71 Scientifically Proven Yoga Benefits

There is no doubt about it, yoga can provide amazing and surprising benefits to both your physical and mental health. Here is a list of 71 proven benefits of yoga. If you need any more reasons then most likely yoga is not for you!

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Yoga has been around for centuries, but in recent years its popularity has grown by leaps and bounds.

It seems like everyone from the barista at Starbucks to stars such as Jennifer Aniston are rolling out their mats, getting their OM on and praising the benefits of yoga.

“Hey, wanna go check out that new yoga studio with me? I hear it’s pretty awesome.”

“Dude, seriously- yoga changed my life.”

“Your back hurts? That sucks. Have you tried yoga?”

“Yoga helped me lose weight, but more than that, I’m actually comfortable with the way I look!”

If you’ve found yourself here, it’s very likely you’ve heard some variation of the statements above, and probably a combination of them to boot. Everyone swears by it, and they all seem to think YOU need it, too.

The benefits of yoga are many – far more than any one list can offer. From blood pressure to back pain, from anger to depression and anxiety, yoga is powerfully beneficial to your overall health.

In fact, the term yoga is loosely translated from the Sanskrit, meaning “to yoke”. This means a union of body and spirit, perfect harmony of the breath and movement.

Novices and advanced practitioners alike discover new benefits of yoga practically every time they step on a mat. After all, it’s not a one-size-fits-all; your practice is YOURS and yours alone.

You’re not the same person you were yesterday, and your practice won’t be the same tomorrow as it is today.

Here we’ve compiled a list of 71 (yes, SEVENTY-ONE!) amazing benefits of yoga.

While this list is certainly not exhaustive, you will soon realize that there’s a lot to be gained from yoga!

From the obvious physical benefits of strength, flexibility, and balance to the more subtle and spiritual changes yoga can bring about within your daily life, this isn’t just some trend – it’s a way of life.


Quit Smoking with Yoga

It’s easy to stop smoking.

The hard part is to not start again.

Thankfully, scientists have discovered a valuable addition to the smoking cessation tool-kit:


A pilot study at The Miriam Hospital compared two eight-week treatments for women trying to quit: a twice-weekly Vinyasa yoga program or a general wellness program. After the program, the yogi women had less anxiety and a better sense of well-being. Most importantly, more women were still off cigarettes after the program as well as six months later.

Yoga Helps Addicts Recover

Recovering from addiction is a long and difficult journey. A pilot study shed light on a valuable alternative therapy for this process.

Researchers in India offered recovering drug addicts were offered either a yoga therapy program or a conventional de-addiction program. After six weeks, the yoga group showed significant increases in self-confidence and optimism compared to the traditional program.


Slow the Signs of Aging with Yoga

Youth doesn’t have to be wasted on the young. New research indicates that certain lifestyle changes can delay aging and prolong your youthfulness.

A study published in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine reported promising results on test of yoga adoption. The patient suffered from obesity, fatigue and lack of motivation.

After just 10 days of yoga and meditation practice, the patient’s test results showed a reversal of age markers, including signs of DNA repair.

Yoga Boosts Your 'Fountain of Youth Hormone'

If there’s no anti-aging pill, yoga might be the next best thing.

Human growth hormone (HGH) is often looked at as the real “fountain of youth.”

It keeps your skin tight and supple, increases your bone density, repairs damaged tissue, boosts metabolism and prevents muscle loss.

Levels of Growth Hormone circulating in the body decrease as we get older, which is part of the aging process.

An Indian study looked at growth hormone levels in adults who participated in a 12-week yoga program. Both men and women showed a significant increase compared to the control group.

Balance & Mobility

Better Balance & Mobility Using Yoga

Life can be a balancing act. Stay more balanced with yoga.

A review in the Age and Aging Journal looked at multiple studies where yoga was used to improve balance in seniors. The overall result indicated that the practice resulted in improvements in balance and even bigger improvements in mobility.

Yoga not only improves balance, but provides a safe exercise to maintain agility.

Bone Health

Improve Bone Density with Yoga

Strong, healthy bones are important. So, why do they start to decline as we age? Fortunately, there’s evidence that yoga can reverse that trend.

A long-term study at the Rockefeller University tested the impact of certain yoga poses on affect bone density. Women practiced the poses for just 12 minutes a day for ten years. Those that fully or even moderately followed the program saw improvements in bone density.

Well-chosen yoga poses can build bones and stand tall as you age.


Yoga Can Help Manage Type 2 Diabetes

A review published in the Journal for Diabetes Research revealed that yoga practice promotes significant improvements in multiple management factors. Researchers compiled over 30 studies of Type 2 Diabetes and yoga treatment.

Here’s what they found:

There was a positive result for key factors such as glycemic control, lipid levels, and body composition. There was also preliminary indication that yoga can help lower blood pressuer and medication requirements.

Yoga Helps Regulate Blood Glucose Levels

Tracking blood glucose is crucial for diabetics. A long-term yoga practice can assist by regulating blood levels according to a study published in the International Journal of Medical Science and Public Health.

Over two years, half of the study group took a yoga class four times a week. The other group had no yoga class. The results showed a decrease in fasting blood glucose level and glycated haemoglobin. It also revealed a improvement in haemoglobin for the yoga patients.

Disease/Disorder Management

Yoga as a Complementary Therapy for Urologic Disorders

Yoga is being seen more and more as a valuable tool in patient treatment. A review in the World Journal of Urology highlighted the benefits for patients with urological conditions.

Focused on hatha yoga, a prescribed practice increases endorphin release. More endorphins means more control of pain and stress. Patients also felt a better sense of well-being.

The most interesting finding?

Patients found a sense of accomplishment and control over their chronic pain which was not there until they practiced yoga.

Yoga Eases Irritable Bowel Syndrome Symptoms

Its name is obvious. Its symptoms are a real pain. Thankfully, research shows that Irritable Bowel Syndrome or IBS can be treated with yoga.

A research review published in Clinical Gastroenterology and Hepatology looked at how yoga treated IBS symptoms. Compared to no treatment, patients practicing yoga found significant improvements in quality of life, overall improvement, and physical function. Even compared to conventional treatment, yoga therapy significantly decreased bowel symptoms, severity, and anxiety.

Ease Osteoarthritis Pain with Yoga

Do stairs make you shudder? If you suffer from osteoarthritis, stairs can seem like a steep challenge.

Research out of the University of Minnesota offers some relief. A group of older women with knee issues were assigned to an eight-week yoga program or a wait-list. Yoga treatment included one class and four home practices weekly.

The results were impressive.

With yoga, women showed a significant improvement in knee pain, stiffness and function. The results continued weeks after the program ended and even with a reduced yoga practice.

Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder Assisted with Yoga

Social interaction and imitation is an important part of a child’s development. For children with autism spectrum disorder, these imitation skills are difficult to acquire, and impede later socialization.

A ten-month integrated yoga program revealed significant increase in these skills. As reported in the International Journal of Yoga, researchers reported that children’s posture and facial imitation movements improved.

Yoga Can Ease Multiple Sclerosis

Multiple Sclerosis, or MS, affects over 2.3 million people globally.

As there is no cure yet, managing the symptoms is a crucial part of patient care. Researchers at Oregon State University compiled studies testing yoga as an MS therapy.

Here’s the good news:

The body of research reveals that yoga practice reduced depression, pain, stress, blood pressure and stress. It also increases lung capacity, bladder function, strength, flexibility and overall quality of life.

Yoga as a Treatment for Bronchial Asthma

Feels good, doesn’t it? However, for people with bronchial asthma it’s not that easy.

Take a deep breath.

Fortunately, a study published in the British Medical Journal points to yoga as a treatment. Over 50 patients took part in daily yoga exercises involving a range of techniques. After two weeks, patients had fewer asthma attacks and required less medication compared to the control group.

Yoga Is a Complementary Treatment for Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

Chronic Fatigue Syndrome is a complicated disease that is difficult to diagnose. Once diagnosed, research suggests that yoga can help provide relief.

Scientists at Kyushu University completed a study on patients who were not having success after six months of conventional treatment. Patients were assigned either conventional therapy combined with yoga or conventional drug treatment.

The result:

In the yoga group, fatigue scores decreased significantly compared to the medication treatment.

Minimizing Migraines with Yoga

A migraine can ruin your day or your week. Thankfully, a regular yoga routine can reduce their intensity.

The study was published in the Journal of the American Headache Society (and they would know!). Patients were treated by yoga therapy for three months. The participants showed a decrease in every migraine characteristic: from medication required to length to anxiety level. More yoga means less migraines.

Disease Recovery

Life After Cancer Better with Yoga

After surviving cancer, treatment still isn’t over. Yoga can be a tool that nurtures health in survivors.

Breast cancer survivors took part in a seven-week yoga program. Researchers at the University of Calgary looked at the participant’s physical and emotional health. There was a significant improvement in quality of life and emotional well-being for survivors in the program. This pilot study shines a light on the further potential benefits for survivors.

Yoga Improves Stroke Recovery

Stroke rehabilitation is often a long, challenging process. Research from Indiana University points to yoga practice as a valuable mental and physical exercise for patients.

