There’s nothing quite like a yoga session to soothe the soul.
You may think that yoga is only the kind of thing that you do if you’re ultra flexible and want some Zen time, but it’s actually a fantastic form of strength based exercise that anyone can enjoy.
There are a number of benefits to doing yoga. First of all, you get the bragging rights of saying that you can do the tree pose for 5 minutes without falling over!
Of course, there’s more to yoga than just getting to say ‘look at me, I’m so good at yoga!’ It comes with a wide range of health benefits too. So, without further ado, here are just a few of the health benefits of yoga!
What Is Yoga?
First of all, we need to establish exactly what yoga is. Yoga is a translation of the Sanskrit word ‘yug’ which essentially means to unite or to yoke. It is, in part, a spiritual practice that is designed to bring you back to the present and to reality.
Definitions aside, yoga is most commonly known as a physical activity.
It’s an incredibly popular form of physical activity, and can also be used as a way of meditating due to its relaxing nature. The exercise has actually been around for centuries, however.
Yoga is a form of exercise that primarily focuses on control over the body and the mind. In it, you contort your body into certain shapes, with a focus on breathing and control.
There are a number of different kinds of yoga – some are more still, while others require a little bit more movement. As such, it can be suited to a range of experience and fitness levels.
You don’t need to be a fitness instructor or a yogi in order to enjoy the benefits of yoga.
Some of the different types of yoga include:
- Prenatal yoga
- Power yoga
- Bikram yoga (hot yoga)
- Restorative yoga
Of course, there are a few risks to yoga, but in most instances these are outweighed by the plethora of health benefits that you can get from engaging in this ancient practice.
What Are The Benefits Of Yoga?
You’ve probably heard of a number of the benefits of yoga before, since there are plenty of them. You may not know of all of them, however!
Our guide is here to show you all of the fantastic benefits that yoga can bring you, for your body, mind and soul.
There are many obvious benefits to practicing yoga, such as improved breathing and better flexibility.
In addition to those, there are also a range of other physical benefits that you may see when you start practicing yoga.
Improves Strength, Balance And Flexibility
The very first benefit of yoga, and perhaps the most common one, is that yoga can help to improve your balance, your strength and your flexibility.
When you are practicing yoga, you are often required to hold certain poses for a certain amount of time.
This requires a lot of strength, since you are putting extra strain on certain muscles to perform the exercise. As such, yoga can be considered a very effective form of resistance training.
It’s recommended to have around 2 to 3 days of strength-based training per week, so performing some yoga is a great way to get some resistance training into your week, especially if you don’t have any weights.
Since yoga helps to stretch out your muscles, it’s also incredibly good for flexibility too. As such, you may find that you feel a lot less stiff throughout the day after you take up yoga.
After a brief amount of time, you may find yourself feeling more flexible after consistently practicing yoga.
A lot of yoga poses also require you to stand on one leg or to otherwise balance in poses you may not otherwise put yourself in. As a result, your sense of balance will likely be improved after practicing yoga for a while.
Yoga Helps With Back Pain Relief
You may think that exercise is the last thing that you want to be doing when you’re struggling with back pain.
In reality though, some light exercise such as yoga is a great way to relieve your back pain.
It’s actually recommended by many doctors.
This is because many yoga poses are designed to strengthen parts of your body, and this also goes for your back. There are even yoga poses that are designed specifically for easing back pain.
It’s just important to make sure that you follow the correct form and posture when you are practicing yoga, since you don’t want to make your back pain worse by not doing it correctly.
Following a professional yoga instructor can help you to ensure that your form is correct.
Yoga can Ease Arthritis Symptoms
If you happen to struggle with Arthritis, you may find that yoga is a great way to relieve some of your symptoms.
It’s great for reducing your pain and reducing your stress when you have arthritis.
It can also help to build your muscle strength, which is always beneficial when you have arthritis.
It works especially well for people that have rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis.
Benefits Heart Health
One of the great things about yoga is that it can help to improve your circulation and the way that blood flows through your body.
As such, it is also beneficial for the health of your heart.
Yoga can even lower your blood pressure, levels of glucose in your blood and your cholesterol levels.
Not to mention that yoga is also great for relaxation, and as such it means that it’s ideal for people that struggle with heart conditions who want to manage any stress relating to their conditions.
