The Benefits of Yoga
Preserving a normal yoga method can provide physical as well as mental health and wellness advantages. Discover the different types of yoga exercise and also exactly how it can be utilized as a tool to aid you remain healthy and balanced. Like yoga, the osteopathic strategy to wellness concentrates on your body’s all-natural propensity towards health and wellness and self-healing.
” The function of yoga exercise is to construct stamina, understanding and also consistency in both the mind and body,” describes Natalie Nevins, DO, a board-certified osteopathic family doctor and also accredited Kundalini Yoga trainer in Hollywood, California.
While there are greater than 100 various types, or institutions, of yoga exercise, a lot of sessions generally consist of breathing exercises, reflection, and also presuming postures (in some cases called asana or postures) that stretch and also flex different muscular tissue groups.
” As an osteopathic physician, I focus a whole lot of my efforts on precautionary medication and techniques, and also in the body’s capacity to recover itself,” claims Dr. Nevins. “Yoga exercise is a fantastic device for staying healthy due to the fact that it’s based on similar principles.”
Physicians of Osteopathic Medicine, or DOs, concentrate on avoidance by checking out just how your lifestyle as well as setting influence your wellness, instead of just treating your signs. They additionally full substantial postgraduate and also professional training before ending up being fully qualified doctors. Contrast doctor training requirements to those needed for various other kinds of clinicians.
Since there are numerous different kinds of yoga practices, it is possible for anybody to begin. “Whether you’re a lazy person or an expert athlete, dimension as well as health and fitness levels do not matter since there are alterations for each yoga exercise position and also beginner classes in every style,” says Dr. Nevins. “The suggestion is to discover your limitations, not aim for some pretzel-like perfection. It is a great way to get in tune with your body and also your psyche.”.
“The relaxation techniques incorporated in yoga can decrease chronic discomfort, such as lower neck and back pain, joint inflammation, headaches and carpal passage syndrome,” describes Dr. Nevins. “Yoga exercise can also reduce high blood pressure and also minimize sleeping disorders.”
Various other physical benefits of yoga exercise consist of:
boosted muscular tissue toughness as well as tone
boosted respiration, energy and vitality
preserving a balanced metabolism
cardio and also blood circulation wellness
enhanced athletic performance
protection from injury
Apart from the physical benefits, among the ideal benefits of yoga exercise is just how it aids an individual take care of anxiety, which is recognized to have disastrous results on the mind and body. “Stress can disclose itself in numerous ways, consisting of back or neck pain, resting troubles, headaches, medication misuse, and also a lack of ability to concentrate,” states Dr. Nevins. “Yoga exercise can be really efficient in developing coping skills and getting to a much more favorable outlook on life.”
Yoga exercise’s consolidation of meditation as well as breathing can assist boost an individual’s psychological health. “Routine yoga exercise technique creates mental quality and calmness; boosts body recognition; eliminates persistent tension patterns; loosens up the mind; facilities attention; and also hones concentration,” states Dr. Nevins. Body- as well as self-awareness are especially helpful, she adds, “since they can assist with very early detection of physical problems and also permit for early precautionary activity.”
If you ‘re a passionate yoga exercise specialist, you have actually most likely seen some yoga benefits– maybe you ‘re resting far better or getting fewer colds or just really feeling more relaxed and also comfortable. But if you have actually ever before tried telling a newbie concerning the benefits of yoga, you could discover that descriptions like “It enhances the circulation of prana ” or “It brings energy up your spine ” drop on deaf or cynical ears.
Researchers Are Catching On to Yoga’s Benefits
As it occurs, Western science is starting to offer some concrete ideas as to how yoga functions to boost health, heal pains as well as discomforts, and also keep illness at bay. When you comprehend them, you ‘ll have also much more inspiration to tip onto your floor covering, and also you most likely won ‘t feel so tongue-tied the following time someone desires Western evidence.
First-Hand Experience With the Benefits of Yoga
I myself have actually experienced yoga ‘s healing power in an extremely actual means. Weeks before a trip to India in 2002 to investigate yoga exercise therapy, I developed numbness and also prickling in my right-hand man. After first thinking about scary things like a mind lump and numerous sclerosis, I identified that the reason of the signs and symptoms was thoracic outlet syndrome, a nerve blockage in my neck and breast.
