11 Unexpected Health-Promoting Benefits of Yoga

According to Everyday Health, "For 5,000 years, hardcore yoga practitioners have been touting yoga's mental and physical powers." Here are 11 health-boosting benefits of yoga:

1. Emotional Health Boost

Exercise helps people combat depression and feel better. A study from Duke University Medical Center found that yoga could benefit those living with depression, schizophrenia, other psychiatric conditions, and sleep problems. According to Linda Schlamadinger McGrath, found of YogaSouce in Los Gatos, "Practicing in a group setting, such as a yoga class, stimulates the production of oxytocin, the love and bonding hormone," McGrath says. "Practicing mindfulness through yoga and meditation also results in higher serotonin levels (the happiness hormone), and long-term practitioners have shown more mass in the areas of the brain associated with contentment."

2. Back Pain Treatment

Many studies have found that yoga is a more effective treatment option for chronic back pain. In a study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine, people living with chronic lower back pain reported better back function, though similar levels of pain, after a few months of practicing yoga.

3. Fertility Aid

More and more couples turn to yoga as a means of decreasing stress and increasing their chances of conceiving a child. And though there are few studies that indicate that yoga benefits include enhancing fertility, it has been shown to reduce stress and could indeed play a role.

4. Hangover Relief

Yoga allows you to detox your entire system. According to the article, the poses "shoulder stand", "plow," and "fish" work on the thyroid gland and improve metabolism, thus getting rid of a hangover faster. Reversing blood flow and bringing more blood to the brain creates balance in the body.

5. Heart Disease Helper

In a study of 19 patients with heart failure, adding eight weeks of yoga to the treatment of nine patients increased their capacity for exercise, improved their heart health, and enhanced their overall quality of life. This shows how yoga can play a huge role in reducing your risk of heart disease. 

6. Asthma Ease

In a study of 57 adults with mild to moderate asthma, adding an eight-week yoga session to their conventional care dramatically improved asthma symptoms. "Breathing practice, known as pranayama, is an essential part of yoga, and such exercises have been shown to help ease the symptoms of asthma," McGrath says.

7. Arthritis Fighter

Iyengar yoga, known for its use of props like belts, blocks, and other poisitioning aids, has been shown to help people with rheumatoid arthritis. A six-week yoga program improved pain, pain disability, mental health, depression, vitality, and self-efficacy. 

8. Insomnia Buster

According to a review article that looked at several complementary and alternative medicine strategies for treating insomnia, yoga was one of the most effective approaches for getting a good night's sleep.

9. Multiple Sclerosis Help

The loss of muscle function, coordination, and other issues that come with multiple sclerosis can be frustrating, but some research indicates that yoga might help with MS by improving both physical function and mood. A study of people with multiple sclerosis found that six months of weekly yoga classes improved fatigue to the same degree as six months of weekly traditional exercise classes.

10. Memory Boost

According to the article, "By reducing mental stress and physical tension, we are able to recall easier and have more organized thoughts". Improved cognitive function happens when we are able to clear our minds and refresh. 

11. PTSD Benefit

A study published in the Journal of Traumatic Stress found yoga could be a beneficial adjunctive treatment for PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder). This pilot study evaluated the effects of 12-session Kripalu-based yoga versus no yoga intervention in 38 women with symptoms of PTSD. The women randomized to the yoga group experienced greater reduction in PTSD symptoms than women in the control group. The results of this study hold promise for people with PTSD who have found little success with traditional psychotherapy.

Reap the benefits of yoga and take our weekly Community Yoga class every Sunday, instructed by Yana Ibrahim. 

To learn more about Yana's yoga class, please see the following page:

Community Yoga