Benefits of yoga: Shaping your Body and Mind

Ready to take your flexibility, strength and mental game to the next level? There are few exercises that are better than yoga for all-round development. This ancient Indian practice is now popular the world over - with classes available at gyms, yoga studios, or online from the comfort of your own home.  In this guide, you’ll learn more about yoga, plus insights into its physical and mental health benefits.

Benefits of yoga: Shaping your Body and Mind

Ready to take your flexibility, strength and mental game to the next level? There are few exercises that are better than yoga for all-round development. This ancient Indian practice is now popular the world over - with classes available at gyms, yoga studios, or online from the comfort of your own home.  In this guide, you’ll learn more about yoga, plus insights into its physical and mental health benefits.

What is yoga?

Yoga is an ancient Indian practice, designed to connect the mind, body and spirit. The word ‘yoga’ comes from the Sanskrit word to ‘yoke’ - or tie together. Essentially, it’s about bringing your mind and body together with the goal of achieving enlightenment. 

There are many different kinds of yoga, but the form that’s most common in the West is hatha yoga. This is a kind of yoga where the mind, body and spirit connection is achieved by practising yoga postures (known as asanas) and performing breathing techniques. 

Other popular variations you might come across include:

  • Vinyasa yoga (flow classes)
  • Ashtanga yoga (a more athletic form of hatha)
  • Bikram yoga (hot yoga)

Yoga can be practised by anyone. You might be on a spiritual journey, but it’s also totally accessible if you just want to use yoga for its physical or mental health benefits. 

What is yoga?

Yoga is an ancient Indian practice, designed to connect the mind, body and spirit. The word ‘yoga’ comes from the Sanskrit word to ‘yoke’ - or tie together. Essentially, it’s about bringing your mind and body together with the goal of achieving enlightenment. 

There are many different kinds of yoga, but the form that’s most common in the West is hatha yoga. This is a kind of yoga where the mind, body and spirit connection is achieved by practising yoga postures (known as asanas) and performing breathing techniques. 

Other popular variations you might come across include:

  • Vinyasa yoga (flow classes)
  • Ashtanga yoga (a more athletic form of hatha)
  • Bikram yoga (hot yoga)

Yoga can be practised by anyone. You might be on a spiritual journey, but it’s also totally accessible if you just want to use yoga for its physical or mental health benefits. 

What are the benefits of yoga?

Whether it’s your main form of exercise, or you use it to complement other kinds of training, yoga provides tons of physical and mental benefits. These include:

  • Increased flexibility

Yoga is well-known for its ability to improve flexibility. Studies show that people who perform yoga programmes see significant improvements in flexibility.

  • Increased strength

Yoga tones and strengthens muscles throughout the body. You’ll mainly build strength through bodyweight conditioning while holding challenging poses for several seconds (or even minutes) at a time. 

  • Better balance

Many yoga poses require you to balance one-legged. The more you practise, the better your balance becomes.  

  • Manage mental health

Numerous studies have found that people who do yoga have lower levels of stress, depression and anxiety. It also encourages mindfulness - the practice of being present and aware. 

What are the benefits of yoga?

Whether it’s your main form of exercise, or you use it to complement other kinds of training, yoga provides tons of physical and mental benefits. These include:

  • Increased flexibility

Yoga is well-known for its ability to improve flexibility. Studies show that people who perform yoga programmes see significant improvements in flexibility.

  • Increased strength

Yoga tones and strengthens muscles throughout the body. You’ll mainly build strength through bodyweight conditioning while holding challenging poses for several seconds (or even minutes) at a time. 

  • Better balance

Many yoga poses require you to balance one-legged. The more you practise, the better your balance becomes.  

  • Manage mental health

Numerous studies have found that people who do yoga have lower levels of stress, depression and anxiety. It also encourages mindfulness - the practice of being present and aware. 

Can yoga build muscle?

