with mobility limitations or disabilities. In fact, some individuals recovering from surgery, injuries, or chronic conditions may practice yoga as part of their treatment plan.
Here are some of the amazing health benefits of doing yoga every day as part of your exercise routine!
Relieves Stress and Anxiety
Many people experience stress and anxiety in their lives from many different sources: work, school, relationships, and obligations. Yoga has been proven to be a natural way to release stress through various loose poses and meditation exercises.
A study looked at individuals with generalized anxiety disorder and found that at least 54% of those who practiced yoga for 3 months significantly decreased their anxiety.1 The participants used a variety of breathing techniques, relaxation postures, and meditation practices to relieve their stress. The study found that yoga is more effective in the short term rather than long term when it comes to relieving stress, making yoga a method that can help those who need to relieve stress quickly and naturally.
Improves Brain Health
Another one of the benefits of yoga is it can improve your overall brain health and cognitive functioning. Yoga strengthens many parts of the brain that control learning, memory, attention, language, and awareness.
According to Harvard Health, studies using MRI scans found that people who practiced yoga regularly had a thicker cerebral cortex and hippocampus. The cerebral cortex plays a role in processing information, and the hippocampus controls learning and memory, which can positively benefit your ability to process and learn information.2
Increases Blood Flow
Yoga can increase blood flow, which can help bring oxygen and essential nutrients to different parts of the body. Many of the postures practiced by those who do yoga are designed to increase blood flow, resulting in more oxygen being brought to the cells.
Some poses known to increase blood flow include:3
- Forward Fold
- Seated Twist Pose
- Plow Pose
- Happy Baby
- Pigeon Pose
One of the benefits of yoga is it can lower your heart rate and stimulate your vagus nerve. The vagus nerve is found in the parasympathetic nervous system and plays a role in allowing your body to get enough rest.4
Another aspect of yoga is mindfulness, which allows you to slow down your heart rate and calm your body. Mindfulness involves concentrating on a single thought and clearing the mind. One study in 2019 found that mindfulness improved sleep quality in the participants. The researchers believe practicing mindfulness could be a way to prevent sleep disturbance.5
Over time, your body may become less flexible due to aging, medical conditions, or bad posture. One of the benefits of doing yoga every day includes managing and improving your body’s flexibility.
Different yoga poses focus on areas such as your back, core, hips, shoulders, and neck. As you begin yoga, try holding the pose for 10 to 20 seconds and make a goal to hold each one longer over time.
Connect to Others
Many yoga classes are offered in a group setting and involve different activities to help the group learn more about meditation and mindfulness. Yoga can help you find a community who can support your mindfulness journey and give you tips on how to practice the poses on your own.
Group classes for yoga can be found at community centers, gyms, clubs, and yoga studios. You can look for nearby yoga classes in your local community online or in person. There are also many groups on Facebook and other social media platforms of people who practice and talk about their journey with yoga.
May Improve Balance
Various poses in yoga focus on balance, such as the tree pose. Some studies currently link yoga to an overall improvement in balance, from those who are athletes to people with brain injuries. Seniors may find yoga extremely beneficial for improving their balance because they are at risk for falls and injuries.6
Yoga improves balance through 3 attributes: alignment, strength, and attention:7
- Alignment is ensuring the body is in the proper position to do the pose
- Strength is having the ability to hold a pose and maintain alignment
- Attention involves focusing on the pose and adjusting when needed
Improves Self Esteem
Many people have low self-esteem, with 85% of adults and teens estimated to be affected by their negative thoughts.8 Yoga is proven to help people improve their body image and outlook on life, allowing them to feel more productive and energized.
A study of 1,664 participants found that those who practiced yoga had more positive body satisfaction.9 Another study found that yoga helped people see the positive changes in their bodies and improved their self-confidence.10
Might Improve Bone Health
Yoga is linked to improving bone health, with poses such as the Plank or Warrior II engaging the bones and increase their density. A study even found that one of the benefits of doing yoga every day for 12 minutes includes reversing bone loss in participants with osteopenia and osteoporosis.6
Right now, there is still ongoing research if yoga can actually improve bone density, and many of the studies currently available are limited or inconclusive.
