Yogis have been touting and sharing the benefits of a consistent yoga practice for thousands of years, and finally, scientific studies are now confirming much of what yoga practitioners have known all along.
Some of these benefits are well known and fairly obvious, while others are more obscure and may leave you thinking, “I had no idea yoga could help with that!” They span a wide range from purely physical, mental or emotional, to deeply spiritual.
It’s important to note that many of these benefits have been researched and confirmed through scientific study, while others are purely anecdotal, and have only been confirmed by those who constantly practice and experience the benefits of yoga.
Also, you may notice that over half of the benefits listed are physical. This is because many of these benefits are the result of physical exercise in general. However, there are a great many benefits listed here that cannot be gained through physical exercise alone–they are the result of a conscious yoga practice.
That being said, please keep in mind that this list is not a personal guarantee of what you definitely will experience when you practice yoga. Rather, it’s meant to highlight the experiences and benefits that have been documented and shared by millions of people around the world…as well as the multitude of benefits that may be available to you with a consistent and conscious yoga practice.
My advice? Don’t take my word or anyone else’s word for it. Give yoga a a try for yourself! When you make the effort and put in the time to do something incredible for yourself, you will reap the rewards in ways you may have never dreamed possible–including but certainly not limited to those ways listed below.
Without further ado…
101 Benefits of Yoga
- Increases body awareness.
- Stretches and lengthens the muscles.
- Stretches the soft tissues of the body. (Tendons, ligaments, and the fascia sheath that surrounds the muscles.)
- Releases lactic acid build up. (Lactic acid can cause muscle soreness, stiffness, pain, and fatigue.)
- Increases range of motion in the joints.
- Increases muscle tone. (From the larger ones to some of the smaller, less-used muscles.)
- Increases endurance. (This depends on the style, as some are more conducive to improving endurance, such as vinyasa, ashtanga, and other power styles.)
- Helps develop motor skills for kids.
- Improves balance.
- Improves coordination.
- Improves posture. (Increases in strength, especially core strength, flexibility, and bodily awareness can lead to improvements in posture. Moreover, each pose give specific attention and focus to proper alignment.)
- Improves respiration. (Increased lung capacity due to yoga’s emphasis on deeper and fuller breathing.)
- Improves circulation of blood.
- Improves stress-management (or less stress). (Yoga’s emphasis on deepening and lengthening the breath helps to initiate the body’s relaxation response.)
- Lowers levels of adrenaline, cortisol, and catecholamines (all responses to stress.)
- Increases energy and vitality.
- Lowers blood pressure.
- Lowers pulse rate.
- Lowers cholesterol.
- Eases the symptoms of asthma.
- Facilitates weight loss. (Primarily through better lifestyle choices.)
- Strengthens the immune system.
- Improves oxygen delivery to cells.
- Helps to prevent loss of bone density (osteoporosis).
- Reduces or even eliminates pain, both acute and chronic. (Including those associated with arthritis and fibromyalgia.)
- Improves sleep and decreases symptoms and occurrence of insomnia.
- Improve conditions of irregular heart rhythm.
- Helps to maintain a balanced metabolism.
- Protects against future injury.
- Aids the recovery of stroke victims.
- Massages the internal organs.
- Improves lymphatic functioning.
- Helps prevent hardening of the arteries.
- Aids and improves digestion and elimination processes.
- Helps to detoxify the body.
- Increases the Galvanic skin response.
- Improves depth perception.
- Improves endocrine functioning (normalization).
- Reduces sodium levels.
- Increases level of red blood cells.
- Increases core stability.
- Improves agility.
- Improves reaction time.
- Decreases inflammatory markers.
- Decrease in cellular aging.
- Reduces blood glucose levels. (Especially helpful for diabetics.)
- Aids in sensory integration (especially helpful for both kids and adults with Autism).
- Improves lipid profile.
- Improves symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome. (Improved grip and reduction of pain.)
- Decreases occurrence of tension headaches and migraines.
- Relieves some symptoms and discomfort associated with menstruation and menopause.
- Promotes nasal breathing. (Filters, warms, and humidifies the air).
- Aids in common pregnancy discomforts such as bloating and backaches.
- Often helps make labor shorter and easier.
- Helps manage the symptoms of multiple sclerosis.
- Improves spinal curvature. (Can even help straighten curvature associated with scoliosis.)
- Elevates brain gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) levels. (Lows levels are associated with Alzheimer’s disease.)
- Improves sexual functioning.
- Calms the nervous system.
- Nourishes intervertebral discs.
Mental and/or Emotional
- Increases experience of relaxation.
- Provides a deeper appreciation for the present moment, or mindfulness.
- Allows for greater mind control, or control over the thoughts.
- Increases mental clarity.
- Improves concentration and focus.
- Improves self-discipline.
- Expands imagination and creativity (especially in children).
- Elevates mood and feelings of contentment.
- Increases self-awareness.
- Increases self-confidence.
- Increases optimism.
- Provides much-needed “me-time.” (Especially important for parents)
- Increases mental strength, or willpower.
- Improves symptoms of certain neuropsychiatric disorders. (Including schizophrenia and ADHD.)
- Reduces symptoms of anxiety and depression.
- Improves learning efficiency.
- Improvements in Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD).
- Reduces symptoms of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).
- Fosters a healthier body-image.
- Improves emotional control. (Especially over feelings such as anger or hostility.)
- Improves self-control. (Contributes to better choices and habits.)
- Increases experience of positive emotions. (Joy, peace.)
- Decreases experience of negative emotions. (Fear, frustration, worries.)
- Improves the mind-body connection. (Comes from synchronizing breathing with movement. Retrains the mind to find a place a peace and calm.)
- Improves relationships with others.
- May decrease feelings of loneliness (especially in elderly practitioners).
- Increases sense of emotional healing and well-being.
- Increases ability to handle disappointment and adversity.
- Increases open-mindedness.
- Improves intuitive abilities.
- Increases sense of community. (When practiced in a group setting.)
- Encourages self-knowledge.
- Stimulates the energy centers of the body.
- Increases ability to manifest positive experiences in daily life.
- Discovery or connection with one’s sense of purpose or meaning in life.
- Creates a sense of being more in-tune with one’s inner consciousness.
- Leads to a greater sense of connectedness to others and the world.
- Develops a sense of connection to something greater than ourselves. (Nature, the universe, one’s God or gods, or some other expression of the divine.)
- Fosters a greater sense of appreciation of each experience for what it is.
- Fosters a deeper sense of gratitude in general.
- Leads to a sense of fulfillment.
No matter what age you are or physical condition you are in, you can benefit from yoga. The key is getting to know your body and learning to honor and respect it’s strengths, limitations, and boundaries. Start slow, practice with consciousness and consistency, and you too can experience these many benefits in your own life!
I’m curious: leave a comment letting me know which of these you have personally experienced, or which you are most looking forward to experiencing!