4 Surprising Benefits Of Yoga That Will Inspire You To Downward Dog On The Daily

In case you needed more incentive to hit the mat.

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woman doing yoga at home in her living room

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Presented by Activia

You likely already know that there’s a wealth of benefits you can gain from yoga, ranging from improved flexibility, posture and muscle tone, to reducing the risk of heart disease, chronic inflammation and gastrointestinal symptoms like bloating and constipation.  

But there are also plenty of lesser-known benefits you can reap from in your day-to-day practice. Here, four additional reasons to hit the mat on the regular.

1. Yoga can improve your mental health and your mood

“We recommend yoga to relieve anxiety, reduce stress levels and promote relaxation,” says Dr. Seema Marwaha, internal medicine specialist and assistant professor of medicine at the University of Toronto. “For example, the breathing exercises can make you aware of your mental state.”

Yoga can also help you work through any bad feelings you’ve been harbouring. “One of the best benefits of yoga is that through the movement of our bodies we create an outlet to process stagnant emotions,” says certified yoga instructor Tanya Gold.  

2. It helps you sleep better, too

In an extensive survey from the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH), over 55 percent of participants reported improved sleep and over 85 percent said they were were less stressed. Yoga improves sleep quality as it lowers stress through mindfulness, explains Marwaha.

3. It’s proven to ease chronic pain and prevent injury

There is a growing body of research that suggests yoga can improve multiple kinds of chronic pain—and also help prevent painful falls. “With regular practice, yoga can also improve bone density,” says Marwaha, “as well as balance and coordination.”

The NCCIH recommends yoga as an effective complementary approach to help manage pain, particularly in the lower back. A regular yoga practise can even help reduce lower back pain within six months.

4. Yoga promotes creativity

If you’re looking to get the creative juices flowing, you may want to start on the mat. “Yoga helps us stimulate clarity of the mind,” says Gold, “which is why students always step out of the practice room feeling a little lighter than when they arrived.” Indeed, in his 2018 book, Hyperfocus, productivity expert Chris Bailey notes that that entering a period of “scatterfocus”—a.k.a. letting your mind wander, as it often does during a yoga class—can help your brain make fresh connections or approach a problem in a new way. “When I walk off the mat, there’s a feeling of harmony between my mind and body,” says Gold. “And the space they’ve created together makes me feel limitless.”