6 Reasons We’re Obsessed with Yoga

Article posted in: Fitness

We all have one: That ridiculously zen friend who never seems to sweat the small stuff, and who swears the secret to happiness can only be found on a yoga mat. Ridiculous, right? Not exactly. As it turns out, your yogi pal just may be on to something.

Yoga is the ancient practice of incorporating meditation and exercise to help improve flexibility, build strength and maintain overall health. It comes from a Sanskrit root meaning “to join” or “unite,” and uses stretching poses coupled with deep breathing to focus on inner peace and self-reflection. But don’t be mistaken. It is also a serious workout, making it as close to perfection as your friend describes.

Here at the South Beach Diet, we LOVE yoga. It’s the perfect, low-impact way to get in your daily exercise and has been shown to provide a wide range of health benefits. Keep reading to find out how yoga can help you become the healthiest version of you.

Here are six reasons why you need yoga in your life:

1. It can help you shed pounds.

While the gentle nature of yoga may cause some to be skeptical, research has shown that yoga can help with weight loss. In a National Institutes of Health study, women who did restorative yoga burned two percent more body fat than those who just stretched for the same time period. A review of several yoga studies by The American Journal of Lifestyle Medicine also concluded that yoga not only helps burn calories but makes people more mindful of their bodies, which can help improve eating habits.

2. It builds muscle.

Dr. Rachel Rohde, a spokeswoman for the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons says that yoga is a great exercise for building strength. Yoga helps build muscle by requiring the individual to hold various poses for a prescribed amount of time. Building muscle is important in preventing back pain, osteoporosis and even falls—the latter of which is more common in the elderly.

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3. It lessens pain.

A seven-year study out of John Hopkins University has revealed that yoga can produce dramatic results for those suffering from rheumatoid arthritis or osteoarthritis, the two most common forms of the disease. Arthritis, which causes pain and stiffness in the joints, is a chronic illness affecting more than 52.5 million adults in the United States. There is no cure. But trial participants in the John Hopkins study showed that not only is this exercise safe for arthritis, it can lessen symptoms. Those who practiced it three times a week showed an average of 20 percent improvement in pain levels, energy, physical health and an overall sense of well-being.

4. It boosts your mood.

Researchers from Duke University have found evidence that yoga provides benefits in depression and ADHD. Child’s Pose (Balasana) is one of the most common poses for bringing peace of mind. This pose helps relieve tension in the back, neck, and shoulders—the areas where most people hold their stress.

5. It lowers blood pressure.

In a study out of the University of Pennsylvania, researchers found that yoga can help decrease high blood pressure. High blood pressure, also known as the “silent killer,” is becoming an epidemic in the United States and often requires medication to control. With stress being a significant culprit behind high blood pressure, yoga can play an important role in reduction.

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6. It helps you sleep.

Research indicates that yoga can help people catch more ZZZs by helping them to relax. Yoga Instructor Sara Elizabeth Ivanhoe suggests inversion poses to begin winding down for the evening. The “Legs up the Wall” is her favorite pose for summoning a good night of sleep.