Yoga is proven to reduce the physical effects of stress on the body. The body responds to stress with a fight-or-flight response, which is a combination of the sympathetic nervous system and hormonal pathways activating and releasing cortisol (the stress hormone) from the adrenal gland. Practicing yoga is known to decrease cortisol levels. This is why most classes end with savasana, a relaxation pose.
Yoga eases pain. Studies have shown that practicing yoga asanas (postures), meditation, or a combination of the two can reduce pain for people with conditions such as cancer, multiple sclerosis, auto-immune diseases, and hypertension. Those who struggle with arthritis, back and neck pain, and other chronic issues can benefit from yoga as well.
Yoga includes breathing practices known as pranayama, which can be effective for reducing physical stress responses, improving lung function, and encouraging relaxation. Many pranayamas emphasize slowing down and deepening the breath, which activates the body's parasympathetic system (the relaxation response). Changing breathing patterns can significantly affect our body's experience and response to stress.
Yoga improves flexibility and mobility, while increasing one's range of motion. With more practice of yoga, ligaments, tendons, and muscles will eventually lengthen and increase in elasticity.
Yoga asanas (poses) use every muscle in the body, increasing strength literally from head to toe. Regular yoga practice can also relieve muscular tension throughout the entire body.
Yoga helps in improving circulation by efficiently and effectively moving oxygenated blood to the body's cells. Even a gentle yoga session can provide cardiovascular benefits by lowering resting heart rate, increasing endurance, and improving oxygen uptake during exercise.
Yoga connects one with their present movement. The more practice one does, the more they become aware of their surroundings. Yoga improves concentration, coordination, memorization.
The meditative effects of consistent yoga practice helps many cultivate inner peace and increase calmness.