Why Yoga Exercises Are Good For the Mind and Body

yoga exercises

Yoga is a series of poses that challenge the body from head to toe. It promotes flexibility while building strength and improving balance. Recent research indicates that yoga can help control the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis and reduce stress.

Twisting and inverted poses increase blood flow to the lungs, allowing more oxygen to reach your cells. This may also lower your risk of cardiovascular disease.


Stretching doesn’t just improve our physical health — it’s also good for our mental health. The muscles in our bodies hold onto stress, and when they’re tight, that stress can spread to the rest of our body, making us feel anxious or irritable. Stretching helps ease that tension by promoting the parasympathetic nervous system.

Strengthening muscles improves balance, which is important as we age. Yoga incorporates a variety of weight-bearing exercises that build muscle strength. For example, the standing Warrior poses (Virabhadrasana I, II, III) strengthen the legs and hips, while improving balance.

Another form of strength training is moving your body through a series of dynamic movements that require stability and control, like in Triangle Pose (Trikonasana). As the name suggests, this pose moves you into a Triangle shape by walking one hand in front of the other to the back, while extending through the arms and opening the chest. This posture stretches the groin, quads, hip flexors and ankles.


Yoga’s poses use the weight of the body for strength training, building core, leg and arm muscles. As a result, the more you practice, the stronger your entire body becomes. Arms are challenged because of the requirement to support your own body weight in many poses, while legs are strengthened by exercises like crow pose and the seated forward fold.

In addition, poses like boat pose strengthen the abdominal muscles while promoting proper posture, which in turn can help alleviate low back pain. This is one of the main reasons that doctors prescribe yoga to their patients who have back problems.

Even brand-new beginners will begin to build strength as they practice yoga regularly. This is because most yoga classes combine stretching with strengthening exercises, giving new yogis the opportunity to strengthen their major muscle groups as they stretch. In time, more advanced yogis will start to focus on strengthening specific muscle groups as they take on more challenging exercises like plank and hand balances.


Yoga exercises help us learn to balance our bodies and minds. Practicing asanas that incorporate dynamic and static, or holding, stretches can strengthen muscles while easing stress and tension. The practice of controlled breathing helps ease the mind, as well. Rapid, shallow breaths are common responses to stress; deep, regular breathing relaxes and calms the body.

Poses such as the simple forward fold, child’s pose, are calming and a great way to wind down before sleep. This beginner-friendly pose can also strengthen the legs and improve balance.

Corpse pose, or Savasana, is the classic resting pose and the final relaxation posture in most yoga classes. This relaxing exercise stretches the hips, shoulders and spine, but it is especially effective in lowering anxiety, relieving insomnia and reducing headaches and backaches. It can be held for as long as you wish, but be careful not to fall asleep. To perform this pose, lie down with your head on the mat and arms at your sides, palms up.


Unlike many other exercise routines that can be done while watching TV or listening to music, yoga requires complete attention from both mind and body. This connection between the two makes it easier to calm an anxious mind and can reduce symptoms of stress-related illnesses.

The breathing techniques learned in yoga help to increase oxygen levels in the blood and to improve overall circulation. This in turn helps to keep the heart healthy by lowering cholesterol and decreasing blood pressure.

Yoga stretches and strengthens the muscles of the body to improve posture, balance and flexibility. This helps to prevent injury and increases strength, stamina and bone health.

The most important benefit of yoga may be its ability to teach us to be still. The act of being still tamps down activity in certain pathways in the brain that get ramped up when we’re stressed, Dr. Fazzio says. This translates into lower levels of stress and better cognitive function.