When you think of yoga, what do you think? Extreme flexibility? Young, hippy-like individuals in stretchy clothes? Meditation? Breathing?
Yoga has a lot of biases and as such, many people are skeptical to try it. But yoga, like those who participate in it, comes in many varieties. Yoga can be slow and meditative, fast-paced, precise, predictable, variable, and much, much more1. Because there are so many different types of yoga, there are many possible benefits as well.
But how can it benefit you?
- Are you stressed out? I would say that most people have a fair amount of stress in their lives – from work, school, family, travel, etc. Yoga is a great way to destress. Many studies have found yoga to be an effective way to lower anxiety, improve anger management2,3, increase calmness4, and even decrease blood preasure5. Prolonged stress will increase the wear and tear on your body and can lead to the development of disease. Yoga has been found to reduce the body’s fight-or-flight response to stress, decreasing the negative effects on your body6.
- Do you have a desk job? Do you have a long commute? Are you in one position for the majority of the day? Yoga is a great way to stretch out. Individuals from 20-years-old to 70+ found yoga to be a great way to learn correct stretching techniques, improve flexibility, and restore function4,5,7.
- Is improved physical fitness something you want to work on but you can’t find a type of exercise that works well for you? Many people are surprised by the improvements in fitness that come from practicing yoga. Yoga improves muscle strength and endurance4,5,7, enhances balance7, and can even aid in the desire to make wiser dietary choices4.
- Are you often tired during the day? Yoga can be a great way to decrease fatigue and increase your energy levels. Individuals ages 45 and older reported feeling more relaxed after a yoga session and better prepared to complete their tasks for the day. These yoga participants also noticed an improvement in the quality of their sleep4. Fatigue reduction after yoga participation was also reported by cancer patients8, high school students2,7, pregnant women9, and even insomnia patients10.
While these are certainly not the only benefits to practicing yoga, they are definitely enticing enough for me! Add yoga to your routine and see how it can help you!
2. Khalsa, S. B. S., Hickey-Schultz, L., Cohen, D., Steiner, N., & Cope, S. (2012). Evaluation of the mental health benefits of yoga in a secondary school: a preliminary randomized controlled trial. The journal of behavioral health services & research, 39(1), 80-90.
3. Noggle, J. J., Steiner, N. J., Minami, T., & Khalsa, S. B. S. (2012). Benefits of yoga for psychosocial well-being in a US high school curriculum: a preliminary randomized controlled trial. Journal of Developmental & Behavioral Pediatrics, 33(3), 193-201.
4. Alexander, G. K., Innes, K. E., Selfe, T. K., & Brown, C. J. (2013). “More than I expected”: perceived benefits of yoga practice among older adults at risk for cardiovascular disease. Complementary therapies in medicine, 21(1), 14-28.
5. Cowen, V. S., & Adams, T. B. (2005). Physical and perceptual benefits of yoga asana practice: results of a pilot study. Journal of Bodywork and Movement Therapies, 9(3), 211-219.
6. Ross, A., & Thomas, S. (2010). The health benefits of yoga and exercise: a review of comparison studies. The journal of Alternative and complementary medicine, 16(1), 3-12.
7. Wang, D., & Hagins, M. (2016). Perceived benefits of yoga among urban school students: A qualitative analysis. Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine, 2016.
8. Buffart, L. M., Van Uffelen, J. G., Riphagen, I. I., Brug, J., van Mechelen, W., Brown, W. J., & Chinapaw, M. J. (2012). Physical and psychosocial benefits of yoga in cancer patients and survivors, a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. BMC cancer, 12(1), 1.
9. Beddoe, A. E., Lee, K. A., Weiss, S. J., Kennedy, H. P., & Yang, C. P. P. (2010). Effects of mindful yoga on sleep in pregnant women: a pilot study.Biological research for nursing, 11(4), 363-370.
10. Khalsa, S. B. S. (2004). Treatment of chronic insomnia with yoga: A preliminary study with sleep–wake diaries. Applied psychophysiology and biofeedback, 29(4), 269-278.