16 Best Benefits of Yoga That Are Supported by Science

Published on

Disclaimer: We assess fitness products through an unbiased, multi-step process. If you decide to buy something using the links we provide, we might receive a commission. Check out our disclaimer page for more information.


Modern media and advertising often portray yoga as solely focused on physical poses, but in reality, yoga encompasses a wide range of contemplative and self-disciplinary practices such as meditation, chanting, mantra, prayer, breath work, ritual, and even selfless action.

The term “yoga” is derived from the Sanskrit root word “yuj,” which means “to connect” or “to join.” The word has multiple meanings, including an astrological conjunction and matrimony, but the common thread is connection.

Yoga asana refers specifically to the physical practice and postures of yoga.

Although scientific research on yoga’s benefits is still in its early stages, much of the available evidence supports what practitioners have known for thousands of years: yoga has a profound positive impact on our overall well-being.

Benefits of yoga

1. Yoga enhances flexibility

In 2016, two of the leading organizations in the field of yoga, Yoga Journal and Yoga Alliance, conducted a worldwide survey to assess various statistics related to yoga in order to measure its value in light of its growing popularity.

The survey results revealed that the most commonly cited reason for practicing yoga was to increase flexibility.

Flexibility is a crucial component of physical health, and yoga offers a wide range of styles to choose from, ranging in intensity from high to moderate to mild. Even low-intensity yoga styles have been shown to enhance flexibility.

Moreover, yoga appears to be particularly effective in improving flexibility in individuals aged 65 and above. As reduced flexibility is a natural consequence of aging, a 2019 study found that yoga not only slowed down the loss of flexibility in older adults, but also improved their overall flexibility. This clearly shows that the benefits of yoga are tremendous.

2. Yoga helps in reducing stress levels

The American Psychological Association has reported that 84% of American adults are experiencing the consequences of prolonged stress. Therefore, it is not surprising that the second most common reason for people to engage in yoga is to alleviate stress.

Fortunately, scientific research confirms that yoga, particularly the practice of asanas, is highly effective in reducing stress.

It is essential to bear in mind that the physical practice of yoga is only one component of this discipline. Meditation, breathwork, and auditory practices, such as chanting and sound baths, have also been demonstrated to significantly decrease tension and relieve stress.

3. Yoga enhances mental health

Major depressive disorder (MDD) is believed to be among the most prevalent mental health disorders worldwide.

According to a 2017 meta-analysis of 23 interventions that examined the impact of yoga-based treatments on depressive symptoms, yoga can now be considered an effective alternative treatment for MDD.

A study has shown that both movement-based yoga therapies and breathing-based practices can considerably improve depressive symptoms.

4. Yoga may decrease inflammation

Chronic inflammation is frequently a harbinger of illness. Prolonged inflammation is associated with heart disease, diabetes, arthritis, Crohn’s disease, and numerous other ailments.

A comprehensive review of 15 research studies revealed a consistent outcome: Yoga, in its various styles, intensities, and durations, lowered the biochemical markers of inflammation in several chronic conditions.

5. Yoga can increase physical strength

While yoga is commonly thought of as a practice for improving flexibility and mobility, it can also be a great way to build strength depending on the type of class and the teacher leading it. This means that yoga asana is a multimodal form of exercise that offers many benefits.

The effectiveness of yoga in building strength has been studied in various contexts, including people with breast cancer, older adults, and children.

For instance, research has shown that yoga can be an effective practice for developing strength across many age groups of healthy individuals, as demonstrated in a study involving air force personnel.

6. Yoga may decrease anxiety

According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, anxiety disorders may be the most prevalent mental health conditions in the United States. These disorders can take different forms, including generalised anxiety disorder, social anxiety, and specific phobias. Chronic stress can also be categorised as an anxiety disorder.

One study suggest that practicing yoga asana may be an effective alternative treatment for anxiety disorders, although some researchers recommend conducting additional replicated studies to confirm this claim.

Yoga nidra, a form of guided meditation that involves a body scan, has been found to be conclusive in reducing anxiety symptoms.

7. Yoga can improve quality of life

The definition of quality of life (QOL) by the World Health Organization involves an individual’s perception of their place in society, taking into account their cultural and value systems, as well as their goals, expectations, standards, and concerns.

Various factors such as relationships, creativity, learning opportunities, health, and material comforts can impact QOL.

For many years, researchers have considered QOL to be a significant predictor of people’s longevity and the likelihood of improvement for patients undergoing treatment for a chronic illness or injury.

A meta-analysis conducted in 2019 revealed that yoga has the potential to enhance QOL in individuals suffering from chronic pain.

8. Yoga can enhance the immune system

Chronic stress has a detrimental effect on the immune system.

When the immune system is weakened, the likelihood of falling ill increases. Nevertheless, as previously mentioned, yoga is a scientifically-supported alternative therapy for stress.

While research in this area is ongoing, some studies have established a clear association between practicing yoga (especially over an extended period) and improved immune system function.

This is partly attributed to yoga’s capacity to combat inflammation and partly to its ability to enhance cell-mediated immunity.

9. Yoga can improve balance

Having good balance is crucial not only when attempting to balance on one leg during “Tree Pose” in a yoga class but also in simple everyday activities such as picking up objects from the floor, reaching high shelves, and descending stairs.

