Five Gratifying Benefits of Yoga Practice for Beginners

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One of the benefits of yoga is that it helps you maintain balance as this young woman demonstrates with a tree pose
Yoga is not about competing with others but about improving your awareness and health [photo: Yayan Sopian |]

Yoga is an ancient healing art that ties together, or ‘yokes’, body and mind. While there are many different types of yoga, they aren’t all about mastering pretzel poses. Nor do they require you to learn sanskrit.

The real benefits of yoga for beginners are in its simplicity and its ability to improve your awareness and health.

To start, try Hatha yoga to better understand yoga’s basic philosophy and poses. What Hatha yoga has going for it is equal parts strength and flexibility training and relaxation technique. After all, yoga started as a form of meditation.

If you’re looking for a more active level of yoga, do some research and consult a yoga instructor first. Bikram yoga (‘hot yoga’) and Ashtanga yoga (‘power yoga’) offer a vigourous workout that can melt away calories.

Benefits of Yoga

So let’s take a closer look at the benefits of yoga practice. Regular yoga workouts can:

1. Increase flexibility

Yoga postures (also called asanas) stretch the body in ways that you don’t normally stretch it in everyday activity.

Stretching not only makes your body more flexible, but also relieves irritation and restrictions caused by tight muscles and ligaments.

Back pain and knee pain caused by tight hamstrings are typical conditions that yoga can improve, for example.

2. Build strength

Nearly all yoga postures will strengthen core muscles. Combined with greater flexibility, strengthening your deep abdominal muscles can correct poor posture.

Slow movement yoga poses also work to build endurance, boost metabolism, and increase bone density. If you want to build more muscle, yoga exercises are a good complement to a strength training program.

3. Improve balance

Another advantage of strengthening your core muscles is that it helps align your body and improve your balance.

To find your balance and then maintain it, yoga postures force you to focus intently to connect your mind with your body and breath.

Better balance enhances coordination and can decrease the risk of injuries or falls.

4. Correct breathing

Many people are ‘backward breathers.’ That means they breathe from the chest instead of from the diaphragm. Yoga exercises can correct that condition by teaching you breath control skills.

That way, you’ll learn to breathe more deeply and rhythmically just like you did when you were a baby. Plus, it will help you practice postures more effectively.

5. Reduce stress

Practicing yoga postures and regulating your breath relaxes the body and mind which creates a feeling of meditative calm. It revitalizes your brain and body and helps you better cope with day-to-day demands.

Yoga can also help reduce risk factors for chronic health conditions like heart disease and high blood pressure.

demonstration of yoga posas and benefits of yoga

Yoga series for beginners

Lessons I’ve Learned

As a student of yoga for many years (and someone who also teaches it) I’ve learned invaluable lessons about the practice. Two stand above the rest:

• It’s all about balance

It's easy to become so focused on your job or personal responsibilities that you ignore your body's stress signals.

A yoga routine will help you tune into physical sensations, not just the mental ones. It can keep your body healthier and energy better balanced in your daily drive to get things done.

• It’s not about competing

Once you begin yoga classes it’s important to remember that you’re not in competition with others in the class. It may be tempting to push beyond your own physical limits because you see someone else doing a perfect pose.

If you’re not ready, that can lead to serious injury. Instead, be patient (that’s also the zen part of yoga). Focus on building your ability with time and practice.

The Ultimate Balance

The benefits of yoga are many but no matter what reason you begin a yoga routine, you’ll find it’s a satisfying workout for the body, mind, and spirit.

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