Harness the power of yoga

yoga class Yoga continues to grow in popularity in the U.S., with a recent study indicating over 36 million Americans were practicing the discipline in 2016 — an increase of more than 50 percent since 2012. As yoga gains a more widespread following, you may be wondering what benefits this form of exercise offers. There are actually quite a few. Here are some of the many ways in which yoga could benefit you.

Reduce stress. With its focus on mindful breathing and inward reflection, yoga practice can be an effective way to reduce stress and anxiety. Regular yoga practice has also been shown to improve participants’ mood and overall sense of well-being.

Improve fitness. Tired of the same old fitness routine? While some types of exercise focus on just one area of physical fitness, yoga combines several important aspects of fitness into one. From increasing strength to improving flexibility and balance, yoga offers a well-rounded workout that ensures you aren’t neglecting important areas of fitness.

Stay sharp. Some decline in mental function is unavoidable as we get older. But, there is evidence that yoga may help slow mental decline, especially when combined with daily meditation. A recent study published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease had 14 participants engage in a combination of weekly yoga and meditation. Researchers found this combination helped improve brain function related to memory, language skills and attention.

Manage your health. Another benefit of yoga is its ability to help you manage some chronic conditions or their risk factors. Cardiovascular health is one of the areas in which yoga can make a significant difference, lowering your risk for developing high blood pressure and heart disease.  Conditions such as depression and insomnia have also been shown to improve with regular yoga practice. A gentle yoga routine may also help cancer patients fight side effects of chemotherapy such as fatigue and muscle soreness.

If you’re ready to see how yoga can improve your life, you should start by talking with your doctor. While yoga is generally considered safe for most healthy people, certain precautions may be advisable for those who have osteoporosis or uncontrolled blood pressure or for women who are pregnant.