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The Benefits of Yoga: How a Practice Can Completely Change Your Life

Yoga is everywhere these days, with the ancient practice making its way into the mainstream from board rooms to elementary schools to corporate campuses.

Despite its increasing popularity, there are still lots of people who have yet to reap the benefits of a regular yoga practice. They might think it's too challenging, time-consuming, or expensive.

But yoga totally doesn't have to be! It can be easily incorporated into anyone's schedule and budget.

Keep reading for a list of yoga's best benefits, plus ideas on how you can get started RIGHT NOW with a regular practice!

1. Yoga chills you out.

The practice has been found to ease anxiety and reduce stress -- as well as help to alleviate depression. According to Harvard Health, "By reducing perceived stress and anxiety, yoga appears to modulate stress response systems. This, in turn, decreases physiological arousal — for example, reducing the heart rate, lowering blood pressure, and easing respiration."

2. Yoga can help you drop pounds.

Research has shown that it can contribute to weight loss efforts in a major way. In one study of 15,000+ adults in their 50s, overweight people who did yoga at least once a week for four or more years lost an average of five pounds, while those who didn't gained an average of 13.5.

3. Yoga can ease your pain.

Practicing yoga moves has proven effective as a pain reliever in lots of different ways. One study found that among 313 people with chronic low back pain, a weekly yoga class increased mobility more than standard medical care. And it's not just low back pain, it's been known to help with arthritis, fibromyalgia, migraine, and lots of other conditions.

4. Yoga boosts your brain.

If you want to stay sharp and increase your clarity and focus, yoga's your jam. It staves off cognitive decline and helps your brain work better. Researchers found that immediately after a 20-minute hatha yoga session, participants in a study completed a set of mental challenges both faster and more accurately than they did after a quick walk or a jog.

5. Yoga helps you sleep.

Everyone deals with insomnia now and again, and most people are getting less sleep than ever -- particularly quality sleep. Because we all tend to be in an overstimulated state, yoga helps us wind down. An analysis from Duke University found evidence that yoga can be helpful for treating sleep disorders.

Now that you know how much yoga can impact your life, how can you get started? Easy peasy. It doesn't have to be hours of practice per day. You can start small.

Search YouTube for 15 to 20 minute (or even less!) yoga routines; sign up for something like Yoga Glo, an app/program that offers thousands of taped classes; or go to a free yoga session in your community. There are even easy routines you can do while at work or on a five-minute break.

The barrier of entry is low, and there are options everywhere!

And, if you want, you can get your yoga practice started at Seed Food + Wine Week this November, when we'll have some world-class yogis leading classes that everyone can get into!

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