In spite of the unpleasant symptoms, I realized just how beneficial my problem could be throughout my trip. While going to various yoga therapy facilities, I would certainly send myself for examination and also treatment by the various specialists I would certainly prepared to observe. I can attempt their recommendations as well as see what benefited me. While this wasn ‘t precisely a controlled scientific experiment, I knew that such hands-on understanding can teach me things I could not or else understand.
My experiment confirmed lighting. At the Vivekananda ashram just outside of Bangalore, S. Nagarathna, M.D., advised breathing exercises in which I imagined bringing prana (vital energy) into my best upper breast. Various other therapy consisted of asana, Pranayama, meditation, shouting, lectures on philosophy, as well as different kriya (interior cleansing techniques). At the Krishnamacharya Yoga Mandiram in Chennai as well as from A.G. Mohan and his better half, Indra, who exercise simply outside of Chennai, I was told to stop practicing Headstand and also Shoulderstand for mild asana coordinated with the breath. In Pune, S.V. Karandikar, a clinical physician, suggested techniques with ropes and also belts to put traction on my back as well as workouts that instructed me to use my shoulder blades to open my top back.
Thanks to the methods I learned in India, guidance from teachers in the USA, and also my own expedition, my upper body is a lot more versatile than it was, my stance has actually enhanced, as well as for even more than a year, I have actually been without signs.
38 Ways Yoga Improves Health
My experience inspired me to pore over the scientific studies I would certainly collected in India in addition to the West to identify and also explain how yoga can both protect against disease and assist you recover from it. Below is what I discovered.
1. Improves your flexibility
Improved flexibility is one of the first as well as most obvious benefits of yoga exercise. Throughout your initial class, you most likely won ‘t have the ability to touch your toes, never mind do a backbend. But if you stick with it, you ‘ll discover a progressive loosening, as well as eventually, apparently impossible postures will come to be possible. You ‘ll likewise possibly notice that pains and also pains start to disappear. That ‘s no coincidence. Limited hips can strain the knee joint as a result of incorrect placement of the thigh and also shinbones. Limited hamstrings can lead to a flattening of the back spine, which can trigger back pain. And also inflexibility in muscle mass and also connective cells, such as fascia and tendons, can create poor position.
2. Builds muscle strength
Strong muscles do more than look great. They likewise secure us from conditions like joint inflammation and also pain in the back, and help avoid drops in elderly individuals. And also when you develop toughness with yoga, you balance it with adaptability. If you simply mosted likely to the health club and lifted weights, you might construct strength at the cost of adaptability.
3. Perfects your posture
Your head is like a bowling round– huge, rounded, and also heavy. When it ‘s balanced directly over an erect spinal column, it takes a lot less benefit your neck as well as back muscular tissues to support it. Relocate it several inches forward, however, as well as you start to strain those muscular tissues. Hold up that forward-leaning bowling round for 8 or 12 hours a day as well as it ‘s no surprise you ‘re tired. And also exhaustion could not be your only problem. Poor posture can trigger back, neck, and also various other muscle and also joint issues. As you sag, your body might compensate by flattening the regular inward curves in your neck and lower back. This can trigger discomfort and also degenerative joint inflammation of the spinal column.
4. Prevents cartilage and joint breakdown
Each time you practice yoga exercise, you take your joints through their full variety of movement. This can help protect against degenerative joint inflammation or reduce special needs by “squeezing and soaking ” areas of cartilage that typically aren ‘t made use of. Joint cartilage material resembles a sponge; it gets fresh nutrients only when its fluid is pressed out and also a brand-new supply can be absorbed. Without proper food, overlooked areas of cartilage material can ultimately put on out, subjecting the underlying bone like damaged brake pads.
5. Protects your spine
Spine disks– the shock absorbers in between the vertebrae that can herniate and compress nerves– crave motion. That ‘s the only method they obtain their nutrients. If you ‘ve got a healthy asana exercise with a lot of backbends, forward bends, as well as spins, you ‘ll aid maintain your disks supple.
6. Betters your bone health
It ‘s well documented that weight-bearing workout reinforces bones and also helps ward off osteoporosis. Many stances in yoga exercise call for that you lift your very own weight. And some, like Downward- and also Upward-Facing Pet, aid enhance the arm bones, which are particularly at risk to osteoporotic cracks. In an unpublished research carried out at The golden state State College, Los Angeles, yoga exercise technique raised bone thickness in the vertebrae. Yoga exercise ‘s ability to reduced levels of the stress hormone cortisol (see Number 11) might help keep calcium in the bones.
