Health Benefits of Yoga: 6 Reasons Your Health & Wellbeing Depend On This Practice
If you’re not already practising yoga, it’s a good time to start, especially once you find out exactly why this ancient practice is so powerful for your overall health and wellbeing.
Now before you switch off, it's important to realise that yoga is a practice that is basically for everybody. You don't have to have a background in gymnastics, ballet or be super nimble. No matter your age, body shape or physical capability, yoga is one of those universal, mind body practices that just about anyone can benefit from.
The benefits of yoga extend beyond what can be contained in one article, so consider this your introduction: the beginning of your education.
The six key benefits of yoga that we talk about here, are the most popular and most easily noticeable perks, but once you start regularly practising yoga, you’ll notice even more subtle changes.
Something as simple as becoming 'a morning person' (if you definitely weren’t before) so that you can get your yoga class in before work, says something incredible about the impact that yoga can have on your mindset once you get started.
Keep reading to find out all the ways that yoga can benefit your health and wellbeing.
From the physical side to the mental and emotional changes, it will soon become evident that yoga isn’t just an afterthought to your main workout: it’s the star attraction. Yoga is much more cohesive and interconnected than that, and after just one class, you may be hooked for good.
1. Relieves Stress and Anxiety
One of the most unexpected health benefits of yoga is the positive effect it can have on your mental health. Most think of yoga as just a tool to get fit and become more flexible, but it’s actually incredibly beneficial for your wellbeing, and that includes your mindset.
While at first, you might just notice the physical effects of your yoga practice, over time you’ll start to realise that it’s an effective way to reduce your stress and anxiety. When you’re on your mat, you’re taught to leave everything else outside the room and focus solely on your practice. This is a form of mindfulness (more on that later) that can tamper stress and anxiety, because it forces you not to think about what’s causing them, and instead focus on the postures and your breathing for a solid hour.
Yoga is absolutely self care, because you’re giving yourself an opportunity to de-stress and relax, in more ways than just physically.
Tip: combine your yoga practice with these doTERRA essential oils for a deeper sense of relaxation and an even more effective session.
2. Increases Mindfulness & Focus
Speaking of mindfulness, its value is sorely underestimated. Mindfulness means being aware of and accepting your actions, events, and every situation without judgment or reaction.
Becoming more mindful has innumerable benefits for your wellbeing, including reducing emotional eating or overeating caused by stress, alleviating anxiety, regulating your emotions, and focus your attention. Yoga teaches mindfulness constantly, so over time, you start to practice mindfulness without even realising it.
In every pose, your yoga instructor will coach you to accept your body and its limitations without judgment or frustration, and to focus on your breathing to calm your thoughts. While it might just be an hour at a time, the mindfulness taught in yoga can have a significant effect on your life.
3. Improves Fitness & Flexibility
The main reason most people are drawn to yoga is for its physical benefits, and there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that. While there are many physical health benefits of yoga, the effect it can have on your weight loss and strength building is also important.
There are a few different types of yoga and the more challenging of them like Ashtanga or Bikram can be an intense physical workout, while others like Hatha or Yin are more gentle and relaxing.
The secret is to choose a level that you can stay consistent with that suits where you're at physically.
The more challenging forms of yoga - especially those practiced in a hot room - can help you manage your weight because of the incredible detoxification benefits, whilst also toning your muscles and improving your flexibility and suppleness.
Because of this, yoga can be great for injury-prevention and recovery, making it an ideal supplement to any physical program.
Learn more in Top Low-Impact Exercises for Health & Wellness.
4. Alleviates Pain
If you experience chronic pain or inflammation, yoga could be exactly what you need. Research shows that mild to moderate exercise can help reduce pain, while the focus on breathing and mind-body connection helps you release any muscle tension and relax.
Some chronic pain conditions also benefit from having the body moved through a variety of positions and a full range of motion. Practising regular yoga could provide you with a natural, healthy way of reducing your pain for the long term. Find more natural pain relief and other remedies here.
Learn more in Tips for Healing Muscle, Joint & Back Pain.
5. Improves Quality of Life
As we get older, we naturally become more stiff, prone to tiredness and accidents. Yoga can change this, and completely improve your quality of life as you get older (the earlier you start, the better!)
Yoga poses help teach balance and stability, which will transfer over to your everyday life in motions like walking, taking the stairs, bending over and more, so that you are less afraid of hurting yourself.
This improved sense of self-confidence and body awareness can be a game changer for you as you get older, and completely shift your mindset. You’ll also notice an increase in your flexibility, which becomes more and more important as you age, as it helps you increase your range and ease of motion as well as your stability. Yoga also teaches focus, which can improve your memory and awareness as you age, and the exercise helps naturally boost your energy.
6. Improves Sleep Quality
If you’ve ever suffered from insomnia or if you regularly wake up throughout the night, yoga could become your new best friend.
Stop counting sheep or relying on teas or supplements to get yourself to sleep, and instead try yoga: it’s been shown to help improve sleep quality, in addition to all its other benefits.
Yoga can actually help increase the secretion of melatonin, which is a hormone that helps regulate your sleep, so doing yoga before bed could drastically improve your ability to fall and stay asleep. No wonder so many people fall asleep in Shavasana, the last pose of the class!
As well, the meditation part of yoga helps you gain control of your breathing and mindfulness, which can be powerful tools when it comes to trying to fall asleep; a few rounds of deep breathing and clearing your mind can be all it takes once you’ve had a bit of practice.
Learn more in 6 Effective Types of Meditation & How to Practise Them.
While yoga might not initially seem like it’s for you, the variations of the practice are so diverse that you’re sure to find one that works for you. And with all of these incredible benefits for your health and wellbeing, it’s hard not to see why yoga would improve your overall life.
While the physical changes might be what draws you in at first, the improvement to your mental health and the permanent change to your overall mindset will likely be what gets you hooked. There’s a reason yoga dates back thousands of years: people love the way it makes them feel, the way it makes them think, and the way it helps give them a quiet, personal space for self-reflection and self-care.
Tolman Self Care.