The study offered an 8-week program for both in- and out-patients recovering from a stroke. Participants demonstrated better balance and flexibility. Their steps were stronger and faster than without the yoga program.

By improving muscular control, yoga supports post-stroke strength and endurance.

Heart Health

Yoga Can Lower Risk of Heart Disease

Do you love yoga? Well, yoga loves you. Specifically, it loves your heart health.

Research reported in Reuters Health studied people at risk of heart disease. These patients with metabolic syndrome have multiple risk factors, including obesity and high blood pressure. Along with regular treatment, they completed daily yoga stretches and meditation. In just three months, multiple key heart indicators improved.

Long-term Yoga Good for Cardiovascular Health

If you can’t be young, you can at least be young at heart.

Scientists are discovering that a year’s worth of yoga can help your heart feel young again.

A study from The Hong Kong Polytechnic University treated middle-aged and older adults with risk of heart disease with yoga. After one year, the participants had a smaller waist and a lower blood pressure. Both of these are important indicators of a young, healthy heart.

Yoga Supports Cardiac Health

It’s better before, but it’s also good afterwards. That’s what scientists found when reviewing research on yoga and heart attacks.

The report, titled Yoga in cardiac health, investigated yoga’s benefits. The mind-body connection in yoga offers heart health benefits, including hormone release. These benefits are known for prevention. The review indicates positive results for recovery, too.

While more yoga research and expertise is needed in hospitals, this practice provides a valuable tool for patients and their heart health.

Yoga as an Alternative Blood Pressure Treatment

High blood pressure affects almost 60 million adults in the United States. Many patients are seeking alternative treatments. A study out of Kent State University reveals that yoga could be that promising alternative.

Patients with high blood pressure (not severe enough for medication) were offered two treatments. For two years, participants followed either a mindfulness-based practice or a muscle relaxation therapy.

The yoga and mindfulness patients showed significant decreases in blood pressure. For people who prefer lifestyle changes, these results point to yoga as a valuable treatment option.

Yoga Can Keep Your Heart Rate Healthy

Is your heart keeping secrets from you?

Cardiac issues can go without symptoms until it’s too late. Thankfully, heart-rate variability is a non-invasive tool to study those secrets. A lower rate means a higher risk.

To move that rate in the healthy direction, a German study found that yoga to be a valuable tool. Participants practiced yoga, other relaxation or nothing at all. The yoga practice showed a significant increase.


Boost Your Immunity with Yoga

Got the sniffles? A complete yoga workout can fend off your next illness. Scientists at the University of Oslo found a surprising effect on your immune system.

A yoga program combining stretches, breathing and meditation exercises revealed immediate changes at the genetic level. This practice improved immune cell function over other relaxing activities. These rapid changes can offer long-term health benefits.

Memory and Cognition

Stretch Your Memory Muscles with Yoga

A deep stretch, a renewed calm, and …a better memory? A study published in the Indian Journal of Physiology and Pharmacology found that yoga’s physical movement can translate to spatial memory.

The study tested children’s memory before and after attending a yoga camp, a fine arts camp and a group of non-camp kiddos. After camp, the young yogis showed a 43% increase in memory scores.

It turns out your yoga practice could be helpful the next time you can’t find your keys!

Yoga Helps Mitigate Cognitive Decline

Forgetfulness can be a concerning symptom of aging. Thankfully, researchers from the University of Adelaide found an important activity to prevent that cognitive decline.

The study tested seniors who reported memory issues. For three months, the participants either practiced mental exercises, like crosswords, or practiced yoga daily. Both groups showed improvement in verbal memory. However, only the yoga group showed a significant improvement in spatial memory.

Lesson learned: Don’t forget to do yoga!

Feel Better and Be Sharper with Yoga

It’s the battle of the gym classes! Will it be yoga or aerobics? A thesis from the Roger Williams University revealed that it is a close match.

Can you guess the winner?

Participants took either a yoga or aerobic class. Then, they were given a series of tests. The results showed that both classes improved concentration, stress, energy and well-being. However, yoga took the lead. Only the yoga participants showed improvements in mood and self-satisfaction.

Yoga for the win!

Yoga Helps Students Get Better Grades

Go to class, study hard and practice yoga. Perhaps it’s a surprising academic addition. However, research published in the International Journal of Yoga points to yoga as a study tool.

Eight hundred students were put in groups: high-stress, low-stress and control. Participating youth took part in a seven-week yoga program.

Did yoga make a passing grade?

Yogi students scored higher in academic tests than the control group. While low-stress students performed better than high-stress, yoga overall supports students’ studies.

Sharpen Your Memory with Yoga

Where did I …?

Is this a question you often ask yourself?

Perhaps you could use more yoga in your week. Scientists have studied how yoga can impact memory, and the results are promising.

Research out of the University of Alabama tested combined yoga and standard memory training for seniors. After nine hours of training, participants had made significant gains in memory performance and efficiency. A number of seniors even progressed to a higher functioning memory group.

A Burst of Yoga Will Boost Your Brain

Feeling unfocused? Not absorbing anything?

Don’t worry, a quick twenty-minute yoga session will have you back on track.

Yes, research published in the Journal of Physical Activity and Health showed that one quick session can have impressive results. Study participants either had hatha yoga or aerobic exercise session. Post-exercises, the yoga group scored much better on tests assessing absorption and use of new information as well as focus.

Long-term Yoga Builds Your Brain

This is your brain.

This is your brain on yoga.

Scientists in Spain have discovered that long-term yoga practice increases your brain’s grey matter.

Participants with a minimum of five years of daily yoga practice showed overall grey matter increases as well as specific increases in the parts of the brain responsible for attention, self-control and compassion.

Yoga Improves Children’s Classroom Performance

Reading, writing, and …yoga? A study shows that yoga in schools produces positive results for the classrooms and the students.

Researchers in California investigated the results of a yoga classroom program. With a two-day training, teachers incorporated daily yoga practice into their teaching, including breathing, stretching and visualization. Teachers, parents and students reported positive results from the practice.

Most importantly, the students felt an improvement in the mental, social and physical well-being.

Yoga Can Prevent Alzheimer’s Disease

As we get older, our hippocampus shrinks. While it can be a natural process, it is one of the early indicators of Alzheimer’s Disease.

Fortunately, yoga can not only stop the loss, but reverse the trend.

A small study at India’s National Institute of Mental Health and Neurosciences took an MRI of seniors’ brains before and after yoga therapy. Seniors on yoga showed an increase in hippocampus size.

These early results indicate an important way to keep your hippocampus happy.

Unleash Your Creativity with Yoga

While logical thinking is important, creative thinking can solve complex problems. Both halves of the brain have something to offer. So, how do we access the creativity locked in the right brain?

A study at the University of Pennsylvania tracked the progress of new yoga practitioners. Their practice included three months of training and a specific routine.

After the three months of practice, their creative right hemispheres were significantly more activated than pre-yoga.

Menstrual Health & Menopause

A Better Menopause with Yoga

Menopause ain’t always easy. When insomnia and other symptoms arise, it’s nice to know yoga can help.

Yoga was used as a treatment for postmenopausal women suffering from insomnia. The study, published by The North American Menopause Society, looked at the women’s symptoms and quality of life after the treatment. The yoga treatment not only reduced the severity of their insomnia, but also improved their quality of life and reduced climacteric symptoms.

Reducing the Pain of PMS with Yoga

Is it that time of the month?

If premenstrual symptoms, or PMS, have got you down, there is research pointing to a unique solution. A study from Taiwan used yoga as a PMS intervention. Women took part in a 12-week yoga program, and reported their symptoms before and after.

Here’s what they found:

After the yoga practice, women reported decreased cramps, medication needed, abdominal swelling and overall physical function. A win for women!

Mental Health

Yoga Can Help Treat Depression

Mental health issues are complicated and often difficult to treat. More and more studies are looking at yoga as a treatment for depression. Researchers out of the UK compiled results from multiple studies to see the big picture.

The good news:

Whether mild or severe mental health state, yoga showed positive results. All different types of yoga interventions were used and all showed the same outcome. Yoga should be investigated as a depression treatment option.

Yoga Can Help Treat Anxiety

Anxiety is a serious disorder that can alter your daily life. One Iranian study investigated if yoga could provide relief.

Women who suffered from anxiety were assigned to treatment at a yoga studio twice a week. Compared to the control group, the women’s perceived anxiety levels significantly reduced after two months of classes (yes, just two months!).

The scientists suggest that yoga can be used as an additional or alternative treatment.

Yoga Can Help Treat Depression, ADHD and Schizophrenia

Psychiatrists could be prescribing yoga along with mental health medication. A review of research points to promising benefits for a range of disorders.

The report out of Duke University found that yoga offered significant benefits for people suffering from depression. In children, yoga also helped manage ADHD. Along with medication, yoga treated patients with schizophrenia.

New Ways to Treat Trauma with Yoga

Yoga is disrupting traditional trauma treatments. Research reported in the American Psychological Association suggests this shift in therapy.

The study tested different treatments for PTSD. Women participated in either a series of hatha yoga classes or a discussion-based therapy group. The yoga program significantly decreased the symptoms of PTSD compared to the more traditional therapy. Yoga increased their focus and sense of empowerment.


