Benefits of Yoga: The Workout You Never Knew You Always Needed

It's no secret that yoga is chock-full of both physical and mental health benefits, yet it's often brushed aside as something for flexible individuals with impeccable balance. In reality, the benefits of yoga extend to people of all ages, sizes and athletic abilities, especially those who can't touch their toes or do a perfect handstand. (Yoga is referred to as a practice for a reason!)

benefits of yoga

If you're still unsure whether you should work yoga into your fitness routine, take a look at how yoga can improve athleticism, health and mental well-being.

Benefits of Yoga: Athletic Performance

Runners, rock climbers, cyclists and athletes of all types can benefit from adding yoga to their training. Here are just a few ways yoga benefits athletes and active individuals:

  • Increases flexibility: Flexibility can improve athletic performance in a number of sports and activities. This yoga benefit also lessens the likeliness of injury.

  • Increases strength: Yes, yoga builds strength in your core, arms and legs. It allows you to use bodyweight to strengthen your entire body, which in turn improves your abilities as an athlete.

  • Improves body awareness: Most sports require you to have a solid understanding of what your body is capable of and how movements affect your positioning. Yoga can help with this.

  • Improves balance: Balance goes hand-in-hand with strength and body awareness. It's part of what makes up athleticism and is something that can be improved by regularly practicing yoga.

  • Improves concentration: In other words, yoga can help you get in the zone. The breathing, balancing and stretching involved in yoga requires a great deal of focus, which can be transferred to other sports and activities.

Benefits of Yoga: Physical Health

While most types of yoga don't qualify as aerobic exercise, this doesn't mean yoga can't benefit your health just as much as cardio-based activities. Many of yoga's health benefits can be seen in its athletic benefits: improved flexibility, strength and balance. Here are a few additional ways yoga can benefit physical health:

  • Improves breathing: Yoga includes a focus on breathing, which has been shown to improve lung capacity and overall lung function.

  • Aids in weight loss: The movement and strength exercises featured in yoga work to help people lose weight.

  • Improves heart health: A good yoga class will get your heart rate up and benefit cardio health. Yoga can help lower blood pressure and improve circulation.

  • Improves posture: All of the stretching, body awareness and body alignment featured in yoga can do wonders for your posture.

  • Improves bone health: Strength training is known to improve bone health and reduce the risk of osteoporosis. Yoga includes strength training that is easy to modify, making this benefit accessible to people of all ability levels.

Benefits of Yoga: Mental Well-Being

Yoga is a unique form of exercise in that it offers just as many mental health benefits as physical health benefits. This is in part because yoga incorporates meditation into its practice. Here are a few ways yoga benefits mental well-being:

  • Relieves stress: Yoga has been found to reduce stress and anxiety, which can improve general happiness.

  • Gives mental clarity: Yoga promotes focusing on the present. Learning to clear your mind of thoughts concerning the past and the future allows for mental clarity.

  • Centers attention: Focusing on the present is a mental exercise that improves concentration. The more this is practiced in yoga, the more you'll be able to apply it to everyday life.

  • Builds personal awareness: Yoga is often seen as a spiritual practice. Focusing on breathing, staying in the present and practicing body movement can bring a deeper understanding to yourself and your goals.

  • Improves quality of sleep: The combined practices of mindfulness and physical fitness yoga promotes has been shown to improve sleep quality. Getting a good night's sleep benefits both mental and physical well-being.

Are you convinced yet? Give this age-old practice a try and experience the benefits yourself!

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posted by
Lauren Seidl
Blogger at Sierra Trading Post
Lauren enjoys hiking, camping, climbing and exploring the outdoors. She's always up for trying something new, especially if it involves getting outside. When Lauren isn't out finding adventures in her home state of Colorado, she can be found writing as Sierra Trading Post's blogger.
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