A Healthier U

7 health benefits of yoga

Yoga has been around for over 5,000 years. There are more than 100 different forms of yoga, some are fast-paced and intense, others are gentle and relaxing. A consistent yoga practice offers all kinds of mental and physical health benefits.

  • Improves flexibility

As we age, our flexibility usually decreases, especially if you spend a lot of time sitting, which leads to pain and immobility. Yoga can help reverse this process. Regular yoga practice can increase flexibility in your hamstrings, back, shoulders and hips.

  • Builds strength

Many yoga poses require you to support your body weight in new ways, including balancing on one leg or supporting yourself with your arms. These types of poses build muscular strength.

  • Improves balance

Improved balance is one of the most important benefits of yoga. Yoga is a great way to build the core strength that keeps you upright.

  • Supports joint health

Yoga also helps strengthen the muscles around the joints, decreasing the load on the joints. The movements necessary for yoga are low impact, allowing you to use your joints without injuring them.

  • Prevents back pain

Many people who have back pain spend a lot of time sitting, which causes tightness throughout the body and spinal compression. Yoga counteracts these conditions by increasing flexibility and strength.

  • Teaches better breathing

Yoga breathing exercises focus attention on breathing and teach us how to take deeper breaths, which benefits the entire body. Certain types of breath can also help clear the nasal passages and even calm the nervous system, which has physical and mental benefits on and off the mat.

  • Reduces stress

Physical activity is good for relieving stress, and this is particularly true of yoga. Because of the concentration required, your daily troubles, both large and small, seem to melt away during the time you are on the mat. This provides a much-needed break from your stressors, as well as helping to put your problems into perspective. The emphasis yoga places on being in the present moment can also help as you learn not to dwell on past events or anticipate the future.Want to start a new healthy habit?  Visit a PEAK yoga class. University employees can take advantage of affordable yoga classes right on campus. Winter interim classes start Dec. 12 and spring semester classes begin Jan. 11. For more information, visit the PEAK website.

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For more expert health news and information, visit healthcare.utah.edu/healthfeed.