Yoga is a spiritual discipline, practiced in order to achieve a union of the mind, body and soul. Not to mention following it up with deep relaxation has been proven to buffer stress and stress-related diseases — heart disease, obesity, depression and anxiety, to name a few. While the practice itself can help bring about good health, specific yoga poses may target, and ultimately improve, certain health concerns. To get a better idea of how this works, here’s a list of the health benefits associated with the seven best yoga poses.

1. Ardhmatsyendrasana (half spinal twist) for diabetes

In one study, 20 diabetic patients practiced yoga over a period of 40 days. One of the postures the subjects practiced was the half spinal twist. At the end of the study, the subject’s waist to hip ratio significantly decreased, and there were positive changes in their insulin levels. The abdominal stretching of this exercise helps regenerate the pancreas, which increases the metabolism of glucose in organ tissue.

To do the half spinal twist, sit with your legs stretched in front of you. Bend your left leg so that the heel touches your right hip. Put the right leg over your left knee. Place the left hand on the right knee and your other hand behind you. Twist your whole upper body to the right and look over your right shoulder.

2. Dandasana (wrist bending) for joint health

Arthritis sufferers can benefit from gentle yoga exercises that help loosen the joints. In one study, 64 arthritis sufferers underwent a yoga program to see if joint bending yoga poses improved hand grip strength. At the end of the study, there was a significant improvement in joint function. One such pose is called dandasana or wrist bending.

To perform dandasana, sit with both legs stretched, close your eyes and relax. Slowly bring your legs towards you. Bend your hands backward as if pressing against the wall, and then bend the hands towards the floor. Keep your palms open through this practice.

3. Kurmasana (Tortoise Pose) for the immune system

The tortoise pose supports the thymus gland, a lymph organ of the immune system. Twisting yoga poses compress certain organs and helps to massage and rejuvenate the organs, which strengthens the immune system.

Sit on the floor with your legs spread in front of you and bend forward so that your forehead touches the floor. Put your hands under your knees and try to spread them as far back as you can. Relax your abdomen and breathe deeply.

4. Supta virasana (supported reclining hero pose) for stress

This pose aims to rebalance downward-moving energy and relax the muscles that get tense from stress. Generally speaking, yoga poses where you passively stretch are good for stress-relief, according to Yoga Journal.

Place a bolster at one end of a folded blanket. Sit in front of the blanket with your heels behind you. Lie back on the blanket placing your head on the bolster. Breathe deeply and stay in this pose for up to three minutes.

5. Bhujangasana (cobra pose) for menstrual pain

A 2011 study published in the Journal of Pediatric and Adolescent Gynecology suggested that yoga can reduce the severity of painful menstruation. The researcher recruited a group of young girls to be evaluated during three of their menstrual cycles in order to see if they benefitted from some of the best yoga poses, including the cobra pose. The studies findings suggest that cobra in particular might be a safe and effective way to relieve menstrual cramps.

To do this pose, lie flat on the floor. At the first in breath, straighten your arms in front of you and lift your torso up only until your pubic bone is firmly on the ground. Hold the pose for up to 30 seconds breathing gently.

6. Surya Namaskar (Sun salutions) for the heart

The Sun salutions is a sequence of poses that helps you stretch almost all the muscles and organs in your body and which was found in one study to improve heart health. In this study, scientists measured heart rate and oxygen intake in participants who performed the Sun salutions in four sequences. The scientists measure an improvement in heart rate and increase in oxygen intake after each round making Sun salutions perfect for protecting the heart. You can learn how to do the Sun salutions at Yoga Journal.

7. Sidhasana with moola bandha (root lock) for sexual health

Sidhasana is the pose yogis adopt when meditating while the moola bandha is an exercise similar to the Kegel. In men, practicing the root lock can control testosterone secretion and prevent a hernia. The practice is also good for improving sex drive in both men and women. To do this practice, sit in the lotus pose and contract and let go of the pelvic floor muscles rhythmically.

The best yoga poses followed by deep relaxation can reduce stress and its associated diseases. Yoga also massages internal organs which help improve their functioning. Practicing yoga daily will provide with many health and spiritual benefits. If you have any specific health concern, you’d like to address, see if any of these 7 poses can work for you.

David Gomes completed his M.S Professional degree in California Institute of Technology. He works for Consumer Health Digest as a health and wellness expert. He lives in Oakland, Calif. He loves to write on a variety of topics such as joint health, weight loss, beauty and skin care for blogs and online publication sites. He also loves the latest technology, gadgets; and you can connect with him on Google+ and Twitter.