Yoga Increases Pain Tolerance

They say, ‘no pain, no gain’.

Well, what if less pain was an option?

Researchers at McGill University tested the pain tolerance of yoga practitioners. By using sensory testing and MRI, they discovered that the yogis were able to tolerate twice (twice!) as much pain as the control group.

Test revealed that yoga trains your brain in different ways to manage the senses.


Yoga Strengthens Social Bonds

Yoga is known to be a positive internal practice. It turns out to also benefit interpersonal relationships.

A study out of the University of Maryland reviewed written comments from over 1000 people who practice yoga. The results revealed that practitioners felt they were more patient, kind and self-aware, which improved their social relationships. Classes also grew their social circle and increased their sense of belonging.

It seems the friends who do yoga together, stay together.

Yoga Can Strengthen Your Relationship

Are you happy in your relationship?

Are you a good partner?

Answers to these questions could be found within a yoga practice. A report from Auburn University compiled the available research of mindfulness and relationships. Mindfulness, which is cultivated in yoga practice, turns out to be a crucial factor.

The key finding?

Higher levels of mindfulness results in higher levels of relationship satisfaction.

Sexual Health & Fertility

Yoga Improves Sex In Many Ways

A study in The Journal of Sexual Medicine (thank you, science!) looked at the connection between sex and yoga.

Sexually-active women participated in a 12-week yoga program. Not just any yoga program, but one that focused on poses to improve abdominal and pelvic muscles, joints, and mood.

Women were asked about desire, arousal, lubrication, orgasm, pain, and overall satisfaction. After the program, women reported improvements in every. single. domain. Hot yoga now takes on a whole new meaning.

Yoga can Minimize or Reverse Sperm DNA Damage

How healthy are things ‘below the belt’?

Stress can affect sperm all the way down at the genetic level, even causing infertility.

But don’t let this news stress you out. A research review from the All India Institute of Medical Sciences determined that even short-term yoga and meditation improves sperm DNA.

After just 10 days, health markers improved, and continued after six-months of practice. Damage caused by stress can be minimized and even reversed by doing daily yoga.

Yoga Can Support Fertility

First comes love, then comes yoga, then comes the baby in the baby carriage.

Not the poem you were expecting? Well, yoga has been proven to improve fertility according to a report in the Indian Journal of Traditional Knowledge.

A combination of specific postures, breathing and meditation can treat infertility in both men and women. These exercises stimulate hormone levels and increase blood and nutrient circulation to reproductive organs.

These exercises also provided the added benefit of decreased stress and increased sexual stamina. (Thanks, yoga!)

Have a Happier Pregnancy with Yoga

A study at the University of Miami Medical School tested the impact of yoga on pregnancy, in particular when women suffer from depression. At around 22-weeks pregnant, women were offered a tai chi/yoga program. The women participated in a 20 minutes group yoga session for 12 weeks.

The result:

Women in the tai chi/yoga practice were less depressed, had less anxiety, and enjoyed better sleep.

Yoga Can Improve Newborn Health

A healthy baby with hearty weight.

That’s the goal of the new parents. There is research out of the Vivekananda Yoga Research Foundation that offered pregnant women a daily health program: either one hour of yoga or two 30 minute walks.

The results were surprising.

The yoga group showed significant increases in birth weight and had lower numbers of preterm labor.


Yoga Helps You Sleep Better to Live Better

Sleep is important. Good sleep is even more important. If you’ve ever tossed and turned, try adding yoga to your routine.

The study Impact of Long Term Yoga Practice on Sleep Quality and Quality of Life in the Elderly looked at the effect of six months of yoga. Seniors who practiced daily showed great improvement in their sleep quality. Anyone who’s has a bad night’s sleep knows it can affect your day. As you’d expect, the research showed that yoga also improved their quality of life.

Spine Health & Posture

Yoga Improves Your Spine’s Flexibility

Does your back feel tight?

Scientists at Poland’s University of Physical Education investigated how best to help you loosen up. A study program consisted of 90 minutes of hatha yoga once a week for 13 weeks.

For both men and women, there was a significant increase in spine flexibility for both forward and lateral movements plus an increased range of motion when twisting. Researchers also found a noted improvement in the men’s ability to bend backward (what a nice surprise!).

Yoga’s Got Your (Lower) Back

Adults who suffered from chronic or recurrent lower back pain participated in a 12-week yoga program. The UK study compared their results to the back pain usual treatments. The yoga practice yielded better improvements in back function.

What’s even better?

The improvement lasted for up to 12 months following the program. Swapping long-term pain for long-term gains with yoga!

Yoga Improves Your Posture

Are you sitting up straight right now?

If you’re like most people, probably not. Modern life (and cell phones!) shift our bodies into bad posture habits. Yet, a good yoga practice can help you stand tall.

A review from Texas A&M University showed that yoga strengthens important muscles for posture. Yoga poses build up the muscles of around your neck and spine. These stronger muscles sooth the aches caused by bad posture.

Stress & Well-Being

Destress with Yoga: It Works!

Are your shoulders tight? Is your mind racing?

You just might be stressed! Stress can sneak into all parts of modern life. Fortunately, yoga is a valuable antidote.

The Role of Yoga in Stress Management investigates the links between your physical and mental state and stress. The report shows that yoga’s postures boost your system’s natural processes, including blood circulation and hormone function. The meditation helps stabilize the autonomic nervous system.

These physical benefits make yogis more resilient to stress and long-term health conditions.

Yoga Increases Your Feeling of Well-being

Feeling well, with some yogic help.

A research review from Anton de Kom University of Suriname compiled studies that looked at the impact of yoga on mental health. In particular, they were interested in how it affects the general population outside of clinical treatment.

They found that yoga caused a significant increase in psychological well-being compared to no intervention at all.

Yoga Improves Overall Mood

When you’re feeling stressed or down, a physical outlet is important. But, which one is the most useful to change your mood?

Research from Boston University compared two very common physical activities: yoga and walking. For twelve weeks, participants did an hour of their activity three times weekly.

So, which activity is best?

The yoga participants reported a greater improvement in mood and decrease in anxiety than their walking counterparts.

Feel Better at Work with Yoga

Stressed at work?

You’re not alone. Research is showing that yoga can significantly improve your well-being at work.

A study out of the UK tested a six-week yoga program on university staff. At the end of the program, employees felt seriously better. The yoga participants felt less anxious, confused, depressed and tired. They also felt more satisfied, self-confident and had a great sense of life purpose.

So, the next time work has you got you down: try a downward-facing dog!

Yoga Gives Children an Emotional Toolkit

Patience is a virtue, they say. It’s one of the many virtues yoga can teach children. To understand its influence, a doctor compiled the research on youth yoga.

Yoga teaches breathing and awareness. These skills assist the child’s ability to step back and manage stress calmly (what a treat!). As children grow, yoga helps them be accepting of their body. Yoga can even help with teen angst. Yes, yoga’s mindfulness gives teens the tools to be less impulsive and navigate challenges.

Yoga Promotes Positive Self-perception

As the wise James Brown said, “I feel good! I knew that I would, now.”

You too can know that you’ll feel good, with just a bit of yoga.

A pilot study in Brazil tested personal well-being before and after a yoga program. Post-program, participants self-reported improvements in their well-being. In particular, there was improvement in self-control, self-perception and body awareness.

Yoga Can Build Self-Esteem

Self-esteem is an essential part of our emotional intelligence. It can be difficult to build self-esteem at any ages, but students can have it particularly tough. A study from Islamic Azad University highlights a new tool for supporting mental health.

Researchers studied the difference between university students who took part in a two-month yoga training program and those who did not. The yogi students showed a significant reduction in stress and an enhanced self-esteem.

Avoid Burn-out with Yoga

Burn-out can take the best people out of important roles. Nurses are a key group who face continuous emotional and physical challenges.

How can we take care of our caretakers?

Research published in Workplace Health and Safety piloted a study on yoga for nurses. Participants completed eight-weeks of practice. Compared to the control group, the yogi nurses reported significantly higher self-care, mindfulness and less emotional exhaustion.

Yoga Can Strengthen Morality and Spirituality

What’s the difference between college students and yoga students?

Surprise! There’s no punchline, but actual research from Old Dominion University. Sociologists compared survey results between the two groups.

The yoga practitioners reported having strong morals and values. In addition, they were more able to express their feelings and be considerate of others. While college students surprisingly reported more mental wellness, yoga students were more connected to their spirituality and how it can impact quality of life.

Weight Loss, Fitness and Physical Performance

Lose Weight and Keep it Off with Yoga

Stepping on the bathroom scale doesn’t need to be scary. A study published in Alternative Therapies in Health and Medicine revealed that long-term yoga practice can help with weight management.

Researchers looked at the physical activity and weight of over 15,000 adults. When yoga was practiced for four years or more, it was responsible for shedding over 3 pounds for people with normal weight. For overweight participants, yoga shed over 18 pounds! Plus, regular yoga practice can help maintain weight.

Yoga Builds Healthy Eating Habits and Fights Cravings

Food can be a joy. It can also be an enemy. Yoga helps turn it back into a friend. A study published in Qualitative Health Research discovered a shift in just three months.

