I discovered yoga about 10 years ago, and I’ve been a huge fan ever since. It makes me slow down for one, but the strength and flexibility I have from it are added bonuses.
I know yoga works for me, but I wondered if there was much scientific evidence. So I did a bit of research on and found 11 evidence based health benefits that I want to share with you.
You can watch the video below or listen to the podcast (episode 107).
Health benefits of Yoga
- Stress – it’s a big stress reliever. As you know I talk about stress and cortisol a lot – especially in terms of how cortisol can make us tired, irritable, foggy, and FAT! Plus stress can be the difference between a relatively smooth menopause and a very bumpy one. Yoga has been shown to reduce cortisol levels so can help to manage your symptoms through perimenopause and beyond.
- Anxiety & Depression – along the same lines, yoga has been shown in several studies to reduce feelings of anxiety and depression
- Heart health – from increasing circulation to lowering blood pressure and cholesterol, it is great for your heart!
- Pain – studies show that yoga can relieve pain in people with Carpal Tunnel and Osteoarthritis, so it's also likely to help with other pain too
- Bones – as it is weight bearing, one study showed just 12 mintues of yoga a day improved bone density in spine and legs, helping to prevent osteoporosis (hugely important for us women over 40!)
- Sleep – evidence shows that yoga can increase sleep quality and duration, and even increase secretion of melatonin, your sleep hormone
- Flexibility, balance, strength and posture – if you’ve ever practised, you’ll see how it does this!
- Breathing and lung function – practising regular yogic breathing can help improve lung capacity
- Migraines – studies have shown significant improvement in migraine symptoms after regular yoga
- Immune system – research shows that it can affect gene expression of your white blood cells to better fight infection
- Brain function – just 20 minutes of yoga can get rid of the brain fog and help you process information better
Many studies confirm that yoga has multiple benefits. For me, it’s the perfect exercise for hormone balance and general health – it ticks all the boxes.
But mostly, I do it because it just makes me feel so good afterwards; relaxed, centred and standing that little bit taller!
Tips if you're not into it yet
- Try different classes. Don’t give up because you didn’t enjoy the class. Find another class or teacher. Keep looking, when you find the right one, you’ll know it. And you won’t want to leave!
- It doesn’t matter if you’re not flexible. Don’t compare yourself to the gymnasts – yoga is for you, it’s not a competition. Do it to your own ability, and you’ll be fine.
Lots of people think exercise should be hard or intense to be any good for you! Research suggests otherwise, and especially true for women over 40 who have hormone imbalances. Yoga is SO helpful as we often find it hard to slow down and breathe, when that’s exactly what the body needs.
So do let me know in the comments if you practice yoga, and what benefits you get from it.