Yoga has something for everyone: Fitness fanatics love it because it helps increase muscle mass and improve flexibility, while others are focused on its mental benefits, such as reducing stress and improving concentration. And now, new research reveals that there is even more to love about this practice, like the fact that it can help your heart.
While yoga is not considered cardiovascular training, the practice is actually as good for your heart as aerobic exercises, such as brisk walking or biking, according to a new report published in the European Journal of Preventive Cardiology. Researchers found that both types of activities lower cholesterol levels, blood pressure and heart rate, 4 key markers of heart health.
And that is only the beginning. If you’re not a regular yogi yet, these 6 other benefits will inspire you to dust off your mat!
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Boost things in the bedroom
After practicing one hour of yoga a day for 12 weeks, the women reported improvements in arousal and sexual desire, lubrication, ability to orgasm, and overall satisfaction between the sheets. in a study in the Journal of Sexual Medicine.
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Calm food cravings
Yogis tend to gain less weight over time than their peers, probably because exercise teaches mindfulness skills – like mindful breathing – that can be applied to eating habits, in accordance with researchers from the University of Washington in Seattle.
Once you’ve built the mental willpower to hold difficult postures with steady breathing and a calm mind, you can use that strength to overcome cravings for cake or chocolate.
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Regulate your immunity
With just two hours of yoga practice your genes start to change, according to one University of Oslo research. Specifically, this “turns on” 111 genes that help regulate your immune cells. For comparison, other relaxation exercises like walking or listening to music cause changes in 38 genes.
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Makes migraines less frequent
After three months of yoga practice, migraine sufferers experienced fewer episodes and the headaches they felt were less painful, according to one study in the Journal Headache. Also these patients used medications less frequently and felt less anxiety or depression.
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Relieves premenstrual cramps
Three specific postures (cobra, cat, fish) were found to significantly reduce the severity of menstrual cramps in young women, according to one Iranian investigation. Study participants performed the exercises during the luteal phase, or a week or two between ovulation (which occurs in the middle of the period) and the start of the next period.
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Stops embarrassing leaks
Another problem “down there” yoga can treat: urinary incontinence. In A study, women who took part in a yoga program designed to work their pelvic floor muscles experienced a 70% reduction in the frequency of their leaks.