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What does yoga do for your mind and body? All the benefits … – USA TODAY

Apr 18th, 2023

Daryl Austin| Special to USA TODAY

These three yoga poses will help kickstart your morning

When you wake up and feel tired, its good to get moving. You may not want to do a full on workout right away so instead, do a few yoga poses that will help you feel energized.

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While most peoplewantto exercise more and live healthier lives, finding the time and energy to do so can be difficult. Especially when facing the sometimes-punishing workouts of a gym or the demands that running and other cardiovascular activities can put on one's body.

For many, yoga has become the exercise preference of choice to avoid such demands while still reaping health benefits. The practice has been aroundfor more than 5,000 years, with the word "yoga" being derived from the Sanskrit word "yuj" meaning the unification of one's body, mind and emotions.

"Thebenefits of yoga are far-reaching and have been shown to impact both physical health outcomes and mental health outcomes,"says Maren Nyer, PhD, the director of Yoga Studies at Massachusetts General Hospital and an assistant professor of psychology at Harvard Medical School.

Such benefits are numerous and include stress relief, increased flexibility, improved balance, connection to a health-minded community, higher levels of energyand boosted heart health."Because yoga relaxes you, it can also result in better sleep, which means more energy and brighter moods," addsBrett Larkin, a certified yoga instructor and founder ofUplifted Yoga.

In terms of other physical health benefits, yoga has also "been shown to help alleviate suffering from inflammation in chronic inflammatory disorders and a variety of physical conditions including arthritis, sleep, cancer, Parkinson's diseaseand high blood pressure," says Nyer.

The practice can also make a noticeable difference in one's physical fitness and shape.For instance, yoga's slow movements and deep breathing have beenshown toincrease blood flow to warm up and strengthen muscles. Various posestarget one's musculoskeletal system, further helping with tone and core strengthening. Holding yoga poses can also increase physical stamina andgrowth of targeted muscle groups.

In addition to such strengthening and toning advantages,research showsthat yoga can also help one lose weight.The practice hasbeen shown toburn calories; though the number of which vary greatly depending on the type of yoga one is doing, the intensity of the workoutand the gender of the participant. For example,one studyfound that men burned an average of 460 calories and women 330 calories when engaged in the same session of Bikram yoga also known as "hot yoga."

Frequent engagement in any activity that burns calories can help one shed pounds.

Beyond such physical benefits, yoga can also improve one's mental health and has been shown toreduce "symptoms of depression, anxiety, and PTSD," says Nyer.

It's also a great way to relieve stress. "Yoga soothes and recalibrates your nervous system by extending and enhancing the quality of your inhalations and exhalations,"explains Larkin. "This serves to balance your nervous system not just to relax you, but to teach your body how to better respond to life's stressors."

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What does yoga do for your mind and body? All the benefits ... - USA TODAY

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