Yogis have been touting and sharing the benefits of a consistent yoga practice for thousands of years, and finally, scientific studies are now confirming much of what yoga practitioners have known all along.

Some of these benefits are well known and fairly obvious, while others are more obscure and may leave you thinking, “I had no idea yoga could help with that!” They span a wide range from purely physical, mental or emotional, to deeply spiritual. Also, you may notice that most of the benefits listed are physical. This is because many of these benefits are the result of physical exercise in general. However, there are a great many benefits listed here that cannot be gained through physical exercise alone–they are the result of a conscious yoga practice.

It’s important to note that many of these benefits have been researched and confirmed through scientific study, while others are purely anecdotal, and have only been confirmed by those who constantly practice and experience the benefits of yoga. so read below to discover amazing benefits of incorporating yoga in to your fitness program.

From lowering blood pressure to increasing pain tolerance, the following health benefits can all be discovered within the body.

  • Blood pressure. A consistent yoga practice decreases blood pressure through better circulation and oxygenation of the body. These two exercises can help lower blood pressure.

  • Pulse rate. A slower pulse rate indicates that your heart is strong enough to pump more blood with fewer beats. Regularly practicing yoga provides a lower pulse rate.

  • Circulation. Yoga improves blood circulation. By transporting nutrients and oxygen throughout your body, yoga practice provides healthier organs, skin, and brain.

  • Respiratory. Like the circulatory system, a lower respiratory rate indicates that the lungs are working more efficiently. Yoga decreases the respiratory rate through a combination of controlled breathing exercises and better fitness.

  • Cardiovascular endurance. A combination of lower heart rate and improved oxygenation to the body (both benefits of yoga) results in higher cardiovascular endurance.

  • Organs. Yoga practice massages internal organs, thus improving the ability of the body to prevent disease. Additionally, an experienced yoga practitioner becomes better attuned to her body to know at first sign if something isn’t functioning properly, thereby allowing for quicker response to head off disease.

  • Gastrointestinal. Gastrointestinal functions have been shown to improve in both men and women who practice yoga.
  • Immunity. Yoga practice has frequently been correlated with a stronger immune system. There are some yoga poses that specifically work on areas of immunity.

  • Pain. Pain tolerance is much higher among those who practice yoga regularly. In addition to pain tolerance, some instances of chronic pain, such as back pain, are lessened or eliminated through yoga (see below for more on back pain).

  • Metabolism. Having a balanced metabolism results in maintaining a healthy weight and controlling hunger. Consistent yoga practice helps find the balance and creates a more efficient metabolism.