17 Reasons Why Yoga Is Still So Popular

by Estelle Low
FITNESS  |  November 03, 2017
  • Why we - and millions of other people - love yoga
    1 / 18 Why we - and millions of other people - love yoga

    There’s a reason why yoga remains popular year after year. More people are taking up yoga, and for some, yoga is the one thing they swear by. These science-backed benefits will convince you to hit the mat, if you haven’t already.

    Photos: 123rf.com

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  • Yoga reduces stress
    2 / 18 Yoga reduces stress

    Numerous research has documented the stress-busting benefits of yoga. Among them, a study on women with depression and anxiety found that those who went for 90-minute yoga classes twice weekly had significantly lower anxiety levels compared to those who did not.

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  • Yoga improves flexibility
    3 / 18 Yoga improves flexibility

    Many yoga poses require flexibility. For instance, forward folding or bending poses target the hamstrings, while backbends like bow and wheel poses help to reduce stiffness in the back. The stiffer you are, the more you will benefit from yoga.

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  • Yoga builds strength too
    4 / 18 Yoga builds strength too

    Often seen as a flexibility exercise, yoga is also a great form of strength training. Many poses, such as chair and chaturanga, require you to resist your body weight.

    (Also read: 9 Bodyweight Exercises You Should Be Doing)

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  • Yoga can be an aerobic workout
    5 / 18 Yoga can be an aerobic workout

    Many studies show that yoga lowers the resting heart rate, the marker for cardio fitness. Fast-paced styles like ashtanga and Bikram yoga are especially good for increasing endurance and maximal oxygen intake. That’s why yoga is highly recommended as a form of cross-training for runners.

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  • Yoga improves balance
    6 / 18 Yoga improves balance

    Having good balance is crucial to preventing falls, which happens even to the most careful people. Balancing poses include tree pose, dancer pose and half moon pose. These strengthen your ankles, calves and core muscles, so you’ll have much better control on unsteady ground.

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  • Yoga lets you sleep deeper
    7 / 18 Yoga lets you sleep deeper

    Because yoga quietens the mind and promotes relaxation, it leads to better sleep for most people. Research by Harvard University found that doing yoga for eight weeks helped people with insomnia get significantly better sleep. Try doing calming yoga poses such as savasana (corpse pose) if you can’t fall asleep.

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  • Yoga boosts immunity
    8 / 18 Yoga boosts immunity

    As you transit from one yoga pose to another, the movement promotes lymphatic drainage that helps your body get rid of toxins and waste. At the same time, it transports lymph – a fluid that contains infection-fighting white blood cells – around the body.

    (Also read: 7 Ways to Boost Your Immunity & Stop Falling Sick)

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  • Yoga aids digestion
    9 / 18 Yoga aids digestion

    Certain yoga poses are known for helping to reduce gas in the tummy and improve digestion, due to the stimulation of digestive juices. So if you often feel bloated, give yoga a shot.

    (Also read: Do These Yoga Poses If You Are Bloated Or Constipated)

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  • Yoga reduces high blood pressure
    10 / 18 Yoga reduces high blood pressure

    If you have high blood pressure, consider adding yoga to your routine. Research has consistently shown yoga to help in lowering blood pressure levels, similar to the effects from cutting down on salty food and alcohol.

    (Also read: Why Measuring Blood Pressure Daily Is Important For Hypertension)

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  • Yoga boosts your brain function
    11 / 18 Yoga boosts your brain function

    Feeling extra focused after doing yoga? It’s not just your imagination. Recent research from the University of Waterloo found that doing 25 minutes of hatha yoga or mindfulness meditation daily significantly improves cognitive performance as well as energy levels.

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  • Yoga relieves pain
    12 / 18 Yoga relieves pain

    A study at the University of Utah found that yoga practitioners have higher pain tolerance and the lowest pain-related brain activity compared to healthy non-practitioners. That’s what makes yoga suitable for all types of people, whether you have back pain or bad knees.

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  • Yoga soothes your sinus
    13 / 18 Yoga soothes your sinus

    The chanting at the start or end of a yoga class could clear your blocked nose. A Swedish study found that single-breath humming helps to drain nasal fluids.

    (Also read: I Sat In A Room Full Of Salt & It Cleared My Sinus Problems)

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  • Yoga improves your sex life
    14 / 18 Yoga improves your sex life

    A study published in The Journal of Sexual Medicine found that doing an hour of yoga daily for 12 weeks enhanced sexual desire, arousal and function among women. This is likely due to increased abdominal and pelvic muscle tone, digestion, joint function and mood.

    (Also read: 5 Best Sex Positions For Couples)

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  • Yoga increases self-awareness
    15 / 18 Yoga increases self-awareness

    Aside from partner yoga and acroyoga, yoga is usually a solo practice. Those hours spent on the mat is the perfect time to discover your strengths and weaknesses. At the start of yoga classes, the instructor may ask you to breathe deeply, let go of negative thoughts, and set a positive intention for your yoga practice. All that gives you the opportunity to connect with yourself.

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  • Yoga promotes mindful eating
    16 / 18 Yoga promotes mindful eating

    It’s no coincidence that yogis love eating at salad bars and whole food places. Doing yoga really makes you more aware of what you put into your mouth. Researchers from the University of Washington found that yoga increased people’s ability to eat mindfully, but (surprisingly) not walking or other moderate- to high-intensity activities.

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  • Yoga encourages self-acceptance
    17 / 18 Yoga encourages self-acceptance

    Yoga is not about perfection, but rather, improvement. The role of yoga instructors is not to make you feel inferior for not being able to execute a pose gracefully, but to give constructive feedback on how to eventually get there. Comparing yourself to other students in class is generally discouraged. Instructors always emphasise: Yoga is not a competition, but a journey into yourself.

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  • Yoga makes you happier
    18 / 18 Yoga makes you happier

    Yoga has been used as an alternative treatment for depression for some time. And latest studies show that it really works. The more yoga you do, the lower your levels of stress, anxiety and worry. Don’t believe? Try these happiness-inducing poses.

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