5 Health Benefits of Practicing Yoga

The relaxation and exercise advantages of various yoga styles

A woman on a yoga mat raises her arm into the air, representing the mind, body and spirit benefits of practicing yoga.

The relaxation and exercise advantages of various yoga styles

Yoga can be a great workout or a way to relax; there are numerous styles to choose from.

“Yoga is a good way to reconnect mind, body and spirit — to allow someone the resilience to face whatever stressors or obstacles come throughout the day,” says Poulina Uddin, MD, a cardiologist at Scripps Clinic who teaches a weekly vinyasa yoga class for cardiac rehab patients.

If you have prior injuries, have had surgery recently, or have a specific health concern, check with your doctor or yoga instructor to find out which poses to avoid or modify. There are many different yoga styles.

You may need to avoid or modify certain poses for example if you are pregnant, have high blood pressure, glaucoma or have sciatica.

Health benefits of yoga

1. Reduce stress and anxiety

Stress and anger can be major risk factors in heart disease. Learning to deal with these negative feelings can help lower the risk and benefit overall wellness.

“In the same way yoga improves strength, flexibility and resilience for the body, it does the same thing for the mind,” says Dr. Uddin.

2. Helps with sleep

Your health is impacted when your body doesn't get enough sleep. Yoga can help. Studies have linked yoga’s benefits to improved sleep.

3. Increases flexibility and balance

Better flexibility and balance reduce the risk of falls, especially as we get older. Yoga is a low-impact exercise that offers physical and mental health benefits for people of all ages.

4. Helps establish a sense of well-being

“It’s a nice way for people to take an inventory of how their body feels overall, a chance to quiet the mind and reset or reconnect that mind-body connection,” Dr. Uddin adds.

5. Helps with heart health

High blood pressure or hypertension is a major risk factor for heart disease. Studies have shown yoga can help lower blood pressure in people with pre-hypertension or hypertension.

Yoga can also be beneficial for people recovering from a heart attack as part of their cardiac rehabilitation.

It can also help people who are overweight or obese lose weight. Excess weight is another medical problem that increases the risk of heart disease and other health problems.

How do you yoga?

Once you've found your slowest, deepest breath and mastered the basics of yoga, try stepping up your stretching and strengthening game with one of these alternative varieties. 

  • Hot Yoga 
  • Stand-Up Paddleboard Yoga 
  • Beach Yoga 
  • Alternative Yoga (laughing, goat, baby, etc.)
Scripps Clinic vice president of primary care and internist Siu Ming Geary, MD. is featured on the cover of the September issue of San Diego Health.

This content appeared in San Diego Health, a publication in partnership between Scripps and San Diego Magazine that celebrates the healthy spirit of San Diego.

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