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10 Amazing Benefits of Yoga: Improve Health and Wellbeing

Updated: Dec 6, 2022

Today, we all live fast-paced lives. Everyone seems to be in a rush, and we have become accustomed to seeing people rushing to get somewhere. The result is that many of us are now stressed and anxious.

If you’re looking for ways to de-stress, increase your happiness, and improve your general wellbeing, yoga could be the answer you’ve been searching for.

Yoga has so many benefits that it is almost impossible to list them all! This article covers just 10 of the amazing benefits of yoga.

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Yoga has been practiced for thousands of years. The practice originated in ancient India and was first mentioned in ancient texts around 4000 B.C. Yoga, in Sanskrit, means "union", "yoking", or "joining". In this practice, physical postures are combined with breathing exercises (pranayama), meditation (dhyana), and an ethical philosophy (yama & niyama) to improve our relationship with others and with ourselves. Both the mind and the body are strengthened these practices.

There is no doubt that we live stressful and fast-paced lives where we push ourselves to our limits daily in order to get things done, but when we do that we are ignoring a super important aspect of life. We tend to ignore the warning signs that we are pushing ourselves too hard, and we end up feeling burnt out, or worse, we end up sick because we forget to take time to balance out all of the effort we use to live. Of course we all want to be successful, go out and enjoy life, but we can't ignore the body and mind when they try to tell us it's time for self care. Yoga can help us maintain that balance and prevent us from getting too overwhelmed.

Be intent on action, not on the fruits of action; avoid attraction to the fruits and attachment to inaction
-Bhagavad Gita 1.47

Before we go through some of the benefits of yoga, this quote is a reminder of where your focus should be while you practice. Krishna is explaining that your focus and effort should be on the practice itself, regardless of the potential outcome. If a benefit arises from your practice, then great! That will help make your practice easier to stick to. If not, then atleast you spent that time not doing something destructive- it's a win-win! Now with that in mind, let's take a look at some of the benefits of yoga, according to science.

1. Mindful Breathing can lower blood pressure

<img src="breathesign.jpg" alt="a caution sign with the word 'breathe' in the middle">

A study in 2005 showed that simply taking

six deep breaths in a period of 30 seconds

reduced systolic blood pressure by 3.4 to 3.9 units compared to just sitting quietly [1]. Theseresults are consistent with a long line of evidence suggesting that deep breathing can lower blood pressure.

The breath is connected to the mind, so when the mind is stressed the breath becomes short and rapid, which activates the bodies fight or flight response. When active the blood vessel constrict (tighten) and blood is sent out to the muscles in order to prepare to fight or run. A daily breath awareness practice can not only counteract the fight or flight response, but it can also help you notice when you are becoming stressed and help you to breathe for stress relief and calm your mind.

2. Yoga improves Flexibility

This is the most cited reason for someone to start practicing yoga. While this shouldn't be the goal, simply starting a daily yoga practice can really help release tension in the body and improve flexibility [2]. A 2019 study found that yoga both slowed down loss and improved flexibility in older adults, aged 65 or older. As we age, collagen builds in our muscle and connective tissues, which makes them more rigid and stiff, but this study found that yoga can help fight off this natural side effect to aging. With a daily yoga practice, you can keep your body strong and supple even as you age! [3]

Yoga is the fountain of youth. You’re only as young as your spine is flexible.
― Bob Harper

<img src="triangle (1).jpg" alt="triangle pose">

Our flexibility is based on a bunch of

different factors, muscle fiber type, muscle resistance, underlying psychophsyical tension, the health of our fascia, our bone alignment... and I'm sure there are a bunch of other things involved. Practicing yoga has an influence on each one of these factors, and does it in a safe and none aggressive way, which allows those tissues to rehydrate, lengthen, and create space!