Research has demonstrated that practicing yoga can enhance balance and improve overall performance in athletes.

Furthermore, a review of studies conducted on healthy individuals indicates that consistent yoga practice may result in improved balance for most people.

However, falling can have severe consequences for specific groups of people. The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality reports that falls are highly prevalent among elderly adults in nursing facilities, and even minor falls can raise the risk of death.

Recent research suggests that yoga can help improve balance in older populations, especially those with brain injuries.

However, further studies with large sample sizes are necessary to reach a general conclusion.

Yoga asana can help with improving balance among individuals who have suffered brain injuries.

Adaptive yoga or chair yoga can be beneficial for older adults or individuals with injuries who may be less mobile or have concerns about balance.

10. Yoga can enhance cardiovascular function

Pranayama, which is commonly known as “yogic breathing,” is a significant and advantageous aspect of practicing yoga.

The Journal of Ayurveda and Integrative Medicine published a review of 1,400 studies that revealed how yogic breathing can enhance the functioning of various bodily systems.

The review showed that controlling the pace of breathing through pranayama can have significant benefits for the cardiovascular system, such as improving heart rate, stroke capacity, arterial pressure, and heart contractility.

It suggests that yogic breathing may even affect the brain’s cardiorespiratory center, leading to better cardiovascular functioning.

11. Yoga may help improve sleep

Researchers analyse both the ability to initiate and sustain sleep when measuring sleep patterns. Insomnia can impact one or both of these factors. Yoga has been found to improve both the speed of falling asleep and the depth of sleep.

This is due to both the physiological effects of exercise and the mental relaxation and stress relief provided by yoga.

Additionally, a study has demonstrated that yoga nidra is especially effective at improving sleep, likely due to its anxiety-reducing benefits.

12. Yoga can boost self-esteem

Adolescents and young adults often struggle with body image and self-esteem issues. Fortunately, several recent studies have demonstrated that yoga can have a positive impact on improving self-esteem and perceived body image in these age groups.

Additionally, there is promising evidence indicating that yoga may alleviate symptoms of obsession, anxiety, and depression in individuals with anorexia nervosa.

13. Yoga can be good for the bones

Many postures in yoga involve isometric contractions, meaning that the length of the muscles holding the pose remains constant, despite being fully engaged. For example, Plank Pose, which is an upper pushup position, engages the arms, trunk, and legs without shortening or lengthening, as would happen during a pushup.

In Warrior II, you hold a position with the lead leg bent at both the hip and knee. Isometric exercises, especially when performed with flexed joints, have been found to increase bone density.

Yoga asana has the potential to reverse the bone loss associated with osteopenia and osteoporosis. One study showed that just 12 minutes of daily yoga can significantly improve bone health. However, it’s worth noting that research on yoga’s effects on bone density has yielded mixed and inconclusive results so far.

14. Yoga can improve posture and body awareness

As a society that heavily relies on technology, we are increasingly spending more time sitting or hunching over devices.

A review of 34 studies found that yoga can improve brain functioning in the areas responsible for interoception, which is the ability to recognise the sensations within your body, as well as posture.

Yoga’s emphasis on mobility and flexibility can also promote better alignment by releasing tight muscles, such as the hamstrings, and improving spinal mobility.

Incorporating yoga poses into your workout breaks can also help promote better posture.

15. Yoga can make the brain function better

Yoga is a mind-body exercise, according to many studies. The review mentioned above indicates that practicing yoga activates areas of the brain that are responsible for motivation, executive functioning, attention, and neuroplasticity. This highlights the potential benefits of yoga not only for physical health but also for cognitive function.

Yoga’s emphasis on mindfulness and breath control may contribute to these neurological effects. The combination of physical movements and mental focus appears to stimulate the brain in unique ways.

Overall, these findings suggest that yoga may be a valuable tool for enhancing both physical and mental health. However, further research is needed to fully understand the mechanisms behind these benefits and how best to incorporate yoga into a holistic wellness regimen.

16. Yoga helps with burnout

Burnout, which is characterized by excessive exhaustion that affects one’s health, appears to be at an all-time high. A recent study investigating burnout among hospice workers during the COVID-19 pandemic found that interventions using yoga-based meditation significantly reduced the impact of burnout by enhancing interoceptive awareness.

Interoceptive awareness refers to the ability to recognize internal signals and respond appropriately, and yoga seems to help people become more in tune with their body’s signals, potentially making them more likely to listen to them.


Yoga practitioners have been promoting the benefits of yoga for thousands of years, and while research on its effects is still young, the results are promising.

Numerous practices fall into the category of yoga, such as hot yoga and many more. However, many of them do not involve physical activity, instead focusing on meditation techniques.

Even karmic or philanthropic action can qualify as yoga. Since yoga is not limited to physical movement, it is a practice that can be done every day. Find the modality of yoga that works best for you, and remember that investing in a yoga practice is investing in yourself.

- Advertisement -spot_img

Latest Articles

- Advertisement -spot_img
- Advertisement -spot_img
- Advertisement -spot_img

Related Articles

- Advertisement -spot_img
- Advertisement -spot_img

Your privacy is important to us. Any information you provide to us via this website may be placed by us on servers located in countries outside of the EU. If you

do not agree to such placement, do not provide the information.

Get our awesome newsletter

We are here to help you find the best version of yourself through our articles and guides.