Despite it exploding in popularity in recent years, there are still those who shy away from yoga. This ancient practice is a sort of moving meditation with benefits for mind and body. Athletes from ballerinas to NFL football players have all adopted yoga as part of their training regimen. And for good reason! Here’s why you should consider yoga a part of your fitness journey.

Yoga relieves chronic pain

If you’re hurting, then you can barely get out of bed – much less make it to the gym. Yoga has been shown to help alleviate chronic pain. It’s particularly effective for back pain.  Suffering from chronic pain can cause you to become less active over time. By using gentle yoga targeted to your problem areas you can reduce your pain and open the door for more physical activity in your life. 

Yoga improves flexibility

Flexibility is important for your fitness success. Lack of flexibility can lead to poor form during exercise and higher likelihood of injury to your soft tissues and joints. Yoga is a functional way to increase your flexibility while also increasing your strength. When your body is flexible it can reduce your risk of injury and even increase your ability to build muscle. That’s because when you’re more flexible you can achieve full range of motion for your strength training and other workouts. Another great reason to consider yoga for your overall wellness

Yoga gear provides comfort and compression

Yoga apparel is some of the most comfortable workout gear you’ll ever wear. You know those workout leggings and flowy tank tops you see all over the gym these days? They come from yoga class! The combination of body-hugging design and performance fabric cannot be beat. It’s a balance specially calibrated to allow free movement while also providing support where you need it. If yoga clothes, let you pull off an Eka Pada Koundinyasana pose (look it up), then they’ll surely stay put during any move you do during a crossfit workout or spin class.

Yoga provides active rest

Hatha yoga, yin yoga or restorative yoga are all fantastic options for active recovery days. These types of yoga keep you moving, but are not as physically demanding as their more rigorous counterparts like power yoga or hot yoga. 

Yoga keeps a lid on stress

Stress (and the hormonal fluctuations that come along with it) can sabotage your fitness efforts. Yoga is a proven method of stress reduction. Managing this area of your life will not only provide mental benefits, but will improve your physical well being too. Using the gentle meditative powers of yoga to reduce stress will allow your body to work at its maximum capacity in the gym and allow your mind to focus on your workouts. 

Yoga helps reduce inflammation

Inflammation can be a healthy part of the immune system and recovery process in the body, but it can also be a sign of serious illness and ailments. Yoga has been shown to reduce inflammation. This alone can keep you healthier longer. It can also support shorter recovery times from difficult workouts that tax your muscles. 

Yoga supports heart health

To start working out and keep working out, you’ve got to have a healthy heart. Studies support the practice of yoga as an effective strategy for lowering cholesterol and even stopping and reversing heart disease! A healthy heart is a prerequisite for just about any form of physical activity, so it should be the muscle at the top of your fitness to do list! Consider yoga to help condition the heart and control factors like high blood pressure and cholesterol that can damage the heart, it certainly deserves a place in your routine. 

Yoga can help you sleep better

We learn more every day about the importance of sleep for physical fitness. Getting enough sleep and getting good quality sleep is critical for building muscle and supporting muscle recovery after a tough workout. Sleep is also necessary for regulating hormones that can make it easier or harder to lose weight and reduce body fat. Yoga is known to improve the quality of sleep and help people get to sleep faster. It also helps to regulate the sleep hormone melatonin, which plays an important part in your body’s ability to get on a sleep schedule. 

From rest and recovery to priming your body to max out your next workout, yoga supports nearly every necessary function your body needs to perform at its best. If you’re serious about your fitness journey, then yoga is a tool that you should always have at the ready. Just doing yoga one or two times a week can make a measurable impact on your physical conditioning. Keep it simple with restorative styles or challenge yourself with more physically demanding practices. How will you integrate yoga into your fitness routine?