7. Increases your blood flow
Yoga exercise obtains your blood moving. Much more specifically, the leisure exercises you learn in yoga exercise can aid your blood circulation, especially in your hands and also feet. Yoga likewise obtains even more oxygen to your cells, which operate better consequently. Turning presents are believed to wring out venous blood from inner body organs and permit oxygenated blood to flow in as soon as the spin is released. Upside down postures, such as Headstand, Handstand, and Shoulderstand, encourage venous blood from the legs as well as hips to recede to the heart, where it can be pumped to the lungs to be newly oxygenated. This can aid if you have swelling in your legs from heart or kidney issues. Yoga exercise additionally increases levels of hemoglobin and red cell, which carry oxygen to the cells. And it thins the blood by making platelets less sticky and also by cutting the level of clot-promoting healthy proteins in the blood. This can cause a decline in cardiovascular disease and also strokes given that blood embolisms are frequently the cause of these killers.
8. Drains your lymphs and boosts immunity
When you contract and stretch muscular tissues, move body organs about, as well as be available in and also out of yoga poses, you boost the drainage of lymph (a thick liquid rich in immune cells). This helps the lymphatic system fight infection, destroy malignant cells, as well as take care of the hazardous waste items of cellular performance.
9. Ups your heart rate
When you consistently obtain your heart rate right into the cardio range, you reduced your danger of cardiovascular disease and can alleviate anxiety. While not all yoga exercise is cardio, if you do it intensely or take flow or Ashtanga classes, it can improve your heart rate into the cardiovascular array. Yet also yoga exercises that wear ‘t obtain your heart rate up that high can enhance cardiovascular conditioning. Researches have actually discovered that yoga exercise practice reduces the resting heart rate, enhances endurance, and can enhance your optimum uptake of oxygen throughout workout– all representations of enhanced cardiovascular conditioning. One study found that topics who were instructed just pranayama can do even more exercise with much less oxygen.
10. Drops your blood pressure
If you ‘ve obtained high blood pressure, you might gain from yoga exercise. 2 research studies of individuals with high blood pressure, published in the British clinical journal The Lancet, compared the impacts of Savasana (Remains Pose) with just existing on a sofa. After 3 months, Savasana was related to a 26-point decrease in systolic high blood pressure (the top number) as well as a 15-point decline in diastolic high blood pressure (all-time low number– and the higher the preliminary high blood pressure, the larger the decrease.
11. Regulates your adrenal glands
Yoga reduces cortisol levels. If that doesn ‘t audio like much, consider this. Normally, the adrenal glands produce cortisol in response to a severe crisis, which momentarily improves immune feature. If your cortisol degrees stay high even after the dilemma, they can compromise the body immune system. Short-term increases of cortisol assist with long-lasting memory, yet chronically high levels weaken memory as well as may lead to permanent changes in the mind. In addition, excessive cortisol has actually been linked with major depression, weakening of bones (it draws out calcium and other minerals from bones and also hinders the laying down of brand-new bone), hypertension, as well as insulin resistance. In rats, high cortisol degrees cause what researchers call “food-seeking actions ” (the kind that drives you to eat when you ‘re distressed, angry, or stressed). The body takes those additional calories and also disperses them as fat in the abdomen, adding to weight gain and also the risk of diabetes and also cardiovascular disease.
12. Makes you happier
Feeling sad? Sit in Lotus. Much better yet, rise right into a backbend or rise majestically into King Dancer Posture. While it ‘s not as straightforward as that, one research study found that a regular yoga exercise method improved anxiety and resulted in a considerable increase in serotonin degrees as well as a reduction in the levels of monoamine oxidase (an enzyme that breaks down neurotransmitters) and also cortisol. At the University of Wisconsin, Richard Davidson, Ph.D., located that the left prefrontal cortex showed increased task in meditators, a searching for that has been correlated with better levels of happiness and far better immune feature. Much more dramatic left-sided activation was located in dedicated, long-term experts.