It Can Help People With Allergies
When you’re suffering from allergies, your first thought may be to reach for your allergy medication.
While this is certainly beneficial if you struggle with allergies, you can also ease your allergy symptoms by doing a little bit of yoga.
Yoga is fantastic for making your sinuses healthier, and since yoga can also help to reduce inflammation it’s also good for allergy flare ups.
Since there’s such a big focus on breathing during yoga, you may find that you find it a little easier to breathe as your blocked nose clears up a little bit.
Yoga is ideal for your wellbeing in general, so it’s hardly surprising that it’s beneficial for relieving your allergy symptoms.
Can Help With Inflammatory Conditions
One thing that you may not know is that yoga can actually be rather beneficial for people that are struggling with inflammatory conditions. There are a number of reasons for this.
First of all, it can bring down the amount of stress hormones in your body. It also reduces the amount of pro-inflammatory molecules in your body, and as such the amount of inflammation in your body is reduced.
If you struggle with inflammation, yoga may be a good way to combat it.
It May Help You to Eat Better
Are you struggling with maintaining healthy eating habits? Well, you may want to try putting a little bit of yoga into your daily routine.
Yoga puts a lot of emphasis on mindfulness, and as such it may also encourage you to practice mindful eating when you put that fork to your lips. This means that you may be less likely to eat things that are ‘bad’ for you.
Some studies have even suggested that yoga may also help people that struggle with binge eating.
Could Help With Migraines
Migraines are a pretty common issue that is experienced by approximately 1 in 7 Americans every year. You may want to reach for that anti inflammatory medication, but what if there was another way to help treat your migraines?
Many studies have suggested that yoga practice can help to stimulate something in your body known as the vagus nerve, and this can then relieve symptoms associated with your migraines.
0It may be an effective treatment to use alongside things like medication and other things that your health practitioner may suggest.
Yoga can also have a bunch of great benefits to your mental wellbeing, too! Here are a few of the mental benefits that you may expect from practicing yoga.
Yoga Can Help You Sleep Better
Sleep is one of the most important things that you need in order to lead a healthy life.
Unfortunately, many people don’t get as much sleep as they should.
Even if you get a lot of sleep, you may find that the quality of that sleep isn’t particularly good.
Doing a little bit of yoga every week can be a fantastic way to deal with sleep issues.
One particular study conducted in 2005 showed that elderly people who did yoga each day found it much easier to fall asleep, and woke up feeling much more refreshed in the morning.
It is theorized that part of the reason why yoga is so good for sleep comes down to melatonin.
You are more likely to produce more melatonin when you practice yoga, and this can help with regulating your sleep patterns and helping you to feel more rested.
Since yoga is also beneficial for combating things like depression and anxiety, it may also be the case that it can help you to fall asleep more easily because you aren’t as likely to stay awake with your symptoms from depression and anxiety.
If you’re having a hard time focusing, you may find that doing some yoga is helpful. When you do yoga, you are learning to be more present in the moment and you need to focus on your movements and breathing.
It is therefore a great choice if you need to improve on your concentration. These concentration skills can be applied to your everyday life too.
Yoga Can Boost Your Energy And Improve Your Mood
The chances are that you’ve probably heard a lot about how yoga can help to improve your mood – perhaps that’s why you’re reading this article!
Yoga and other forms of mindfulness practice are fantastic for improving your energy levels and can work wonders for your mental health.
There are even certain yoga workouts that are designed for targeting specific issues that you may be dealing with during your waking life, such as uncertainty or loss – You can check out YouTube channels such as Yoga with Adrienne for some of these routines.
For instance, yoga is often used as a coping mechanism for people that suffer with anxiety and depression.
Yoga is generally focused on living in the current moment, and it grounds people to the present since you have to focus on things such as breathing and balance.
In addition to this, there is evidence to suggest that yoga can reduce the levels of cortisol in your body, and this means that it may be able to help you to deal with symptoms of depression.
It’s especially effective when used with other mental health coping techniques, such as cognitive behavioral therapy. Of course, yoga isn’t a band aid for your mental health problems – it may not solve your mental health problems.
It can help you to cope with them though, so it’s worth trying some yoga if you are having a hard time with your mental health.
Yoga Can Relieve Stress
Stress can be a big issue for many people, and it can lead to a lot of unwanted health issues and heartache.
