Why do you do yoga? For many yogis, the answer is simply “because it feels good.” And they’re onto something, because research shows that there are all sorts of incredible health benefits of yoga - both physical and mental. Whether you're trying to increase your flexibility, reduce your stress, or get a better night's sleep, here are 16 science-backed reasons to make yoga a regular part of your wellness routine.
1) Yoga Improves Brain Function
Yoga truly is a full mind-body workout. Not only does it tone and strengthen your body, but it also helps keep your brain strong and sharp as well. Yoga has been found to improve cognitive abilities, increase attentiveness and focus, and improve memory. Makes sense that you can memorize long vinyasa flow sequences now, doesn't it?
2) Yoga Strengthens Your Heart
One of the biggest health benefits of yoga is that it helps to keep your heart healthy. Yoga not only helps to lower blood pressure and reduce stress levels, but it also strengthens your cardiovascular system. When you practice yoga, you increase the strength and efficiency of your heart muscle, which can help to prevent heart disease and other cardiovascular conditions.
3) Yoga Boosts Your Immunity
Great news for people who often get sick – yoga can help to boost your immunity! Yoga helps to increase the production of white blood cells, which are essential for fighting off infection. It also increases the production of antibodies and other elements of your immune system that help you stay healthy. Yoga also helps to reduce stress levels, which is known to suppress the immune system. Speaking of reducing stress levels…
4) Yoga Provides Mental Clarity
In our busy, constantly-connected world, it's more important than ever to find ways to clear your mind and focus on the present. Yoga is one of the best ways to do just that. When you practice yoga, you are focused on your breath and your body, which helps you to clear your mind and achieve a state of mental clarity. This practice in mindfulness can be helpful for reducing anxiety, improving concentration, and achieving a more positive outlook on life.
5) Yoga Prevents Headaches
From nagging tension to debilitating migraines, regular headaches can be, well, a headache. Thankfully, yoga may be able to help. The combination of deep breathing and gentle stretching can help to release tension in the neck and head, which can ease the occurrence of headaches. The next time you feel a headache coming on, combine a few deep breaths with some gentle yoga poses and see if it helps to dissipate the pain.
Pictured: Shadowleaf yoga mat
6) Yoga Boosts Bone Health
One of the lesser-known health benefits of yoga is that it can help to improve bone health. Yoga helps to increase bone density, which can help to prevent conditions like osteoporosis in later life. It also helps to stimulate the production of collagen and other proteins that are essential for healthy bones. Strong bones are the foundation of a healthy body - don't underestimate the benefits of yoga in your efforts to keep yours strong for years to come!
7) Yoga Improves Circulation
For a practice that centers around flow, it's no surprise that yoga is great for improving your circulation. When you practice yoga, your blood flow increases, which helps to deliver essential nutrients and oxygen to your cells and remove toxins. This improved circulation can help to prevent conditions like hypertension and heart disease, as well as improve overall energy levels.
8) Yoga Regulates Your Sleep Cycle
A little zen can go a long way in your efforts to catch up on your ZZZs. Yoga has been found to help regulate your sleep cycle, which can help to improve the quality of your sleep. Yoga not only helps you to fall asleep more quickly and easily, but it also helps you to stay asleep longer and wake up feeling more rested. If you're struggling with insomnia or restless nights, consider adding a little meditative yoga to your bedtime routine.
9) Yoga Provides Back Pain Relief
Back pain is one of the most common reasons that people turn to yoga, and for good reason - yoga can be an incredibly effective way to relieve back pain. Yoga helps to stretch and strengthen the muscles in your back, which can help to reduce tension and inflammation. It also helps to improve posture, which can prevent future back pain from developing. If you're experiencing regular back pain, consider trying out a few restorative yoga poses to provide some relief.
10) Yoga is Good for Your Gut
The gut-brain connection is a real thing, and yoga may be one of the best ways to take advantage of it. Yoga helps to stimulate the vagus nerve, which sends signals directly to your gut. This stimulation helps to improve gut function, reduce inflammation, and promote healthy digestion. If you're struggling with digestion issues or simply want to keep your gut health in check, add a little yoga to your routine.
11) Yoga Prevents Burnout
We all know that feeling - you're pushing yourself harder than ever at work, but you're not seeing any results. You're exhausted, stressed, and ready to give up. Sound familiar? If this sounds like you, you may be experiencing burnout. And luckily for you, yoga may be the solution. Yoga helps to restore balance in your life, which can help to prevent burnout from developing in the first place. It also helps to reduce stress and anxiety, which are both major contributors to burnout. If you're feeling run down and burned out, consider adding a few calming yoga poses to your routine.
12) Yoga Improves Your Metabolism
Your metabolism is responsible for converting the food you eat into energy, so it's no surprise that keeping it in tip-top shape is essential for maintaining your health. And luckily for you, one of the health benefits of yoga is that it does exactly that. Yoga helps to improve your metabolism by increasing your heart rate and stimulating your digestive system. It also helps to build muscle, which further aids in weight loss and a quickened metabolism.
13) Yoga Prevents Injuries
By strengthening your muscles and improving your flexibility, yoga helps to prevent injuries both on and off the mat. Improved muscle strength helps to support your joints, while increased flexibility reduces your risk of strains and sprains. Whether you're injury-prone, recovering from an injury or simply looking to avoid future injuries, consider adding a few strength-training and stretching yoga poses to your routine.
Pictured: Chakra yoga mat
14) Yoga Eases Arthritis
Arthritis is a common condition that causes inflammation and stiffness in the joints. Yoga has been found to be an effective way to ease arthritis symptoms, thanks to its ability to improve flexibility and reduce inflammation. Be sure to avoid any poses that put undue pressure on your joints, and focus on gentle, slow movements to get the most out of your practice until your arthritis symptoms have subsided.
15) Yoga Straightens Your Posture
If you find yourself slouching at your desk or hunching over your steering wheel, it's time to give yoga a try. The gentle stretching and strengthening of yoga helps to improve your posture by lengthening your spine and aligning your body. This can help to ease back pain, prevent injuries and improve your overall health. If you're looking to improve your posture, focus on practicing yoga poses that lengthen the spine and strengthen the back and core muscles.
16) Yoga Promotes Mind-Body Integration
Yoga is all about connecting the mind and body, and this connection has some pretty amazing health benefits. When you practice yoga, you learn to be more aware of your body and how it feels. This increased awareness can help to prevent injuries, improve your posture and ease the pain. In addition, the mind-body connection also helps to reduce stress and anxiety, improve your mood and promote overall well-being. If you're looking to feel more connected to yourself and your needs from head to toe, yoga is a great place to start.
Getting the Most Out of the Health Benefits of Yoga
The beauty of yoga is that there is no "right" way to get the most out of the many health benefits it offers. The key is simply to find a practice that works for you and stick with it. Like any full-body workout, a great place to get started is to make sure you have the right equipment on hand. That's where a yoga mat comes into play.
A yoga mat provides cushioning and support for your body, which is essential for both beginners and experienced yogis alike to reap the full health benefits of yoga. It also helps to create a barrier between you and the ground, which can help to prevent injuries and keep your joints loose.
When shopping for a yoga mat, look for one that is sturdy and durable - like ours! Apeiron Yoga mats are made of high-quality, eco-friendly materials that are designed to keep you safe, cushioned and comfortable during your practice. Check out our full collection and treat yourself - and your body - to your new favorite hot yoga mat!