Walk into any yoga class, and chances are you’ll see mostly women. In fact, according to a 2012 Yoga Journal report, 83% of yoga practitioners in the United States are female.
That’s an amazing statistic, given that for thousands of years, yoga was practiced exclusively by men, and was originally brought to the West by male teachers. There’s now a generation of women leading the way, and this “new” yoga is a distinctly feminine practice that is changing the lives of people around the world.
Here are four ways that yoga is especially beneficial for women:
1. Yoga helps to cultivate a healthy body image. 80% of women in the US are dissatisfied with their appearance, which may be why many women struggle to maintain a healthy relationship with exercise – they view it as something they “need” to do in order to lose weight or look more fit.
Yoga has very little emphasis on competition or weight loss, but rather is a practice that encourages mindfulness and silences negative thoughts. There’s no focus on perfectionism, but instead an active appreciation on all the good things your body does for you. Talk about a nurturing mindset!
2. Yoga helps maintain a healthy hormone balance. Studies show that yoga can alleviate and even prevent PMS, improve fertility, relieve menopausal symptoms, and boost your sex drive. Though the biological processes are complex, it’s likely because yoga is so powerful at relieving stress, a top culprit in hormone imbalance. What’s more, certain yoga poses actually massage the ovaries, thyroid glands, and adrenals, all of which play an important role in hormone production.
3. Yoga is excellent for bone health. Osteoporosis and low bone mass are incredibly common in people as they age, and 80% of those with osteoporosis are women. The good news is you can slow, and possibly even reverse, bone loss by engaging in weight-bearing exercise. Unlike running or other forms of exercise, yoga is a great weight-bearing activity that doesn’t put stress on your joints and lengthens muscles.
4. Yoga is an incredible stress reliever. Stress reduction is one of the most commonly cited benefits of yoga. The stretching, breathing, mindfulness, and sense of community all contribute to a sense of wellbeing in today’s world where many people – especially women – feel overscheduled and under-supported.
Want some extra inspiration to get started with your yoga practice today? Watch this inspiring trailer for the documentary YOGAWOMAN:
For men and women alike, yoga is an incredibly nourishing form of what we call primary food at Integrative Nutrition – all the factors in your life that feed you beyond the food on your plate. Yoga fuses physical exercise with spirituality, and has the power to have a positive effect on your relationships, your mood, and your overall wellbeing.
Do you practice yoga? How has it benefitted your life? We’d love to hear about your experience in the comments section below!
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