22 Incredible Benefits of Yoga for Your Body
There’s more to yoga than just stepping onto your mat, doing some stretches, and carrying on with your day. The benefits of yoga stem beyond physical into mental, emotional, and even spiritual.
Read on for a full list of the benefits of yoga, what it does to your body, what happens if you do it every day, and how to get started.
Yoga offers many benefits to the body including improved balance, flexibility, muscular strength and endurance, body awareness, and more. These physical benefits also result in mental health benefits like, improved mood, better sleep, enhanced self-esteem, and more.
These benefits are universal with any style of yoga but some are more prevalent than others depending on the style of yoga practiced. For example, Hatha or Vinyasa yoga practices build more muscular strength and endurance than a slower-paced gentle yoga practice such as Yin. This is because Hatha and Vinyasa practices are typically practiced at a faster pace that flows through different yoga poses, elevating your heart rate and recruiting more muscular strength than a Yin yoga class.
When you start doing yoga, you may notice some initial stiffness throughout your body. It might feel like you’ve “used muscles you’ve never used before.” This is because yoga isn’t like many other conventional types of movement or activity and its recruitment of stabilizing muscles may be new to you. This is a normal sensation when first starting out and it’ll quickly turn into a limber feeling due to all the muscular lengthening and stretching.
Doing yoga every day can result in increased flexibility, balance, and strength. The saying “yoga every damn day” is popular among yogis and with good reason. If you’re in good health, doing yoga every day should be fine considering the wide variety of styles that are available, but it’s always best to consult with your doctor first before taking on a new fitness routine on a daily basis.
Although we recommend incorporating a variety of exercises into your weekly workout routine, the nice thing about yoga is that it doesn’t have to be either or. Yoga can be done as its own workout but it can also be done as a warm-up or a cool-down to a workout.
For example, a Vinyasa flow yoga practice can be done before a strength or weight training workout as a warm-up. The constant movement of a Yoga Flow class is a great way to warm up the muscles before a workout. As for a cool down, a Restorative or Yin yoga class can be done afterward as a post-workout stretch. Since the poses are held for longer durations of time, they act as static stretches which are essential after a big workout to help your muscles recover.
There are also so many different types of yoga that you could practice yoga every day. Here’s an example of how that could look in any given week:
- Monday: Yoga + Strength
- Tuesday: Yoga + Cardio
- Wednesday: Rest or Yin
- Thursday: Yoga + Strength
- Friday: Yoga + Cardio
- Saturday: Rest
- Sunday: Rest or Yin
Yoga can give you a body that is strong, limber, flexible, well-balanced, toned, and lean. Because yoga builds muscular strength and endurance you’ll feel stronger through regular practice. You’ll gain flexibility and balance through consistent yoga. Yoga has similar effects as barre and Pilates in that it can result in a more toned and lean physique.
Here’s a complete list of the physical benefits of yoga as well as the subsequent mental health benefits that are interconnected to its physical benefits.
Because yoga poses stretch your muscles, this results in improved flexibility over time. As you progress in your yoga practice, you’ll notice increased flexibility and range of motion.
Many yoga poses recruit the stabilizing muscles in your body. For example, in tree pose you balance on one leg which challenges the stabilizing muscles in that leg. The more you perform these types of poses, the more your balance will improve.
Yoga styles such as Hatha and Vinyasa use many poses and flows that build your core strength. This is present in balancing poses such as a tree pose and in stabilizing flows such as a chaturanga (where you slowly lower to the floor from a plank position to an upward dog). Your core is activated many times throughout a yoga practice which helps build strength in this area.
Holding certain yoga poses builds strength and the repetition of various poses and flows helps to build muscular endurance. The more you practice, the stronger you become, and the easier certain poses and flows become.
When incorporated into a well-rounded fitness routine and a healthy diet, yoga can help you achieve your weight loss goals. Because yoga builds muscular strength and endurance and can elevate your heart rate in some practices, it helps support your weight loss journey.
Practicing yoga can boost your metabolic rate due to the increase in physical activity and lean muscle mass. You may notice an increase in appetite once you start practicing yoga regularly because your body will require more energy to maintain your physique.
