Top health benefits of yoga

22 June 2017

2. No gym membership is required

Thousands of people across India celebrated International Yoga Day on Wednesday.

Around 50,000 participants joined in an outdoor session with Prime Minister Narendra Modi and many other events are being held across the nation to promote the practice.

Originating in ancient India, yoga is a group of physical, mental, and spiritual disciplines, and - when combined - has a number of benefits, some of which are listed below.

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Increased flexibility

All yoga practices incorporate poses and stretches that can increase your flexibility. Hatha and Vinyasa methods involve a series of basic movements with breathing that flow smoothly into the next. With consistent yoga, participants can expect to gain increased motion in tight areas, especially in the hips, back, shoulders and hamstrings.

No gym membership required

Visiting regular yoga classes with an instructor is a great way to improve your technique. But you don't just have to hit the gym to get in your session as you can pull out a mat at home and go through your own poses in the comfort of your living room. As little as 15 minutes at the start or end of the day can aid flexibility and wellbeing. There is also little equipment required because you use your own body weight for resistance. However, sometimes a yoga ball or block can be a good investment for beginners who need help with balance.

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Builds strength

Yoga poses such as the Downward Facing Dog, where your balance your body on all fours, or the Warrior Pose, where a participant balances on one leg, can really build muscular strength and aid balance. With repetitive practice, yoga fans can expect increased muscle tone.

Helps with back pain

Yoga is often touted as a good way for people who suffer from lower back pain. New research published in the Annals of Internal Medicine has found that yoga is just as good as physical therapy at restoring function and reducing the need for pain medication, and the benefits were long-lasting.

Reduces stress

A number of studies have shown that regular yoga practice can assist with reducing stress and anxiety. Breathing practices can help calm the body and mind, with the Bridge and Child's Pose simple techniques which can be employed just about any time or place to help in a moment of tension.

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