Introduction to Yoga

For years yoga was considered a fringe practice embraced mostly by celebrities and “New Agers.” But today millions of Americans from young children to seniors in their eighties and nineties are practicing yoga. And that’s good news because this mind-body practice actually has the power to help your health in dozens of different ways.

Yoga is more than just a workout—it’s actually a combination of four components: postures (like tree pose), breathing practices, deep relaxation, and meditation that can transform your health on many different levels. To show you how easy yoga can be and how you can reap the many health benefits, Harvard Medical School experts created An Introduction to Yoga.

In this fascinating new report, you’ll discover:

• 3 ways yoga can help alleviate arthritis pain

• The yoga techniques that help improve balance, flexibility, strength, and coordination

• How yoga can help reduce your risk of heart disease

• Why yoga may be the perfect way to relieve migraines and fight osteoporosis, multiple sclerosis, IBS, or fibromyalgia

• A study that shows how yoga increased blood vessel flexibility 69% and even helped shrink arterial blockages without medications!

• Why pain specialists are urging doctors to prescribe yoga for lower back pain

• 4 frightening ways stress harms your body and how yoga can help undo the harmful effects

• And so much more.

Did you know research shows that up to 90% of doctor visits are linked to stress-related problems? That’s why yoga is such a perfect remedy. It’s the one tool that simultaneously releases stress while improving strength, balance, flexibility, and overall health. No pill has the power to improve so many areas of your life at one time.

Yoga works across multiple systems in your body at one time. For example, it helps to:

• Rev up your immunity by raising levels of natural, disease-fighting antioxidants in your body

• Activate areas of the brain that increase joy and diminish emotions linked to stress

• Switch on genes that promote health (in as little as 8 weeks even if you’re a beginner)

• Decrease the need for diabetes medications by as much as 40%

• Reduce depression, anxiety, and stress and increase energy levels

• Lower your risk for falling and may even help you re gain your balance if you stumble

And the meditation component of yoga may even help to delay the onset of Alzheimer’s disease and fight age-related declines in memory. In fact, yoga does so much for your health, studies show people who do yoga use 43% fewer medical services and save anywhere from $640 to more than $25,000 a year!

Prepared by the editors of Harvard Health Publishing in consultation with Sat Bir Singh Khalsa, PhD, Assistant Professor of Medicine,, Harvard Medical School, Associate Neuroscientist, Division of Sleep and Circadian Disorders, Brigham and Women’s Hospital, and Lauren E. Elson, MD, Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation Instructor, Harvard Medical School. 51 pages. (2021)