Get ready to experience a new, healthier you. Yoga will help you transform into a more relaxed, happier and healthier person. It's time to start living the life you deserve!
Disclaimer: This site contains affiliate links to products. We may receive a commission for purchases made through these links at no additional cost to you. Read my disclosure.
Getting cardio and strength training is important for a healthy lifestyle and yoga can accomplish both. If you are looking for a way to improve your overall health and well-being, then you should try yoga. There are plenty of forms of yoga perfect for beginners.
So how exactly does yoga contribute to your overall health and well-being? Keep reading to find out.
15 Exceptional Reasons to Try Yoga
1. Improves Strength, Balance, and Flexibility
Yoga incorporates many poses that help build strength and improve balance and flexibility. Poses that are designed to build muscle and strength are planks, four-limbed staff pose, and warrior poses. Planks are a great way to strengthen your glutes, hamstrings, and core as well as the muscles in your abs and back. The four-limbed staff pose can help to strengthen your abdominals and triceps. Warrior poses are great for strengthening your body from head-to-toe. The warrior poses can also help improve balance and posture.
Poses such as downward-facing dog, pyramid, and half lord of the fishes are a great way to increase flexibility. Both the downward dog and pyramid poses are a great way to stretch your hamstring and calf muscles. For increased flexibility in your spine and hips, try some pyramid poses. They are also a great move for strengthening and toning your abdominal muscles.
For improved balance try tree or mountain poses. The tree pose improves your balance by increasing the strength in your outer hips and foot arches. A supple spine is a great way to improve your balance and mountain poses can help to accomplish just that.
2. Relieves Back Pain
Yoga is a great way to keep your spine supple and it may even lessen the severity of back pain. I should know. I have suffered from back pain for years. It wasn’t until I started doing yoga that I was able to get it under control. The half lord of the fishes pose is a great way to get you “back” into tip-top shape.
According to an article in Harvard Health Publishing, “Yoga is one of the more effective tools for helping soothe low back pain.” Older individuals should use caution. The article also stated that older adults are susceptible to back-related injuries when practicing yoga. Therefore, it is very important that you use proper form and seek the advice of a physician before beginning any new exercise routine. Get relief for those tight, achy back muscles by trying a child’s pose or a few cat-cow poses.
3. Eases Arthritis Symptoms
According to the Arthritis Foundation, yoga is a proven way to help individuals alleviate some of the physical symptoms associated with arthritis.
Get relief for your achy joints with poses like the cobra, standing forward bend, and cobbler’s pose. Cobra poses decrease lower back stiffness while standing forward bends stretch your upper and lower back. The cobbler’s pose is a great way to stretch your hips and groin area.
4. Good for Your Heart
Stress is a known contributor to poor heart health. Yoga combines breathing, meditation, and poses that promote relaxation, and feeling relaxed can help reduce stress. Combining yoga with other healthy practices such as proper nutrition and adequate sleep can reduce your chances of heart disease.
Try a couple of downward-facing dog poses or the corpse pose and see how relaxed you feel. Be careful with the corpse pose, you may not want to get up.
5. Helps You Sleep Better
Poor sleep quality and the amount of shuteye you get each night can lead to health conditions such as high blood pressure, obesity, and depression just to name a few. Yoga can help you relax so you can fall asleep. We all feel more rested after a good night’s sleep. Try doing some yoga before you go to bed each night for a couple of weeks to find out for yourself.
6. Improves Your Mood
Since yoga helps you to relax so you can sleep, it only makes sense that you will be in good mood. I know how I feel when I am stressed or don’t get a good night’s rest.
Another way that yoga helps to improve your mood can be attributed to an increase in endorphin levels. Endorphins are the feel-good chemicals produced by our bodies when we exercise. When you are in a better mood it can give you a sense of well-being and a more positive outlook.
7. Helps Manage Stress
We all have stress in our lives for one reason or another, work, kids, finances, etc. When you are stressed, your body responds by releasing the hormones adrenaline and cortisol. Relieving stress helps bring the levels of adrenaline and cortisol back to a normal range. The relaxation techniques of yoga are a great way to manage stress and the negative impacts it has on your health. The dolphin and corpse poses are especially beneficial.
8. Relieves Anxiety
Lifestyle changes such as a healthy diet, adequate sleep, and being physically active are great ways to lessen the severity of anxiety symptoms. Additionally, relaxation techniques can help as well. We have learned that yoga helps manage stress and helps us to sleep better through relaxation. Therefore, if you are looking for a natural way to alleviate anxiety, you may want to give it a try. Bridge poses can be especially helpful. Try recording your anxiety level on a scale of 1-10 over a two-week period to see if you notice any improvement.
9. May Reduce Inflammation
According to Harvard Health Publishing, “research has shown that chronic inflammation is associated with heart disease, diabetes, cancer, arthritis, and bowel diseases like Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis.”
Suggested poses to help fight inflammation are supine twists, bridges, and child’s pose.
10. May Fight Depression
Yoga can help decrease levels of cortisol, the hormone that causes stress. When stress is unmanaged, it has the potential to cause depression. Since we know that yoga helps manage stress, it only makes sense that it can help combat depression.
Sometimes practicing yoga can be enough to help fight depression. Other times it may be necessary to combine yoga with other methods of treatment. With that being said, if you are suffering from depression, please seek the advice of a trained professional. A professional can design a program that is right for you which may include yoga.
