What is yoga and how does it work?

Yoga is an ancient and complex practice, rooted in Indian philosophy. It began as a spiritual practice but has become popular as a way of promoting physical and mental well-being.

Although classical yoga also includes other elements, yoga as practiced in the United States typically emphasizes physical postures (asanas), breathing techniques (pranayama) and meditation (dyana). 

What are the health benefits of yoga?

Research suggests that yoga may:

  • help improve general wellness by relieving stress, supporting good health habits, and improving mental/emotional health, sleep, and balance.
  • relieve lower back and neck pain, and possibly pain from tension-type headaches and knee osteoarthritis.
  • help those who are overweight or obese lose weight.
  • help people manage anxiety or depressive symptoms associated with difficult life situations.
  • help people with chronic diseases manage their symptoms and improve their quality of life.

Studies have suggested possible benefits of yoga for several aspects of wellness, including stress management, mental/emotional health, promoting healthy eating/activity habits, sleep and balance.