Health Benefits of a Yoga Workout

yoga workout

A regular yoga workout provides many health benefits, including stress relief, weight management and improved balance and strength. It also may help with back pain and arthritis.

Yoga is not generally considered an aerobic exercise, but some faster-paced styles may get your heart rate high enough to qualify as moderate physical activity.


Even yogis who go to classes regularly can benefit from additional strength training. In yoga, there is a tendency to focus on poses that require pushing and pulling, while neglecting postures that target the shoulder stabilizer muscles (such as the upper trapezius and the serratus anterior). As a result, yogis can develop imbalances in their shoulders, which can lead to injuries.

The best way to build strength in yoga is through bodyweight exercises that involve holding a pose for as long as your teacher allows, which is usually five or more breath cycles. For example, practicing Warrior 1 and then stepping back into Downward Facing Dog is one way to strengthen your legs.

Vigorous yoga styles that include difficult poses and rapid movements can count as low to moderate-intensity cardio. They can also build the muscles and heart that support a healthy, active lifestyle.


Many people focus on strength and cardio when considering a fitness routine, but the importance of flexibility is often overlooked. Tight muscles limit your body’s range of motion and put you at risk for injury.

Yoga stretches and strengthens muscles throughout the entire body, including the back. For example, poses like downward-facing dog and cat/cow work the back muscles to increase flexibility and build strength.

The way that yoga differs from static stretching is that it uses dynamic movements that flow into one another. This allows your muscle fascia — the connective tissue that surrounds and permeates the body’s joints, muscles and ligaments — to stay hydrated and mobile and prevents tightening over time. It also means that your muscles can move through their full range of motion, which reduces the risk of injuries.


Balance is the ability to stay steady in different positions. Yoga poses that challenge balance build the muscles that support standing and moving. They also improve reaction time, which is important for falling prevention.

A balancing pose such as Tree Pose requires the body to adjust to changes in weight and posture. The arms are used to provide stability and the core muscles work to keep the torso upright.

A number of studies have shown that yoga improves balance in healthy populations. However, these studies differ in outcome measures and other methodologies. Future research should examine more carefully how well yoga works for balance training. It’s a good idea to work with a yoga instructor who can guide you through a safe and challenging practice.


Yoga can improve your ability to move back and forth between different poses without losing balance. It can also reduce the stiffness that can result from not using your joints enough, and it helps you stay flexible, which can help prevent injuries as you age.

Poses like Tree Pose require a combination of strength, balance and coordination. They strengthen the core and increase body awareness by strengthening the networks in the brain that integrate input from your feet, or proprioceptors, your vision and your inner ear, or vestibular system.

Some types of yoga are more vigorous than others, and you may find that your fitness level increases as you take classes or practice at home. However, it is important to be aware of the potential risks associated with any type of exercise, including yoga.


You can’t take a yoga class without hearing the instructor say “inhale and exhale.” Correct breathing is important for supporting movement throughout the practice, and it’s also used as an opportunity to calm the mind and reduce stress.

Breath exercises like the full yogic breath can help improve lung capacity and strengthen abdominal muscles. Other breathing exercises include kapalabhati or Skull Shining Breath, which involves forceful breathing to cleanse the respiratory system and remove toxins.

Yogic breath is also used to intelligently link inhalations with movements that open the front of the body, such as backbends and Cobra pose. Breath retention, in which you hold your breath for a short period of time, is another common breathing exercise in yoga. This can help relieve tension and improve sleep quality.