Yoga can improve your mind and body. Visiting a yoga class won’t just help you get fit and flexible. You can also expect to reduce stress, increase concentration, and improve your posture. Need more convincing? Check out these 7 reasons to try yoga this weekend.
1. Low impact, beginner-friendly exercise
Unfortunately, most people associate exercise with punishment. Running on the treadmill is something you do because you “ate too much and need to burn it off.” This attitude is unhealthy and unnecessary. Yoga is a great way to teach yourself that exercise is about treating your body (not torturing it).
2. Stress relief
A study published by Oxford University Press discovered that yoga could be an effective intervention for reducing stress and back pain at work. Study participants were split in to two groups of 37: the first performed a 50-minute yoga session every week for eight weeks and received a 20-minute DVD for home practice, while the control group received no intervention. The yoga group reported significantly lower stress, back pain, sadness, and hostility than the control group. They also reported feeling self-assured, attentive, and serene. Click here to build your own stress-reducing yoga routine.
3. Increased concentration and motivation
A study by the American College of Sports Medicine found that yoga can improve concentration, enhance motivation, and reduce anxiety within two months. Study participants completed three assessments during the second and ninth week of the study to measure concentration, motivation, and anxiety. According to the study authors, the improvements in all three areas were “dramatic.” This should come as no surprise, since yoga is regarded as a mindful discipline in the East.
Another study by the University of Illinois that appeared in the Journal of Physical Activity and Health found that yoga can improve focus and brain function. Thirty study participants took tests measuring their ability to focus, retain, and use information. One group performed aerobic exercise (walking on a treadmill), while others participated in a yoga class that concluded with a brief meditation and deep breathing. Those who performed yoga had a higher ability to focus, learn, and retain new information than those who walked.
4. Better balance and stability
A study published by the Department of Veteran Affairs in the journal Stroke found that yoga improves motor function and balance after having a stroke. Three-quarters of all stroke survivors suffer from falls (which could break bones or end lives), so this is welcome news. Try out the yoga balances for beginners below if you’d like to move with grace.
5. Improved flexibility
A more flexible body capable of moving through its full range of motion is less susceptible to injury. Don’t worry: you don’t have to stand on your head or perform a split. If you’re the opposite of flexible, try out these yoga poses for beginners.
6. Confident posture
Spending your days sitting in front of a computer is a surefire way to wreck your posture (not to mention all the other risks that come with excessive sitting). Perform this quick yoga workout if you’d like to have a perfect posture that allows you to walk with swagger.
7. Get a good night’s sleep
A study by the Division of Sleep Medicine at Harvard Medical School observed the effects of yoga on patients suffering from insomnia. They practiced a 45-minute yoga sequence, including deep-breathing and meditation, every night for eight weeks. Participants reported statistically significant improvements in sleep efficiency, total sleep time, total wake time, number of awakenings, and quality of sleep. Click here to check out 10 yoga poses that will help you get to sleep. If you’d like more sleep hacks guaranteed to increase your Z’s, click here.