Researchers studied yoga as a treatment for binge-eating. A 12-week yoga program was offered to obese women. Their personal journals revealed a healthier relationship with food and decreased the quantity consumed. In addition, the yoga treatment increased their feelings of self-empowerment and positivity towards their physical well-being.

Lower Your BMI with Yoga

Isn’t it just a number?

Yes, but an important one. Your body mass index or BMI can be an important indicator of physical well-being.

To maintain a healthy number, scientists at Northcentral University found clear link between healthy BMI and yoga. It turns out that the longer someone has been practicing yoga, the lower their BMI.

Don’t worry, you don’t need to be a lifer to see a positive impact. Researchers found a dose-effect: for each increase in yoga, there was a decrease in BMI.

Yoga Breathing for Better Abs

How many crunches does it take to get great abs? Alternatively, how many yoga breaths does it take?

A study out of Lomo Linda University compared the activity of the abdominal and oblique muscles during two exercises: ab crunches and yoga breathing. Participants completing the breathing exercise showed comparable performance to the abdominal crunches.

And that’s not all:

With longer duration, the yogic breathing increased the ab muscle work up to 5 times greater than the crunches.


While this reaction to stress is an important part of our evolutionary background, this reaction can cause long-term harm at the genetic level. This response produced a molecule that causes cellular inflammation. While helpful during stress, it has been linked to cancer and accelerated aging.

So, what’s the good news?

Yoga Increases Your Vitality

Nothing beats that feeling of vitality. Now scientists are investigating how to bring vitality to people even in the most trying times.

A study published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology looked at the impact of yoga practice on breast cancer survivors.

Survivors practiced hatha yoga twice weekly for 12 weeks. At the end of the program, vitality was higher than the control group. Three months after treatment, the yoga group reported lower fatigue and higher vitality.

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About the Author:

TFT Editorial Team

TFT Editorial Team

Our team at The Fitness Tribe often collaborates together to produce content. When you see "TFT Editorial Team" this is because the content was not written by a single author, but rather a team effort.

Yoga for Beginners – The Ultimate Guide

New to yoga? It's easy to get overwhelmed and intimidated when jumping into this amazing practice. For that reason, we put together this comprehensive guide to get you going on your yoga journey. Enjoy!

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You might be wondering:

Can you start a yoga practice even if you can’t touch your toes with your nose, or fold yourself inside out while maintaining a serene state of Zen?

You may also be wondering: Does practicing yoga mean that you’ll soon be wearing Birkenstocks non-ironically while your hair starts to dread from washing it purely with coconut oil as you sign off emails with “Namaste”?

Even though from the outside the yoga community may seem like a wacky cult involving rituals around spandex leggings and vegan iPhone cases – I promise you we’re really nice people.

And the iPhone cases are actually gluten free.

In this article I will hold your hand and take you through the ins and outs of yoga for beginners. By the time you get to the end, you will not only thank me for my gentleness, but also feel fully informed in all things yoga.

What is Yoga Really?

Yoga is more than just a serious of uncomfortable positions.

It’s true that you will get into positions that are uncomfortable – but don’t you see how that’s different?

When you first start taking yoga it’s intimidating. Many of the poses are referred to in their Sanskrit names, and often a teacher will start class chanting words you don’t understand. For all you know you could be singing along to the lyrics of White Snake, but in some ancient tongue.

Look: The main thing for you to know is that you don’t have to know what’s going on when you first start. Like anything in life, it’s a learning process that will take time.

In the beginning your teacher will sound like the grown ups in Charlie Brown, but after a few classes “Womp womp womp womp,” will eventually sound like “bend forward into uttanasana.”

Did I lose you already? Stay with me now!

Think of yoga like this:

You have your mind, your body, and your spirit, and yoga will work all these parts of you.

In many physical activities we can find these moments where we lose ourselves in the flow state.

It’s that place where you’re not thinking, or hearing the dialogue of your ego chatting away endlessly in your brain, but you’re genuinely focused on what’s happening.

The journey of yoga has a lot to do with discovering that state not only during your yoga practice, but also in life.

You will train your mind just as much as your body – and your spirit goes along for the ride.

The benefits of yoga are not just physical, but also mental because it helps your well-being, ability to focus, and stress levels – as long as you don’t get stressed out about headstand because that is not the point!

Benefits of Yoga: What's all the Fuss About?

In our Western sedentary world we often have to make time for movement. We no longer live in those innocent times of the past where we used our muscles throughout the day by hunting for food, harvesting wheat, or running after witches in Salem circa 1692.

Most of us spend hours sitting in front of computers, driving, at work, on the couch, or in line at the grocery… because man I’ve been here FOREVER!

Yet the human body is made for movement. It is crucial to our mental and physical health.

So what can we do with our bodies that is strength building, enjoyable, and doesn’t involve 78 selfies per gym visit?

Enter yoga.

The West is obsessed with yoga because it fills so many of the existential holes of our modern society. It brings you into your body, reminds you to breathe / de-stress, and it has a spiritual component that appeals to millions.

Our contemporary world has changed so drastically since the industrial revolution and yoga connects us to our ancient human roots in a way that pumping iron in front of a mirror just can’t.

Yoga isn’t just some new age fad, but rather a movement that connects us to our humanity.

Yoga isn’t just some new age fad, but rather a movement that connects us to our humanity.

Yoga poses all have emotional components.

Heart openers genuinely do make your heart more open in life and hip openers help release emotions we have stored in them for years.

Each and every pose has a purpose of not only strengthening your muscles, but also of cleansing the feelings you have stored inside your body.

If you think I’m a hippy weirdo for saying your emotions are packed in your body like a suitcase from that vacation you took 25 years ago, just think of how many times you’ve been anxious about something and your neck started to hurt, or your stomach ache.

There are many times physical ailments come from our emotional distress and yoga will help release those old feelings like a kraken.

Just in case you’re not convinced yoga will also….

  • improve your flexibility (and subsequently sex life)
  • build muscle tone and strength
  • help with your circulatory and cardio health (heart disease is the number one killer in the us, so this is a BIG BONUS)
  • allow you to sleep better (who couldn’t use more beauty sleep… besides sleeping beauty of course)
  • improve your energy levels (see sex life above)
  • reduce injuries (cool)
  • detoxify your organs (chances are you poison them regularly with food, alcohol, and too much sugar)
  • improve your posture
  • help with anxiety and depression (MILLIONS of people are medicated for these alignments… so let yoga help you with that!)
  • aid in healing chronic pain (chronic pain makes you cranky)
  • release endorphins that improve your mood (have I mentioned sex life?)

Want to discover more benefits? Check out our BIG list of yoga benefits.

3 Yogis On Why They Practice Yoga

People do yoga for a variety of reasons. Some of which may include one or more of the benefits we just went over.

Whatever has brought you to yoga, once you begin your practice, you will see how the teachings impact your entire life.

Here below, three influential yogi’s share what brings them to their practice, and what keeps them going.

Yogi Jessamyn Stanley

Jessamyn is one of my personal favorites.

In a world where yoga is marketed by skinny white women that ultimately is alienating to everyone else, Jessamyn shatters all expectations. She has a beautiful practice, and I highly recommend you check her out.

In her own words:

"Yoga helped me accept and embrace the way that my body is so that I can be an active participant in my own life."

Jessamyn Stanley

Yogi Rachel Sarnoff a.k.a 'Mommy Greenest'

As a CEO, author and blogger and avid yoga practitioner, Rachel has a lot on her plate.

In an honest post over at her blog MommyGreenest.com, she shares the interesting story of how her reasons for practicing yoga have changed as she’s grown older.

Rachel experienced excruciating body image as a young woman. But as she started practicing yoga regularly in her 20s, the physical changes in her body as well as the strength gains she was experiencing helped her start accepting herself.

This was an incredible breakthrough and kept her going on her yoga journey.

In her own words:

“I learned to stop hating my body. I stopped starving and bingeing. I threw away my scale and began to…I wouldn’t say embrace, but definitely accept, my curves. My new affirmation? I may never be skinny, but I can be strong.”

With the negative body image out of the way, here’s what keeps her excited about her practice today:

"I don’t practice yoga because I think it will flatten my stomach or shrink my ass. Why I do yoga is because I believe it will be the boat that I ride into old age, protecting me from an ocean of physical pain and emotional isolation...

...At nearly 70, she is still strong and limber enough to hold utthita hasta padangustasana (yes I had to look that up) on the beach, in a bathing suit, just months after a double mastectomy."

Rachel Sarnoff

Yogi Dan Nevins

Dan, a highly decorated soldier, is a double amputee who lost both his legs below the knees in the Iraq war.

Today, Dan is a professional speaker who is inspiring audiences all over the world.

His spirit, attitude, and eventual journey into yoga saved him from suffering from PTSD. Inspired by how yoga helped in his recovery, Dan became a Baptiste yoga teacher in 2015.

A military man may not the person you’d expect to be a yoga teacher, yet that’s exactly why he’s so fascinating.

Dan says:

“Everyone is fighting some war. Everyone has those scars that they carry around ...”

“... It doesn’t have to be from explosions or war. And I know that almost all of my students know a veteran, so I tell them to invite them to yoga. Because it might just save their life.”

