When you do yoga every day, this is what happens to your body

Should you do yoga every day? When it comes to exercises with staying power, few have been around as long as yoga. The moving meditation originated in India approximately 5,000 years ago, and continues to be practiced by people around the world today, according to the Mayo Clinic. With a variety of yoga types out there, from Ashtanga to Iyengar to Kripalu, almost everyone can find a style that works for them, helping to develop the body and nurture the mind.

If you're someone who already has a regular yoga practice, you've probably already noticed the many ways that it's improved your life. And if you don't yet have a regular yoga habit but are thinking of starting one, you may be surprised to learn all the ways that regular yoga can help you to improve your health.

So just how does doing yoga every day have an impact on your muscles? Can it really make you more flexible, even if you're notoriously wound up? And what exactly can yoga do for your mind? We talked to the experts, so read on to find out what happens to your body when you do yoga every day.

Your immune system may improve if you do yoga every day

Are you someone who's prone to catching whatever is going around, no matter the time of year? And can you make a solid bet that when flu season arrives, you're going to wind up sick no matter the food and drinks you consume to help bolster your immune system? If so, consider adding a regular yoga practice to your immune-boosting regimen, as noted by certified yoga teacher and nutritionist Katie Boyd. "With all of the bending, twisting, stretching and inverting, yoga movements work deep into the parasympathetic nervous system, which helps you rest and digest, and works less in the sympathetic nervous system, which is your flight or flight response mechanism," she explained to The List. "This mechanism is what causes stress response and inflammation which dramatically lowers the immune system."

That's not all, as reducing your inflammation can help protect you from chronic illnesses like diabetes and hyperlipidemia, according to an article in the Journal of Clinical and Diagnostic Research. So if you suspect you may be at risk for inflammatory diseases, consider choosing to do yoga every day.

Want to improve your focus? Do yoga every day

It's no secret that it can be tough to focus when you're juggling work, family life, and school obligations. Whether you're working from home or trying to decompress after putting in hours at your job, maintaining your attention span can sometimes seem like a herculean task.

If you find yourself struggling to read your book or unable to complete tasks without frequent breaks, starting a yoga practice might help you get re-centered. "Certain forms of yoga asana practice requires physical self-development and devotion," says Nadia Agarwal, a certified yoga teacher. "Continuous dedication to your yoga asana practice can lead to a high level of focus and dedication in other areas of your life as you train your mind to reach your goals."

In addition to improving your focus, following through on your decision to do yoga every day can also help you be more mindful, according to Harvard Medical School. That, in turn, can help you appreciate what you're experiencing in every moment.

If you do yoga every day, you will get stronger

Looking for a good way to tone your arms, chisel your abs, and add definition to your legs and back? Try hitting the mat to do yoga every day, says Lynell Ross, a certified wellness coach and personal trainer. "You will become stronger and physically fit because you use your body weight to strengthen all your major muscle groups," she explained to The List. "It takes great strength to build up to certain poses that require coordination, poise, and power."

In addition to helping you on your quest to getting ripped, yoga can also strengthen you without any high impact movements, too. "Yoga is one of the best ways to train muscles without jarring, pounding, or lifting heavy weights," Ross continued. So, if you have trouble with those exercises due to joint pain or injury, yoga might be the answer!

Some forms of yoga may be better than others if your main goal is strength training, such as Ashtanga or power yoga. Don't worry too much about making common yoga mistakes or doing yoga moves wrong when you're starting out — you'll get better as you practice!

You could combat your anxiety when you do yoga every day

According to the National Institute of Mental Health, about 30 percent of adults in the United States will grapple with an anxiety disorder at some point in their lives. Additionally, women are more likely than men to develop an anxiety disorder, rendering ladies more at risk for panic attacks, post-traumatic stress, social anxiety, agoraphobia, and more. 

One way you can fight back against present and future anxiety is to do yoga every day, as noted by Indigo Stray Conger, a licensed therapist and certified yoga teacher. "Anxiety thrives on future oriented thinking, increasing as you catastrophize about what might happen," she told The List. "Practicing yoga every day will reduce anxiety because you are staying mindful in the moment." That's thanks to the union between your breath, thoughts, and movement, which keeps your thinking from spiraling out of control.

