5 Health Benefits of Yoga

5 Health Benefits of Yoga

The key to health and fitness is about more than just intensity, it’s about striking a balance — and yoga can help you find that balance. Here are five ways yoga can benefit both your mind and body. 

1. Improves posture

When you’re sitting at a desk all day and lounging on the couch at night, your posture can take a serious beating. But bad posture doesn’t just mean slumped shoulders; it can have serious side effects on the rest of your body. Some of these side effects include slow digestion, bad circulation, heightened stress and even a heavier appearance. Yoga is a great way to better your posture, which will have exponentially better effects on your body as a whole. Yoga poses that are especially good for your posture include the Mountain Pose, Standing Forward Bend and Child’s Pose.

2. Treats Osteoporosis

Your bones are made of living tissue that is constantly being broken down and replaced. But when that broken down tissue isn’t being replaced, or is replaced at a much slower pace than normal, bones can become weak, brittle and eventually fracture. This process is known as Osteoporosis, and is most common is older women. But while osteoporosis can wreak havoc on your bones, it can also be managed and even treated with yoga. According to a study performed at the Columbia College of Physicians and Surgeons in New York, yoga has helped people gain bone in both their spines and hips—both of which are commonly susceptible to Osteoporosis. Great yoga poses for improving and maintaining bone health include Downward Dog, Cobra and Locust.

3. Lowers blood sugar levels

As we mentioned in our diabetes blog, type 2 diabetes is a result of your body’s inability to make enough insulin, or insulin that works right. Insulin’s job is to bring sugar from your blood into your cells for energy. If you have no insulin, that sugar is going to stay in your blood and cause your blood sugar level to rise too high. The good news is that yoga is thought to help lower blood sugar levels. Yoga can help reduce the level of sugar in the blood, lower blood pressure and promote weight loss—some of the major symptoms that progress type 2 diabetes. Poses that are perfect for diabetes management include the Cobra Pose, Wheel Pose and Grasshopper Pose.

4. Helps with stress

Relaxing exercise may seem like an oxymoron, but that’s what yoga is! Yoga is a mind-body experience that brings stretching exercises together with breathing and relaxation. With relaxation comes reduced stress; and reduced stress means you sleep and feel better—the benefits just keep on coming. Some of the best yoga poses for reduced stress include Child’s Pose, Bridge Pose and Standing Forward Bend.

5. Increases flexibility

Since yoga is all about stretching, it should come as no surprise that you gain increased flexibility. According to an American Council on Exercise (ACE) study, after eight weeks of yoga the average flexibility of a yoga group improved from 13% to 35%. While reaching your target flexibility may take a while, it’s worth it in the long term. Flexibility prevents aches, pains and can actually improve poor posture. Good poses for increasing flexibility include the Low Lunge, Single-Leg Forward Bend, and Standing Forward Bend.

If you’re curious about other benefits of yoga, or want to know if yoga is right for you, doctors on Amwell are available 24/7/365 to answer any of your questions.

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