Dan Nevins

The Different Types of Yoga – Which is Right for You?

Not all yoga classes are the same.

Just like there are different styles of music, there are many genres of yoga; for example the energetic Katy Perry Vinyasa flow, or a more mellow Bob Dylan yin yoga, or perhaps the somewhat rigid Sting Iyengar yoga.

No matter your personality type, there is a yoga style that suits your needs.

If I were you I would be promiscuous when it comes to yoga. Try some things out, get to know the different types of yoga, see if they have a good relationship with its mother.

At different points of my life different styles have appealed to me.

Maybe you like a style but the teacher makes you want to punch yourself in the face. Don’t let that one teacher put you off. Think of it as a life long expedition into your body and psyche.

Allow for variation, exploration, and vulnerability.

Hatha Yoga

This is one of the more broad terms for yoga classes, but it focuses on holding poses and breath. It tends to be a slower paced class, because you are doing less poses but for a longer period of time.

This is a great class for beginners for it gives you time in each pose to really settle in.

The extra attention paid to the breath is also crucial for beginning yogis because yoga without proper breathing is Guantanamo Bay style torture. Connecting to your breath is crucial when it comes to yoga because it helps you relax into the poses. Stiff poses are much harder to hold than when you are breathing fully and finding a feeling of buoyancy.

Yes yoga can actually make you feel lighter even when you’re working harder!

Vinyasa Flow

These tend to be slightly rigorous classes that center on salutations (aka moving through a series of poses).

Vinyasa actually stands for “a methodical progression from one point to another” and the classes are energetic, and flow through poses to build heat throughout your body.

There is also a connection to the breath through movement, and an emphasis on transitioning from one pose to the next with equal importance to the pose itself. Vinyasa is one of the more popular forms of yoga, but I think it is best practiced after a few months of a more slower paced, alignment oriented practice.

Iyengar Yoga

Out of the types of yoga I discuss on this page, Iyengar is the on that’s most focused on alignment and subtleties of each pose. It is slow paced, but very detail oriented.

I highly recommend this class for beginners.

It’s not the same “work out vibe” as for example Bikram (read about Bikram further down) but you will learn the fundamentals, which is crucial.

Iyengar yoga often uses props to help each yogi, no matter their flexibility, find proper alignment of each pose.

I cannot stress enough how important this is. When you understand this aspect of yoga, you can go to any class and protect yourself from potential injury.

In America we often think to push harder means better, but in yoga having proper form is much more important than sweating through your eyeballs.

Yin Yoga/Restorative Yoga

These yoga classes are more about relaxation then pushing your body to build strength.

They work well for beginners, and are great for the mind and spirit. Teaching yourself to genuinely relax and open has huge positive repercussions.

However, I do not recommend jumping from restorative to Vinyasa class because you will be slightly lost.

Yin is more challenging than restorative as it applies moderate stress to the connective tissue, tendons, fascia and ligaments – with the aim of increasing circulation in the joints and improving flexibility. Yet yin is still a more passive practice.

These yoga styles are a great tool on your yoga journey, yet I would personally recommend them as a complement to another kind of yoga that you practice on a regular basis.

Kundalini Yoga

This yoga form was brought to the West by Yogi Bhajan and is in my opinion pretty hard-core.

On the one hand it is great for beginners because there is lots of repetition, and the poses are less complex. There is a major emphasis on breath synchronization and the practice is designed to awaken the energy at the base of the spine in order to draw it upward through each of the seven chakras.

On the other hand – even though many of the Kriyas (series of movements) seem simple – you are sometimes asked to hold your arms out for 7 minutes. Now that may seem easy to do, but after the first minute your brain will be telling you repeatedly and relentlessly to put your arms down…

… for the entire next 6 minutes.

I think kundalini is endlessly fascinating, but it does attract a certain type of person. If you go to a class and find it’s not for you that doesn’t mean you should not try other yoga classes!

Bikram or 'Hot Yoga'

Bikram was founded by Bikram Chaundry and is the same class every time you go, no matter where you go.

There are two breathing techniques and 26 copy written poses you go through in the same order, and hold each one twice. First for one minute at a time, then 30 seconds.

What most people think about when they hear “Bikram” is heat and sweat. In Bikram the room is heated to exactly 105°F (40.6°C), with a humidity of 40%.

The heat is designed to flush out toxins and help you get into poses more easily.

Being in a very hot room is not for everyone, nor is having zero variation from class to class.

Bikram is one you’re going to have to try, but I do not think it represents all yoga. So don’t let it discourage you if you’re not a fan of creating a slip and slide with your own sweat on the yoga mat.

Many who go feel almost addicted to the rush of it, so it does impact a certain type of person profoundly.


It was brought to the west by Sri K. Pattabhi Jois and it is not fucking around.

There are six series in total, increasing in difficulty as you move from the primary series on. In order for you to learn the next series, you have to master the first.

As you work on one series, the class is the same set of poses, in the same order every time. This repetition helps train the mind, as well encourages you to truly understand each pose in a deep way. It is fast pace, and pretty challenging.

It can work great for beginners because it is the same, so you know what to expect. It also makes it so you can see obvious progress. “Oh now I can do the full bind in that pose where before I couldn’t.”

My mom loves this type of yoga because she can track her development and she’s very goal oriented.

Most Ashtanga studios offer what’s called “Mysore”-style classes, which allows students to work at their own pace but to still be assessed by senior instructors.

Ashtanga builds strength and endurance and is well suited for type A personalities.

Yoga Lingo: What's Up with All the Gibberish?

As a beginner yogi you may have a hard time understanding a lot of what the teacher is saying. For some reason, teachers in particular are often very keen on using the original Sanskrit term for almost everything.

Don’t worry though, no one expects you to know a bunch of Sanskrit words when you’re just starting out, and you’ll learn over time.

And in case you’re wondering what the hell Sanskrit is, it’s one of the terms we cover here below:

12 Common Yoga Terms

Asana: Yoga pose

Vinyasa: a series of poses strung together in a sequence

Sanskrit: An ancient language that is used for the poses and many of the chants.

Ashram: a spiritual hermitage or a monastery in Indian religions.

Namaste: a respectful greeting / salutation to you.

Om: a mystic syllable, considered the most sacred mantra in Hinduism and Tibetan Buddhism. It appears at the beginning and end of most Sanskrit recitations, prayers, and texts.

Chakra: (in Indian thought) each of the centers of spiritual power in the human body, usually considered to be seven in number.

Drishti: Drishti comes from a Sanskrit word meaning “gaze” or “view.” Many think of it as describing the position and placement of your eyes during an asana practice

Bandha: any of the three inner knots or locks that hold the pranic energy or psychic energy within certain areas (chakras) of the body. There are three bandhas: Mula Bandha, Uddiyana Bandha and Jhalandara Bandha.

Sacrum: a triangular bone in the lower back formed from fused vertebrae and situated between the two hipbones of the pelvis.

Mantra: (originally in Hinduism and Buddhism) a word or sound repeated to aid concentration in meditation.

Where to Start

Unless you are a SUPER motivated person who is also a super hero in your spare time, I recommend you start by taking classes. I’m sure where ever you live there are multiple options.

If you have the funds, try to get a private lesson every now and again, because often times you won’t get a lot of feedback from teachers if the class is crowded. These private lessons could give you something to work on for a few months. We are always working on something, and having a direct action plan can be very helpful.

Also when starting a new class, tell your that teacher you’re a beginner and would like corrections (either through touch or verbally depending on your comfortability). The more you let your teacher know that you are looking for guidance the more they will give it to you.

If you are feeling shy and maybe intimidated at the thought of going to a class full of strangers, or if you already have a strong physical understanding of your body, then maybe a home practice could work for you!

Yoga Class Etiquette

Much like you wouldn’t go to a fancy restaurant and burp loudly “thank you” as your plate’s being taken away, or fart in your hand and throw it at the waiter; there is a certain etiquette to yoga as well.

The more considerate people are of each other, the better the yoga experience is.

Also, since yoga is more than just a physical experience, being extra aware of your behavior during your practice is also part of the practice!

The main thing is to be mindful, but you’d be surprised how many people are the opposite. There is nothing worse than an asshole yogi, because seriously you’re missing the point!!

Here are some tips to not be a d*ck.

  • Figure out the late policy! Different studios handle this differently. Some places will want you to wait to enter the class after the “Om” for instance. Don’t just barge in without checking in first regarding what is best. Also when you do enter, remember to be quiet and respectful of others and not to bustle around with all your stuff.
  • Turn your cell phones on silent! Don’t text during class! Don’t come in talking about anal warts! All of this will be frowned upon! Also, sorry about the anal warts, that sounds really painful 🙁
  • Be helpful and considerate. When the teacher tells you to get props during class don’t barge over to the prop section pushing people out of the way. Maybe offer to your neighbor that you will get props for the both of you. It’s the little things that make the world go round.
  • Don’t be messy with your stuff or props! Keep them neat and orderly around your mat. Especially if the class is crowed, and even if it’s not. No one wants to downward dog looking at your messy mat area.
  • Don’t come to class sick. That’s a good time to practice at home. Sneezing, coughing, and blowing your nose while confined in a small condescend space as everyone is asked to “inhale deeply,” is a sure fire way to spread your plague. Please do everyone a favor and keep your snot to yourself.