Yoga can definitely fit into your strength training programme. While it won’t give the same kinds of results as weight training, it can still contribute to a toned physique. There are several ways yoga helps build muscle:

 

  • - Eccentric contraction: Unlike lifting weights, which relies on concentric muscle contraction, yoga relies on eccentric muscle contraction as you stretch out. Holding those eccentric poses stresses your muscles, and they’ll tone in response. 
  •  
  • - Train new muscles: During a yoga class, you’ll work many muscle groups that receive little or no attention in conventional weight training. 
  •  
  • - Body weight exercise: Many yoga poses are fundamentally body weight exercises. By putting your body in different positions, you apply stress to muscles without needing the help of weights. 
  •  
  • - Yoga increases muscle endurance: You’ll hold poses for extended time periods and repeat them several times during each workout. That boosts muscle endurance.

Can yoga build muscle?

Yoga can definitely fit into your strength training programme. While it won’t give the same kinds of results as weight training, it can still contribute to a toned physique. There are several ways yoga helps build muscle:

 

  • - Eccentric contraction: Unlike lifting weights, which relies on concentric muscle contraction, yoga relies on eccentric muscle contraction as you stretch out. Holding those eccentric poses stresses your muscles, and they’ll tone in response. 
  •  
  • - Train new muscles: During a yoga class, you’ll work many muscle groups that receive little or no attention in conventional weight training. 
  •  
  • - Body weight exercise: Many yoga poses are fundamentally body weight exercises. By putting your body in different positions, you apply stress to muscles without needing the help of weights. 
  •  
  • - Yoga increases muscle endurance: You’ll hold poses for extended time periods and repeat them several times during each workout. That boosts muscle endurance.

Yoga poses that build muscle

Many yoga poses can help build muscle, but the following poses are particularly effective. It’s best to perform these as part of a wider flow (rather than doing them in isolation) to get the full benefits of yoga. 


- For legs - Warrior 1: This pose is essentially a lunge. Hold it for several seconds and the lactic acid will soon start to burn in your hammies, quads, calves and hips. 


- For arms - Downward-facing dog: By loading weight through your shoulders and arms, downward-facing dog is a powerful way to build strength in these muscle groups. 


For core - Plank pose: Holding plank pose engages your core muscles. The longer you hold the position, the stronger your core will get. 

Yoga poses that build muscle

Many yoga poses can help build muscle, but the following poses are particularly effective. It’s best to perform these as part of a wider flow (rather than doing them in isolation) to get the full benefits of yoga. 


- For legs - Warrior 1: This pose is essentially a lunge. Hold it for several seconds and the lactic acid will soon start to burn in your hammies, quads, calves and hips. 


- For arms - Downward-facing dog: By loading weight through your shoulders and arms, downward-facing dog is a powerful way to build strength in these muscle groups. 


For core - Plank pose: Holding plank pose engages your core muscles. The longer you hold the position, the stronger your core will get. 

The mental and physical health benefits of yoga

Besides strength and flexibility, regularly practising yoga has been shown to provide multiple long term mental and physical health benefits too. Why do yoga? According to a research summary it helps with:

  • Tackling mental health problems

Regular yoga practice can help alleviate depression by increasing levels of serotonin (a ‘happy’ chemical) in the brain. In similar ways, it can help reduce feelings of stress and anxiety. 

  • Improving cardiovascular health

Taking part in yoga increases blood flow and can help decrease the risk of heart attack and stroke. 

  • Reducing chronic pain

By moving joints through their full range of motion, fresh nutrients, blood and oxygen are sent to muscles and joints throughout the body. That can help tackle chronic pain. 

  • Boosting sleep quality

By improving people’s sense of awareness and calming their mood, yoga is also associated with improved sleep quality. 

The mental and physical health benefits of yoga

Besides strength and flexibility, regularly practising yoga has been shown to provide multiple long term mental and physical health benefits too. Why do yoga? According to a research summary it helps with:

  • Tackling mental health problems

Regular yoga practice can help alleviate depression by increasing levels of serotonin (a ‘happy’ chemical) in the brain. In similar ways, it can help reduce feelings of stress and anxiety. 

  • Improving cardiovascular health

Taking part in yoga increases blood flow and can help decrease the risk of heart attack and stroke. 

  • Reducing chronic pain

By moving joints through their full range of motion, fresh nutrients, blood and oxygen are sent to muscles and joints throughout the body. That can help tackle chronic pain. 

