The Benefits of Yoga: 7 Reasons To Roll Out Your Mat

Sweat logo

June 20, 2018

The Benefits of Yoga: 7 Reasons To Roll Out Your Mat - Hero image

One of the things we love most about yoga is how versatile the practice can be. With so many different styles to choose from, the benefits go way beyond improving your balance and flexibility.

Whether you’re a total yoga beginner, practice alongside another training style or love to sweat it out, Bikram style, there are so many science-backed benefits for your body and mind.

What are the health benefits of yoga?

1. Yoga can improve your flexibility, balance, posture and coordination

Many people turn to yoga to improve flexibility, balance and coordination, with a number of yoga poses (known as asanas) promoting muscular control, stability and strong posture. Seeing an improvement in your flexibility and coordination are key benefits that can come with regular practice.

One 2015 study sought to compare the functional benefits of yoga with conventional stretching and strengthening exercises for adults, ultimately finding a regular yoga practice was just as effective at improving functional movement. Another study which looked specifically at male college athletes also suggested the practice was beneficial for improving flexibility and balance.

2. Yoga can improve your strength

Think you need to be lifting weights in the gym to get stronger? Wrong. There are so many effective ways to build strength with your bodyweight alone, and a regular yoga practice is a great place to get started.

Common asanas such as a plank and boat pose will engage your core muscles, while chair and tree pose strengthen your legs.

During yoga, you’re often required to hold yourself in one position for an extended period of time or to move fluidly through poses in an athletic flow - both styles use your body weight and strength. Over time, a regular practice can help to increase muscle mass.

The Benefits of Yoga: 7 Reasons To Roll Out Your Mat - Picture Panel 2 - Desktop

3. Yoga can improve your cardio fitness and heart health

Even though yoga may be considered low impact, you can definitely get your heart rate up, work up a sweat and improve your fitness while on the mat! Harvard Health points to research that suggests practicing yoga twice a week for a total of 180 minutes per week improves cardio-respiratory fitness.

Another study found that despite its lower energy expenditure, yoga performs more favourably than other aerobic activities in improving cardiorespiratory health.

Research published in the Canadian Journal of Cardiology further supports yoga’s cardiovascular benefits, finding that just 15 minutes of yoga alongside 30 minutes of aerobic exercise five times a week supports cardio health and wellbeing, with an improvement in 10-year cardiovascular risk.

4. Yoga can help manage stress and live more mindfully 

One thing yoga is best known for is the powerful mind-body connection it promotes. While further research is needed in this space, one study has pointed to yoga’s positive effects on stress relief in healthy adults. Taking some time for self-care through a restorative yoga practice might be exactly what you need after a long day, and we’ve found five of the best poses to get started with.

Yoga in Sanskrit translates to “yoke” or “union” and is traditionally a practice to unite the mind, body and spirit. Being present, moving mindfully and listening to your body on the mat can also translate to a stronger mind-body connection and a more mindful life in general.

5. Yoga can help with chronic pain

According to the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health in the United States, there is research that suggests yoga can help relieve symptoms of chronic pain associated with conditions such as arthritis, fibromyalgia, lower back and neck pain. While yoga may help to alleviate symptoms, the National Center highlights that treatment should be individualised and may include yoga alongside pharmacologic therapies. If you suffer from chronic pain, it’s always best to discuss how to approach yoga (and exercise in general!) with your healthcare provider.

6. Yoga can support your other training

While yoga makes a great standalone practice, you can also include it to complement other training styles and create a well-rounded routine. As yoga can help to improve your flexibility, balance and coordination while building strength and fitness, you might choose to opt for a yoga session from the On Demand section of the Sweat app to try alongside your regular program. The stretching element of yoga can also make for a nourishing active recovery session to stretch out any tight muscles.

7. Yoga can help you sleep better

The relationship between exercise and sleep is well proven, with experts at John Hopkins Medicine highlighting how evidence suggests 30 minutes a day can help you fall asleep and improve sleep quality.

Many believe yoga is particularly effective at promoting healthy sleep habits, with a national survey in the US finding 55% of participants who practice yoga report improved sleep. Both Harvard Health and Better Health Victoria suggest that concentrating on asanas and breathwork is key to relaxing the body and supporting a good night’s sleep.

Sweat is about so much more than your workouts

Feel your best - inside AND out

Roll out your mat and get started

One of our favourite things about yoga is that it can be done anywhere. There are three yoga programs available in the Sweat app: Yoga with Ania Tippkemper,Yoga with Phyllicia Bonanno and Body and Mind (BAM) with Sjana Elise alongside standalone yoga flows in the On Demand section. Ready to experience this versatile practice for yourself? Start your 7-day free trial today.

Sweat logo

A more empowered you starts with Sweat, and our editorial team is here to bring you the latest fitness tips, trainer recommendations, wellbeing news, nutritional advice, nourishing recipes and free workouts.


* Disclaimer: This blog post is not intended to replace the advice of a medical professional. The above information should not be used to diagnose, treat, or prevent any disease or medical condition. Please consult your doctor before making any changes to your diet, sleep methods, daily activity, or fitness routine. Sweat assumes no responsibility for any personal injury or damage sustained by any recommendations, opinions, or advice given in this article.


Recommended Stories

We have a feeling you’re going to love Sweat

That's why the first week is on us.