13. Founds a healthy lifestyle
Move much more, eat much less– that ‘s the expression of many a dieter. Yoga can assist on both fronts. A routine practice gets you moving and burns calories, as well as the spiritual as well as emotional dimensions of your practice may motivate you to address any consuming and also weight problems on a much deeper degree. Yoga might also inspire you to end up being a much more mindful eater.
14. Lowers blood sugar
Yoga reduces blood glucose as well as LDL (“poor “) cholesterol and also enhances HDL (“excellent “) cholesterol. In individuals with diabetes, yoga has actually been located to reduced blood sugar in numerous methods: by lowering cortisol and also adrenaline levels, motivating weight-loss, and also enhancing level of sensitivity to the effects of insulin. Get your blood sugar degrees down, as well as you lower your risk of diabetic problems such as heart assault, kidney failing, as well as blindness.
15. Helps you focus
A crucial component of yoga exercise is concentrating on the present. Studies have actually found that routine yoga technique enhances control, reaction time, memory, and even INTELLIGENCE scores. People who exercise Transcendental Meditation show the capacity to fix problems as well as acquire and also recall information better– possibly since they ‘re much less sidetracked by their ideas, which can play over as well as over like an endless tape loophole.
16. Relaxes your system
Yoga exercise motivates you to relax, slow your breath, and also concentrate on today, shifting the equilibrium from the understanding nerve system (or the fight-or-flight action) to the parasympathetic anxious system. The latter is calming as well as corrective; it lowers breathing and heart rates, reduces blood pressure, as well as raises blood circulation to the intestines as well as reproductive organs– comprising what Herbert Benson, M.D., calls the relaxation response.
17. Improves your balance
On a regular basis practicing yoga exercise boosts proprioception (the ability to feel what your body is doing and also where it is in space) and enhances equilibrium. Individuals with negative position or dysfunctional activity patterns normally have poor proprioception, which has actually been linked to knee problems as well as neck and back pain. Better equilibrium could indicate less drops. For the elderly, this translates right into even more self-reliance and postponed admission to a nursing residence or never ever going into one in all. For the rest people, poses like Tree Posture can make us feel much less shaky on and off the mat.
18. Maintains your nerves
Some progressed yogis can manage their bodies in amazing means, much of which are moderated by the nerves. Researchers have actually kept track of yogis who can generate unusual heart rhythms, generate certain brain-wave patterns, and also, using a meditation method, increase the temperature of their hands by 15 levels Fahrenheit. If they can make use of yoga to do that, maybe you can discover to boost blood flow to your pelvis if you ‘re trying to get pregnant or cause relaxation when you ‘re having difficulty sleeping.
19. Launches stress in your limbs
Do you ever observe on your own holding the telephone or a guiding wheel with a death hold or scrunching your face when staring at a computer screen? These unconscious practices can result in chronic tension, muscular tissue fatigue, and also discomfort in the wrists, arms, shoulders, neck, and face, which can increase anxiety and aggravate your state of mind. As you exercise yoga exercise, you start to discover where you hold stress: It might be in your tongue, your eyes, or the muscle mass of your face as well as neck. If you merely tune in, you might be able to release some tension in the tongue as well as eyes. With larger muscular tissues like the quadriceps, trapezius, as well as buttocks, it may take years of technique to find out exactly how to unwind them.
20. Helps you sleep much deeper
Excitement is good, yet way too much of it taxes the nervous system. Yoga can offer remedy for the stress of contemporary life. Corrective asana, yoga exercise nidra ( a form of guided relaxation), Savasana, pranayama, and reflection encourage pratyahara, a transforming internal of the senses, which provides downtime for the nerves. One more byproduct of a routine yoga practice, research studies suggest, is much better sleep– which means you ‘ll be much less exhausted as well as stressed and much less likely to have accidents.
21. Increases your body immune system performance
Asana and also pranayama probably improve immune function, yet, thus far, reflection has the greatest scientific assistance in this field. It shows up to have an advantageous result on the performance of the immune system, improving it when required (for instance, raising antibody levels in feedback to a vaccine) as well as reducing it when required (for example, reducing an inappropriately aggressive immune function in an autoimmune condition like psoriasis).
22. Gives your lungs room to take a breath
Yogis tend to take less breaths of greater quantity, which is both soothing and a lot more efficient. A 1998 research study released in The Lancet taught a yogic strategy recognized as ” total breathing ” to individuals with lung troubles as a result of congestive heart failing. After one month, their typical breathing price lowered from 13.4 breaths per minute to 7.6. Meanwhile, their workout capability raised considerably, as did the oxygen saturation of their blood. Additionally, yoga has actually been shown to enhance numerous steps of lung function, consisting of the optimum quantity of the breath and the performance of the exhalation.
