Yoga might not seem like a traditional way to exercise, but research has been proving the incredible benefits of this form of exercise. For a long time, exercise enthusiasts have been hesitant to include yoga as a “real” form of exercise. While it’s true yoga doesn’t typically leave you as winded or sweaty as going on a long run (unless you like hot yoga, of course!), yoga can still be an intense workout. If you’re unsure how contorting yourself into weird-sounding poses can benefit you, check out these reasons yoga is a good workout:
1. Yoga helps you lose weight. One study showed women who practiced yoga lost 2% more body fat than those who didn’t. Not only does the practice directly help you lose weight, a big part of yoga is learning mindfulness. This can help you lose weight indirectly by teaching you to pay better attention to your eating habits. Reducing stress through yoga is another way it will help you lose weight.
2. Yoga builds muscle. No two ways about it, yoga is an incredible way to strengthen your muscles. Practically every pose you do in yoga engages your core. Building muscle strength prevents injuries and reduces your risk for arthritis.
3. Yoga can decrease pain. A study of arthritis patients showed that not only is yoga good for people suffering from arthritis, but it can actually help improve symptoms. Aside from arthritis, so many of our aches and pains can be reduced by loosening tight muscles through a regular yoga practice.
4. Yoga will give you a better mood. Researchers at Duke university discovered proof that yoga can be helpful in treating depression and even ADHD. Even if you don’t have a diagnosed disorder, yoga poses specifically target areas we tend to hold stress (i.e. shoulders, neck, etc.) and works to relax them.
5. Yoga can be cardio. Another one of the reasons yoga is a good workout is how it can serve double-duty as both aerobic and strengthening exercise. While some yoga poses are more restorative, other sequences (called flows) are quite capable of getting your heart rate up! In fact, a study measuring the relationship between yoga and fitness saw participants’ V02 max increase by an impressive 7% over just 8 weeks.
6. Yoga reduces your risk of injury. This is one of the best reasons yoga is a good workout. A strong core and increased flexibility will drastically improve your sense of balance. This lowers your chances of accidentally hurting yourself while exercising or simply going about your daily life.
7. Yoga can lower your risk of heart disease. Stress is a huge contributing factor in heart disease. Yoga is proven to reduce stress. The connection is there, and one study out of University of Pennsylvania specifically linked yoga to reducing high blood pressure. On top of that, other studies have shown yoga can reduce your risk of certain conditions like hypertension, coronary artery disease and diabetes while improving blood sugar and cholesterol levels.
8. Yoga can give you a better night’s sleep. Practicing inverted yoga poses before going to bed can help you sleep better at night.
9. Yoga is affordable. It’s a good idea to take some classes when you first start yoga to get the alignment right, but it’s also not necessary. There are plenty of quality and free resources on the internet. And of course yoga pants and a mat are nice, but they aren’t at all a requirement. Stretchy gym clothes and carpet or a rug (or grass!) work just as well.
10. Yoga doesn’t get boring. There are hundreds and thousands of yoga poses you can learn and combine into your own unique routine. Every day can look different and you won’t run the risk of burning out doing the same old thing day after day. The best part? Even a once-a-week routine will give you these benefits. The more frequently you practice, the more results you’ll see.