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Five Surprising Ways Yoga Affects Your Health

A new study adds rheumatoid arthritis to the list of health problems yoga can help alleviate.


By Dana Blinder

Incorporate a yoga routine into your week for all-around wellness.

Regular stretching and use of breathing techniques can go a long way. Yoga is famous for improving flexibility and encouraging relaxation, but more and more research shows that the practice offers benefits that go beyond calming you down. For example, a recent study in Alternative Therapies in Health and Medicine found that 75-minute yoga sessions, performed three times a week for 10 weeks, eased symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis (RA) in a group of women between 45 and 75. The yoga classes also improved their disability related to RA, improved their balance, and decreased symptoms of depression in the women. Read on for other ways you can use yoga to improve your health.

#1: It helps you fight food cravings
Keeping off unwanted weight can be a little easier with a regular yoga routine. According to Prevention magazine, in a study of 15,500 average-weight adults, people gained three fewer pounds annually over the course of four years if they followed a routine of 30 minutes of yoga per week. The weight loss may be a result of creating a closer relationship between mind and body during yoga, allowing participants to fight overeating. Iyogalife.com, a website that provides yoga workouts, articles, and research, suggests moving into a simple yoga pose when food cravings threaten to overwhelm your better judgment. Cravings generally strike when our bodies are tense; loosening muscles with yoga movements makes it easier to reflect on whether or not you really need that candy bar.

#2: It helps you have a healthy pregnancy
Honing in on your happy and calm place with yoga meditation may insure your little one arrives just as relaxed. According to Prevention, a study in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine found that doing yoga while pregnant increased the odds of a healthy delivery. The 335 women studied added a yoga routine during their second trimester; the result was higher birth weights and lower pregnancy-induced hypertension compared to non-yoga-practicing participants.

#3: It boosts your performance in the bedroom
Yoga movements can improve balance and flexibility not only on the mat, but in bed as well. According to Women’s Health, yoga pros can utilize the increase in strength and confidence in their sex life. Movements focusing on body alignment increase blood flow and sexual desire. Yoga poses that focus on balance and abdominal contraction will strengthen your core as well as your orgasm because of the focus on pelvic muscles. Overall body awareness, vital to yoga workouts, also boosts confidence—making you a more assertive partner.

#4: It lowers risk for cardiovascular disease and diabetes
Increasing your yoga routine can have be mentally relaxing and benefit your heart as well. Another study in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, which looked at 98 adults with varying health concerns, such as hypertension, coronary artery disease, and diabetes, found significant improvements in blood sugar and total cholesterol levels with the incorporation of yoga into their routine. The group took part in an eight-day lifestyle-modification program that included common yoga practices like posture awareness, deep breathing, meditation, nutritional changes, and group support.

#5: It helps cancer patients sleep better
The calming meditation practices often used in yoga are great to take your mind off a stressful day, and to help you sleep better. In a study done at the University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center, lymphoma patients improved their sleeping habits by practicing Tibetan yoga. After a taking a 20-minute yoga class once a week for seven weeks, patients fell asleep faster, slept longer, and reduced the amount of sleep medication they needed.

Source: http://www.rodale.com/yoga-and-health

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