Yoga likewise promotes breathing with the nose, which filters the air, heats it (cool, completely dry air is more probable to trigger an asthma strike in individuals who are sensitive), and also humidifies it, eliminating plant pollen and also dirt as well as various other points you would certainly rather not take right into your lungs.
23. Prevents IBS and other digestive problems
Ulcers, cranky digestive tract disorder, constipation– every one of these can be aggravated by stress and anxiety. So if you emphasize less, you ‘ll suffer much less. Yoga exercise, like any type of exercise, can ease irregular bowel movements– and also in theory reduced the danger of colon cancer– due to the fact that relocating the body helps with extra quick transport of food and also waste products through the bowels. And, although it has actually not been studied medically, yogis think that turning poses may be valuable in obtaining waste to relocate via the system.
24. Gives you peace of mind
Yoga exercise vanquishes the variations of the mind, according to Patanjali ‘sYoga Sutra. Simply put, it slows down the mental loops of stress, remorse, anger, fear, and wish that can cause stress and anxiety. And since stress and anxiety is linked in numerous illness– from migraines as well as sleeping disorders to lupus, MS, dermatitis, hypertension, and also cardiovascular disease– if you find out to peaceful your mind, you ‘ll be most likely to live longer as well as healthier.
25. Rises your self-confidence.
Most of us experience from chronic reduced self-worth. If you manage this negatively– take drugs, overindulge, function as well hard, rest about– you may pay the cost in poorer wellness physically, psychologically, and also mentally. If you take a positive strategy and also technique yoga exercise, you ‘ll sense, initially in short glances as well as later on in more continual views, that you ‘re beneficial or, as yogic viewpoint teaches, that you are a manifestation of the Divine. If you exercise consistently with an intention of soul-searching and also improvement– not just as an alternative to an aerobics class– you can access a various side of yourself. You ‘ll experience feelings of gratefulness, empathy, and also forgiveness, as well as a sense that you become part of something bigger. While far better health is not the goal of spirituality, it ‘s typically a byproduct, as recorded by duplicated scientific studies.
26. Eases your discomfort.
Yoga exercise can alleviate your discomfort. According to a number of studies, asana, meditation, or a combination of both, minimized discomfort in individuals with arthritis, pain in the back, fibromyalgia, repetitive strain injury, as well as other chronic problems. When you ease your discomfort, your mood improves, you ‘re even more inclined to be active, and you don ‘ t requirement as much medicine.
27. Offers you internal strength.
Yoga can help you make changes in your life. In reality, that may be its best stamina. Tapas, the Sanskrit word for ” heat, ” is the fire, the technique that gas yoga exercise practice which normal method constructs. The tapas you establish can be included the remainder of your life to get rid of inertia and also change inefficient behaviors. You may find that without making a specific initiative to alter points, you begin to consume better, exercise much more, or lastly stop smoking cigarettes after years of stopped working efforts.
28. Connects you with advice.
Great yoga exercise educators can do wonders for your health and wellness. Outstanding ones do greater than overview you via the stances. They can readjust your stance, scale when you ought to go deeper in postures or back off, deliver tough truths with concern, aid you kick back, and also improve and also customize your method. A respectful connection with a teacher goes a lengthy means towards promoting your health and wellness.
29. Helps keep you drug complimentary.
If your medicine cupboard appears like a drug store, perhaps it ‘s time to try yoga. Studies of individuals with bronchial asthma, high blood pressure, Type II diabetics issues (previously called adult-onset diabetes), and also obsessive-compulsive condition have revealed that yoga assisted them lower their dose of drugs and also in some cases leave them entirely. The advantages of taking less drugs? You ‘ll spend much less money, as well as you ‘re less most likely to experience side impacts and also risk unsafe medicine interactions.