3. Yoga can improve mental health

The American Psychological Association recently found that 84% of American adults feel the impact of prolonged stress during the Covid pandemic [4] Yoga has been shown to help people manage their stress levels more effectively. A study done in 2018 found that after 12 hatha yoga sessions, symptoms of depression, anxiety, and stress decreased significantly in the 52 women that participated. [5]

It isn't just the physical practice of asana that can help with your mental health, the more subtle practices like meditation, pranayama (breathing techniques), mantras, chanting and soundbaths have all been shown to signigicantly reduce tension and relieve stress [6]

A 2017 meta-analysis of 23 interventions looking at the effects of yoga-based treatments on depressive symptoms, overwhelmingly found that yoga could be considered an effective alternative treatment for MDD [7] Both asana yoga practice and breath focused practices like pranayama have been shown to significantly improve depressive symptoms [8]

Major Depressive Disorder

Major depressive disorder (MDD) is one of the most common, and one of the most destructive mental health disorders in the world. It is a form of chronic depression that tends to be a reoccuring pattern in life, and can lead many people to attempting suicide as a result of the constant negative feelings that come with it. It is an issue that is very close to my heart, because I struggle to this day with MDD. I think of depression as your mind trying to trick you into believing that life is not worth living- which is an illusion! It changes the way you see the world, and at it's most severe can even strip color away from the world. I remember experiencing life as just different shades of grey for a long time, and when I could see color again I remember tears of joy running down my cheeks.

Yoga can boost your self-esteem

Body image and self esteem are often particularly challenging for teenagers and young adults. The positive news is that several recent research shows positive results when using yoga to improve self-esteem and perceived bodily image in these populations. [9] [10] There has also been promising research showing that yoga can help with the accompanying symptoms associated with eating disorders such as obsession, anxiety, and depressive symptoms in patients with anorexias. [11]

4. Yoga reduces anxiety

Anxiety is a feeling of worry, unease and apprehension. It can be caused by many factors, such as difficult life experiences, relationship problems, physical health concerns and mental health issues. According to The Anxiety and Depression Association of America, anxiety disorders could be the most common mental healthy disorder in the United States, affecting more then 40 million adults every year. [12] There are many different ways to treat anxiety, and there are plenty of studies that suggest that practicing yoga postures (asanas) may be effective as an alternative treatment for anxiety disorders. Some researchers have requested that additional research be done before coming to a conclusive result, but the research looks like yoga could be helpful for managing anxiety [13]. According to research published in the journal Psychotherapy Research, yoga can help people with anxiety reduce their levels of cortisol — a stress hormone that can increase anxiety. Cortisol is released when you're stressed or anxious. When your body releases higher levels of cortisol than usual, it can affect your mood and make you feel anxious and depressed. By reducing your cortisol levels through yoga, you may be able to ease your symptoms of anxiety.

Yoga nidra can reduce symptoms of anxiety

Yoga nidra is a deeply relaxing, guided meditation that is designed to systematically relax the body and mind. The aim of the practice is to completely relax the body while keeping your mind awake and aware. The teacher will guide your awareness through different aspects of the self, encouraging you to let go of any effort throughout the process. I think of yoga nidra as the most productive nap you will ever take, and it has been said that one hour of yoga nidra is equal to four hours of regular sleep. Yoga nidra has been shown to conclusively reduce symptoms of anxiety. A 3-month study was conducted using sixty college professors, men and woman, between 30-55 years old were randomly assigned to one of three experimental groups: Yoga nidra, seated meditation, and a control group. The study found that yoga nidra intervention showed a greater reduction in anxiety when compared to the other to groups. [14]

To learn more about yoga nidra check out

5. Yoga can reduce inflammation

Inflammation is your immune systems way to heal the body, and for short periods of time, it's perfectly normal, but when it becomes overwhelming it can quickly lead to illness, in fact chronic inflammation is the main cause of most illnesses. Inflammation uses energy in order to function, and if you always have some sort of low level inflammation in the body then instead of having 100% of energy ready to be used at any moment, it's, let's say, 80% availability and because you have less energy available it creates an unnecessary stress within the body. Heart disease, arthritis, Crohn's disease, and many other conditions are linked to chronic inflammation [15] A review of 15 research studies found that many different types of yoga practices showed a reduction in the biochemical markers of inflammation across several chronic conditions [16]

