United States Sports Academy
America's Sports University®

The Sport Digest - ISSN: 1558-6448

The Functions of Yoga Exercise

Many studies have described the benefits of yoga exercises. Many scientific studies have found that mind-body interventions, including yoga, are effective in treating stress-related mental and physical disorders (Becker, 2000; Benson, 1996; Brown & Gerbarg, 2005). Brown and Gerbarg (2005) indicated that yogic breathing is a unique method for balancing the autonomic nervous system and influencing psychological and stress-related disorders.

The integration of yoga exercises into daily life can have great advantages (Scott, 2006). Evidence has shown that yoga enhances functioning of the body’s operating systems (Dinsmore-Tuli, 2002; Fronske, 2005; Gilmore, 2002; Heaner, 2001; Latona & Shelton, 2002; McGarvey, 2003; McGinnis, 2006). Heaner (2001) indicated that yoga increases self-control, self-discipline, and self-confidence. Yoga enables a person to manage both body and mind well.

Yoga exercises may help integrate subconscious thinking and create a sense of inner calm, relaxation, and well-being (McGarvey, 2003; “Yoga Helps,” 2002). As Heaner (2001) indicated, “Yoga is promoted as great for everyone from the complete beginner to the seriously fit because it is a meditative, stretching-based workout.” Seven benefits of yoga include relaxation of body and mind; revitalization of the nervous system; a sense of peace and stability; a feeling that one is “taller”; easier maintenance of good posture; familiarization with muscles infrequently “worked” consciously, which is the first step in their toning; and feeling energized, if not immediately then certainly the next day (Stiles, 2002).

In addition, yoga exercise can improve menopausal women’s symptoms of tiredness, glow, and palpitations (Sung, 2006); can improve symptoms of asthma; and can develop an individual’s physical fitness (Fallon-Goodhew, 2002). Yoga exercise has helped to improve diastolic pressure, heart rate, excessive body fat, and physical fitness (Hsiao, 2005). Yoga exercise can help an individual, furthermore, to feel happy or content (Pirisi, 2000).

McGinnis (2006) indicated five advantages resulting from yoga practice: minimized wrinkles, slower weight gain, pain relief, better sleep, and better mental acuity. McGinnis (2006) also indicated that one of yoga’s greatest advantages is its tendency to help eliminate injuries; it is also a helpful tool for recovering from athletic injury.

Regularly practicing yoga improves blood pressure, muscular endurance, lung capacity, strength, balance, and flexibility. Yoga may improve an individual’s mood and also acts to decrease anxiety (Dinsmore-Tuli, 2002; Gilmore, 2002; Heaner, 2001; Latona & Shelton, 2002; McGarvey, 2003; McGinnis, 2006). Yoga can relieve stress, improve flexibility, and allow an individual to be more focused, which is important in sport (McGarvey, 2003).


Becker, I. (2000). Uses of yoga in psychiatry and medicine. In P. R. Muskin (Ed.), _Complementary and Alternative Medicine and Psychiatry _(107–145). Washington, DC: American Psychiatric Press.

Benson, H. (with Stark, M.). (1996). Timeless healing: The power and biology of belief. New York: Scribner, 222–234.

Brown, R. P., & Gerbarg, P. L. (2005). Sudarshan Kriya yogic breathing in the treatment of stress, anxiety, and depression: Part I—neurophysiologic model. Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, 11(1), 189–201.

Dinsmore-Tuli, U. (2002). Feel confident. London: Dorling Kindersley.

Fallon-Goodhew, P. (2002). Boost energy. London: Dorling Kindersley.

Gilmore, R. (2002). Relieve stress. London: Dorling Kindersley.

Heaner, M. (2001, July). Yoga’s softer side. Health, 15(6), 122.

Hsiao, Y. H. (2005). The effects of 12 weeks’ power fitness yoga training on physiological parameters and health-related physical fitness in sedentary females. Unpublished master’s thesis, Da-yeh University, Changhua County, Taiwan.

Latona, V., & Shelton, L. (2002). Life in balance. Shape, 22(4), 126.

McGarvey, R. (2003). Flexibility breaks. Men’s Fitness, 19(3), 32.

McGinnis, M. (2006). Stop-the-clock yoga. Prevention, 58(8), 158–163.

Pirisi, A. (2000). Yogis score high on happiness: Scientific studies reveal yoga may be the key to bliss. Yoga Journal, 153, 33.

Stiles, M. (2002). Structural yoga therapy: Adapting to the individual. New Delhi, India: Goodwill.

Sung, M. J. (2006). The effects of yoga on fatigue, health fitness, and menopausal disturbance among menopausal women. Unpublished master’s thesis, National Taipei College of Nursing, Taipei, Taiwan.