30. Builds recognition for makeover.
Yoga as well as meditation build recognition. And the even more aware you are, the easier it is to damage without devastating feelings like temper. Studies suggest that persistent temper as well as hostility are as highly connected to cardiac arrest as are cigarette smoking, diabetes mellitus, and raised cholesterol. Yoga exercise shows up to reduce rage by increasing feelings of concern as well as interconnection as well as by calming the nerves and the mind. It likewise enhances your ability to go back from the drama of your very own life, to stay consistent despite bad news or unsettling occasions. You can still respond promptly when you need to– as well as there ‘s proof that yoga exercise speeds response time– yet you can take that split second to select a more thoughtful method, lowering experiencing on your own and others.
31. Advantages your relationships.
Love may not overcome all, but it definitely can assist in healing. Cultivating the emotional assistance of close friends, household, and neighborhood has been shown continuously to improve health and wellness and also healing. A routine yoga method assists establish kindness, compassion, as well as greater equanimity. Together with yogic philosophy ‘s focus on avoiding harm to others, telling the fact, and also taking just what you require, this might boost a number of your connections.
32. Makes use of seems to calm your sinuses.
The essentials of yoga exercise– asana, pranayama, and meditation– all work to boost your wellness, but there ‘s a lot more in the yoga toolbox. Take into consideration shouting. It often tends to lengthen exhalation, which moves the balance towards the parasympathetic nerves. When carried out in a group, chanting can be an especially effective physical as well as emotional experience. A recent study from Sweden ‘s Karolinska Institute recommends that humming noises– like those made while chanting Om– open the sinuses and also assist in drainage.
33. Guides your body ‘s healing in your mind ‘s eye.
If you contemplate a picture in your mind ‘s eye, as you perform in yoga exercise nidra as well as other techniques, you can impact modification in your body. Several research studies have found that directed imagery decreased postoperative discomfort, lowered the regularity of migraines, and also enhanced the top quality of life for people with cancer cells and also HIV.
34. Keeps allergies and viruses at bay
Kriyas, or cleaning techniques, are one more component of yoga exercise. They include every little thing from fast breathing exercises to elaborate internal cleansings of the intestinal tracts. Jala neti, which entails a gentle lavage of the nasal flows with salt water, removes pollen as well as infections from the nose, maintains mucous from accumulating, and aids drains pipes the sinuses.
35. Helps you offer others
Karma yoga ( solution to others) is indispensable to yogic viewpoint. As well as while you might not be inclined to serve others, your health could enhance if you do. A research study at the University of Michigan located that older people that offered a little less than an hour each week were three times as most likely to be alive 7 years later on. Offering others can offer meaning to your life, and your troubles may not seem so complicated when you see what other individuals are dealing with.
36. Urges self care
In a lot of traditional medication, many patients are passive receivers of treatment. In yoga, it ‘s what you do for on your own that matters. Yoga provides you the devices to assist you transform, as well as you might begin to feel much better the very first time you attempt practicing. You might likewise discover that the a lot more you commit to exercise, the much more you profit. This leads to three points: You get associated with your very own care, you discover that your involvement gives you the power to impact adjustment, and seeing that you can impact adjustment gives you hope. And hope itself can be healing.
37. Supports your connective cells
As you check out completely yoga boosts your health and wellness, you possibly discovered a great deal of overlap. That ‘s because they ‘re intensely intertwined. Adjustment your pose as well as you alter the means you breathe. Change your breathing as well as you change your nerve system. This is among the great lessons of yoga: Everything is attached– your hipbone to your anklebone, you to your community, your community to the globe. This affiliation is important to recognizing yoga exercise. This alternative system at the same time taps right into lots of devices that have additive as well as even multiplicative results. This harmony may be one of the most vital way of all that yoga heals.
38. Uses the placebo result, to impact adjustment
Just believing you will certainly get much better can make you better. Regrettably, several standard researchers think that if something works by evoking the placebo effect, it doesn ‘t count. However many people just desire to obtain far better, so if shouting a mantra– like you might do at the start or end of yoga course or throughout a reflection or during your day– facilitates healing, also if it ‘s simply a sugar pill impact, why refrain it?
Benefits of Yoga That Are Supported by Science
Stemmed from the Sanskrit word “yuji,” indicating yoke or union, yoga exercise is an old practice that unites body and mind (1Trusted Resource).
It incorporates breathing workouts, reflection as well as positions made to motivate leisure and minimize tension.
Exercising yoga is said ahead with many benefits for both psychological and physical wellness, though not every one of these benefits have been backed by scientific research.
