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Try Yoga to Lose Weight, Reduce Stress, and Fight Fibromyalgia

Try Yoga to Lose Weight, Reduce Stress, and Fight Fibromyalgia

If you're not one of the 16 million Americans who have discovered that the corpse pose actually restores life and the sun salutation makes you cheery on a dark and stormy day, roll out a magic-carpet yoga mat and give yoga a try. We both do it regularly. It reduces stress and keeps us strong (don't think those relaxing positions aren't taxing, too).

Mounting medical evidence supports yoga's mind-body healing powers. If you've been in a perpetual slump, this new finding should cheer you up: After taking a yoga class, you'll have more GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid) in your brain. More what? Just think of it as more of nature's own anti-anxiety agent—a chemical that improves mood and decreases anxiety.

If you're unlucky enough to have painful fibromyalgia, a once-a-week yoga class can help you. Researchers have watched its gentle stretching and meditation help relieve fibromyalgia pain, depression and fatigue, and improve memory, anxiety, balance and stiffness.

Been wrestling with your weight? Yoga somehow helps you stop gaining. In one study, overweight people ages 45 to 55 who had been doing yoga for 4 years or more gained 18.5 pounds less than a similar group who didn't practice. Yoga also keeps your joints young and flexible, making you as peppy as a puppy. How's that for a reason to ease into downward-facing dog?

If you're a little tired after your first class, remember what those smiling yogis say: Don't just do something, sit there!

Medically reviewed in March 2019.

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