Relieving stress is pretty important, so how exactly do you do it?
Well, one solution to your stress may be practicing yoga.
One of the reasons that yoga is so great for stress is because it is designed to be relaxing. Many people even find that when they practice yoga, they are better equipped to handle stress going forward.
Some studies have actually shown that by doing just 10 weeks of yoga, you can expect to have reduced levels of anxiety and stress. This can do wonders for your overall health and wellbeing.
Want to get the most out of yoga? You could practice some yoga in the morning before a big work meeting that makes you feel stressed, or before a test.
You could also try doing it before bed to calm you down so that you can sleep more easily. You don’t need to do it for hours on end – sometimes you can reap the benefits from a quick 10 minute workout.
If you practice mindfulness throughout the day too, you may find that you have an easier time keeping your stress levels in check.
Yoga Promotes Better Self-Care
Self care is incredibly important for your mental and physical wellbeing.
If you are looking for a way to practice better self care, taking part in some yoga may be just the thing that you need.
Schedule a little bit of time in for your yoga each day and use it as an opportunity to look after yourself.
There are some yoga practices that are designed specifically for self care – for instance, they may consist of positive affirmations or they may include instances where you get to give your shoulders a little massage as you’re exercising, such as in this exercise by Yoga with Adriene.
Ultimately, yoga can help you to discover yourself and accept yourself, so it’s a great choice if you need a little time just to look after yourself.
There are also a number of spiritual benefits that come with practicing yoga. These include the following:
Life with meaning, purpose, and direction
Yoga, as we discussed earlier, is a practice that promotes ‘union.’ The practice unifies the body, the mind and the spirit, and as such there are many practitioners that find yoga helps to give their life more direction and purpose.
Why is that, exactly?
For starters, some yoga practice is designed to emphasize ideas such as karma, and it can help you to focus on the sort of person that you want to be in life.
The mental clarity that you gain from yoga may help you to realize what sorts of things you want to do with your life.
It may make you realize that you want to do more good deeds, which in turn could make you feel that you have more focus. It’s often used in spiritual practice in certain religions, so this is unsurprising.
If you’re looking to find your meaning in life, practicing yoga could be helpful for you.
Inner peace and tranquility
In our current world, it can sometimes be rather challenging to find inner peace. There are always so many things going on that we often don’t get time for introspection.
Yoga is designed to improve your awareness, and it allows you to exist purely in the moment rather than thinking about the future or the past. It makes you aware of your body and your mind.
It makes you realize your own mental patterns and how they are affecting your overall well being. Yoga cultivates mindfulness practice, and this can often lead to a sense of peace and tranquility within.
Yoga can be a great way to make you feel much happier overall. As we’ve already mentioned, it helps with things like self esteem, stress levels and even combatting anxiety and depression.
You’re often left with a mind that is more content with existing in the present moment, which can help you to feel grounded. Combine the physical exercise with mindfulness, and you may just find yourself feeling happier overall.
10 Yoga Poses You Need To Try & Their Benefits
So now that you know about the benefits of doing yoga, you may be wondering what poses you should try. Here are just a few of the poses that you should try out and their benefits!
The very first pose that you should try is the child’s pose. This is one of the most basic yoga poses and it’s very simple to do.
It’s known as a resting pose, and it’s designed to work your hips, knees, ankles, lower back and thighs.
To do this pose, you first need to kneel on your yoga mat with your knees pulled together, resting your feet on your buttocks.
Then, as you exhale you need to gradually start to rest the torso over the thighs and stretch your arms in front of you with your forehead touching the ground.
You will start to feel your spine stretching. It’s best to avoid this pose if you’re pregnant or struggling with diarrhea, however.
There are a number of benefits to doing the child’s pose. For starters, it’s great for managing stress and anxiety. It can also do wonders for your circulation and it helps to calm your body and mind.
It’s a great pose for lengthening and stretching out the spine, and it can also relieve pain in your lower back and neck.
We’ve all heard of the downward facing dog pose! This is a pretty basic pose that’s very simple to do.
It does require a great deal of strength, however.
To do the downward facing dog pose, you should get on all fours with your knees a little bent behind your hips.
Put your hands into the mat, shoulder width apart. When you inhale, you should begin to lift the knees off the floor and then straighten your legs out.
