Yoga is an ancient practice that combines physical and mental well-being. Although it began as a spiritual practice, modern-day yoga in the United States typically combines physical body postures or poses, breathing techniques and meditation.
Research has shown that practicing yoga can provide a variety of physical and mental health benefits. It’s no wonder that in 2017, one study showed that 1 in 7 adults in the United States practiced yoga in the past year.
Some health benefits of yoga include:
- Stress Relief
- Mental health improvements
- Relief of lower back and neck pain
- Improve sleep quality
- Weight loss
- Improves flexibility, balance and strength
- Increase mindfulness
Because there are so many types and variations of yoga practice, there is likely a practice for everyone. Whether you have never done yoga or have been practicing for years, yoga can provide a wide array of benefits for your physical, mental and spiritual health.
In addition to these health benefits, it was also found in surveys that those who practiced yoga reported being more aware of their bodies, more satisfied and less critical of their bodies. Practicing yoga helps you to develop more inner awareness by focusing on your body’s abilities in the present moment, rather than physical appearance of yourself or those around you.
What if I’m not flexible?
Many people have the misconception that they have to be very flexible in order to do yoga. However, like many activities, continuing lesson and practice will help to improve your flexibility. Increasing your flexibility is an added benefit of practicing yoga—not a requirement to start.
Sources: National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health. REI. Harvard Medical School. The Health Tip of the Week is for educational purposes only. For additional information, consult your physician. Please feel free to copy and distribute this health resource.