Yoga classes are popping up everywhere and you have probably heard of the health benefits of yoga. As you walk past a large group in the park with their butts in the air contorting into poses, you wonder… is it worth it? For some it might not look that relaxing and for others there are some real concerns. Concerns like, “What if I fart while everyone is quiet, and my butt is in the air?”
Let’s put some of these concerns aside and look at some of the real benefits of yoga for women. You will hear about lots of them, but these are our favorites.
Our 6 Favorite Health Benefits of Yoga
1. Lowers Stress and Anxiety
2. Helps You Sleep Better
3. Yoga Can Help Your Posture
4. There are Lots of Inversions
5. It’s a Great Way to Keep Moving Throughout Your Cycle
6. Increased Bone Density
1 – Lowers Stress and Anxiety
Stress is the number one sabotage to women’s health and every woman needs to find ways to reduce stress. Yoga can help with that! Lowering stress and anxiety are some of the well-known mental benefits of yoga. Numerous studies have shown that yoga can reduce stress and the stress hormone, cortisol. (1) You don’t need the studies to tell you that though. You can just tell by the faces of all the relaxed yogis and when the stress gets left in the parking lot as soon as you enter the yoga studio. Don’t let yourself get stressed out by some of the awkward poses. They get easier with time and can be part of remembering not to take yourself too seriously.
It must work! One study looked at women who were suffering mental distress and after a three-month yoga regimen, participants showed significant improvements on measures of stress and psychological outcomes. It was also noted that salivary cortisol was reduced after participating in a yoga class. (2) Another study looked at women with anxiety and those who were prescribed yoga for two months had significantly lowered levels of anxiety. (3)
Stress can lead to inflammation which can lead to a variety of health concerns. Studies have shown that practicing yoga regularly can inhibit the inflammatory response that is brought on by stress. (4) (5) Practicing yoga can not only lower your stress, but it also better prepares your body to handle stress that you encounter.
2- Helps You Sleep Better
Have you been tossing and turning at night? You are not alone. One in four women report insomnia symptoms and women suffer insomnia more often than men. (6) One of the great physical benefits of yoga is that it is known to improve your sleep! One study took 20 individuals who had chronic insomnia and prescribed a treatment of yoga. The participants kept a sleep diary for two weeks pretreatment and for the eight weeks where they followed the prescribed yoga treatment. They reported significant improvements in a number of sleep factors including total sleep time and sleep quality. (7)
One study found that after three months of practice, yogis had increased melatonin in their blood samples compared to before they started which leads to better sleep and well-being. (8) Sleep is important for low stress and supports a healthy lifestyle. Try some yoga for good sleep hygiene.
3 – Yoga Can Help Your Posture
Have you been at the chiropractor where they tell you how important your posture is? If not, you need to find a good one. What does chiropractor do when they give you an adjustment? They realign your spine and remove subluxations, or misalignments of the vertebrae. Misalignments can lead to a wide variety of problems because your vertebrae protect the spinal cord that plays an important role in your nervous system sending messages throughout the body. Our modern day lives aren’t supportive of great spinal health with all the sitting that we do. Your chiropractor will make the best recommendations for exercises based on your x-rays, but yoga can be an additional tool to support good posture.
How many of you have left the chiropractor’s office promising to be better about your posture only to find yourself slumped over your computer just hours later? Yoga practice makes you more aware of your posture as you work to improve your poses. The work you do on the mat also follows into your everyday life as you become more aware of your posture when you aren’t exercising. Yoga also builds core muscles that help build great posture. Taking a regular yoga class in conjunction with your regular chiropractic adjustments can support a healthy spine.
4 – There are Lots of Inversions
All those headstands, shoulder stands, and downward facing dogs are so good for your health. One of our favorite health benefits of yoga is how the inversions take pressure off your adrenals. Your adrenal glands are located right above your kidneys and when you get your adrenals above the heart and head you take a lot of stress off your stress gland. Inversions can be done on an inversion table or put a pillow under your knees when you are laying on your back. Another way to easily add inversions to your healthy lifestyle is to practice yoga.
An easy yoga pose to do whenever you need a reset is a forward fold. Fold at the hips then let your head and arms hang towards the ground. There are so many health benefits to inversions in addition to lowering the stress on your adrenals like improving circulation, improving immunity, and helping the body to relax. Want to learn more about inversions and all their benefits? Check out Dr. Patrick Flynn’s video below.
5 – It’s a Great Way to Keep Moving Throughout Your Cycle
Skip the high intensity workouts during weeks one and three of your cycle and try yoga. Your body can’t handle the stress of an intense workout during these times of the cycle and it can have a negative impact on your hormones. Some exercise is still important. You do want to keep moving because it is good for your circulation and overall wellbeing. You can stay active with walking, stretching, and enjoying the benefits of yoga.
6 – Increased Bone Density
Building bone density is one of the physical benefits of yoga and bone density is important as we age. Did you know that 1 in 4 senior women have osteoporosis? (9) It’s never too early (or late) to start building bone density and weight bearing exercises are a great way to do that. Weight bearing exercises are exercises where gravity is affecting the body. A great example is when you support your body in that downward dog.
One study recruited seniors who had osteoporosis, or it’s precursor, to perform a 12-minute yoga routine daily. The study found that regular yoga has the potential to reverse bone loss. Over the course of 10 years the study showed the participants didn’t report fractures and there were significant improvements in bone density in the spine. (10) Skip your calcium supplements and build bone density with yoga.
Enjoy the Mental and Physical Benefits of Yoga
It might just be worth it to be one of those people in the park (or at home) practicing yoga to get all of the great health benefits of yoga. You don’t have to contort yourself into awkward poses to start reaping the physical benefits of yoga. Start with poses that work for your body and build on those. Yoga is a process and you might be surprised by how yoga changes your body. In the process you might find yourself less stressed and healthier.
Resources for Benefits of Yoga: