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The Benefits of Yoga

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The Benefits of Yoga

September is National Yoga Awareness Month! This is a time to learn about the health benefits of yoga and to promote living a healthy lifestyle.

Yoga offers physical and mental benefits for people of all ages. And if you’re going through an illness, recovering from surgery or living with a chronic condition, yoga can become an integral part of treatment and help with healing.

Here are nine benefits of yoga from Johns Hopkins Medicine:

  1. Yoga improves strength, balance, and flexibility
    • Deep breathing and slow movements increase blood flow and warm up muscles. Holding a pose builds strength.

Try it: Tree Pose
Balance on one foot, while holding the other foot to your calf or above the knee (but never on the knee) at a right angle. Try to focus on one spot in front of you, while you balance for one minute. 

  1. Yoga helps with back pain relief
    • The American College of Physicians recommends yoga as a first-line treatment for chronic low back pain because it eases discomfort and improves mobility.

Try it: Cat-Cow Pose
Get on all fours, placing your palms underneath your shoulders and your knees underneath your hips. First, inhale, as you let your stomach drop down toward the floor. Then, exhale, as you draw your navel toward your spine, arching your spine like a cat stretching. 

  1. Yoga can ease arthritis symptoms
    • Gentle yoga has been shown to ease some of the discomfort of tender, swollen joints for people with arthritis.

Try it: Warrior pose

Place one leg in front of the other, bend your front knee so that it is directly over your ankle. Square your hips and shoulders. On an inhale extend your arms up alongside your ears.

  1. Yoga benefits heart health
    • Doing yoga regularly may reduce levels of stress and body-wide inflammation, leading to a healthier heart. Also, several of the factors contributing to heart disease, such as high blood pressure and weight, can be addressed through yoga.

Try it: Downward Dog Pose
Get on all fours, then tuck your toes under and bring your sitting bones up, so that you make a triangle shape. Keep a slight bend in your knees, while lengthening your spine and tailbone.

  1. Yoga improves your sleep
    • Research shows that a consistent bedtime yoga routine can help you get in the right mindset and prepare your body to fall asleep and stay asleep.

Try It: Legs-Up-the-Wall Pose
Sit with your left side against a wall, then gently turn right and lift your legs up to rest against the wall, keeping your back on the floor and your sitting bones close to the wall. You can remain in this position for 5 to 15 minutes. 

  1. Yoga can mean more energy and brighter moods
    • Routine yoga can help increase mental and physical energy while boosting alertness and enthusiasm.

Try it: Child Pose

Come to your hands and knees. Bring your belly to rest between your thighs and root your forehead to the floor. You can stretch your arms in front of you with the palms toward the floor or bring your arms back alongside your thighs with the palms facing upwards. 

  1. Yoga helps manage stress
    • According to the National Institutes of Health, scientific evidence shows that yoga supports stress management, mental health, mindfulness, healthy eating, weight loss and quality sleep.

Try It: Corpse Pose
Lie down with your limbs gently stretched out, away from the body, with your palms facing up. Try to clear your mind while breathing deeply. You can hold this pose for 5 to 15 minutes.

  1. Yoga connects you with a supportive community
    • Participating in yoga classes can ease loneliness and provide an environment for group healing and support.

Try it: Chair Pose

Begin with your feet separated hip distance apart and parallel to one another. Spread your toes wide and ground down through all four corners of your feet. On an inhale, sweep your arms overhead with your palms facing one another. Keep your ears in line with your arms and relax your shoulders. Exhale and bend your knees deeply, as if you are sitting into a chair. Bring your thighs as close to parallel with the floor as your body feels comfortable allowing, and keep your knees hip distance apart. Hold the pose for five full, deep breaths.

  1. Yoga promotes better self-care
    • Practicing yoga regularly, promotes self-care and a healthier lifestyle

Try it: Butterfly Pose

Come to a seated position and bring the soles of your feet together. Keep your spine tall and abs pulled in tight. Grab hold of each foot with your hands and place elbows against your inner thighs. Keeping your spine long, inhale to prepare, and as you exhale, slowly lower your torso forward pausing when you feel the stretch. Hold for 30 seconds or more.

How AFSPA Can Help

As an FSBP member you have access to meditation app discounts such as Honor Yoga, Pranamaya, and Calm. To learn more about these discounts and how to take advantage of them, check out this blog post.

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