Yoga is a type of mind-body exercise that involves moving through different physical postures. Many styles of yoga exist, from gentle and slow-moving to intense and fast-paced.
Practicing yoga can offer the following physical and mental health benefits:
Yoga increases flexibility and balance
In yoga, moving your body into various poses helps improve both flexibility and balance. A small 2016 study found after 10 weeks of bi-weekly yoga sessions, male college athletes improved their flexibility and balance more than those who did not practice yoga.
For your body to move and function efficiently, flexibility is essential. Flexibility also stops your muscles from pulling adversely against your joints.
Balance is also important to avoid falls and injury. Because many yoga positions involve balancing, such as one-legged postures, yoga can improve balance.
Yoga can restore the flexibility and balance people tend to lose with age. It forces us to move our bodies in ways that we wouldn’t normally do on an everyday basis.
Yoga builds strength
Yoga builds muscle strength by using body weight as a form of resistance. Through holding poses or moving through them, you build muscle endurance. Muscle endurance refers to how long a muscle can perform an exercise repeatedly.
Yoga works the whole body, but more strenuous versions of yoga, such as vinyasa, do more to strengthen muscles than gentler forms of yoga, such as yin.
Yoga improves heart health
Yoga isn’t generally considered a cardio workout, because it does not get your heart pumping as hard as running does, for example. However, it does still work your cardiovascular system and helps keep your heart healthy.
If you’re moving quickly through movements, your heart rate increases, and over time, you build good cardiovascular endurance. Vinyasa and Ashtanga are faster-paced versions of yoga that could count towards cardio.
4. Yoga can ease back pain
Three months of yoga reduced pain in people with chronic or recurrent low back pain more than those who just received their usual care.
Back pain is sometimes tied to poor posture. For some people, improved posture is the main benefit gained from yoga. Good posture keeps your joints aligned which can ease tensions, she says.
Yoga helps improve posture and relieve back pain because it improves your muscles’ flexibility and endurance, as well as your mobility. Many yoga poses engage your back muscles, as well as other muscles — like your core — that connect to your back muscles.
Yoga can improve arthritis symptoms
Arthritis, a condition that causes pain and stiffness, is due to inflammation of a joint. Some people with arthritis may need to avoid high-impact exercise because of the stress it causes on their joints. However, yoga may be a better workout because you use only your body weight, and you can go at your own pace, Jens says. Check with your doctor before beginning any exercise regimen.