6. Yoga can boost Immunity

Your immune system is like a suit of armor by protecting the body from foreign invaders, but it does much more then just that. Your immune system helps fight off potential external threats but it also is tasked with making sure that some of our autonomic functions are working properly. When your immunity is compromised, you’re more susceptible to illness. However, as discussed earlier, yoga is considered a scientifically backed alternative treatment for stress. Research has found that yoga practice can improve immune functionality due in part to yoga's ability to fight inflammation [17], [18]

7. Yoga improves your balance

Practicing your tree pose does more then just make you better at balancing on one foot, it can improve your overall balance and flexibility so you move your body around quickly with confidence [19]. Yoga can improve health and well-bein for older adults. Newer research has shown that yoga can improve balance in older populations and can help prevent injuries from slips and falls, which tend to increase as we get older. [20], [21], [22]

Bird of Paradise pose. Yoga can improve your balance and your brain all at the same time
Bird of Paradise pose

Practicing yoga postures (asana) can be helpful at improving balance in people with brain

injuries [23].

8. Yoga can improve your cardiovascular system

Yoga can improve cardiovascular functioning in a number of ways. One potential benefit is that yoga may increase blood volume and reduce blood pressure, helping to improve the cardiovascular system. Yoga also reduces stress, which can help improve blood flow and oxygen levels in the body. Finally, yoga may improve blood sugar control, helping to reduce the risk of diabetes. All of these improvements can help to protect the heart and keep it healthy.

The Journal of Ayurveda and Integrative Medicine published a review of 1,400 studies looking at the overall effects of pranayama, and they found that pranayama can improve the functioning of several systems of the body. The review found a huge improvement in the function of the cardiovascular system simply by controlling the pace of the breath. They found that conscious breathing had favorable changes in heart rate, stroke capacity, arterial pressure, and contractility of the heart [24].

9. Yoga can improve sleep

Alot of people suffer from a lack of quality sleep, but practicing yoga daily can help make sure you get the restful sleep that you need. Yoga has be shown to improve both the ability to fall asleep quickly and then stay asleep throughout the night. It helps improve thanks to the aftereffects of exercise and the mental calming and stress relief of yoga practice specifically [25], [26]

<img src="savasana (2).jpg" alt="savasana. laying down on your back">

Yoga nidra has been shown to be particularly effective at reducing anxiety and improving sleep quality [27] [28]

10. Yoga can improve body awareness and posture

Yoga helps build a better relationship with the body by moving our awareness through the body as we practice, looking for opportunities to extend or contract a specific area of the body. By consciously moving the body and constantly checking and fixing our alignment, we can strengthen weak muscles and correct any postural imbalances we might notice.

A review of 34 studies found that yoga improved brain function in the centers of the brain responsible for interoception (noticing the sensations within the body) as well as for posture.

Yoga's focus on proper alignment and increasing flexibility help release tight muscles and improving the mobility of the spine [29].

Yoga is truly a mind-body practice. A review titled, "What Has Neuroimaging Taught Us on the Neurobiology of Yoga? A Review", found that practicing yoga activated areas of the brain responsible for motivation, executive functioning, attention, and neuroplasticity (the brains ability to change or adapt) [30]

Yoga has been practiced for thousands of years, and with good reason! Yoga can help strength and relax the body, reduce stress and anxiety, and even improve sleep! The results vary from person to person because yoga is the practice of the self. Some people will notice the physical benefits, while others notice the mental benefits. It's not that one is right or wrong, it's more about what you need at that moment. Sometimes you might need to relax, other times you might need a boost. focus should be on being in the moment as you practice, not the benefit of it

Start your yoga practice today and see how yoga benefits you!


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