I started doing yoga 10 years ago, or at least I wanted to, but I started to do it regularly when my daughter was born. I started having pains and aches and I knew some of the benefits of yoga mentioned below. The question was how it could help me to get my body in shape at home. I was not allowed to leave her home alone yet. Okay, I am still not able to at the moment, I am working on that.
Whatever the reason you choose to start your yoga practice, there will be as many benefits as you want to get you started. But, the most important reason will always be your why? Why is this important to you? I can’t answer that for you, everyone has different answers here, but understanding what you want to accomplish is crucial for you to do it when you are not so motivated.
I will assume, if you are here, you have an idea of what yoga is and are looking to get more insight on why so many people are talking about it. Some of the following 20 benefits of yoga, you would have heard about them, but it is still worth to mention them.
Yoga is only stretching
Let’s talk about this, before I bring you to a more positive list. I do both yoga and stretching, but when I setup my mat to do yoga, there is just a different feeling and intention about it. They both have a purpose, but it is not the same.
During a static stretch, you hold a position to your maximum reach and will not move for an extended period of time. It is usually used before or after an exercise program to release your muscles, increase mobility and flexibility. In addition, you can also perform a dynamic stretch, which includes doing a repetition of the same movement. Usually, used before a workout to warm up your body.
As for yoga, especially in a class, you move from poses to poses in a “flow”. The teacher will move you through a series of movements to bring the intensity deeper and deeper. There should be a progression from beginner to end, like climbing a mountain, start with warm-up, to a peak and then a cool down. Depending on the type of class or yoga, specific body parts will be worked on. All I can say, is I was never able to do the front split by only stretching.
For more details, you can read this wonderful piece from Yoga Basics that goes over more details.
Different style of yoga for different benefits
In the list below, I will mention a few different styles of yoga. Keep in mind that some styles of yoga do promote different benefits. You can’t expect the same benefits from relaxation as a power yoga class.
It’s like going to the pool. If you swim with your family and friends for a nice day, it’s not the same as an intense swim lane workout.
Yes, both will have benefits, some similar, but not always the same. Let’s discover the 20 benefits of yoga and why you should include it into your daily life.
Benefit 1: Increase Flexibility
Let’s start with the most common one, why I hear most people want to start their yoga journey.
“I am not flexible”.
But why does it increase flexibility? Flexibility improves when you start to increase your range of motion and mobility. For example, to increase your flexibility in your back, you also have to work on your hips, pelvic floor and legs.
During a yoga practice, you will perform different sequences of movement to reach all the necessary muscles. Thus improving your flexibility over time.
Benefit 2: Improve Posture
After a long day at work, you come home and sit on the couch. You end up being in the same position for most of your day. This way of living means you are not using all your muscles to be able to support yourself. From that, you start to create weaknesses in certain areas.
When you start practicing yoga on a weekly basis, you develop better core muscles. I am not talking about the 6-pack here, but about the part of your core that is functional. When developed, it will help you stabilize your back and help release the pressure on your hips and legs.
Also, let’s not forget when you have more body awareness, it will help you sit and stand with your back straight.
Benefit 3: Helps Lower Blood Pressure
Evidence-based Complementary and Alternative Medicine published study into the effects of Iyengar yoga on high blood pressure.
In the study, Iyengar yoga and healthy lifestyle were used to indicate that both would provide similar benefits. The group, who performed yoga 2 times per week for 90 mins, had lower blood pressure overall, but no weight loss compared to the other group.
In fact, Iyengar yoga is the perfect start for a beginner. During the classes, the teacher will promote the heavy use of props to ensure the correct alignment.
By being more active and having healthier nutrition, you can help reduce your blood pressure, but yoga can be more accessible if other forms of exercise are not attainable for you.
To read more about the study that was performed, please find the information here. Keep in mind to find the right class for you.
Benefit 4: Build Muscles
Let’s be honest here, you might get that pretty 6-pack from yoga, but I would not advise doing yoga if that is your intention.
Even when yoga feels slow, by holding the position for an extended period of time, you start to build endurance and create tone and definition in your body.
One of the most famous sequences in yoga is the Sun Salutation. I won’t go over the movements here, but the two movements are from plank and lower down into a low plank until your stomach reaches the floor.
Do you have the arm muscles to lower down as slowly as you can or would you crash as fast as you can to the mat?
Benefit 5: Reduce Stress & Anxiety
When you pass that beginner phase of yoga and know a little bit more. You will introduce breathing to your practice, either from the instructions of the teacher or by experience.
Along with your breath, the added release in your body from the physical, mental emotion and tension. You can start seeing a reduction in your stress level. In addition, with the release of your tension, you start to lower your fight or flight response by creating a calming space for yourself.
It’s all about mindfulness and the environment you create.
Benefit 6: Reduce Back Pain
Similar to why yoga builds strength, by creating more muscle to support yourself, you can start seeing a decrease in your back pain. Especially, in the lower area. In all comes from having a weak core.
From our sedentary lifestyle and mostly from sitting down all day, you start to lose the necessary muscles to be able to support yourself. Your back is responsible for supporting most of your musculoskeletal system and requires a lot of functional muscle to work.
In addition, if you have a weak core, you will more likely have a forward-lean posture and be able to support yourself. You will have to use other muscles creating a strain in your back.
Yoga can help rebuild your functional core muscles to ensure all your muscles are used when you are standing, sitting, bending etc.
Benefit 7: Helps with Ostheoporasis
Ostheoporasis is a disease that weaknes your bones, since yoga helps to gain more muscles and bone strength the choice is simple.
It is recommended to use weight-bearing exercise to reduce the effect of osteoporosis. The gentle nature of yoga can help if exercising is hard or painful for you.