11. Could Help Improve Breathing
One element of yoga is the control of your breathing. The techniques used help to increase lung capacity which, in turn, help improve your lung health. The healthier your lungs, the better your endurance and performance. According to an article published in the National Library of Medicine, people with Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) who practice yoga may help them to walk further and at a faster pace. It can also lessen symptoms in asthma sufferers.
Cobra poses are a great way to open the chest which helps to clear the lung passages.
12. May Relieve Migraines
If you suffer from migraines, yoga may be the answer you are looking for. Migraines can be triggered by anything from anxiety to depression and, you guessed it, stress. Yoga helps lessen the pain and frequency of migraines because it, increases blood flow (which lowers blood pressure), and loosens tight muscles that may be responsible for your migraine pain. This is good news for those of you who suffer from these debilitating headaches. Try bridges, downward-facing dogs, or child’s poses for some relief.
13. Promotes Healthy Habits
When we are relaxed and well-rested, we tend to make better choices when it comes to our health. We are more focused and less susceptible to giving in to our cravings for junk food or skipping our workouts. So far, we have learned that yoga helps us relax which can help us sleep, lower our blood pressure, and improve our mood just to name a few. Incorporate yoga into your lifestyle and start making healthier choices.
Related: 8 Steps to Make Healthy Habits Stick
14. Other Possible Benefits
According to the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health, research indicates that yoga can help to minimize the symptoms of menopause and can have the same effect as other forms of exercise. Additionally, yoga can also help reduce cigarette cravings which can increase the success rate of quitting.
15. Improves Quality of Life
Let’s recap. We have learned that practicing yoga can:
- Improve strength, balance, and flexibility
- Alleviate back pain
- Ease symptoms of arthritis
- Be beneficial to heart health
- Improve sleep quality
- Put you in a better mood
- Help manage stress
- Relieve anxiety
- Help reduce inflammation
- Help alleviate symptoms of mild depression
- Ease symptoms of chronic pain
- Help improve breathing
- Ease the severity and frequency of migraines
- Promote healthy habits
Conclusion? If yoga helps us achieve these wonderful health benefits, doesn’t it make sense that our quality of life will improve? Even though each of us sees just a handful of the benefits, we would still be better off practicing yoga than we would be if we didn’t’.
Forms of Yoga
Now that you understand some of the possible health benefits of yoga, you may be wondering what form of yoga you should practice. While there are many different forms, here are a few of the more popular types:
Anusara is fairly new in the world of yoga. The techniques used help you learn to “go with the flow” and cherish your lives.
Ashtanga is a vigorous form of yoga and is similar to Vinyasa. Both styles associate each movement to a breath but Ashtanga does not alter the type or order of poses. If you decide to try Ashtanga, get ready to sweat since it is physically taxing.
This popular form of yoga uses 26 different poses. It is almost the same as Ashtanga because the poses are always performed in the same order however, Bikram uses a different sequence.
Hatha yoga teaches you basic yoga postures. This is a great choice for beginners. It is not strenuous, but it will help you to relax and loosen those tight muscles.
Hot yoga is just like it sounds, HOT!!! This is basically the same as Bikram yoga only there is a slight variance to the sequence and is practiced in a heated environment.
Restorative yoga is meant to be calming and relaxing. Although the poses are simple to perform, you will still realize the physical benefits.
Vinyasa yoga is on par with Ashtanga. Both involve a sequence of poses. But while Ashtanga uses the same sequence every time, Vinyasa mixes it up. In addition, classes are usually set to music.
If you have a specific health concern that you want to improve with yoga, some poses may be more beneficial than others. Here are some poses broken down by health concern:
- Balance-Mountain, Tree, Warrior III
- Strength-Chair Pose, Warrior Poses, Planks, Camel, Boat Pose
- Flexibility-Downward-Facing Dog, Triangle, Seated Forward Fold
- Anxiety -Warrior II, Bridge, Dolphin
- Stress-Corpse, Warrior II, Dolphin
Getting cardio and strength training is important for a healthy lifestyle and yoga can accomplish both. But yoga is just as much about mental health as it is about physical fitness because it incorporates the body AND the mind. The physical movements combined with the breathing techniques are beneficial to your overall health and well-being.
Before I began practicing yoga, I was diagnosed with ischial bursitis, a condition that causes pain in the pelvic region. Let me tell you, it is very painful! I had difficulty sitting or walking. I went to physical therapy and did the exercises they taught me for months. I gave up after seeing no improvement. Then I started doing yoga. After just a few sessions, I could really feel the difference. In addition, the pain I was having in my lower back due to a fall many years ago, is practically non-existent.
Yoga has not only helped me relieve my aches and pains but has increased my strength and flexibility. I feel that my posture has improved, I’m sleeping better, and I have more confidence.
Perform yoga prior to your workout to warm up your muscles and get your blood flowing. Or swap out your regular workout for yoga 2-3 times a week for 15-30 minutes. Several sessions a week is all it takes to achieve the vast health benefits.
If you decide you want to give yoga a try, you should seek the advice of a physician. Although it is considered a safe form of exercise it is still possible to sustain injuries, so make sure to use the proper form. The best way to learn proper form is to participate in a class with a trained instructor.
Take a look at the following options to get you started on your yoga quest.
Sharing is caring, so please be sure to share this on social media.
I hope you have found this post to be informative and helpful. If you like what you have read, consider subscribing to Sensibly Shelley. As a subscriber, when a new post is published, it will be delivered directly to your inbox so you will never miss out on any of the practical tips Sensibly Shelley has to offer. As a bonus, new subscribers will receive a pdf copy of Easy Keto Recipes, a free superfoods chart, and an easy-to-use budget calculator.
All three items are yours as my gift to you!