Make sure that you inhale and exhale through the pose, focusing on the stretching sensations in your legs and abdominal muscles.
There are a number of great benefits to doing the downward facing dog. First of all, it’s a great way to get your body’s internal functions operating as they should be.
It promotes blood flow, and it can also be good for people that are feeling bloated. It’s ideal for building strong bones since it requires a lot of upper body strength, and it gives your shoulders a good workout too.
It strengthens a lot of the muscles in your foot too, which is ideal for helping you to have more balance and stability while you do things like walking or hiking.
The plank is a common pose that’s often used in strength training. It’s rather well known for working your core, so it’s great if you want to work your abdominal muscles.
It’s pretty simple to do too. You just need to lie on the floor on your stomach, then prop up your upper body using your hands.
You should be balancing on your toes and on your hands in order to do this pose. You can also modify the pose if you need to make it a little easier – simply balance on your knees instead of on your toes.
Again, there are a wide range of reasons as to why you should practice this yoga pose. For starters, it’s known for building core strength, so that’s just one benefit.
In addition to this, it will also strengthen your shoulder, leg, back and chest muscles too. In short, it’s a good workout for most of the body.
It’s ideal for having a good posture in the long term, and you may even find that your balance will begin to improve after doing this pose for a while. You can do the plank pose for a while each day and you will see some great results.
You can even hold the pose for longer as you get better to make the exercise more challenging.
Four-Limbed Staff Pose
The four limbed staff pose may not be a pose that you’ve heard of before.
It’s essentially a slight variation on the plank pose.
Again, you will have your legs stretched out behind you and will prop up your body weight with your toes.
Instead of stretching out the entire upper arm though, you will instead bend the arms at a 90 degree angle. It’s a good choice of pose if you’re a beginner but you eventually want to try a couple of more advanced poses later down the line.
People that practice this pose may sometimes transition into poses such as the upward facing dog afterwards.
So why should you do this pose? Well, it’s a good way to warm up your body. It’s good for building strength in your forearms and wrists, and it will also strengthen muscles in the upper body, upper back and the deep core.
If you are interested in chakras, this yoga pose will also stimulate your solar plexus chakra. It’s good for helping you to feel more confident and empowered.
Of course, you may wish to avoid this pose if you’re pregnant, struggle with wrist related problems or if you have a shoulder injury.
Another great pose to try is the cobra pose.
It’s very simple to do!
Begin by lying on your stomach, then start to raise your head, supporting your body weight on the floor using your palms.
Make sure your arms are bent at the elbows.
Then, start to arch the neck backwards a little so that you’re looking up at the sky. Simultaneously, ensure that your navel is pressing against the floor and press your toes onto the floor.
Then, extend the toes and hold the pose for just a few seconds. You should avoid this pose if you’re pregnant, if you have a headache or if you are struggling with a back injury.
There are boundless benefits if you do this pose. For starters, it’s great for strengthening your spine. It’s also a great pose to do if you struggle with asthma. It can be great for soothing symptoms associated with sciatica.
This pose is great for reducing your stress levels and it’s proven to be good for the lungs.
Many of the poses mentioned above require that you exercise on the floor.
If that’s not an option for you, the tree pose can be a good choice if you wish to do a standing yoga pose.
To do this pose, stand on your feet. Then, slowly bring up one of your legs and place it onto your thigh.
You can clasp your hands together in front of you, or stretch them out to your side for extra balance. Once you are done, you can then switch to the other leg and repeat.
If you’re finding the pose a little difficult, you can also make some modifications. If you want to make the pose a little bit easier, you can put your leg on your calf instead of on your thigh, or you could put it on your ankle.
You can also make it a little bit more challenging by bringing your arms upwards towards the sky.
Of course, the tree pose may not be a good fit for everyone. For instance, you should be careful if you are at risk of falling, for instance you should get a chair or wall to hold onto. Do not continue with the pose if it’s putting you in pain.
The tree pose is great if you want to improve your balance – balancing on one leg is no easy feat, after all! The pose helps to strengthen your abdominal muscles, and it is a good choice for building up your confidence.
You can also effectively use it for improving your energy levels and fighting against tiredness. If you’re sitting a lot during the day, this pose is good for improving your posture too.
