Medically Reviewed By Elizabeth A. Swick, MS, RDN
Health Benefits of Yoga
An estimated 55 million people participated in yoga in 2020, marking a significant increase from the 36.7 million who Statista reports practiced the form of exercise in 2015. As the many benefits of yoga for men and women continue to be revealed, the number is expected to rise. Read on to learn how yoga stretches benefit the body and mind and find out how nutrition plays a role in yoga practice.
What Are the Benefits of Yoga?
Yoga began thousands of years ago in India, where it is said that the god Shiva became the first person to practice the art. While anthropologists study the origins of the exercise, medical scientists have been working to uncover the benefits of yoga for health and wellness. So far, studies have found that yoga may:
- Reduces stress. Not only does yoga help to relax your body, but it's also been shown to help lower levels of the stress hormone cortisol in the body.
- Ease anxiety. Small studies have found that yoga may help to reduce the frequency and severity of symptoms related to anxiety disorders.
- Help fight inflammation. Research indicates that yoga may help ease chronic inflammation related to medical conditions like heart disease, arthritis, and diabetes over time.
- Promote cardiovascular health. The mind-body yoga connection seems to benefit the heart. Studies have revealed that people who have been practicing yoga over a long period of time often have lower blood pressure levels than their peers and may be at a decreased risk for developing heart disease.
- Address symptoms of depression. Yoga teaches mindfulness, which many psychologists recommend for people facing clinical depression. Scientists believe that yoga's potential cortisol-lowering benefits may also help to diminish depression symptoms.
- May play a role in pain relief. Multiple studies have suggested that yoga may provide natural pain relief for chronic conditions like carpal tunnel syndrome and arthritis.
- Improve sleep. By teaching relaxation and reducing stress, yoga could help you sleep better. Researchers have found that people who regularly practice yoga are less likely to suffer from insomnia and often enjoy a more restful sleep.
- Research shows positive outcomes in fertility and managing hot flashes for women engaging in a consistent yoga practice.
How To Start Enjoying the Health Benefits of Yoga
If you're ready to begin reaping the benefits of yoga for mental health and physical health, follow these tips to get started:
- Find the right class. Do your homework when choosing your first yoga class. Look for one that teaches yoga poses for beginners. Some classes gear practice toward the needs of specific groups of people, such as yoga for men, pregnant women or seniors. Classes also vary in the type of yoga taught. Slow flow classes are often ideal for people hoping to learn yoga mindfulness, while high-energy classes can provide a challenging cardio workout.
- Don't forget about online options. Online classes give you the ability to practice from the comfort of your home. Some can be streamed anytime, while others are instructor-led and follow a set schedule.
- Modify as needed. Invest in a thick mat and a starter set of props before your first practice. Using props will allow you to support your body as you build strength and flexibility so that you can get the right level of stretch for your needs.
- Some supplements can bridge the diet gap and support your efforts on the mat. Collagen and elastin supplements are popular among yogis because they help promote stronger, more flexible muscles, ligaments, and tendons. But not all collagen supplements are created equal that’s why it’s yogi-wise to choose transparent supplements with high-absorption rates like Body Kitchen’s Youthful Beauty and Pro Elastin. The supplements contain proteins that are found in the human body. When you take a collagen and elastin supplement, your body breaks the proteins down into amino acids that can then be used to produce structural proteins. In addition, collagen and elastin supplements like Total Beauty can add the benefits of enhanced-appearance by supporting healthy hair and strong nails. Total Beauty also support healthy hair and skin.
- Eat with yoga in mind. What you eat can make a big difference in your performance during practice. Yoga nutrition can help ensure that you have the proper nutrients to fuel your body during practice and recover after class. Typically, yoga diets focus on whole grains, fruits, and vegetables. Many yogis are vegetarians, but if you choose to eat meat, opt for lean proteins like seafood and poultry as much as possible. Most yoga diets discourage highly processed foods.
Talk to your doctor before you begin to practice. Your medical provider can help you decide if yoga is a safe choice of exercise plan for you. They can also talk to you about yoga supplements and nutrition and recommend the vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients your body needs to thrive.