1. Yoga Makes You Feel Good - one of the major reasons for yoga’s popularity. Recent research is able to put that feeling in more technical terms. In 2005 a pair of comprehensive reviews of the research on yoga’s effects on anxiety and depression found that yoga helps moderate reactions to and perceptions of stress, as well as significantly lifting depression—especially for women. Yoga bumps up levels of the neurotransmitter GABA which both lifts mood and suppresses anxiety.

2. Yoga Can Help Prevent Heart Disease - The Science of Yoga points to dozens of studies from around the world that show yoga lowers some of the most common risk factors for heart disease, including high blood pressure, high blood sugar, and atherosclerosis.

3. Yoga helps you lose weight because it changes how you think,” Kristoffer says. “When I first started practicing yoga, I was young, but I stopped partying so much because I wanted to feel good in [yoga] class. It makes you want to take care of your body and I hear that from my students all the time.”

4. Yoga Makes You More Flexible - This might seem like an obvious benefit of an activity non-devotees equate with “stretching.” But the active, engaged flexibility work done in yoga is a far cry from the casual reach for the toes one might do before a treadmill run. A 2010 study published in the Clinical Journal of Sports Medicine found that active stretching (where the muscle opposite the one being stretched is contracted, as is often the case in yoga poses) resulted in lasting, improved range of motion, while passive stretchers actually decreased their range of motion.

“People need strong, flexible muscles, but most of us have weak, tight muscles. Yoga helps you release muscular tension and start getting stronger,”


5. Yoga Can Make You Look and Feel Younger - Yoga shows promise not only in slowing down the aging process (by increasing DNA-protecting telomerase), but also in helping older adults deal with some of the most common age-related health woes.

6. Helps you focus - An important component of yoga is focusing on the present. Studies have found that regular yoga practice improves coordination, reaction time, memory, and even IQ scores. People who practice Transcendental Meditation demonstrate the ability to solve problems and acquire and recall information better—probably because they’re less distracted by their thoughts, which can play over and over like an endless tape loop.