Yoga Basics

Kind of like your mom, yoga teachers will repeat themselves.


It’s not because they have early onset Alzheimer’s, but rather because they are trying to be the voice in your head that you should hear on your own eventually.

When you get into a yoga pose you don’t want to just say to yourself “this sucks” the whole time, but you want to be thinking about a series of instructions of how to deepen your pose.

Eventually you won’t even have to think these things, it will just come to you naturally.

So listen to your yoga teachers and their suggestions!

Here are some basic themes you will hear them mentioning.


Unless hyperventilating is something you’re exploring in your spare time, learning to control your breath is a crucial part of your yoga practice.

Often times during physical exercise we tend to tense up, forget to breathe, or breathe in shallower manner. Yoga continually encourages us to focus on breath in order to calm the nervous system and oxygenate the blood.

When you breathe through your mouth, it tells your body that it is in a state of stress.

When you breathe through your nose, this signals to your body that you are not in danger.

Yoga will teach you to use your lungs to their full capacity, and breathe deeper into them. This is a HUGE PART of why you are there; so don’t tune out breath work because it’s not building muscle. It’s helping your body to function better, and heals your organs!


This refers to how your joints, tendons, ligaments, muscles, and bones line up.

Yoga is all about angles, and what angles your body is creating. You want to be HYPER AWARE of this, because when the angles are wrong, the energy can get stuck and you can injure yourself.

This is probably the hardest part of yoga to wrap your head around it the beginning.

I suggest you look at some yoga poses, either drawings, or yogi masters, and observe the angles they are creating with their body. How their knees line up over their ankles during lunges. How the wrist lines up with the shoulder during side plank.

If you think of a telephone wire, you don’t want that bent or twisted because that will obstruct the flow.

Same with your body.

Alignment is MORE important than doing something wrong but touching your toes while grimacing. Does that make sense?

Mula Bandha/Core

You will hear a LOT of talk about this.

Your Mula Bandha is your root lock, or pelvic core. It is a deep part inside of you that all movement should originate from.

Your core is what connects your upper and lower body, and your limbs to your torso. Core strength is what will help you in almost every pose you do, and in life in general.

When you are in a pose, and your core is not engaged, your alignment will be off and everything will feel very heavy and hard to hold.

When you engage your core, you will be more lifted, and will actually support your limbs. You want to be careful not to splay in the ribs, or allow your rib cage to open in most poses.

You don’t want to tuck your pelvis to engage your core, but actually knit your ribs together and lift in the Mula Bandha. This is best practiced lying on the floor, as it is subtle but crucial movements.

Yoga Equipment and Props

When you walk into a yoga class you may have questions about what the “props” are for:

“Is this strap for some light BDSM during class? And if so, do I have to partner with that extra sweaty guy who still has some burrito in his beard from his trip to Costa Rica during the 2012 Mayan apocalypse?”

Or.. “What do I do with this block? Throw it at the teacher when I don’t like the pose they suggest?”

Not if it’s wooden you don’t!

The props are there to help you with your alignment and deepen your practice.

Don’t fear them! Use them.


As the most essential and basic of all props, the yoga mat provides cushion for your knees and toes and prevents you from slipping around on the floor.

If you’re like most yogis you’ll most likely want to get your own mat because you will be sweating and putting your DNA all over it.


Yoga blocks are great to help find proper alignment when your flexibility is holding you back and are almost an absolute necessity for beginners so always grab them in the beginning of class.

Unless you’re doing a home practice there is no need to purchase your own blocks because practically any good studio will have free access to them.

Interested in getting started with blocks? Check out our Yoga Blocks Beginner’s Guide.


Much like blocks, straps help with creating correct alignment when flexibility is impeding your energetic flow.

Available for free in most classes, straps are of great help to beginners, so always grab a strap in the beginning of class.


Often used in restorative classes, bolsters are pillows that you can lay on that help you slip into deeper relaxation in restorative poses.

Not to be redundant but blocks are also offered for free in almost every class so there’s no need to purchase your own unless you are doing a home practice.

10 Essential Poses for Beginners

Yoga is a series of shapes that you do standing, on the floor, upside down etc.

You will notice the patterns over time, such as:

“Oh… this supine twist is a lot like revolved triangle!”

Yes! It is!

Here are some poses that are great for beginners. Hopefully these will become “staples” that you will continue to practice for the rest of your long yoga life!

Downward dog

This pose strengthens your arms and shoulders and is good release for lower back. It can eventually be a restful pose, and decrease stress.

How to do it
Simply get on all fours and push up and back, bringing your pelvis towards the sky.

Your lower back is the MOST important thing to be aware of this pose. Many will round their lower back to compensate for tight hamstrings or calves.

It is much better to bend your knees and maintain length in the lower back than get your heels to the floor. You want the crease between your upper thigh and abdomen to be tight, or that angle to be sharp. If you need to bend your knees, please make sure to track your knees over your toes. You don’t want your knees to turn in which is a common problem in this pose.


The plank strengthens your arms and core.

How to do it
To perform this posture, get on all fours and extend both legs holding yourself in push-up position.

Remember to line up wrists and shoulders. This pose is just as much about your core as it is your arms. Don’t allow your butt to dip down, or hold it up too high. Keep your core engaged, and don’t let your head to drop either.


Strengthens arms, shoulders, and core.

How to do it
Get in plank or push up position, roll forward on your toes, and lower the body towards the ground.

This one many people do wrong and hurt their rotator cuff in their shoulder. You must lower your body down in one piece – like your arms are an elevator for your body. You must come forward on the toes before going down so as to create a 90-degree angle with your elbow, wrist, and shoulder.

If when you go down and your elbows create and acute angle, you are not far enough forward. This is VERY important.

If you do not have the strength to create the 90-degree angle, simply hold plank and go right to upward dog during a vinyasa. Or do a very small chaturanga and build the strength over time.

Never allow an acute angle with your wrists, elbow, shoulder because your shoulders will dip forward and collapse.

Warrior 2

Strengthen legs, opens hips.

How to do it
Stand in wide legged position. Turn front foot out perpendicular to mat and bend that knee. Back foot parallel to mat. Lift in lower abs and extend arms. Make sure your knees are over your ankles and do not allow your knee to go past your toes!

Remember to lift in the lower abs, and not to lean too forward. Lifting in those lower abs will help the torso to not pitch towards the front leg. Don’t allow your shoulders to lift high towards the ears. Keep breathing them down so your shoulder blades are on your back.

Tree pose

Great for balance and focus.

How to do it
Stand at the front of the mat. Raise one leg and place it on thigh (or calf if less flexible). Press hands together in prayer/ Press your foot into your thigh and your thigh into your foot with equal pressure.

Don’t pull the knee to far back, for it will throw you off. Allow the knee to fall within your natural turnout. With the leg that’s up, don’t let the hip hike up with it. Keep the hip bones balanced on the same plane. Use your eyes and focus on one spot to help with balance.

Pyramid Pose

Helps with leg flexibility, releases lower back, hip stretch.

How to do it
Stand with legs apart and hips facing forward. Back foot at 60 degree angle, front foot perpendicular to mat. Bow forward and keep hips aligned by bringing front hip back and back hip forward.

Much like downward dog, don’t allow tightness in the legs to compromise your lower back. You want your lower back long and length through the spine and out the crown or your head. Don’t let your head dip down. If need to, use blocks to maintain straight legs and a long back! A rounded back defeats the purpose.

Seated forward fold (either legs together or straddle)

Good leg and lower-back stretch.

How to do it
Sit on floor and extend legs either together or part.

This is a BIG one to think about:

Most people have their pelvis tilted back, therefore shortening the lower back when doing forward folds.

Imagine your pelvis is a bowl of cereal. When you do a forward bend, you want to pour the cereal out your front, not the back.

If your pelvis can’t tilt forward, put a blanket under your sitting bones for height. This will help you tilt your pelvis forward and lengthen in the lower back. Again don’t allow leg and hip tightness to compromise lower back. You want it LONG, not compressed.

The more you focus on that, the more protected your back will be.

Upward facing dog

Opens the heart and chest area, builds flexibility in back.

How to do it
Lie on tummy, bring hands under your ribs, then push up so you arms are straight and your chest is coming through your arms. You can stay on top of the toes, or curl toes under if you’re less flexible in the back.

This one you really want to make sure your arms are not hyper extended (over bending in elbow) and your shoulders line up with your wrists. Don’t allow the head to fall backwards and compress the neck. Keep length in the back of the neck when allowing the face to tilt up.


Increases blood flow, and brings new perspective.

How to do it
Clasp hands and bring them around head. Bring head to ground and lift your hips. Walk your feet in until you can lift them from the ground.

I would not kicking your legs up in order to get into the headstand. Instead you will want to lift your legs with control by using your core strength.

You have to be able to bring your hips over your shoulders, then lift the legs up together, or one at a time. You can tuck them both in so you’re in an upside down ball, and lift from there as well.

Make sure your elbows don’t splay out. Keep them in line with your shoulders. If your elbows go out, you can hurt your shoulders, and it’s harder to balance. You can use a strap to keep your elbows in line.

