The Benefits of Practicing Yoga: How Yoga Affects Your Health

Have you ever felt stressed, anxious, tired, or depressed? Or maybe you are feeling some of those things right now. Finding time to practice some form of yoga can be one of the most beneficial things you do for your health! Listed below you can find just some of the health benefits experienced by college students here at West Chester after practicing yoga.

Modified Standing Side Angle Pose

Increase in:

  • energy
  • flexibility
  • ability to focus
  • better sleep

Improvement in:

  • muscle tone and muscular strength
  • self-esteem
  • enhanced athletic ability
  • academics
  • ability to handle stress

Decrease in:

  • anxiety
  • blood sugar levels
  • back pain (Donley, 2016, p. 42).

Luckily all of these benefits (and more!) are available to you right here at West Chester University. The college offers Yoga I, II, and III to be taken for college credit. Who wouldn’t want to fill an extra spot in their schedule with a class that actually reduces stress instead of adding more? For more details on how yoga can improve your life continue reading!

How Yoga Affects Anxiety

Anxiety is often the result of too much built up energy in the body. If you have ever felt anxious you may have noticed that your rate of breathing has increased; when this happens the amount of oxygen getting into the brain is much higher than the amount of carbon dioxide being released. Doing a high-intensity yoga practice filled with sun salutations can help you to focus on regulating your breath and helps burn off the excess energy (Donley, 2016, p. 45). You can also try going for a walk to help regulate your breath if you’re in a location where you might not want to start breaking out sun salutations, like those late night library study sessions, but no judgement here. When your breath becomes regulated your anxiety will also slowly become under control as well. Once you feel calm and steady try transitioning your yoga practice down a notch from vigorous movements into forward bends and inversions such as child’s pose, spread out foot posture, seated forward bend, seated head to knee, and shoulder/headstand (Donley, 2016, p. 45).

Child’s Pose

How Yoga Affects Depression

When experiencing the effects of depression, it is typical to have a shallow inhalation and an extended exhalation. This results in not enough oxygen to the brain as well as too much carbon dioxide being released (Donley, 2016, p. 46). Taking some time to practice yoga will help you because as you focus on your breathing and start regulating it, the levels of oxygen and carbon dioxide will become balanced. Performing certain yoga poses during your practice can also help create a better flow of energy throughout the body and have a positive change in your energy level. Poses that will help in this area are cobra, bow, modified bridge, full bride, and fish because they open up the heart and arch the back (Donley, 2016, p. 46).

Modified Bridge Pose
Fish Pose

How Meditation and Yoga Affects Your Health

Meditation is a great way to help find peace and serenity in your busy life. By setting aside a chunk of time to calm your mind and practice meditation, even for as little as five minutes, you start to become more mindful (Donley, 2016, p. 141). It is important to remember that during meditation you should not try and force your brain to turn off but rather acknowledge the thoughts that enter your mind and move on. Meditating can help alleviate stress, improve the immune system, increase feelings of happiness, and decrease irritability and moodiness and much more to improve your health (Donley, 2016, p. 142)! Some tips to remember to help with your meditation are:

  • find a quiet place that has little distractions
  • try to meditate in the same place and at the same time each day
  • make sure you are sitting up as tall as you can with your knees below your belly button (Donley, 2016, p. 144)
  • you can close your eyes or gaze softly at a calming object
  • if you are having trouble soothing the mind try repeating an affirmation or mantra
  • notice your breath as you inhale and exhale
  • recognize thoughts that come to mind but always return to your breath or a word/phrase of choice (Donley, 2016, p. 144)

I hope that you are able to find some relief from the stresses or everyday life through yoga! Namaste.

*Please do not perform these poses if there are any contraindications*

Triangle Pose


Donley, A. (2016). Yoga a path to wellness a workbook for students. Dubuque, IA: Kendall Hunt Publishing Company.