By Jacob Maslow — Branded Content

Perhaps you’ve heard about yoga and considered trying it. Yoga has many benefits, and it’s accessible to nearly everyone. So if you are looking for a new exercise routine or simply a way to relieve stress, you should consider yoga.

1: It’s Accessible

One of the greatest things about yoga is that it doesn’t require special equipment or training. People of any fitness level can find a yoga practice that suits them.

The only equipment you need is a yoga mat. If you aren’t ready to commit to an in-person yoga class, plenty of beginning videos are on Youtube. There are also apps, including Downdog, that can provide you with yoga routines.

2: Increased Strength and Flexibility

There have been several studies that show yoga is a great way to increase strength and flexibility. Both flexibility and strength have several benefits. They reduce the risk of injury and help you in your day-to-day life.

Surprisingly, these benefits are particularly prevalent for older adults, according to a study performed by the International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity. When those 65 and older practiced yoga, it slowed down the loss and increased flexibility levels.

3: Lower Anxiety and Stress Levels

85% of American adults are experiencing the adverse effects of prolonged stress. Many people begin yoga as a way to relieve stress and anxiety.

A study performed by the International Journal of Preventive Medicine found that yoga helped relieve stress, anxiety, and even depression. The study measured the depression and anxiety scores of 52 women before and after yoga.

After 12 yoga practice sessions with an instructor, the women reported significantly lower levels of stress, anxiety, and depression.

Another study compared the effects of yoga and walking on anxiety and stress. They found a greater increase in mood and a greater decrease in anxiety in the yoga group compared to the walking group.

This suggests that the ability of yoga to lower stress and relieve depression goes beyond providing physical activity. Researchers found that GABA levels were higher in the yoga group. GABA is a neurotransmitter. Higher GABA levels are associated with decreased depression and anxiety and improved mood.

4: Mind-Body Connection

Yoga helps strengthen and heal the body and mind. It also helps you connect to both your mind and your body.

In today’s society, it’s easy to feel disconnected from yourself. You may feel as if your physical body and mind are separate entities. According to the American Psychological Association, or APA, yoga increases the connection between the mind and body.

The poses and techniques used in yoga allow you to become more aware of what your body is doing while also encouraging you to relax your mind and focus on your body.

Increasing this connection can help you in all areas of your life. For example, you may become more aware of your body’s needs and your mind’s thoughts.

This may be particularly helpful for those experiencing PTSD. According to the APA, a pilot study studied women who completed eight 75-minute yoga sessions. They were compared to a group that spent the same time in a dialectal behavior therapy group. The yoga participants reported significantly fewer PTSD symptoms than the therapy group.

5: Heart Health

Yoga has been shown to lower blood pressure, similar to a vegan diet. This is likely due to its stress-lowering ability. It also reduces inflammation throughout the body, contributing to heart health.

6: Quality of Life

A surprising number of studies reveal yoga can improve the quality of life. These studies focus on specific groups, including pregnant women and chronic pain patients.

The International Journal of Yoga conducted a meta-analysis on yoga and quality of life. They found that yoga can increase the quality of life for nearly anyone who practices it.

They cited specific benefits yoga can provide, including reduced pain, increased flexibility, and increased happiness. However, the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. Yoga improves the lives of those who practice it. Seemingly regardless of their physical condition, gender, or why they began practicing yoga in the first place.

Photo Courtesy // Jacob Maslow