Strike a pose! A yoga pose, that is.
Yoga is one of the top 10 fitness trends in the world. In fact, over 55 million people practice yoga in the United States. But even though it may seem like a modern form of exercise, it actually dates back thousands of years.
Today, yoga is often practiced for its muscle-toning, flexibility-boosting benefits – but studies show that it can do far more than we think.
Keep reading to learn how this ancient practice can reduce anxiety, support heart health, and much more.
How Yoga Improves Your Health
If you’re looking to boost your mood, improve your sleep, and reduce chronic pain – it’s time to hit the mat and give yoga a try!
1. Yoga Supports Mental Health
Yoga is a mind-body practice that combines physical activity with meditation and controlled breathing. It encourages relaxation, mental clarity, and overall peacefulness. Yoga has also been shown to have positive effects on mental health.
A review published in Frontiers in Psychiatry examined the effects of yoga in major mental health conditions and found that those with depression, sleep issues, and other cognitive disorders, may all benefit from practicing yoga. And in a National Survey Data report from 2012, 86% of Americans said yoga helped reduce stress, while 67% said it helped them feel better emotionally.
2. Yoga Is Good For Your Heart
Like other forms of exercise, yoga can improve many aspects of cardiovascular health. Studies show that practicing yoga can improve your cholesterol and blood sugar levels, as well as lower blood pressure – all factors that contribute to heart disease.
A study published in 2015 found that blood measurements and waist circumference – common markers for heart disease – significantly improved in middle-aged adults with metabolic syndrome after one year of practicing yoga.
3. Yoga Can Ease Asthma Symptoms
Although you don’t want to replace conventional treatment of asthma, yoga may offer some relief. Yoga encourages you to control your breath, improve your posture, and open chest muscles, all of which can help improve your breathing. Not to mention it helps reduce stress and anxiety – common triggers of asthma attacks.
In a large clinical trial, researchers examined the effects of yoga on 1,048 adults with mild to moderate asthma. After only 6 months of yoga practice, patients reported improved asthma symptoms, and a noticeable difference in quality of life. Patients also reported needing to use their medication less.
4. Yoga Can Improve Symptoms of Arthritis
Many people turn to yoga to gain strength, balance, and flexibility – but it turns out, yoga is great for pain management. In fact, yoga has been proven to help improve physical symptoms of arthritis, such as pain and stiffness.
According to the Arthritis Foundation, “People with various types of arthritis who practice yoga regularly can reduce joint pain, improve joint flexibility and function, and lower stress and tension to promote better sleep.”
How to Get Started with Yoga
Yoga has many styles, forms, and intensities. For some, it’s about building muscle and flexibility, and for others – it’s about the joining of body and mind. Whatever your goal is, yoga can help get you there.
These days, there are several yoga studios that offer classes for beginners. The support of an instructor, and like-minded individuals, definitely makes the class-setting worthwhile. But if you aren’t ready to stand on a mat in front of others, there are plenty of online instructors to choose from.
Just remember – if a pose is uncomfortable, or you’re unable to hold it as long as the instructor says, you can always stop and make adjustments. No one becomes a yogi overnight, and it’s always best to listen to your body and not exceed your personal limits.