When it comes to improving our health and fitness, we often think of high-intensity workouts and rigorous training routines. While those certainly have their benefits, there’s another practice that can help you reach your goals sooner – and with a sense of tranquility: yoga.
Yoga is not just a trendy exercise; it’s a holistic approach to wellness that’s been around for centuries.
In this blog, we’ll explore the benefits of yoga and discover how this ancient practice can enhance your well-being.
We’ll also answer questions like:
- Can practicing yoga help you reach your health and fitness goals sooner?
- Why is it important to do yoga?
- Is there any scientific evidence for yoga?
- What research has been done on yoga?
4 Powerful Benefits of Practicing Yoga
It turns out there are plenty of great science-backed benefits of practicing yoga, and these top four perks specifically show how yoga can enhance your physical wellness and longevity:
While yoga may not involve lifting heavy weights, it can still be a powerful tool for building strength. Numerous studies have shown that yoga poses, such as planks, downward dog, and warrior poses, engage multiple muscle groups, resulting in improved strength and flexibility.
Research from Harvard Health revealed that participants who practiced yoga after eight weeks at least twice a week for 180 minutes had greater muscle strength and endurance, flexibility, and cardio-respiratory fitness.
The same research found that people who practice yoga are also mindful eaters. Researchers found that those who practiced yoga had lower body mass indexes (BMIs) compared with those who did not. Researchers attributed this to mindfulness, and eating mindfully may help improve your relationship with food.
The beauty of yoga is that it may lead to a well-rounded and functional strength that translates into better performance in other physical activities, especially for those who spend countless hours each week sitting in front of a computer.
Many of us spend our days hunched over desks or engaged in repetitive movements, which might lead to tight muscles and limited range of motion.
In fact, research has linked sitting for long periods of time with a number of health concerns, from obesity and increased blood pressure to high blood sugar and unhealthy cholesterol levels.
Yoga can be the key to unlocking your body’s potential for flexibility. A study published in the National Library of Medicine found that regular yoga practice increased flexibility in participants.
By performing various poses and stretches, yoga helps lengthen and stretch muscles, tendons, and ligaments, potentially improving overall flexibility.
Yoga is not just about physical flexibility, though; it also promotes mental and emotional flexibility. Stress has become a common companion in our fast-paced lives, and it can take a toll on our health and well-being. That’s where yoga shines.
According to a study led by researchers at NYU Grossman School of Medicine, yoga was found to improve symptoms of generalized anxiety disorder, suggesting the practice may help treat anxiety in some people.
By incorporating yoga into your routine, you may achieve a sense of calm and balance that positively impacts your overall health, including heart health.
While yoga might not get your heart pounding like a high-intensity interval training session, it can still offer cardiovascular benefits.
A study published in the European Society of Cardiology found that risk factors for cardiovascular disease improved more in participants doing yoga than in those doing no exercise.
The flowing movements and sustained poses in yoga can increase blood circulation, improve oxygenation, and stimulate the lymphatic system, all of which contribute to a healthier cardiovascular system.
3 More Ways Yoga Can Help You Reach Your Health and Fitness Goals Sooner
Not only can you reap all those amazing rewards, but the benefits of yoga also bring other awesome advantages that can help you reach your health and fitness goals sooner.
1. Weight Loss Support
A 2013 review by the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health on 17 weight-control programs that used yoga in their practice discovered that it could be an effective tool for gradual and moderate weight loss results.
Another body of research on ten yoga studies found that this powerful practice could reduce BMI, or body mass index, which measures body fat by using your height and weight, in overweight or obese study participants.
Lastly, another long-term study, which included a follow up-study, discovered that people who regularly practiced yoga experienced less weight gain over ten years than those who didn’t step foot on their mats.
So, if weight loss is one of your health goals, adding a bit of yoga to your weekly routine could be a game-changer in helping you reach your goals.
Another remarkable benefit of yoga is how it relates to body image.
2. Improved Body Image
Studies, as noted by Harvard Health, have found that those who practiced yoga were more aware of their bodies than those who didn’t. They were also more satisfied with and less critical of their physical appearance.
As a result, yoga has become an integral part of programs promoting positive body image and self-esteem.
These great non-scale victories can be helpful on your health journey, especially as the physical changes take time to show, and can be great motivators to keep going.
3. More Mindful Eating
Those same researchers in the last weight loss study we mentioned theorized that yoga also helped with mindful eating, which can aid with keeping extra pounds away, especially over the years.
They found that study participants practiced being mindful in their yoga practice while holding and concentrating on poses and working through physical discomfort, which carried over to their eating habits.
Instead of overeating, people were more mindful of their satiety signals and stopped eating before they felt stuffed.
This simple but effective practice also helped people have a better relationship with food, resulting in less restrictive dieting practices.
All of these are great tools to have in your health toolkit no matter which stage of your journey you’re on, and you may be able to achieve them by regularly stepping foot on your yoga mat.
The bottom line
Yoga offers many benefits that can help you reach your health and fitness goals sooner. Whether you’re a seasoned fitness enthusiast or just starting your wellness journey, consider incorporating yoga into your routine.
It can be as simple and easy as weaving in one yoga workout per week, and it doesn’t have to be too long. A short 20 to 30-minute session is a great place to start.
To do that, find a class, join a studio, or try Thalia Ayers Randolph’s Costa Rica Transformative Yoga Series in the comfort of your home with iFIT, a paid subscription service.
However you want to move your body, there are near-endless resources available to help you get started.
So, embrace the practice, connect with your breath, and discover the transformative power of yoga on your path to a healthier, happier you. Namaste!
Want more yoga? Try these workouts!
Disclaimer: This blog post is not intended to replace the advice of a medical professional. The above information should not be used to diagnose, treat, or prevent any disease or medical condition. Please consult your doctor before making any changes to your diet, sleep methods, daily activity, or fitness routine. iFIT assumes no responsibility for any personal injury or damage sustained by any recommendations, opinions, or advice given in this article. Always follow the safety precautions included in the owner’s manual of your fitness equipment.