Triangle Pose

Strengthens legs, builds core.

How to do it
Stand with legs apart, back foot parallel to mat and front foot perpendicular. Extend arms and lean forward until you can longer. Bring bottom arm down to floor, shin, or block and extend top arm.

You want to keep your legs straight and your lower ribs long. Many people compress those lower ribs because they want their hand to be on the ground. It’s better to use a block, and really pull those lower ribs underneath you to find length. Don’t allow the top arm to fall back and pull your shoulder out of alignment. Keep that top arm in line with the shoulder.

Beginner Flow

Yoga has a flow to it. Certain poses stream into others, because the transition from how you get from one pose to another is JUST as important as the pose itself.

Think of it as a dance, and how you move through the poses is part of the expression.

Here is a flow for you to try!

Downward dog


Warrior TwoTriangle Pose

Head to Knee/ Pyramid Pose

Step forward to standing Tree Pose

Step Back to Triangle

Head to Knee/ Pyramid Pose

Warrior Two

Downward Dog



Downward Dog(repeat on other side)


Seated Forward Bend

Wrap Up, Strap Up, and Get Your Asana ON!

I hope that I’ve opened up your third eye and it’s now bright and shining with the truth that yoga is for you!

No matter what your body type, there is a practice that will suit your needs.

No matter what your emotional struggle, there is a yoga that will benefit you. No matter what your spiritual questions are, there is a yoga that will feed that part of your curiosity.

Yoga isn’t a means to an end. It’s an end in and of itself.

The whole point is that just being on the path is enough; no matter how sweaty, or how many times you fall off a balance.

Just showing up is what matters and I hope this guide has helped guide you through all that you needed guidance on!

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TFT Editorial Team

TFT Editorial Team

Our team at The Fitness Tribe often collaborates together to produce content. When you see "TFT Editorial Team" this is because the content was not written by a single author, but rather a team effort.

Yoga Blocks: A Complete Guide for Beginners

Yoga blocks can be an essential tool for your practice, especially for beginners. Here we will go over why you should use yoga blocks, a few examples of how to use them, and some tips for buying yoga blocks.

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Um, what is that thing??

If you’ve ever stepped inside a yoga studio or found yourself wandering down the fitness aisle of the local big box store, you’ve likely seen a yoga block or two. You know, those weird looking bricks they tuck between the mats and other yoga gear?

But what on earth are they for? 

As it turns out, yoga blocks are quite useful props to have around.

In this article we will delve into the many ways blocks can take your practice to a whole new level. We will explore the differences in materials and sizes available, as well as provide real world applications and ways to enhance common poses with step-by-step instructions.

A little bit of History

Yoga blocks made their debut as a prop in the 1970s. BKS Iyengar, one of the founding fathers of yoga in the United States, was a firm supporter of props in yoga to make poses accessible and more comfortable. Yogis would make their own blocks out of wood. They were splintered, heavy, and difficult to transport.

Eventually the blocks were made of foam which were easier on the hands and lighter to transport.

So Why Use a Block?

Now the question is: “What does it actually do?”

If you are new to yoga, have physical limitations, or feel uncertain in your practice, the block is an excellent tool that can assist you with poses that may otherwise be unavailable or intimidating to you. Blocks can be used to develop proper alignment as well as ‘raise the floor’ to meet you. It can also provide stability and encourage proper alignment.  

Experienced yogis can also benefit from incorporating blocks into their practice. The yoga block can be a wonderful way to deepen into poses and increase flexibility, allowing you to advance to the next level of asanas.

Okay, so now you have a general idea of what a block is and why you should try it, let’s delve into some concrete examples of how to use it.

Practical Applications

Using Blocks for Stability and Height

There are a lot of reasons to use a block for stability. 

Beginners can develop confidence in their bodies as they move through a sequence.

If you have some hesitation, or perhaps a physical limitation that prevents you from reaching the floor, the block brings the floor to you. By accommodating your needs with this simple modification, you are able to focus on the essence of the pose itself.

Here we break down several poses, issues commonly experienced in each one, and how to use a block to address and accommodate them.

Easy Seated Pose (Sukhasana)

The Issue
Tight hips can result in discomfort in this seated position; knees hover above the ground and there may be a “pinched” sensation in the hip flexors or pain in the low back.

Modify It!
Raise the hips above knee level in order to better relax the hips and stabilize the back.

Practical Application
Place block on the floor on the lowest setting. Sit on the edge of the block, allowing the knees to naturally open to the side as you cross your ankles. You may also enjoy bringing extra blocks in and allowing your knees to rest on the additional blocks.

Standing Forward Fold (Uttinasana)

The Issue
Tight hamstrings can make forward folds uncomfortable, especially if you find yourself dangling your arms above the floor and straining in an attempt to maintain straight legs.

Modify it!
The block raises the floor to the hands and provides support and stability. With this “resting place” provided by the block, the yogi can relax more fully into the fold without straining the low back and hamstrings in an effort to touch the floor.

Practical Application
Stand with legs straight. Stack block(s) in front of feet and fold forward at the hips, reach for the floor, allowing hands to rest on the block(s).

Half-moon Pose (Ardha Chandrasana)

The Issue
This pose can be tricky, especially for anyone with shaky balance. The added challenge of reaching toward the floor and revolving the torso can be quite intimidating!

Modify it!
Use the block to raise the floor to meet the hand and provide stability in this standing balance pose.

Practical Application
Holding the block lengthwise in the right hand, gently shift your weight into the right foot. Gradually lift the left leg behind you as you fold forward, hinging from the hips. Place the block on its tallest setting and keep your right hand on it for stability. Slowly rotate the torso, stacking the hips and lifting the left hand to the sky.  Repeat on the opposite side.

Triangle pose (Trikonasana)

The Issue
Tight hamstrings and shaky balance can lead to hyper-extension of the knee in an attempt to stabilize and simultaneously reach the floor.

Modify it!
The block raises the floor to the hand and provides stability and support in standing poses.

Practical Application
Beginning in Mountain pose, step the right foot back and pivot it to be parallel with back of mat. The left foot remains at the top of the mat, toes pointed forward. Keeping the torso straight, hold one rectangle block in the tallest position in left hand. Shifting your torso forward, keep a “microbend” in the left knee as you lengthen the spine and then bend at the hips, bringing the block to floor to the right or “inside” of the left foot. Lift right arm up to the sky and look up at the right hand, opening across the chest. Repeat on the opposite side.

Hero’s pose (Virasana)

The Issue
Tight hips can result in the sit bones hovering above the ground when in Hero Pose, causing strain on the knees. Some yogis find resting weight on the ankles uncomfortable as well.

Modify it!
The block can act as a bolster, raising the hips high enough to minimize the bend in the knee while also keeping weight off the ankles.

Practical Application
Place a block on the floor. One or two blocks, stacked, can be used. Come to your knees hovering over the block and sit on it so that your feet are outside of each hip. Sit up tall, hands palms up on the thighs. Close the eyes and breathe.

Forearm balance (Pincha Mayurasana)

Note: this is a more advanced posture. It is included here for people attempting the pose for the first time, or who have found difficulty with alignment.

The Issue
When attempting this pose, the elbows may tend to splay out to the sides, compromising the shoulder girdle and the foundation of the pose.

Modify it!
The block creates a focal point to encourage   effective muscular engagement by bringing the elbows in towards the midline of the body for proper alignment

Practical Application
Hold block between thumb and pointer finger, lengthwise, with elbows in line with the body. Place block on the floor, still holding it. Raise hips and straighten legs, coming into Dolphin pose. When you are comfortably aligned, begin lifting one leg high as you gently kick the other leg up to come into forearm balance.

Deepen into Poses with a Block

Below you’ll learn how to use a yoga block to go a little deeper into poses. This is helpful as you are ready to move from beginner to intermediate and from intermediate to an advanced yoga practice. Using a block in the ways suggested will prepare your body for more flexibility and strength. Try these poses for 1-3 minutes each.

Legs “up the wall” Pose in the middle of the room (Viparita Karani)

This gentle inversion is meant to be calming and restorative. The pose involves a slight backbend, and the settling of the legs into the hip sockets for stability.

Go deep!
The block raises the pelvis up off the floor, adding cushion and a slight backbend to the lower back. The angle of the legs straight up and down over the block facilitates hips rooting into hip sockets, while minimizing any pressure on the lumbar spine.

Practical application
Lie down on back. Gently raise hips and place block under the sacrum, adjusting as necessary for comfort. Tuck the knees towards the chest and begin straightening the legs towards the sky. Remain as long as you comfortably can.

Supported Fish pose (Matsyasana)

This pose is designed to encourage a backbend in the thoracic region, the least flexible section of the spine, as well as chest expansion to allow for clearer breathing.

Go deep!
The block will provide support under the thoracic spine, providing a passive bend while allowing the shoulders to gently open and the chest to expand.

Practical application
Place block on the floor where it will rest approximately between the shoulder blades. (You will likely want to experiment with different heights and positions of the block, to find the one most suitable for you.) Gently lie back, coming to rest on the block. Allow gravity to gently release the shoulders, opening up for chest expansion. Draw the crown of the head back, lifting the chin  towards the sky and stretching the front of the neck slightly.