  • Boosting sleep quality

By improving people’s sense of awareness and calming their mood, yoga is also associated with improved sleep quality. 

What are the benefits of yoga for other sports?

Even if yoga isn’t your main form of exercise, fitting in just a couple of weekly sessions - of as little as 10 minutes - can provide plenty of benefits for your performance in other sports too. 

  • Stretching: Yoga helps stretch out sore muscles from running or gym training. You could use a 10 minute yoga stretch session as part of your cooling down process. 
  • Balance and proprioception: Yoga improves your balance and awareness of your body in space (known as proprioception). That can really help your performance in sports like golf and football
  • Better coordination: Yoga requires you to be aware of your body as it moves, and this improves your coordination. Again, that’s incredibly helpful for sports like golf, football and basketball
  • Manage stress: Through deep breathing and mindfulness, yoga helps with managing stress. That supports recovery and also means you can go into competitive events in a calmer frame of mind. 

What are the benefits of yoga for other sports?

Even if yoga isn’t your main form of exercise, fitting in just a couple of weekly sessions - of as little as 10 minutes - can provide plenty of benefits for your performance in other sports too. 

  • Stretching: Yoga helps stretch out sore muscles from running or gym training. You could use a 10 minute yoga stretch session as part of your cooling down process. 
  • Balance and proprioception: Yoga improves your balance and awareness of your body in space (known as proprioception). That can really help your performance in sports like golf and football
  • Better coordination: Yoga requires you to be aware of your body as it moves, and this improves your coordination. Again, that’s incredibly helpful for sports like golf, football and basketball
  • Manage stress: Through deep breathing and mindfulness, yoga helps with managing stress. That supports recovery and also means you can go into competitive events in a calmer frame of mind. 

What gear do you need for yoga?

Yoga involves a combination of stretching and holding challenging poses. So, you’re going to benefit from gear that offers serious flex, while also letting your skin breathe as you generate heat. 

At Under Armour, our yoga gear includes:

  • Leggings: Yoga leggings are pretty much essential gear. Our leggings for women and men deliver maximum range of motion in any position, they wick sweat fast and they’re super breathable. They’re totally opaque too. Try super soft UA Meridian or ultra-flexible, sweat-wicking UA Motion leggings. 
  • Yoga tops: You’ve got two options here. Close fitting and breathable tank tops or looser fitting tees and long sleeves. 
  • Sports bras: Our low-impact sports bras like the incredibly lightweight and flexible UA Infinity Bra are ideal for activities like yoga and Pilates. 

To explore our full range of performancewear, check out our yoga gear.

What gear do you need for yoga?

Yoga involves a combination of stretching and holding challenging poses. So, you’re going to benefit from gear that offers serious flex, while also letting your skin breathe as you generate heat. 

At Under Armour, our yoga gear includes:

  • Leggings: Yoga leggings are pretty much essential gear. Our leggings for women and men deliver maximum range of motion in any position, they wick sweat fast and they’re super breathable. They’re totally opaque too. Try super soft UA Meridian or ultra-flexible, sweat-wicking UA Motion leggings. 
  • Yoga tops: You’ve got two options here. Close fitting and breathable tank tops or looser fitting tees and long sleeves. 
  • Sports bras: Our low-impact sports bras like the incredibly lightweight and flexible UA Infinity Bra are ideal for activities like yoga and Pilates. 

To explore our full range of performancewear, check out our yoga gear.

Build yoga into your training programme

By building yoga into your routine, you’ll soon start to see its effects - not only on your flexibility and strength, but also in your mood and mentality. Whether it becomes part of your daily routine, or you simply use its techniques for mindful stretching after other kinds of exercise, learning about yoga - and seeing what it can do for you - is definitely worth your while. 

Build yoga into your training programme

By building yoga into your routine, you’ll soon start to see its effects - not only on your flexibility and strength, but also in your mood and mentality. Whether it becomes part of your daily routine, or you simply use its techniques for mindful stretching after other kinds of exercise, learning about yoga - and seeing what it can do for you - is definitely worth your while.