Yoga has the ability to improve your circulation. Because of the various movements performed during a practice, yoga increases blood flow and promotes circulatory health. Better circulation brings more oxygen to your cells, which improves your overall health and bodily function.
Certain styles of yoga like Vinyasa can really get your heart pumping and your blood flowing. This ultimately kicks your cardiovascular system into gear and helps to improve your cardio health altogether.
When you finish a yoga class, you naturally feel a sense of accomplishment. When you practice yoga regularly, this feeling will continue and carry forward into your day-to-day life. Any physical improvements that come with your yoga practice can also boost self-esteem and confidence which is great for your mental health.
Yoga can have a positive impact on your sleep quality. Doing a slow-paced yoga practice such as restorative yin yoga or yoga Nidra before bed can relax your body and mind which helps you get a better night’s sleep.
Yoga can help reduce stress and anxiety because it promotes relaxation through mindfulness, movement meditation, and deep breathing exercises. Yoga also lowers cortisol levels (the stress hormone) which results in a more relaxed state of being.
Practicing yoga results in the release of happy hormones which make you feel good and improve your mood.
Yoga improves the function of the parasympathetic nervous system. These systems are responsible for activating the relaxation response in your body meaning you feel calmer and more at peace when they’re activated.
You probably know the saying “an apple a day keeps the doctor away.” Well, the same can be said about yoga. Yoga has the ability to strengthen your immune system by promoting lymphatic regularity and nourishing your tissues with oxygen-rich blood cells.
Yoga promotes a strong mind-body connection through mindful movements as you flow through various poses. When you practice yoga, you’re completely in tune with your body. The practice has you get in touch with every part of your body with every posture.
Yoga is one of the most simple and effective forms of exercise because it can be done anywhere. You can even attend classes online so you can practice from the comfort of your own home (or wherever you have an internet connection).
Yoga poses are bodyweight only so all you need is your body and a yoga mat to practice. Additional equipment such as yoga blocks and yoga straps can make certain poses easier, so if you’re starting out, these are a good idea to keep close by but they’re not absolutely necessary. Consider adding a yoga towel to your collection if you tend to work up a big sweat during your practice (e.g. during a long Vinyasa class). A yoga towel can prevent you from sliding out of a pose on a yoga mat if you’ve worked up a sweat.
Yoga can help with chronic pain management and pain tolerance. Since yoga stretches and strengthens the body, it can help you manage pain from illness or old injuries.
Regular yoga practice can help lower and regulate high blood pressure. When your blood vessels are more flexible, they require less pressure for blood flow, which can result in a lower risk of hypertension.
In addition to lowering blood pressure, yoga can also benefit the heart by lowering blood cholesterol and blood glucose levels. It can also lower your heart rate and prevent heart disease. All of which makes a positive impact on your heart health.
While nutrition is important for bone health, yoga can actually help with this as well. Because yoga incorporates elements of strength or resistance training, it creates a stronger foundation for your bones. It’s even been shown that yoga can enhance bone mineral density which helps bones withstand stress.
Regular yoga practice can help eliminate the pain and tingling symptoms of carpal tunnel and even restore hand strength. The National Institutes of Health recommends yoga as a nonsurgical remedy to help with pain associated with carpal tunnel syndrome.
Yoga is a great way to meet new people. The yoga community is full of like-minded and friendly people. Yoga can be practiced alone but is often done in a group setting, which can lead to new, meaningful connections with powerful psychological and mental health benefits.
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The best way to start doing yoga is to attend a class—either at a studio or in the comfort of your home. Your yoga teacher will offer modifications and progressions for every pose so you can decide how far you want to take your practice each time.
Look for beginner yoga classes to get you started. lululemon Studio offers beginner classes in many styles including Hatha yoga, Restorative and Gentle Yoga (Yin), Vinyasa, and even Yoga Dance and Yoga + Strength classes, which you can practice at home live or on-demand.
Our experienced instructors will guide you through your practice and they’re there every step of the way to ensure you get the best experience possible. Access our library of endless yoga classes and start enjoying the positive benefits your body will experience.
Go beyond the physical benefits of yoga with the lululemon Studio Membership. Become a member today and get FREE 30-day access to all classes and workouts.