Those who practice yoga regularly are better able to control their weight and eating habits. Yoga can help someone get active, helping them to lose calories. The mindfulness of yoga can also help someone learn to control their eating habits, such as snacking or eating when distracted.
A study found that those who practice yoga for 180 minutes a week had a better fitness level than those who didn’t. Another study found that those who practiced yoga for at least 30 minutes twice a week gained less weight overall, and those who were overweight lost weight after practicing yoga.11
Practice Yoga Today!
Now that you know some of the best yoga health benefits, consider adding yoga into your routine. Whether you try doing yoga alone or with a group, there are physical and mental benefits you can get from practicing this ancient technique regularly.
Saber Healthcare is an organization dedicated to providing consultant services to long-term care providers. This article is for informational purposes and is not meant to be seen as professional advice. Please consult with a medical expert before relying on the information provided.
- “Yoga shown to improve anxiety, study shows.” ScienceDaily. 12 August 2020. Accessed 8 September 2022. Link: https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2020/08/200812144124.htm
- “Yoga for better mental health.” Harvard Health Publishing. 12 June 2021. Accessed 8 September 2022. Link: https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/yoga-for-better-mental-health#:~:text=A%20sharper%20brain&text=When%20you%20do%20yoga%2C%20your,awareness%2C%20thought%2C%20and%20language.
- Grieve, Claire. Moday, Heather. “The 5 Best Yoga Poses For Increasing Your Circulation ASAP.” MGB Movement. 9 January 2020. Accessed 8 September 2022. Link: https://www.mindbodygreen.com/articles/these-are-the-best-yoga-poses-for-circulation
- Brennan, Dan. “What to Know About Yoga for Better Sleep.” WebMD. 27 November 2021. Accessed 8 September 2022. Link: https://www.webmd.com/balance/what-to-know-yoga-better-sleep#:~:text=The%20type%20of%20slow%2C%20controlled,and%20improves%20digestion%2C%20as%20well.
- Rusch, H.L., Rosario, M., Levison, L.M., Olivera, A., Livingston, W.S., Wu, T. and Gill, J.M. (2019), The effect of mindfulness meditation on sleep quality: a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. Ann. N.Y. Acad. Sci., 1445: 5-16. https://doi.org/10.1111/nyas.13996
- Ezrin, Sarah. “16 Benefits of Yoga That Are Supported by Science.” Red Ventures, Healthline Media. Last Updated 14 December 2014. Accessed 8 September 2022. Link: https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/13-benefits-of-yoga#TOC_TITLE_HDR_2
- “How to Improve Your Balance with Yoga.” Trinity Hearing & Balance. 28 December 2016. Accessed 8 September 2022. Link: https://www.trinityhearingandbalance.com/blog/how-to-improve-your-balance-with-yoga/
- Guttman, Jennifer. “The Relationship With Yourself.” Psychology Today. 27 June 2019. Accessed 8 September 2022. Link: https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/sustainable-life-satisfaction/201906/the-relationship-yourself
- Neumark-Sztainer, Dianne et al. “Yoga and body image: Findings from a large population-based study of young adults.” Body image vol. 24 (2018): 69-75. doi:10.1016/j.bodyim.2017.12.003. Link: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/29288970/
- Neumark-Sztainer, Dianne et al. “Yoga and body image: How do young adults practicing yoga describe its impact on their body image?.” Body image vol. 27 (2018): 156-168. doi:10.1016/j.bodyim.2018.09.001. Link: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/30292082/
- “Yoga benefits beyond the mat.” Harvard Medical School, Harvard Health Publishing. Accessed 8 September 2022. Link: https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/yoga-benefits-beyond-the-mat