Yoga: Four hidden health benefits

Man practicing poga

Is yoga a fitness fad that will fade away, like kickboxing and step aerobics? It will take time to tell. But today, 21 million Americans claim to practice yoga. If you think yoga is simply stretching, check out a few of these other health benefits of yoga:

Reduces stress

85 percent of adults associate practicing yoga with stress relief. The reflection and breathing used in yoga can help a person to relax and relieve tension.

Relieves back pain

Yoga helps to stretch and strengthen the muscles that support your lower back and spine. Dr. Lauren Elson, instructor in medicine at Harvard Medical School says that, “by carefully practicing yoga, people can safely improve their movement and strength while stretching tight and aching back muscles.” Reducing pain can improve your ability to walk and move.

Helps you sleep deeper

A national survey found that 55 percent of Americans who practice yoga sleep better. Doctors suggest practicing calming yoga poses and the Ujjayi Breath (ocean breath) before bedtime to sleep deeper.

Improves muscle strength

Yoga is a gentle way to build and maintain muscle strength with your own body weight. It takes a lot of strength to hold your body in a balanced pose. Practicing yoga regularly will strengthen your arms, legs, core, and back. Positions can be modified based on an individual’s abilities.

Interested in trying yoga?

Yoga in Our City, sponsored by ConnectiCare, brings free yoga classes to parks in public spaces in four Connecticut cities – Bridgeport, Hartford, New Haven, and Waterbury from May 28 to September 15, 2019. The classes are open to everyone at all levels. You can find the schedule here.

Many yoga studios offer free classes and introductory memberships at a discounted rate. Your town or city recreation department may offer classes, too. Give yoga a try!

National Institutes of Health, accessed 07/02/2018
Harvard Health Publishing accessed 07/02/2018
Web MD,accessed 07/03/2018