Yoga has a reputation for promoting flexibility and relaxation, but it also offers many surprising benefits. As yoga grows in popularity, researchers are delving deeper into the health benefits of this ancient practice. In honor of National Yoga Month, let’s explore 5 scientifically-proven reasons you should incorporate yoga into your fitness routine.

Mental Health

In addition to a wonderful sense of relaxation, yoga may also improve symptoms of anxiety and depression. Research shows that a consistent yoga practice can help ease exaggerated stress responses. In other words, yoga can help you cope with stress by lowering your heart rate, blood pressure, and respiratory rate. Numerous studies also show that yoga may relieve symptoms of depression. A 2016 study published in Depression and Anxiety found that a 6-week yoga practice significantly improved participants’ depressive symptoms.

Back Pain Relief

Lower back pain is a common complaint in today’s world, with approximately 50% to 80% of the population experiencing back pain during their lifetime. An increasingly sedentary lifestyle, which causes reduced flexibility and core strength, may be to blame. Fortunately, yoga practice can help prevent and treat lower back pain! In addition to strengthening the core and improving range-of-motion, an overview of recent studies noted that a yoga practice can help relieve chronic low back pain.

Migraine Relief

If you’ve had a migraine, you know that it’s more than just a headache! This painful condition, which manifests as debilitating head pain, nausea, vomiting, and sensitivity to light and sound, affects 39 million Americans. Thankfully, yoga may be a great addition to migraine treatment. A comprehensive study published in the International Journal of Yoga found that practicing yoga 5 times per week for 6 weeks reduced the frequency and intensity of migraine headaches.

Heart Health

Exercise is one of the best ways to promote heart health, and yoga is no exception! According to the American Heart Association, yoga can help prevent heart disease by lowering blood pressure and heart rate, while increasing lung function and circulation. The organization also claims that yoga is beneficial for those who have experienced heart trouble or cardiac surgery, as the practice relieves stress and depression.

Weight Control

Yoga helps promote weight loss and weight maintenance in a variety of ways. Active forms of yoga, such as Vinyasa or Power yoga, burn calories while strengthening muscles (helping your body become more metabolically active). Even low-key forms of yoga, such as Hatha and Yin yoga, can help control your weight by promoting mindfulness, an awareness of thoughts, feelings, and bodily sensations in the present moment. Mindfulness can improve your eating habits by helping you tune into your body’s hunger and satiety cues. Lastly, yoga helps relieve stress, a main culprit behind emotional and binge-eating.

These are just a few of the many amazing benefits of yoga. If you are suffering from any of the conditions mentioned, please consult with your doctor before starting a yoga practice. If you’re ready to try yoga, check out our media library, register for a live yoga class, or download our “Exercise for Spirit, Mind, & Body” fitness plan. VHP is here to help you explore all that yoga has to offer!