Benefit 8: Become More Mindful
Mindfulness is the idea of being fully present, living in the moment, and being aware of your surroundings. During a yoga class, the mix of the breath, the movement and meditation has the ability to make you concentrate and focus on your breathing pattern.
At the end of the class, you are likely to feel a sense of peace and calm.
Benefit 9: Boost Immune System
One of the best ways to boost your immune system is by reducing your stress levels. Yoga has been proven to calm your nervous system and reduce the effect of your fight or flight response.
As discussed above, yoga concentrates on your breathing and creating a peaceful environment around you. You get a chance to slow down and relax.
For more details, you can view the summary of the research done by psychology today.
Benefit 10: Boost Your Mood
If you have participated in a yoga class before, you know this one is real. I have rarely seen someone not feeling better afterwards.
More than that, the good feeling you get afterwards is there to stay for a while. When you get consistent practice, you have the ability to change the hormone levels in your body and reduce signs of depression and anxiety.
Benefit 11: Increase your focus
Some postures in yoga require you to be 100% present, if you are not you will have a harder time performing them. This can elevate your risk of injury.
Just like meditation, when you bring your attention to your breath, you start to increase your focus and improve at being in the moment.
When you bring your full attention to what you are doing. Overtime, it gets easier and easier to improve your ability to connect your brain to your physical body.
Benefit 12: Improve Your Balance
By having strong legs, glutes, back and core you start having better balance in general. During a regular yoga practice, you start to strengthen all the muscle groups in your body.
If you participate in a series of classes, the focus on a particular muscle group will always change. This will ensure you don’t get unbalanced in certain areas or gain too much strength in others.
The body like the mind, requires balance. It’s not all or nothing.
Benefit 13: Increase Your Mobility in Your Joints
When your bones and muscles are strong, this will reduce the pain surrounding your joints.
In certain forms of yoga, like yin yoga, the focus is not on building strength in your muscles. You will work on increasing the flexibility in your ligaments, tendons and joints. Thus, adding mobility to your joints and allowing you to move more freely without pain.
By releasing some of the pressure you get in your body by introducing movement, you can start to find better ways to move in your daily life.
Benefit 14: Increase Self-Esteem
To increase your self-esteem, it is recommended to eliminate your self-criticism and introduce self-compassion. By bringing your attention to your breath, the present moment and the movement you are doing, this will help reduce impulsive behaviors.
Also, the stronger you get through yoga, your ability to succeed in different poses increases. Helping you to be aware of your strengths and your abilities.
Benefit 15: Stretch Connective Tissues
Our body is composed in part of muscle and fascia. The fascia surrounds our entire body and holds our organs, blood vessels, bone, nerve fibers and muscles in place. When released, you can break down adhesion, and free up some muscle, allowing you to move more effectively.
During a yin yoga practice, you hold every position for an extended period of time. Allowing your body to move into deeper connective tissues and release your fascia, helping you release the tension in your body.
Benefit 16: Strengthen your lungs
With a regular yoga practice, you start to increase your strength in your chest and core. Even improve your lungs capacity through different types of breathing patterns.
When you include deep breathing, you start to increase your respiratory strength. Allowing you the ability to develop your lungs and functional core muscles.
Benefit 17: Promote healthy lifestyle
Like any physical activity, when you include it into your daily life, you are more likely to pay closer attention to the rest of your life as well. Helping you change all areas, like nutrition.
By including daily movement, reducing pain and bringing more mindfulness to your life, you can reduce your impulsive behaviors. Understand the benefits of a healthy lifestyle and what it can do for you.
The gentle nature of yoga will be beneficial for beginners and elderly, as it is easier on your muscles and joints to safely practice with a lower risk of injuries.
Benefit 18: Increase Breath Awareness
In a perfect world, during your yoga practice, you will connect to your breath for the whole class. This would mean that you would deliberately move from pose to pose at the perfect time to ensure breath awareness.
Pranayama and the strengthen of your breath and lungs is an amazing practice to start and be conscious of during your yoga class. Learn more by understanding how to improve your breath using the pranayama.
For example, for every fold you would exhale and for every heart opening you would inhale. By bringing your attention to your breath, you will be able to reduce your stress, boost your immune system and increase your focus to just name a few.
Benefit 19: Promote Weight Loss
In its simplest form, to lose weight, you have to either burn more calories during your day or eat less than the energy you are spending. I am a believer that there is a lot more to it. Added stress and your mental health might decrease your ability to lose weight all together.
Yes, yoga will build muscle and promote better blow flow. Since it will help you create a healthier lifestyle and a better relationship with your mind and body, you will be more likely to want to eat better. Maybe go on walks everyday or start another exercise regimen.
Benefit 20: Reduce Chronic Pain
From a Harvard article posted about “yoga for pain relief” it explains that multiple research has been performed to explain the benefits of added mobility and why it can reduce pain.
By adding a weekly practice to your life, you can decrease your pain by releasing some of the tension on your body, increase awareness and add mobility to your life.
Here a a few examples of chronic pain areas where yoga could help:
- low back pain
Last things to know about the 20 benefits of yoga
You made it! I am hopeful that with the 20 benefits of yoga mentioned above you gain the knowledge necessary to make the decision if this is for you. To summarize here, the reason you start yoga might only be because you can’t touch your toes. The end of your journey will not be there. Almost everyone has aches and pains from their daily lives and the benefits of adding mobility to your life will help you become the best version of yourself.
In a well balanced yoga practice, you will be able to feel so much better and discover some of your strengths you don’t even know you have. If you would like to get more information to start your journey as a beginner, don’t miss my other article about the 24 crucial tactics for beginners.
If you are ready to book your yoga class and discover what it can do for you, please reach out below!