5 Incredible Health Benefits of Yoga
Studies show there are wide-ranging health benefits of yoga practice including improving mental health and treating chronic disease.
I know, I know — I’m constantly trying to get you guys to do yoga.
From my workouts showing you how easy it is to do at home to my Instagram photos attempting to inspire you to take your practice on the road, I throw a lot of yoga propaganda at ya.
There’s a reason for this beyond the fact that I’m personally obsessed with it. It’s because there are a plethora of health benefits yoga provides beyond the obvious physical ones, and I want you guys to reap the benefits.
You see, yoga doesn’t just get you physically fit. Studies show wide-ranging benefits from mental health to functional fitness to chronic disease prevention.
Check out these five science-backed health benefits of yoga.
Yoga and Stress
One study showed that 10-16 sessions of weekly hatha yoga were able to improve measures of stress, anxiety, and health status in people with mild to moderate stress levels.
Another study showed that ten sessions of Kundalini yoga were as effective as cognitive behavioral therapy in improving measures of stress, anger, exhaustion, quality of life, and physiological measures in a group of workers at a large company.
Yoga can also benefit performance by reducing anxiety. A study of medical students showed that yoga reduced anxiety prior to and during exams, and resulted in fewer failures.
Yoga and Back Pain
When performed safely and properly, yoga can be incredibly therapeutic.
One study showed that a week-long intensive yoga program was able to significantly reduce pain-related disability and improve spinal flexibility in patients with chronic lower back pain compared to a traditional physical therapy/exercise program.
Another randomized controlled trial showed that 12 weekly sessions of yoga were able to improve back function more than conventional therapeutic exercises in patients with chronic lower back pain. After 26 weeks, the yogis also found more pain relief than a group using a self-care booklet to treat their condition.
Yoga and Depression
One study on the effect of yoga for treating depression showed that patients who practiced yoga for eight weeks, while taking antidepressants, had improved scores on measures of depression and anxiety compared to patients who were only taking antidepressants. The patients who participated in yoga also had higher remission rates.
Another study of yoga practice in patients with major depressive disorder showed that after six months of daily yoga practice 60% of patients experienced improved sleep patterns, digestive issues, social interactions, and irritability. The patients also experienced reductions in pulse rate and blood pressure and increases in circulating levels of serotonin — the “happy hormone.”
Yoga and Hypertension
Yoga and Pregnancy
While most exercise routines are safe to continue during pregnancy, yoga is especially suited to meet the needs of expectant mommies considering it also incorporates helpful breathing practices. In addition, studies show yoga can have beneficial effects on labor.
One study showed that women who practiced prenatal yoga had less labor pain and shorter delivery times compared to women who did not practice yoga.
Another large clinical trial showed that women who practiced yoga daily from about 20 weeks until delivery had lower rates of preterm labor, low birth weight babies, pregnancy-induced hypertension, and isolated intrauterine growth retardation than a group of women who walked 30 minutes, twice a day.
When I used to exercise just for the calorie-burn, yoga was the last thing on my list. But now that I exercise for health and happiness, it’s become the most important thing in my fitness routine. As you can see, it has wide-spread benefits for your overall health.
It’s so important to me that it’s become a part of my daily routine. Whether I go to yoga class or just stop, drop, and downward around town (ok, I only do that in my backyard or at parks), I try to make sure to get a short vinyasa sesh in daily.
Wearing yoga pants 24/7 makes this easy.
This pair from Athleta has become a favorite of mine since it has side pockets that perfectly fit your cell phone. I can go straight from a flow sesh to running errands without having to change.
They also provide total coverage no matter how deep you stretch or how many times you wear them.
These pants are incredibly soft and have a high-waist, which I love to keep my core supported with all the twisting, turning, and flipping upside down that I do.
I love Athleta gear in general because it has a timeless look, but is simultaneously very stylish. These forest green leggings, for example, are right on trend with the hottest colors for fall fashion.
A big thank you to Athleta for sponsoring this post and for creating workout wear that continues to support and motivate me in my yoga journey. As always, the opinions in this post are mine alone.
Weigh in: Do you practice yoga? Have you experienced any health benefits from your yoga practice?
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