Yoga has been uplifting people for millennia with its healing, balancing and invigorating properties. Although it started as a fundamentally spiritual practice, yogis and scientists alike have discovered that modern-day people benefit immensely from using yoga for stress relief because of its astounding ability to build physical and mental resilience.

The Stress-Relieving Benefits of Yoga, According to Science

The body is a complex organism and works hand-in-hand with your mind to meet and conquer life’s many challenges, including stress. There is a wealth of scientific research into the stress-relieving benefits of yoga, and these studies can help you understand why the practice is so good for you physically and mentally. If you’re on the fence about trying out yoga to soothe your stress, these 10 science-backed benefits will help illustrate the impact yoga can have on your life.

1. Yoga Helps Improve Your Mood

The feel-good hormones you get from exercise are known as endorphins. Yoga is fantastic exercise and can lead to increased beta-endorphins, widely considered the most potent form of endorphin the body can make. This burst of endorphins eases physical pain and brings about a feeling of euphoria and well-being, often called the runner’s high or yoga high.

2. Yoga Can Reduce Cortisol Levels

Cortisol is often called the stress hormone because it prepares the body and mind for fight-or-flight responses. The sympathetic nervous system kicks the fight-or-flight response into gear to face perceived threats. If your adrenal glands produce too much cortisol, it could be a sign that you are overly stressed.

Studies have shown that practicing yoga reduces cortisol levels in the body. Yoga’s mindful breathing, posture cycling and meditative atmosphere engage the parasympathetic nervous system, also known as the rest-and-digest response. This autonomic nervous system switch tells your body and mind that the threat has passed and makes you more relaxed.

3. Yoga Benefits Your Sleep Quality

Sleep is crucial for physical and mental health. Consistent, high-quality sleep helps regulate the hormones that control mood, stress levels, appetite and more. Sleep also allows you to concentrate, so you’re able to get your daily tasks done efficiently. If you’re struggling to fall or stay asleep, research suggests that yoga can improve your sleep by calming you down and clearing your mind of racing thoughts before bed.

4. Yoga Helps Lower Anxiety

Yoga combats anxiety by elevating a neurotransmitter called gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), and it does so better than other forms of exercise, such as walking, according to peer-reviewed studies. GABA plays a pivotal role in regulating excitement and relaxation in the brain, leading to improved mental health, better sleep and overall well-being.

Yoga also allows you to take a break from the hustle and bustle of your everyday life and focus solely on your well-being, giving your mind a well-deserved break from overthinking and worrying. You become more connected with your body, ground yourself in the moment and let go of things you can’t control. This mindset shift, along with calming breathing and meditation, eases anxiety and quiets the mind.

5. Yoga Boosts Physical Fitness

When you’re physically fit, many of life’s day-to-day stressors become easier to manage. Your body and mind become more resilient, allowing you to cope better with stress’s physical and mental consequences. Yoga’s focus on stretching, strength and endurance also helps alleviate muscle tightness from tension in areas like the back and neck by improving blood flow and oxygenation.

6. Yoga Improves Heart Health

Research has shown, time and time again, that doing yoga improves cardiovascular health markers. It may lead to lower heart rate, blood pressure, LDL cholesterol, blood sugar and body mass index (BMI). All these factors contribute to a healthy heart, which you need to deal with stressful times in your life. Yoga also improves circulation, reduces inflammation and promotes parasympathetic nervous system activity, leading to a more relaxed, rest-and-digest state.

7. Yoga Brings People Together

Yoga is often practiced as a group, wherein people meet regularly to learn, meditate and exercise together. When like-minded people form a community around a common interest or goal, it helps individuals feel more supported and interconnected with their world. If you join a yoga class or go on a group yoga retreat, you’ll feel more anchored to the Earth and more capable of processing life’s stressors as one part of a stronger whole.

8. Yoga Supports Good Mental Health

When you are mentally healthy, dealing with stress is far easier. At the same time, stress worsens mental health concerns, making the pair a double-edged sword. Whether you’re battling burnout from work, depression, generalized anxiety disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) or another mental health concern, yoga can help lessen your symptoms as a complementary treatment.

Yoga Is a Healthy Outlet for Emotions

9. Yoga Is a Healthy Outlet for Emotions

Pent-up stress can weigh heavily on the body and mind and often builds up to a peak. You may feel inclined to purge your feelings at this peak, although some common ways of releasing this tension can actually cause more harm than good. Yoga lets you release your tension calmly and healthily by challenging your body and mind to focus and endure. Instead of indulging in self-destructive, stress-compounding behaviors, you can use yoga to safely move emotions through and out of your body.

10. Yoga Builds Self-Confidence

The benefits of yoga on stress take many forms, from purely physiological to psychological. For example, if you feel confident in yourself and your abilities, you’ll be more resilient and able to handle stress better. Sometimes, it takes overcoming a challenge to remember how strong and capable you are, and studies show that yoga benefits this search for self-reliance by potentially increasing neuroplasticity.

Yoga is an excellent way of building self-confidence as you slowly work through the poses and gradually become more flexible, capable and strong. These incremental wins forge new neural pathways in your brain that change your mindset over time — if you push through and take each challenge one step at a time, you can achieve your goals.

How the Right Yoga Retreat Can Soothe and Reinvigorate Your Mind

To reap the most benefits from this ancient wellness practice, consider taking a yoga retreat in a beautiful, natural setting. Leaving the source of your stress and taking a few days to realign your mind and body is a brilliant way to disconnect from the pressures of modern life and reground yourself. Make lasting memories with a few cherished friends, go with your partner to heal and renew your bond or choose from a wide variety of other retreat types that fulfill your individual needs and goals.

Find Peace and Empower Yourself at SpiritQuest Sedona Retreats

SpiritQuest Sedona Retreats offers group and private getaways focusing on holistic wellness, stress relief and self-actualization. You’ll be guided by a hand-picked team of master yoga practitioners and have access to many other spiritually invigorating activities, such as spa treatments, workshops and nature walks in the breathtaking Arizona landscape. Reach out and schedule a consultation today so we can answer your questions, unpack your needs and plan a life-changing, revitalizing retreat for you.

Find Peace and Empower Yourself at SpiritQuest Sedona Retreats