What are the health benefits of yoga poses?

Yoga enthusiasts love this fitness practice not only because it is relaxing but also because of its numerous other benefits. One of the best things about yoga is that you don’t need to be a yogi or a yogini to benefit from this practice. 

Women practicing yoga

Yoga is one exercise that helps improve a person’s confidence. This is because this practice encourages people to look inward into their minds rather than outward. Yoga enables you to focus your attention on your body’s abilities right at that moment. The result is that you become more aware of your body and get satisfied with it. 

In this article, we will talk about yoga and explore some of its fantastic health benefits.

What is yoga?

Yoga is an ancient practice that comes from Asia. It is rooted in Indian philosophy. It first started as a spiritual practice, even though classical yoga is now practiced in the United States. 

Classical yoga incorporates elements that promote physical and mental well-being through emphasizing meditations (Dyana), breathing techniques (Pranayama), and physical postures (Asanas).

Yoga is similar to the Chinese practices - qi gong and tai chi, which have both meditative and physical elements. 

Poses are the building blocks of yoga, and there are 10 poses for a complete yoga workout. The poses include:

  • Child pose
  • Downward-facing dog
  • Four-limbed staff pose
  • Plank pose
  • Tree pose
  • Cobra pose
  • Triangle pose
  • Bridge pose
  • Seated half-spinal twist pose, and
  • Corpse pose.

Health benefits of yoga

Everyone has the ability to relax, empower their mind, and strengthen their body. Yoga is for you if you want to harness those abilities. 

Below are some of the health benefits of yoga:

1. Increases flexibility

Most often, people who are flexible can bend at their hips while standing and touch their toes with their legs straight. But people who are not flexible enough will most likely be unable to do that.  

The good thing is that flexibility can be acquired by practicing different yoga poses. Eventually, the body starts adjusting and getting used to assuming different poses or body positions.  

Constant yoga practice allows you to stretch your body to limits you never imagined before you started yoga.

2. Improves balance

Just as it is with flexibility, yoga can help improve balance and posture. With yoga, you move and hold different postures, which allows the body to maintain the right balance over time. 

A study review published in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine shows the correlation between constant yoga practice and improved balance.

However, in order to reap this benefit, it's important to practice yoga consistently. The longer you keep doing yoga, the better your balance gets. 

3. Makes for better sleep

Yoga may work for inducing sleep even when other sleep-inducing techniques like taking tea, melatonin pills, and using soothing sound machines seem not to work.

Many studies, including a recent one by John Hopkins, found that blind patients who participated in an eight-week yoga program experienced better sleep.

The best yoga poses to try for sleep include the lying butterfly pose, legs up the wall, and corpse pose. 

4. Improves heart health

Aside from the great feeling you have after doing yoga, yoga positively affects the heart. This is one of the amazing health benefits of yoga.

Just like the exercises carried out in the gym, yoga can help reduce inflammation and stress levels in the body.

A study published in the Indian Heart Journal sees yoga as the primary prevention for cardiovascular diseases. The study found that mindfulness-based reduction practices such as yoga can positively affect health (particularly cardiac health) in populations prone to significant mental stress. 

Cardiovascular diseases include several diseases that affect the heart and blood vessels.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), one person dies every 36 seconds in the United States from Cardiovascular disease. This is another reason why yoga should be encouraged among young and older adults.

5. Enhances fitness and body weight

Many people think that yoga targets only the mind. On the contrary, it targets the body as well. It can significantly impact exercise capabilities by increasing muscle strength, flexibility, endurance, and cardio-respiratory fitness.

People who do yoga also tend to be mindful eaters. Being a mindful eater means being conscious of what you eat (so you don't eat what your body doesn't need), and being sensitive to feelings of fullness and hunger cues. 

When you practice yoga, you become more aware of how your body feels, even during mealtimes, which can help keep your weight in check and enhance your fitness.

6. Improves mental health

Yoga may just be the best thing your mental health needs. This is because it helps you develop your inner awareness and strengthens your mind and body. And these are exactly what your mental health needs to thrive.

Yoga can help alleviate stress, which affects mental health negatively. Chronic stress can wreak deadly havoc on your mental health. However, yoga can help by reducing stress levels, regulating heart rate, and managing other symptoms of stress.

Yoga can also help you deal with anxiety, one of the most common mental issues people suffer from. While anxiety is treatable, not many people agree to seek treatment because of the stigma surrounding mental health conditions. 

It is best always to seek the help of a healthcare professional. But, just in case you are looking for a home remedy, yoga can help. A 2018 study published on Depression and Anxiety indicates that yoga is one way to help treat anxiety.

7. Supports the immune system and relieves chronic pain

Practicing yoga can help the body's immune system by boosting the body's natural response to illnesses. One way it does this is by reducing stress.

Stress is a psychophysiological process that involves the body's response to psychological or physical stress. 

A study was carried out to find out if yoga positively impacts the health effects of stress on the immune system. It turned out that yoga resists the impairment of cellular immunity induced during examination stress.

Many people who are living with chronic pain are unaware that yoga can help treat chronic pain or manage its symptoms. 

If you are experiencing menopausal symptoms, menstrual pain, lower back pain, neck pain, or arthritic pain, yoga can help relieve the symptoms. Yoga International suggests that you do restorative yoga to help you get past your most challenging days.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

How often should you do yoga to see benefits?

There is no set standard for how often a person should do yoga, as this will depend on the goals one aims to achieve. However, a 2014 study found that 3-6 times per week yoga training for eight weeks caused a significant reduction in weight, waist circumference, and BMI of participants.

So, if your aim is to lose weight with yoga, you may have to do it as often as three times a week or more to see results.

What is the benefit of yoga on mental health?

The benefits of yoga to mental health include calming the nerves, creating mental clarity, relieving stress and anxiety, helping with memory, and sharpening concentration.