6 Reasons to Become a Yogi

Article posted in: Fitness

Yoga is the ancient practice of incorporating meditation and exercise to help improve flexibility, build strength, and maintain overall health. It comes from a Sanskrit root meaning “to join” or “unite,” and uses stretching poses coupled with deep breathing to focus on inner peace and self-reflection. But yoga is also a serious workout. In addition to burning calories and toning muscle, yoga has been shown to have a myriad of other health and wellness benefits. Here are six reasons to become a yogi that we particularly love:

1. It Can Help You Slim Down
While the gentle nature of yoga may cause some to be skeptical, research has shown that yoga can help with weight loss. In a National Institutes of Health study, women who did restorative yoga burned two percent more body fat than those who just stretched for the same time period. A review of several yoga studies by The American Journal of Lifestyle Medicine also concluded that yoga not only helps burn calories but makes people more mindful of their bodies, which can help improve eating habits.

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2. It Helps with Muscle-Building
Dr. Rachel Rohde, a spokeswoman for the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons says that yoga is a great exercise for building strength. Yoga helps build muscle by requiring the individual to hold various poses for a prescribed amount of time. Building muscle is important in preventing back pain, osteoporosis and even falls—the latter of which is more common in the elderly.

3. It Can Lessen Pain
A seven-year study out of John Hopkins University has revealed that yoga can produce dramatic results for those suffering from rheumatoid arthritis or osteoarthritis, the two most common forms of the disease. Arthritis, which causes pain and stiffness in the joints, is a chronic illness affecting more than 52.5 million adults in the United States. There is no cure. But trial participants in the John Hopkins study showed that not only is yoga safe for arthritis, it can lessen symptoms. Those who practiced it three times a week showed an average of 20 percent improvement in pain levels, energy, physical health and an overall sense of well-being.

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4. It Can Help Lower Blood Pressure
In a study out of the University of Pennsylvania, researchers found that yoga can help decrease high blood pressure. High blood pressure, also known as the “silent killer,” is becoming an epidemic in the United States and often requires medication to control. With stress being a significant culprit behind high blood pressure, yoga can play an important role in reduction.

5. It Can Make You Happier
Researchers from Duke University have found evidence that yoga provides benefits in depression and ADHD. Child’s Pose (Balasana) is one of the most common poses for bringing peace of mind. This pose helps relieve tension in the back, neck, and shoulders—the areas where most people hold their stress.

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6. It Can Help You Snooze
Research indicates that yoga can help people catch more ZZZs by helping them to relax. Yoga Instructor Sara Elizabeth Ivanhoe suggests inversion poses to begin winding down for the evening. The “Legs up the Wall” is her favorite pose for summoning a good night of sleep.