That's the case whether you cultivate an active, strength-building practice or a more restorative, gentle practice aimed at calming the mind, says Conger. So you win either way!

If you do yoga every day, you may lose weight

Have you been frustrated lately at the number you see when you step on the scale? Are you looking for a way to slim down so you can fit into your favorite dress again? As it turns out, yoga can aid you in your weight loss journey, according to Healthline. Certified yoga teacher Brett Larkin explained to The List, "You're moving. You're burning calories," adding, "Even in the less active forms of yoga in which you're not working up a sweat, you're stimulating your parasympathetic nervous system (the 'rest and digest' function in the body) and working to reduce levels of cortisol in the blood stream." And both of those can help you shed unwanted pounds and inches.

Those aren't the only mechanisms at work that can help you lose weight, says Larkin, as you can chill out more if you do yoga every day. "Stress plays a huge factor in weight gain, and yoga helps you de-stress," she added. That's just one more reason to hit the mat!

If you do yoga every day, you may sleep better

There are few things more frustrating than not being able to fall asleep at night and stay asleep until the morning. You can only count sheep for so long until you're tempted to give up and look at your phone, which will only make the situation worse, as noted by the Cleveland Clinic. And given that poor sleep quality has been linked to disorders like depression and high blood pressure, according to Healthline, it's not something you want to leave untreated.

So if you're one of the millions of people who struggle with insomnia in the United States, you may find that doing yoga every day helps. That's because it can help to restore your natural circadian rhythm, says certified yoga teacher and nutritionist Katie Boyd. "After a few weeks of practicing yoga, you will start to notice your body starting to adjust to your body's natural balance," she told The List. "The better your sleep quality the better your overall body will be, from a cellular level all the way up to your strength, physical looks, and your mental health."

When you do yoga every day, you can improve your posture

You might not be aware of it, but having good posture is super important for your health, according to chiropractor Andrew Bang. "Having poor posture may lead to aches and pains, but having it over the long term is when you get real damage," he revealed in an interview with the Cleveland Clinic. And that damage can lead to pain and inflammation, possibly eventually causing arthritis in your joints.

One way you can ensure that you have good posture, in addition to making sure you have a safe work setup and mind your neck while looking at your phone, is to start to do yoga every day, says certified personal trainer Monica Straith. "Your posture will improve from the combination of muscle strengthening and stretching," she shared with The List. "Weak and tight muscles can lead to poor posture, and poor posture can make muscles even weaker and tighter." She added that, in order to ensure that you reap the benefits of yoga, it's important to have a consistent regimen.

If you struggle with pain, do yoga every day

There's no shortage of the ways in which our bodies can experience pain, whether it's from an athletic injury, chronic pain, or a slip and fall. So if you're looking for a natural way to help manage pain, you might find solace on the mat if you do yoga every day, according to certified wellness coach and personal trainer Lynell Ross. "We create pain in our muscles, ligaments, and tendons by holding them in the wrong position for too long," she told The List. "Yoga helps by stretching these and making them more flexible and relaxed while strengthening the opposing muscles." And that, in turn, can help you sit taller, taking the strain off of overused or overtaxed muscles.

Additionally, a yoga practice could be especially beneficial for folks who struggle with joint issues such as arthritis, as noted by the Arthritis Foundation. "Some studies suggest that yoga can restrict pain and mobility issues in cases of knee osteoarthritis, which is a particularly common form of the condition," says Dr. Daniel Atkinson, a general practitioner and clinical director for Treated.com. There are even specific yoga poses to ease pain. Sounds like a real relief!

Looking to increase your flexibility? Do yoga every day

Have you considered starting a yoga practice, but didn't follow through with it because you didn't think you'd be flexible enough? It turns out that's not a very good reason to eschew the moving meditation, says certified yoga teacher Ingrid Yang. "The biggest misconception is that one must be 'naturally' flexible to practice yoga," she revealed in an interview with Shape.

Actually, if you feel like you're inflexible, or that you wouldn't be able to do some of the poses, doing yoga every day could definitely be for you! "Not only will yoga build strong muscles, but it will aid in your everyday activities as mundane as bending over and picking something up off of the ground or walking up flights of stairs," certified yoga teacher and nutritionist Katie Boyd explained. 

