Yoga, a mind and body discipline that combines breathing exercises, simple meditation and physical postures, dates back over 5,000 years and counts nearly 10% of the country as adherents, according to the 2015 National Health Interview Survey. Start practicing your downward dog, and you can reap the potential health rewards too.
It clears your airways.
Practicing yoga helps reduce the impact of asthma, according to a 2016 report. Investigators analyzed 15 trials of adults suffering from mild to moderate asthma, and found that the discipline helped in 1/3 of study participants.
It sharpens your mind.
Older adults responded quicker and more accurately on cognitive tests after eight weeks of practicing hatha yoga compared to just stretching and toning, according to 2014 research from the University of Illinois. By combining focused breathing with asanas, hatha may have improved their reaction to stress, study authors say.
It decreases arthritis pain.
People suffering from knee osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis felt roughly 20% better after eight weeks of regular yoga classes, according to a 2015 study. “Yoga may be especially well suited to people with arthritis because it combines physical activity with potent stress management,” study author Susan J. Bartlett, Ph.D., said in a statement.
It helps regulate stress.
Older adults who practiced yoga regularly for eight weeks reported feeling less stressed — something a salivary cortisol test supported in a 2016 study. Some people score the soothe after just a single class. Middle-aged women in a 2017 study secreted lower amounts of cortisol (the stress hormone) after 90 minutes of yoga compared to resting.
It boosts your sex life.
Who needs a little blue pill when you have the cobra pose? Guys saw a boost in all areas of sexual functioning — including desire, performance and confidence — after completing 12 weeks of yoga for a 2010 study. Meanwhile, other research conducted that same year found yoga improved all aspects of sexual function in women, including arousal, orgasm and satisfaction.
It alleviates chronic back pain.
Scientists named yoga one of the most effective exercises for alleviating chronic painin a 2017 study review. More research in 2011reported that women with ongoing backaches improved their symptoms after 12 weeks of viniyoga, a type of yoga that incorporates personalized modifications. The study authors credit the stretching and strengthening of the muscles for alleviating the pain.