Why Practice Yoga? Health Benefits of Yoga

by kajohu

Why would we practice yoga or take a yoga class? Because the practice of yoga benefits our health on all levels of our being -- physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually.

The practice of yoga is a practical and fun way to improve our health and well-being on many levels.

As well as helping us to become more flexible and stronger, the mindful practice of yoga, including the practice of postures, breathwork, and meditation, keeps our organs and nervous system healthier, our joints more mobile, and improves our mental well-being.

The practice of yoga also helps us to remain healthier and happier as we age.

The Practice of Yoga Benefits Our Health

Taking a yoga class to improve our overall health and well-being

As a yoga teacher, I've seen first-hand how the practice of yoga* can benefit our health on many levels.  Often, people will come up to me after class and tell me how different aspects of their life have improved since they started regularly attending a yoga class.

Some of the benefits they notice first are:  

  • More flexibility
  • Greater strength
  • Better balance
  • Better posture
  • More stamina
  • Less stress
  • Increased sense of overall well-being.

These are the general benefits I'd expect most people to experience if they regularly practice yoga. 

*When I talk about a yoga class, I refer to the classes that teach yoga poses and perhaps some breathwork and relaxation techniques, with the realization that the full practice of yoga is much more than that. 

How Else Can Yoga Improve Your Health?

There are also more specific physical and mental health improvements that I hear about from my students, fellow yoga teachers/friends, or that I experience myself.  Some of these include:

  • More relief from arthritis joint pain
  • Reduced back pain
  • Better bone health
  • Less headaches, or ability to reduce headache pain
  • Improved foot health, including relief from plantar fasciitis
  • Easing of menstrual and menopausal problems
  • Sharper memory
  • Improved relationships with family, friends, co-workers

This makes it sound like the practice of yoga is a miracle cure, right?   While it's true that the practice of yoga can help many people, it does require commitment and a steady effort.

While some simple physical or emotional problems can benefit immediately from practicing yoga poses and breath work, other problems take time to work on.   Results may not be seen right away.

For instance, people who come to class with an achy back from sitting at a computer all day often feel great after yoga class because of the different stretches and poses that we put the body into.   But someone with a chronically injured back might only see results after careful, mindful work over a period of time.   Still, they may feel better overall, physically and mentally, after just a couple classes.

Find a Yoga Class Appropriate to Your Needs

Although yoga can be practiced by anyone, regardless of age, strength, flexibility, and other limitations, not all yoga classes will be suited to all people.   

To get the best results for yourself, it's important to find a class that best suits your needs and interests.   If you're younger and reasonably fit, and are most interested in getting a good workout, a vigorous yoga class may suit you better than a slower-paced, gentler class.   On the other hand, if you're older and have limiting physical issues such as arthritis or back pain, you would most likely do much better in a slower-paced class.  

When you're looking for a suitable yoga class for yourself, read the class descriptions carefully.  If you still have questions about the suitability of a particular class for yourself, don't hesitate to contact the teacher.  

You might discover that a number of different styles of yoga interest you and are helpful to you, or you might find that you need to be more selective in your class choice.

Do You Practice Yoga?

Have You Noticed Health Benefits in Yourself From Practicing Yoga?

Yoga Stretches

Will Yoga Benefit You?

Many people experience benefits from yoga, but not all.  Reasons why certain people might not experience benefits from yoga could include:

  • The yoga teacher may not have the knowledge or experience needed to help someone with certain health problems.  
  • Particular classes may not be suitable for people with certain issues, and may do more harm than good.  
  • Sometimes the student can't commit to attending regularly or practicing in between classes in such a way that would help improve their health.  

The practice of yoga isn't a magic cure-all.   But it's been very helpful for many people.  Perhaps you're one of those people!  

If you're interested in starting yoga to help improve your health, do some research on the classes available in your area, and then commit to attending regularly, and practicing regularly. 

As long as you find a yoga teacher / class that is appropriate for your needs AND you attend on a regular basis and do the work (the teacher can't do the work for you!), you will certainly enjoy greater physical and mental health from practicing yoga.

Read More - How Yoga Can Benefit Your Health

You May be Interested in Reading These Articles

Yoga for Arthritis
Yoga can relieve arthritis pain by creating more mobility in the joints and increasing flexibility while stretching and strengthening the muscles around the joints.

Yoga for Back Pain Relief
Studies have shown that people who practice Iyengar Yoga were more able to reduce their chronic low back pain than people who received standard back pain care.

Relieve Menopause Symptoms With Yoga
The practice of yoga is a great "natural remedy" for treating menopause symptoms such as hot flashes, moodiness, insomnia, and memory problems.

Yoga Poses For Detoxing the Body
Read how different yoga poses can support the body's own detoxification systems.

Yoga for Seniors, Gentle Yoga, and Ageless Yoga classes are becoming more popular now that the first baby-boomers are turning 65.
Are you looking for the best Yoga for Arthritis DVD to help ease your arthritis discomfort? Here are a few suggestions for you.
Updated: 12/17/2014, kajohu
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Seelyon on 06/21/2015

I remember back in high school an older teacher always used to give us 5minutes worth of yoga to try calm us down.

kajohu on 08/06/2012

Thanks, Mira. It's tricky about photos of my students in class -- for the photo to look good, it has to be a separate photo session with the poses staged in a neat area. And a number of my students don't really want their pictures up online :-)

Mira on 08/06/2012

Hi kajohu, I liked your article? I linked to it from one of my pages. If I may suggest something, I think it will inspire people even more if you could post some more photos of students in your classes exercising :-).

Guest on 07/05/2011

i haven't tried yoga in years.it's really harder than it looks! good article!

ajgodinho on 06/13/2011

Thanks for this wonderful page on health benefits of Yoga. I need to incorporate more Yoga into my exercise regimen.

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