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Anyone Can Do It

You don’t have to be flexible, fit, or comfortable wearing spandex to practice yoga. You don’t have to be young, wealthy, or able-bodied. You don’t even need a ton of free time. You can practice yoga in a wheelchair, at home in your pajamas, or in as little as 5-minute slices of time. You can do very challenging yoga poses or more gentle ones. Look for yoga classes that fit your needs or find a video online that suits you.

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You Can Do Yoga Anywhere

You don’t need any special equipment or shoes to practice yoga, and you don’t need to be in a yoga studio or spend a lot to go to classes. You can practice yoga at home, at work, outside, or on vacation. All you need is little bit of floor space and you’re good to go.

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Stronger Body

You don’t have to lift weights to strengthen your muscles. Hit the yoga mat for an effective strength workout. The sun salutation sequence of poses is an ideal strength workout, as it uses almost every part of your body. Even simple poses like plank and chair pose will strengthen your core. Any pose that involves a lunge will build your leg muscles, and static poses where you hold up your own weight will build lean muscle. Yoga may even help you build stronger bones.

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Lots of Options

There are many types of yoga. Hatha is a slower-paced form that beginners and experienced yogis like. Vinyasa flows quickly from pose to pose. Iyengar focuses on proper alignment and uses props to hold poses for a long time. Bikram is one form of “hot” yoga, done in a very hot room. There are many other types, including yoga designed for pregnant women, new moms, older adults, people with disabilities, people who feel self-conscious about their weight, and those looking for a more spiritual practice.

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Greater Flexibility

Yoga practice is on the rise among U.S. adults, and for good reason. There are many benefits to this ancient mind and body practice. For starters, it can improve your flexibility. Studies show that yoga helps many types of people become more flexible, from college athletes to adults who don’t exercise and the elderly. So if you’re not stretchy now, that’s totally fine. You can still start with a gentle practice.

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Better Balance

Balance may not be something you think too much about, but it plays a huge role in your ability to do everything from sitting to moving about in any way. Good balance may also help you prevent falls. Many yoga poses focus on balancing in different positions. So it’s no surprise that studies show that yoga can improve your balance.

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It’s Low Impact

Yoga is a safe form of exercise for most people. If you’re injured or unable to do high-impact exercise like running or jumping, you can still do yoga. It doesn’t involve jumping or running, and it can easily be modified. Even if you have joint problems, you can practice yoga. If you have a health condition, tell your yoga teacher about it. 

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Less Stress

Yoga brings together body and mind, and many of its forms are meditative and peaceful. Yoga classes often end with a time of lying very still and quieting your thoughts. In one study, 86% of American adults who practice yoga said it lowers their stress, and research supports that yoga can help with stress relief. (Just don’t stress yourself out about what moves you can’t do yet or what the people around you are doing!)

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Improved Eating

Yoga teaches mindfulness, which can also lead to healthier food choices. A survey of more than 1,800 young adults found that those who practiced yoga did have better eating habits. Many said yoga helped them practice mindful eating, which is when you notice how your mind and body feel while you’re eating. A positive, healthy yoga community can be a good influence, too.

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Sound Sleep

Just about everyone would love a better night’s sleep. Yoga might help. A regular practice causes your body to make more melatonin, a hormone that helps control your sleep cycles. Studies of older adults, people with cancer, and pregnant women have found that yoga helped them sleep better.

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Better Breathing

Take a deep breath. Now release it. All those mindful breaths you do in yoga class can actually improve your lung capacity. If you have asthma, yoga breathing exercises can help your lungs work better.

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It’s Kid-Friendly

The whole family can do yoga together. More and more children and teens are practicing yoga and schools are even using it. Research points to benefits like improved mood, weight loss, and better self-esteem for kids who do yoga at school.

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Sources | Medically Reviewed on 09/19/2019 Reviewed by Tyler Wheeler, MD on September 19, 2019

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SOURCES:

Use of Yoga, Meditation, and Chiropractors Among U.S. Adults Aged 18 and Over, National Center for Health Statistics.

International Journal of Yoga: “Impact of 10-weeks of yoga practice on flexibility and balance of college athletes.”

The Journals of Gerontology Series A: Biological Sciences and Medical Sciences: “Yoga Is as Good as Stretching–Strengthening Exercises in Improving Functional Fitness Outcomes: Results From a Randomized Controlled Trial.”

International Journal of Yoga Therapy: “Flexibility of the elderly after one-year practice of yoga and calisthenics.”

National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health: “Yoga: What You Need To Know.”

American Journal of Epidemiology: “The Safety of Yoga: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of Randomized Controlled Trials.”

Current Rheumatology Reports: “Yoga in Rheumatic Diseases.”

Mayo Clinic: “Yoga: Fight stress and find serenity.”

International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity: “Yoga’s potential for promoting healthy eating and physical activity behaviors among young adults: a mixed-methods study.”

Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine: “Effects of Hatha yoga and Omkar meditation on cardiorespiratory performance, psychologic profile, and melatonin secretion.”

National Sleep Foundation: “What is Melatonin?”

The Indian Journal of Medical Research: “Influence of Yoga and Ayurveda on self-rated sleep in a geriatric population.”

Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine: “Effects of a 12-Week Hatha Yoga Intervention on Cardiorespiratory Endurance, Muscular Strength and Endurance, and Flexibility in Hong Kong Chinese Adults: A Controlled Clinical Trial.”

Asian Journal of Sports Medicine: “How Effective Is Sun Salutation in Improving Muscle Strength, General Body Endurance and Body Composition?”

Cleveland Clinic: “Yoga Poses That Can Strengthen Your Core Muscles.”

Topics in Geriatric Rehabilitation: “Twelve-Minute Daily Yoga Regimen Reverses Osteoporotic Bone Loss.”

Mayo Clinic Health System: “Yoga: Making a name in sports.”

Selecting and Effectively Using a Yoga Program, American College of Sports Medicine.

Yoga Alliance: “Types of Yoga.”

Alternative Therapies in Health and Medicine: “Hatha yoga: improved vital capacity of college students.”

International Journal of Yoga: “The effect of various breathing exercises (pranayama) in patients with bronchial asthma of mild to moderate severity.”

Journal of Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics: “Benefits of yoga for psychosocial well-being in a US high school curriculum: a preliminary randomized controlled trial.”

Complementary Therapies in Clinical Practice: “Ashtanga yoga for children and adolescents for weight management and psychological well being: an uncontrolled open pilot study.”

Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine: “Perceived Benefits of Yoga among Urban School Students: A Qualitative Analysis.”

Reviewed by Tyler Wheeler, MD on September 19, 2019

This tool does not provide medical advice. See additional information.

THIS TOOL DOES NOT PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. It is intended for general informational purposes only and does not address individual circumstances. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment and should not be relied on to make decisions about your health. Never ignore professional medical advice in seeking treatment because of something you have read on the WebMD Site. If you think you may have a medical emergency, immediately call your doctor or dial 911.