The triangle pose is pretty therapeutic and it’s ideal for strengthening your legs and core too. It’s pretty easy to perform.
Simply start in the mountain pose, and then turn to the side on the mat.
Then, move your feet apart by around three to four feet.
Look downwards at the floor and make sure that your hips are aligned. Put the right toe out at a 90 degree angle, then put the left foot at a 45 degree angle. Begin to list the arms up, and put them parallel to the floor.
Then bend at the hip to the side – one of your hands should be touching the floor while the other one should be stretching towards the sky.
The triangle pose is beneficial for people that are struggling with things like infertility, anxiety, sciatica and neck pain. It’s a great stress reliever, and it can also help with your digestion.
Of course, the key benefit is that it strengthens your core! So long as you perform the pose correctly, you should get all of these benefits and more.
Seated Half-Spinal Twist Pose.
This pose is also known as the Half Lord of the Fishes pose.
To do this pose, you should start by sitting up straight on the mat – keep the legs stretched out and place your hands on your thighs.
Then, bend one of your knees (Right, for instance), then bring it up towards your chest, crossing it over the other leg. You should put the foot next to your other thigh.
Then, bend the remaining knee (in this case, the left) and put the foot next to your glute. Put one arm behind you and onto the floor, and put the other arm up in the air. Place the arm that was on the air onto your knee and bend it.
Take a breath, and then exhale. If you started with moving your right leg, you should twist your body more to the right with every exhale. You can then repeat the move on the opposite side.
This pose is ideal for stretching out your back, glutes and for promoting general flexibility. It’s also perfect for maintaining food digestive health through yoga.
The bridge pose is a simple yoga move, and it can be performed by yoga practitioners of all experience levels.
It is called Setu Bandha Sarvangasana in Sanskrit. It comes with a wide range of benefits for the user, so it should definitely be incorporated into your yoga routine.
To do this pose, begin by lying on the floor on your back. It can sometimes be helpful to put a thick blanket underneath the shoulders in order to protect the neck as you perform this move.
Then, simply bend your knees, putting your feet firmly on the floor. You should have your heels as close to your buttocks as possible when trying to perform this movement.
Then, as you exhale, press the insides of your feet and your arms into the floor. Begin to lift the buttocks off the floor – the resulting pose should look like a bridge, with a gap underneath your body.
You can perform this move for around 30 seconds to a minute. When you’re ready, exhale and release yourself from the pose gradually.
If you suffer from neck injuries, you may wish to avoid this pose unless you are being supervised by a teacher that can give you guidance.
As previously mentioned, there are a wide range of benefits to doing this pose. First of all, it’s very calming and works well for stress relief.
When you have performed the pose, you will feel a satisfying stretch in your spine and neck area. It’s also good for your digestion, and can sometimes relieve discomfort during the menstrual cycle in women.
In addition to this, it’s also a great choice of pose for people that struggle with osteoporosis and asthma.
The corpse pose is often used to finish off a yoga workout, so this is one that you will want to incorporate into your routine.
It is also known as Final Relaxation. As such, it’s a relaxation pose. It allows you to have the time to reflect at the end of your workout, so it’s important to still cultivate your awareness even when doing this pose.
The pose is incredibly simple to do. Begin by separating your legs while lying on the floor – you could even do this pose as you end the bridge pose that we mentioned above.
Put your arms next to your side with your palms facing towards the sky. Don’t force your hands to stay open – just do what’s natural for you. Inhale and exhale deeply throughout the movement.
You should stay in this pose for around 5 to 10 minutes if possible. It can be helpful to set an alarm for this pose.
Finally, when you wish to come out of the pose, just deepen the breath. Start moving your fingers and toes slightly to wake your body up again, and gradually come back to a seated position.
The Corpse Pose, also known as Savasana, is a great pose for reflection and relaxation. It can often be a good pose to do when you’re about to go to sleep.
Yoga is an excellent form of exercise that comes with a wide variety of benefits. Indeed by practicing yoga you may expect improved mental health, improved physical health and more.
If you’re looking for a new form of strength based exercise, yoga should certainly be an option that you consider.
- Yoga for people with back pain – Harvard Health Blog – Harvard Health Publishing
- Yoga could slow the harmful effects of stress and inflammation – Harvard Health Blog – Harvard Health Publishing