Yoga is a Hindu spiritual discipline that is widely practiced for health and relaxation purposes due to its breathing, mediation and bodily posture techniques.
There are many types of yoga. Hatha is a more physical type of yoga rather than a still, meditative form, focusing on pranayamas (breath-controlled exercises) followed by a series of asanas (yoga postures), which end with savasana (a resting period).
Yoga is generally low-impact and safe for healthy people when practiced appropriately under the guidance of a well-trained instructor. An exercise for all, Yoga offers a variety of mind and body benefits for long-term health including:
- Improved Body Image – Yoga studios typically don’t have mirrors, which allow participants to focus on developing their inner awareness rather than physical appearance. Surveys have found those who practice yoga are more aware, satisfied and less critical of their bodies than those who did not practice yoga.
- Better Sleep – A national survey found that over 55% of people who did yoga found that it helped them get better sleep. The practice of yoga helps create a reflex response to more easily bring forth a sense of relaxation when you’re having trouble sleeping.
- Improved General Health & Reduced Stress – Yoga exercises that incorporate controlled breathing, meditation and relaxation techniques helps improve general health and regulation of the stress hormone cortisol. With mental stress and physical tension reduced, cognitive function also improves.
- Reduced Food Cravings – Regular yoga practice is associated with mindful eating, an awareness of physical and emotional sensations associated with eating. This awareness can help slow you down to make better choices when food cravings arise.
- Reduced Back Pain – One of the most common health problems in the United States, yoga has been shown to provide short and long-term effectiveness for chronic lower back pain. The practice of Yoga helps alleviate back pain by increasing flexibility and muscle strength.