Yoga is derived from a Sanskrit word “yuji” which means yoke or union. It is an ancient science that combines the wellbeing of mind, body soul.
As you may be aware, it incorporates asanas or poses designed for mind-body healing, meditation and breathing exercises.
When you practise yoga, it brings many scientifically proven benefits for both mental and physical health.
Here are a few evidence-based benefits of yoga:
Research shows that yoga reduces stress and enables relaxation. Several medical studies have shown that it decreases cortisol in the body, which is the primary stress hormone.
One such study showed the impact of yoga on stress where 24 women who considered themselves emotionally stressed, were followed for a period of three months. When they practised yoga for three months, it reduced their stress, anxiety, depression and fatigue considerably.
In a different survey, 131 people showed similar improvements within 10 weeks of regular yoga. It improved their quality of life and mental health, and also stress and anxiety.
May reduce inflammation
Yoga doesn’t only improve mental health, it also helps reduce inflammation if you practice it regularly.
Inflammation is the body’s natural immune response but sometimes chronic inflammation in the body contributes to the development of inflammatory diseases like diabetes, heart disease, cancer etc.
In 2015, a study divided 218 participants into two different groups. Those that practised yoga regularly and those that didn’t. Both groups ultimately performed moderate to strenuous yoga poses.
When the study concluded, the group that practised yoga had lower levels of inflammatory markers compared to the other group.
Helps in chronic pain
Chronic pain is a debilitating symptom that affects thousands of people and had several possible causes from injuries to RMS diseases.
There is an increasing body of research that shows how yoga can help alleviate symptoms of chronic pain.
For example, in one study, 42 people with carpal tunnel syndrome either got a wrist splint or did yoga for two months. It was concluded that yoga was more effective in reducing the pain and improving their grip strength compared to wrist splinting.
Research has also shown that yoga helps reduces pain and improves physical function in participants with osteoarthritis of the knees. While more research is being carried out, it is certain that including yoga in your daily routine helps patients suffering from chronic pain.
Enhanced brain function
Yoga stimulates brain function and boosts energy levels as many studies have indicated.
A study conducted on Hatha yoga showed that the brain’s executive functions were significantly improved in addition to people’s moods after practicing yoga. What are executive functions? The brain activities that are related to goal-oriented behavior that regulate emotional responses and habits.
In fact, a single yoga session can improve accuracy and speed of memory more than a session of any aerobic exercise.
Additionally, yoga improves mental flexibility, task switching and information recall among seniors.
Fighting heart disease
Heart diseases or cardiovascular diseases are the leading cause of death worldwide. Yoga helps reduce the risk for heart diseases such as body mass index (BMI), cholesterol and blood pressure.
Yoga also helps by stabilizing changes in the blood vessels that may lead to heart diseases.
In fact, combining yoga practice with an aerobic activity can reduce the BMI, cholesterol levels and blood pressure considerably.
Perhaps of all the benefits that yoga provides, this one has the most takers. If you suffer from sleepless nights or insomnia then yoga might just be the cure you are looking for.
Forget counting sheep backward and forward. Simply add a gentle yoga and guided meditation practice to your routine and experience the amazing benefits.
One Harvard Medical study shows that a regular yoga practice improves sleep efficiency, quantity and quality of sleep, and the time taken to fall asleep, among many other improvements.
How to get started?
Most people consider yoga to be a safe form of physical activity. However, do take guidance from a qualified instructor.
There are quite a few styles of yoga, starting from the meditative to the rigorous. You may have heard of Hatha yoga, Vinyasa yoga, Ashtanga yoga, Iyengar yoga etc. Start with a beginner’s class and be sure to invest in quality yoga gear. Take a look at ana heart yoga clothes if you are not sure where to buy them.
Once you are confident, you can also supplement your learning using online videos or apps and find the right alignment of poses to get the maximum impact.
Yoga is a holistic health exercise and it can help with the following symptoms:
- Chronic pain
- Heart disease
There is no substitute for professional advice. Always take your doctor’s opinion before you undertake any new fitness regime.
Interesting related article: “The Difference Between Yoga and Pilates.“