Elevated Butterfly pose or Bound Angle Pose (Baddha Konasana)

This pose is designed to open the hips through external rotation. The hip flexors are gently stretched and tension is released as the pose is held for as long as it is comfortably available.

Go deep!
Using blocks in this pose encourages thigh adductors and IT bands to relax, bring the practitioner to a deeper level of hip flexibility.

Practical application
Begin by sitting on the floor, soles of the feet drawn together and close to the body, allowing the knees to fall away from the midline. Place a rectangle block under each ankle, raising the feet above hip level. Maintain a neutral back as you fold forward, being mindful of your body’s signals as you progress deeper into the pose.

Frog Pose (Mandukasana)

In Frog Pose, the yogi is entering into what can be a challenging hip opener. The weight of the body is used to apply pressure to the inner thighs and groin, slowly stretching them out.

Go deep!
The use of blocks here will encourage relaxation in the upper body to encourage a deeper hip opening stretch in the adductor/groin area.

Practical application
Come to hands and knees or table top position. Place block(s) under the elbows, finding the most appropriate height for your comfort. Begin to separate knees wide as you clasp the hands together. Lower the hips closer to the floor making sure the knees are in line with the ankles, feet flexed.

Buying Guide

So now you know what the yoga block is used for, why and how it can be beneficial, and how to bring it into your practice. But what kind of block should you get?

Luckily, blocks are generally very affordable and widely available in today’s market. They come in different shapes, sizes, and materials. If you have a yoga studio in your area, you may be able to experiment with different options before you buy.

Here’s what you need to know when shopping for yoga blocks:


Blocks are widely available in the following three materials:

Foam is generally considered best for beginners because it’s firm enough to provide stability,  but also has enough “give” to make it appropriate for restorative poses. Foam is not slippery, even if it gets sweaty. It is the most affordable option on the market, staying in the $10 and under range.

Cork is a natural material and a favorite of eco-conscious yogis. Cork blocks can be stacked without slipping and are easily gripped for all yoga poses, even when wet. They are noticeably more sturdy than foam, which some practitioners may find  uncomfortable when the blocked is used under the spine. Cork blocks are also slightly more expensive, falling in the $10-20 range as a general rule.

Wood blocks are often made from sustainable bamboo, making them a very eco-friendly option. They can also be found in pine or teak. They are the sturdiest of the choices given here. It should be noted that wood is more slippery than the other materials, and can be rather heavy. Wooden blocks are available in a wide range of prices, from $15-$30 depending on the wood used.

Shape & Size

The most widely available yoga blocks are rectangular, and the dimensions measure 4” x 6” x 9” and 3” x 6” x 9”. (There are other sizes and proprietary shapes available, but for the purpose of this article we will focus on the most universal options.)

Generally speaking, either of the two sizes above will be appropriate for your practice, as blocks are very versatile in design. A yoga block on the lowest setting will provide the most surface area and stability, while standing it on end will provide the most height.

In standing positions, a yogi with tighter hamstrings will enjoy the highest setting, as it will take more pressure off the low back and hamstrings than the lower options.

Alternatively, the same practitioner will find the lowest setting much more comfortable when using a block in seated postures.

Block Alternatives

If you haven’t gotten around to buying a block yet, you can improvise with items you likely have around the house!

Using a thick, sturdy book is a great alternative way to bring the floor closer to you in standing poses. Simply place it as you would a traditional block, and enjoy the stretch.

A folded blanket, rolled towel, or a bolster can be used for seated and supine poses. If more height is desired, simply stack more blankets. This can be very soothing in savasana as well!


Blocks are an affordable, widely available tool that can benefit yogis of all backgrounds and experience levels. They can support you in new poses and enhance your experience in entirely new ways. The yoga block may be considered optional, but it’s definitely an option worth exploring!

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TFT Editorial Team

TFT Editorial Team

Our team at The Fitness Tribe often collaborates together to produce content. When you see "TFT Editorial Team" this is because the content was not written by a single author, but rather a team effort.

Unwind: 7 Relaxing Yoga Poses When You Get Home from Work

Imagine how much stress you could relieve if you did a quick and easy yoga routine right when you got home from work. Whether you sit at a desk all day or are constantly on your feet, these moves will help you decompress from the work day.

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For 3,000 years yoga has introduced us to relaxation, meditation, and multiple health benefits. From reducing stress to fighting disease, yoga has grown in popularity, and new studies are finding out just how beneficial it is.

While you may not have the time every day (or every week) to attend a local yoga class, or even do your yoga before you start your day, there is little reason not to practice a few yoga poses when you get home from work.

Stress from the day and what lies ahead for the rest of the evening builds to a crescendo about the time we get home from work. Not only has the workday burdened your mind and body, now you have to plan dinner, help with homework, do chores and get ready to start again in the morning.

Taking a few minutes to relax with a few yoga poses will help to clear your mind, enjoy your evening at home, and sleep better through the night.

Here we offer 7 relaxing yoga poses you can do at home when you get off work.


The most basic and integral poses, Sukhasana is designed to relax the body, open the hips and align the spine.

To enter this stress relieving pose:

  • Sit on the floor on the edge of the mat, or on a block with your legs straight out in front of you.
  • Start with your left leg and cross your legs in front of you at your shins.
  • With wide knees, place each foot below the opposite knee and bring your legs towards your torso.
  • Place your hands on your knees. Your palms can be facing up or down. Alternatively, you can place your hands at your chest in prayer pose.
  • Balance your weight evenly, aligning your hips, spine, and head.
  • Relax your neck and shoulders while looking directly ahead, or closing your eyes.
  • Stay in position for 1 minute and then release the pose.
  • Begin the pose again, starting with the right leg crossing over first.

Cat Stretch

The cat stretch helps to elongate the spine, relieving stress and pressure. This pose is also used to help with posture which protects the spine and hips.

To perform the cat stretch:

  • Begin on the floor or mat on your hands and knees. Often called Table Position, your arms should be straight, head forward and your back aligned and parallel to the floor.
  • Ensure that your hips are directly over your knees and your shoulders are over your wrists.
  • Inhale deeply and smoothly as you lift your hips and shoulders away from the mat, allowing your belly to fall towards the ground. Hold the pose as long as you are inhaling.
  • Exhale slow and controlled while reversing the body position; your shoulders and hips should fall to towards the mat while your belly raises up towards your spine.
  • Keep your belly drawn in and your back curved upwards while you exhale.
  • Repeat the sequence three to five times.

Supine Twist

The supine twist is an excellent pose to remove stress build up and wring your torso like a sponge. This will stimulate and detoxify your organs, allowing you to feel near-instant benefits.

To enter supine twist:

  • Lie on your back with your knees together and feet flat on the floor. Your arms should rest at your sides.
  • Exhale and slowly bring your knees to your chest, wrapping your arms around them.
  • Extend your left leg straight out on the floor, keeping your right knee to your chest.
  • With your left arm, press your right leg over your left, trying to touch the ground with your knee.
  • Your right arm should be on the floor straight out from your side, face your right hand and breathe ten to 20 breaths.
  • Slowly bring yourself back to your knees at chest position, and begin again, this time with your right leg out, twisting to the right.
  • Return to the knees to chest position and slowly straighten both legs out to exit the pose.

Child’s Pose

Child’s pose is meant to stretch the spine and legs releasing stress and anxiety.

To enter child’s pose:

  • Sit on your heels with your knees together in front of you.
  • Exhale as you collapse over your knees, pushing your arms out over your head, pushing your palms to the floor.
  • Hold the pose for ten to twenty breaths.
  • Return to the sitting position.

Standing Forward Bend

To stretch your back, legs and shoulders, standing forward bend is the perfect relaxing pose.

To enter standing forward bend:

  • Stand straight with your feet and knees together.
  • Slowly exhale as you bend forward at the waist pushing your palms to the floor.
  • Take slow deep breaths as you hold the pose for 1 minute.
  • When standing, first bend the knees and support your spine while rising.

Head to Knees Pose

This stretching pose works on your thighs and butt as well as your back.

To enter Head to Knees pose:

  • Sit on the floor with your legs straight in front of you. Ankles and knees together.
  • Slowly exhale as you bend at the waist extending your hands over your feet and placing your head on your knees.
  • Go as far as you can and let gravity pull you down. If you can’t reach your knees, just go as low as your body will allow.
  • Hold the pose for 5 to 10 breaths. Inhale as you return to the sitting position.

Corpse Pose

Corpse pose is the final pose as it allows your entire body to relax and feel the releasing effects of gravity.

To enter corpse pose:

  • Lay flat on your back, legs and arms straight.
  • Your arms and legs should be comfortable, normal distance from your body.
  • Close your eyes as you lay flat and release all the tension from your mind.
  • Allow gravity to pull you into the floor, relaxing every muscle.
  • Hold this post as long as you like. When you are finished, slowly pull yourself to a sitting position and then stand.

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TFT Editorial Team

TFT Editorial Team

Our team at The Fitness Tribe often collaborates together to produce content. When you see "TFT Editorial Team" this is because the content was not written by a single author, but rather a team effort.