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Yoga is an ancient form of exercise that focuses on strength, flexibility and breathing to boost physical and mental well-being. The main components of yoga are postures (a series of movements designed to increase strength and flexibility) and breathing.
The practice originated in India about 5,000 years ago and has been adapted in other countries in a variety of ways. Yoga is now commonplace in leisure centres, health clubs, schools, hospitals and surgeries.
What are the health benefits of yoga? Dozens of scientific trials of varying quality have been published on yoga. While there's scope for more rigorous studies on its health benefits, most studies suggest yoga is a safe and effective way to increase physical activity, especially strength, flexibility and balance.
There's some evidence that regular yoga practice is beneficial for people with high blood pressure, heart disease, aches and pains – including lower back pain – depression and stress.