The 5 most cited reasons Westerners begin practicing Yoga are to:

  • Heal an injury
  • Strengthen a weak back
  • Increase flexibility
  • Manage stress
  • Promote relaxation

Like other “Movement Arts” from the East, Hatha Yoga offers both preventative and therapeutic benefits. Yoga postures (asana) stretch, extend and flex the spine, exercising muscles and joints.  When done in conjunction with breathing techniques (pranayama), Yoga stimulates circulation, digestion, and the nervous and endocrine systems. A complete practice  (at least once a week) will release endorphins as well as any other exercise program.

Scientific studies have shown that the regular practice of Yoga decreases problems with breathing, digestion, and blood pressure.  Yoga eliminates stress and tension, and reduces chronic pain to those suffering with arthritis, arteriosclerosis and back problems.

In addition, a six-month study was conducted and revealed a dramatic increase in lung capacity, the ability to handle stress, and a reduction in body weight, cholesterol and blood-sugar levels.

Other documented health benefits are attributed to Yoga are:

  • Relieves chronic stress patterns in the body
  • Lengthens, strengthens and tones muscles
  • Corrects posture by lengthening the spine
  • Improves muscular-skeletal conditions such as bad knees, tight shoulders and neck, swayback and scoliosis.
  • Relieves pain by improving the workings of the internal organs and endocrine systems
  • Relaxes the nervous system (depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, seizures)
  • Boosts immune function
  • Fosters healthy body awareness
  • Corrects sleep patterns such as insomnia
  • Sharpens concentration
  • Quiets the mind


Resources:  B.K.S. Iyengar; Kripalu Center for Yoga and Health; Anatomy of Hatha Yoga, H. David Coulter; Yoga Journal

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