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1 year ago
11 Surprising Perks of Practicing Yoga

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If your yoga mat is collecting dust in the corner, it’s about time the two of you got better acquainted. Need a little motivation? It turns out that the benefits of yoga transfer over to your job, your brain, and even the number on the scale. Read on for the crazy-awesome perks of being a yogi.

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It Helps You Get in the Zone

If you're a ball of stress and anxiety before meetings, yoga could help you loosen up and nail your presentation. A study published in the Journal of Physical Activity and Health found that students performed much better on tasks after they did Hatha yoga than after running or doing no exercise.

MORE: How Yoga Can Help You on the Job

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It Boosts Your Strength

While a yoga class that focuses on relaxation and stretching doesn't have as many strength-building benefits as a more intense yoga class, the tougher classes like vinyasa yoga can help strengthen your legs and lower body. And moves like side plank and crow are a major workout for your arms. Try this muscle-sculpting yoga routine.

MORE: Q&A: Do Yoga and Pilates Mat Classes Offer the Same Benefits as Weight Lifting?

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It Burns A Decent Amount of Calories

Your calorie burn from yoga can range from 175 to 636 depending on the class. That makes the easier classes a great way to add extra calorie-burning power to your regular routine.  At the same time, an hour of vinyasa yoga burns about 445 calories and hour-long Bikram or hot yoga classes burn about 636 calories, meaning they're solid calorie-burning workouts on their own.

MORE: Burn Fat Faster with Yoga

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It's Perfect for Active Recovery

If you're suffering from a serious case of delayed onset muscle syndrome, a.k.a. crazy soreness 24 to 48 hours after your workout, yoga is your new best friend. This exercise is ideal for stretching your tight muscles and bringing blood flow to the area to help those puppies heal. You might struggle getting to the yoga studio, but you'll be glad you went.

MORE: 3 Exercises for When You're Really Freaking Sore

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It Brings Major Stress Relief

When you feel stress from the week all up in your muscles, that's when it’s ideal to break out your mat. One of the best moves to relieve your tense and tired body is the legs-up-on-the-wall pose. We're feeling relaxed already.

MORE: The Only Move You Need for Instant Stress Relief

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It Can Help With Weight Loss or Weight Maintenance

A study published in the American Journal of Lifestyle Medicine reviewed previous research about yoga and weight loss to find out if there is a connection between the two. The scientists found that practicing yoga can help amp up calorie burn, offer pain relief, and promote mindfulness, all of which translates into making healthier eating choices and potentially dropping pounds. Yoga wins again.

MORE: Can Yoga Really Help You Lose Weight?

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It Seriously Boosts Your Brain

Ever have those days when you're so mentally fried that you can't form a sentence? Yep, us too. Well, a recent study published in the Journal of Gerontology shows that consistently practicing yoga can help older adults boost performance on cognitive tasks and improved memory.  Participants in the study practiced Hatha yoga three times a week for three weeks and showed more improvement in these areas than the participants who didn't get their yoga on. More brainpower later in life? Seems like a good reason to unleash your inner yogi starting now!

MORE: Yoga Moves for a Pick-Me-Up

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It Can Reduce Urinary Incontinence

Women can have urinary incontinence, or not being able to hold it when you have to pee, for various reasons, including childbirth and urinary tract infections. One study found that people suffering from this annoying and sometimes embarrassing problem could reduce episodes by up to 70 percent by frequently doing yoga. Researchers think that practicing yoga could strengthen the pelvic muscles, which help you hold it on your way to the bathroom when your bladder is full, and reduces stress, which helps since stress can contribute to the problem.

MORE: How Yoga Can Help Beat an Embarrassing Health Issue

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It Makes Your Period Less of a Pain

Working out during your period sounds pretty torturous, especially if your symptoms tend to be on the extreme side. But breaking out your mat to practice Yoga Nidra, or a relaxation- and meditation-based yoga, could help reduce cramps, heavy bleeding, and menstrual irregularity, according to a 2013 study.

MORE: Practicing THIS Kind of Yoga Can Make Your Periods More Bearable

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It Can Make You a Better Athlete

If you’re a hardcore runner, CrossFit fan, or kick boxing fanatic, your body can definitely benefit from meetings with your yoga mat. Your workout, which might utilize running, lifting, and swinging movements, can leave you with tight hamstrings, quads, and shoulders. If you don’t stretch these out, you could inhibit your progress and maybe even get injured. But by integrating yoga into your routine, you can find out where your body is weak or tight and fix those areas. Think of yoga as your mandatory athletic tune-up.

MORE: Yoga For Everyday Athletes

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It Can Keep You From Getting Sick

Certain yoga moves can increase your circulation and increase blood flow to areas of your body that help fight off bugs that make you ill. So when you feel like you’re coming down with something, it might be time to get down on your mat.  

MORE: The Best Yoga Moves to Boost Immunity

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