The Physical and Mental Benefits of Practicing Yoga

Yoga seems to be getting more popular every day. Both men and women are increasingly taking classes of all kinds and enjoying the positive outcomes it brings to them in their life. Here is a guide to just some of the proven mental and physical benefits of yoga.

Flexibility, Strength, Overall Health

On the physical side the benefits of yoga are numerous and include increased flexibility, strength, athletic performance, cardiovascular fitness, and overall health. Yoga improves balance, physical discipline, and endurance as you go through the routines and begin to reinforce the health of your spine, posture, legs and core. Physically yoga is truly an incredible workout and makes sense for anyone to try as part of a healthy lifestyle.¹

Relaxation, Stress Reduction, Concentration, Anxiety Relief

In addition to the numerous physical benefits from doing yoga, it brings several mental and emotional well-being advantages as well. Yoga has been proven to reduce stress by lowering the “stress hormone” cortisol which can cause all sorts of bad symptoms like depression, anxiety, irritability and insomnia. It also can lead to better sleep and alleviation of minor depression and anxiety. Yoga is world famous for causing feelings of calm and stability and can further contribute to having a better self-image, more confidence and greater ease in interacting with others.²

Different Kinds of Yoga

Yoga comes in many different flavors and varieties from hot yoga to hatha yoga and bikram and ashtanga yoga. Each kind of yoga has a different focus, such as hatha which is more about controlling the flow of your breathing, iyengar yoga which is about focusing on the different postures, or jivamukti yoga which uses postures, meditation, Sanskrit chanting and ancient spiritual themes to tie the class and concepts together.³

What Kind of Yoga Has What Benefits?

Each different kind of yoga will have its own particular benefits. For example hatha yoga is physically-focused and will see more improvement in your fitness, cardiovascular, muscular health and balance. Hatha includes various kinds of similar physically-focused yoga like ashtanga—which is especially strenuous and physically focused—and iyengar. On the other hand, karma yoga, kriya and raja are more about emotional and spiritual health and have a focus toward mental well-being and balance.

Digging Deeper Into Yoga’s Benefits

Yoga is about aligning the breath, mind and spirit. It is all about balance and harmony. In addition to improving physical and mental health and building on mindfulness practices, yoga can have all sorts of additional benefits like improving self-esteem, body image, quality of breathing and ability to get along with and collaborate with others in a group.

Toning and Getting in Physical Shape

One of the greatest benefits of yoga is the toning component. You will simply start to feel much better physically, more energized, awake, refreshed, strong and capable. The accompanying muscle toning, physical fitness and overall feeling of wellbeing is hard to describe but it has been experienced by millions of people who do yoga.⁴

Learning More About Yoga

If you are interested in starting yoga, the best next step is to do further research on the different kinds of yoga to see which you identify with best. Try watching some videos of classes on YouTube or even consider signing up for a class at a local recreation center to try it out for yourself. If you don’t like the first class you go to, don’t be put off right away. Each group can be very different, so try a few before giving it up. Hopefully you will soon be able to find a yoga practice you enjoy and experience the myriad of benefits it brings.