5 Health Benefits of Yoga

Need a good reason to do a downward dog? Here are 5 of them.

Yoga is an ancient practice that incorporates breathing exercises, stretching and holding poses. It is touted for providing both physical and mental health benefits. As an added bonus, it is an activity that almost anyone can do at any age and in any physical condition.

Whether you are a beginner or an experienced yogi, you may enjoy these health benefits of yoga:

  • Relieves stress and anxiety. Yoga has been shown to lower the amount of cortisol, a stress hormone, produced by the body. It has also been shown to reduce stress, anxiety and depression. Since it encourages relaxation, yoga may also help you sleep better.
  • Increases flexibility and balance. This is helpful for people of all ages, but especially older adults. Stretching, slow movements and holding a pose can build muscle strength, increase joint flexibility and improve overall mobility.
  • Reduces chronic pain. If you have pain from osteoarthritis, yoga may help. Research has shown that yoga may help decrease pain and improve function in people with osteoarthritis of the knees. It’s also been shown to improve back pain and symptoms in people with carpal tunnel syndrome.
  • Improves heart health. Some research suggests that practicing yoga may lower blood pressure and cholesterol, as well as slow the progression of heart disease. Reducing stress and inflammation in the body is also good for the heart.
  • Encourages healthy habits. Yoga may not be the cause of someone following a healthier lifestyle but it appears that people who practice yoga also tend to embrace other healthy habits, such as eating healthy, being physically active, sleeping well, maintaining a healthy weight and managing stress.

Ready to give yoga a try? Watch this video to learn how to do a downward facing dog pose right at your desk at work.

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Date Last Reviewed: July 19, 2021

Editorial Review: Andrea Cohen, Editorial Director, Baldwin Publishing, Inc. Contact Editor

Medical Review: Perry Pitkow, MD

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