The longer you practice yoga, the more flexible you can become, too, as noted by VeryWell Fit, which brings with it an added bonus. "The more flexible you are, the less injuries you will sustain over your lifetime," Boyd added.

If you do yoga every day, you can improve your balance

Just as you might hold off on deciding to do yoga every day because you worry about your flexibility, you might also be tempted to avoid practicing the moving meditation because you think your balance isn't good enough. But having perfect balance isn't a prerequisite for yoga of any kind. Plus getting on the mat might actually help you work on that, as noted by Dr. Daniel Atkinson, a general practitioner and clinical director for Treated.com. "Yoga increases our balance through strengthening the lower body, especially the ankles and knees," he explained to The List

Improving your balance and developing your lower body can have long-term benefits for your body as you age, too, which is especially important later in life. "This reduces the risk of falls, which due to their physical nature can be very serious for older people in particular," Atkinson added. That's definitely a serious perk!

Your bones may get stronger if you do yoga every day

Did you know that if you spend just 12 minutes every day doing a set of selected yoga postures, you can stave off bone loss? That was the conclusion of a study published in the journal Topics in Geriatric Rehabilitation in 2015, which surveyed hundreds of volunteers over a ten-year period. "Bone mineral density improved in spine, hips, and femur of the 227 moderately and fully compliant patients," the study's authors wrote. "Bone quality appeared qualitatively improved in yoga practitioners."

That's not all that yoga can do for your skeleton, either, says certified personal trainer Monica Straith. "Your bones will get stronger because you're working against gravity," she revealed to The List. "This creates a healthy amount of tension that encourages new bone growth."

Given that women are far more likely than men to develop osteoporosis in their lifetime, according to the National Osteoporosis Foundation, adopting a yoga practice can be an especially important tool for ladies in their fight against bone loss. Sounds like a good reason to do yoga every day.

If you do yoga every day, you may be happier

Looking for a natural way to increase the bliss you experience on a daily basis? Or do you find yourself battling the blues and want to beat them back? Try doing yoga every day, as it just might increase the amount of happiness you feel in your life (via CNN). "When you exercise, the body releases chemicals called endorphins into the bloodstream," says Nadia Agarwal, a certified yoga teacher. "Endorphins reduce the body's perception of pain and heighten the mood." Talk about an easy and efficient way to get yourself smiling more!

If you're able to take yoga classes in a group at a studio or gym facility, that can have added benefits as well, says Agarwal. "Meeting in your studio or collective place of practice can help to boost your mood further by providing a sense of community and collectivism in times of isolation or loneliness," she continued.

Your energy levels may improve if you do yoga every day

It can be hard to juggle work, family, school, and other obligations while maintaining a healthy amount of energy and vigor. That can make it all the more tempting to keep a cup of coffee by your side all day, just so you can stay on top of the never-ending inbox and chore delegation. 

But believe it or not, if you make time to do yoga every day, you may find that you suddenly can do more with less time, as noted by HuffPost. That's because it changes your energy levels, according to certified yoga teacher and nutritionist Katie Boyd. "As you continually practice you will notice that you no longer need caffeine throughout the day to keep your energetic vibrational frequency high," she revealed to The List. "The more energy you have the more things you can accomplish." She added that the more accomplished you are, the happier you'll feel, which will fulfill you mentally, emotionally, and psychologically.

If you do yoga every day, you can help your heart health

The No. 1 cause of death around the world is heart disease, according to the World Health Organization. So if you're concerned and want to help your cardiovascular health, try hitting the mat, says general practitioner and clinical director of Tested.com Dr. Daniel Atkinson. "Some research studies point towards gentle yoga practices relaxing the arteries, and thereby helping to reduce blood pressure," he told The List. "Every individual is different, but some studies have suggested that doing yoga on a sustained basis may result in people with high blood pressure getting close to normal levels within two or three months." And that can do wonderful things for your ticker, as noted by Harvard Medical School.

That's no reason to stop seeing your doctor or skip out on your medication, though, says Atkinson. Rather, think of your decision to do yoga every day as a supplemental defense. "While it shouldn't be considered as a treatment for high blood pressure on its own, it can help to form part of a healthy lifestyle that benefits cardiovascular health overall," he added.