More than 36 million Americans are practicing yoga. Between 2012-2016, the number of practitioners skyrocketed by 50% – for a good reason. There are several physical and psychological benefits of yoga for people of all ages.
Regardless of how skilled you are, if you practice yoga regularly you can feel its effects from head to toe. Here are 5 benefits of yoga that can help you feel more at ease.
5 Major Benefits of Yoga
Yoga helps you go the extra mile and build harmony, awareness, and strength in the body and mind. This mental, physical and spiritual practice dates back to 2700 BC. Yoga is now seen as a holistic approach to health in the Western culture, making it a go-to choice for promoting flexibility, endurance, and a sense of calmness.
Here is a quick look at 5 major benefits of yoga and the ways you can obtain them.
1Back Pain Relief
Yoga offers a notably better reduction in low back pain than classic care, conventional therapeutic exercises, or education. Research shows that yoga has the potential to relieve back pain and can be a viable approach for obtaining a positive effect on low back function.
Another study supports the physical benefits of yoga. For those dealing with chronic back pain, yoga can help them break away from the cycle with the help of guided, gradual exposure to activity and movement.
Pose to try: Cat-Cow
By practicing this pose, you will be engaging the erector spinae, triceps, gluteus maximus, and other muscles. The goal is to stretch the neck, shoulders, and torso, thus mobilizing the spine.
To do this pose, start on all fours. Position your wrists below your shoulders and your knees below your hips. Take a deep breath and look up. Let your stomach drop down and exhale while drawing your navel toward your spine. Then arch your spine toward the ceiling.
2Pelvic Floor Health
One of the most unexpected benefits of yoga is that it can bring mobility to muscles around and on the pelvic floor. It can help you establish better muscle coordination and strength. A 2022 controlled trial of yoga poses targeting the core and pelvic floor muscles showed superior effects to pilates for improving continence.
For men doing Kegels, yoga can help you get more from your Kegels. The benefits of Kegel exercises for men are improved bladder and bowel control, avoiding premature ejaculation, and achieving erections. That’s why combining yoga with Kegel exercises for men can make for a practical strategy for improving pelvic floor health.
Pose to try: Chair Pose
Stand with your feet hip-distance apart. Then, stretch your arms upwards and fingers toward the ceiling. Keep your back straight, bend your knees, and push your hips into a squat as if you are trying to sit on a chair. Keep your heels glued to the floor, and don’t dip your hips below your knees. Take a couple of breaths and maintain the posture. Get back into the starting position and repeat.
3Stress, Anxiety, and Depression Relief
The mental health benefits of yoga go deeper than you realize. Research indicates that yoga plays a key role in reducing stress, depression, and anxiety. It is seen as a complementary medicine capable of reducing the medical cost per treatment by decreasing the use of drugs.
A 2018 trial studied the potential psychological benefits of yoga after 16 weeks. Yoga practitioners showed notably better psychological health and well-being than the control group. The control group noticed a profound drop in stress, insomnia, and anxiety after practicing yoga for 8 weeks.
Pose to try: Easy Pose
Take a comfortable seat on the floor. Put each foot under the opposite knee and cross your legs like you are preparing to meditate. Place your palms down and hands on your knees. Balance your weight and lengthen your spine. Relax and keep this position for a minute.
4Aid in the Prevention of Cardiovascular Disease
Yoga can be beneficial for multiple chronic ailments, including cardiovascular disease (CVD). It seems to be useful for secondary and primary CVD prevention. Based on research, the current hectic lifestyle has a drastic impact on heart health.
Experts claim that mindfulness-based stress reduction, like yoga, can curb the average number of primary care visits. This suggests that yoga could be beneficial for cardiac health in people who are subject to serious mental stress. It can increase circulation and reduce cholesterol, glucose, and blood pressure levels – all of which are known risk factors for heart problems.
Pose to try: Mountain Pose
Stand straight with your feet a couple of inches apart. Bring your palms together and interlock them, then stretch your arms up with your palms facing downward. Look up and slowly drop your head. Hold this position for a couple of seconds and repeat 1-2 times.
One of the significant benefits of yoga is that this practice can help balance cortisol levels. Too low levels of this hormone and the body can quickly zap your energy. You can also feel a drop in blood pressure paired with weakness. As the stress subsides, the energy improves, thus giving you the drive and vigor.
Pose to try: Cobra Pose
This backbend stretches the entire upper body, thus alleviating the soreness, shoulder tightness, and pain. Start on the belly with your feet hip distance apart. Place your hands next to your ribs. Raise your upper body to create a backward arch. Strengthen your elbows and tilt your head for the chin to point forward. Hold a couple of seconds, return to the starting position and repeat 8 times.
Whether you are a professional athlete or a couch potato, you can make the most of all 5 of these yoga benefits. Of course, don’t strive to achieve a pretzel-like perfection right off the bat. Take it slow and explore your limits. Eventually, you can tune in with your mind and body and perfect every relaxation technique that works for you. Try to experiment with the different yoga poses and slowly work to build flexibility, respiration, vitality, and muscle strength. With just a little bit of practice, you can go a long way.