Can Decrease Stress
Yoga is known for its ability to reduce stress and anxiety as well as advertise leisure.
Actually, several researches have shown that it can decrease the secretion of cortisol, the main anxiety hormone (2Trusted Resource, 3Trusted Resource).
One study showed the effective effect of yoga on stress by adhering to 24 females who perceived themselves as psychologically distressed.
After a three-month yoga exercise program, the women had significantly lower degrees of cortisol. They additionally had lower degrees of stress, anxiousness, exhaustion as well as depression (4Trusted Source).
Another study of 131 individuals had comparable results, showing that 10 weeks of yoga aided reduce stress and anxiety as well as anxiety. It also aided enhance lifestyle and also psychological wellness (5Trusted Resource).
When utilized alone or together with various other techniques of easing anxiety, such as meditation, yoga can be a powerful method to maintain anxiety in check.
SUMMARY: Studies reveal that yoga exercise can aid ease stress and reduced your levels of the stress hormonal agent cortisol.
Many people begin practicing yoga as a way to cope with feelings of anxiety.
Interestingly enough, there is quite a bit of research showing that yoga can help reduce anxiety.
In one study, 34 women diagnosed with an anxiety disorder participated in yoga classes twice weekly for two months.
At the end of the study, those who practiced yoga had significantly lower levels of anxiety than the control group (6Trusted Source).
Another study followed 64 women with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), which is characterized by severe anxiety and fear following exposure to a traumatic event.
After 10 weeks, the women who practiced yoga once weekly had fewer symptoms of PTSD. In fact, 52% of participants no longer met the criteria for PTSD at all (7Trusted Source).
It’s not entirely clear exactly how yoga is able to reduce symptoms of anxiety. However, it emphasizes the importance of being present in the moment and finding a sense of peace, which could help treat anxiety.
SUMMARY:Several studies show that practicing yoga can lead to a decrease in symptoms of anxiety.
May Reduce Inflammation
In addition to improving your mental health, some studies suggest that practicing yoga may reduce inflammation as well.
Inflammation is a normal immune response, but chronic inflammation can contribute to the development of pro-inflammatory diseases, such as heart disease, diabetes and cancer (8Trusted Source).
A 2015 study divided 218 participants into two groups: those who practiced yoga regularly and those who didn’t. Both groups then performed moderate and strenuous exercises to induce stress.
At the end of the study, the individuals who practiced yoga had lower levels of inflammatory markers than those who didn’t (9Trusted Source).
Similarly, a small 2014 study showed that 12 weeks of yoga reduced inflammatory markers in breast cancer survivors with persistent fatigue (10Trusted Source).
Although more research is needed to confirm the beneficial effects of yoga on inflammation, these findings indicate that it may help protect against certain diseases caused by chronic inflammation.
SUMMARY:Some studies show that yoga may reduce inflammatory markers in the body and help prevent pro-inflammatory diseases.
Could Improve Heart Health
From pumping blood throughout the body to supplying tissues with important nutrients, the health of your heart is an essential component of overall health.
Studies show that yoga may help improve heart health and reduce several risk factors for heart disease.
One study found that participants over 40 years of age who practiced yoga for five years had a lower blood pressure and pulse rate than those who didn’t (11Trusted Source).
High blood pressure is one of the major causes of heart problems, such as heart attacks and stroke. Lowering your blood pressure can help reduce the risk of these problems (12Trusted Source).
Some research also suggests that incorporating yoga into a healthy lifestyle could help slow the progression of heart disease.
A study followed 113 patients with heart disease, looking at the effects of a lifestyle change that included one year of yoga training combined with dietary modifications and stress management.
Participants saw a 23% decrease in total cholesterol and a 26% reduction in “bad” LDL cholesterol. Additionally, the progression of heart disease stopped in 47% of patients (13Trusted Source).
It’s unclear how much of a role yoga may have had versus other factors like diet. Yet it can minimize stress, one of the major contributors to heart disease (14Trusted Source).
SUMMARY:Alone or in combination with a healthy lifestyle, yoga may help decrease risk factors for heart disease.
Improves Quality of Life
Yoga is becoming increasingly common as an adjunct therapy to improve quality of life for many individuals.
In one study, 135 seniors were assigned to either six months of yoga, walking or a control group. Practicing yoga significantly improved quality of life, as well as mood and fatigue, compared to the other groups (15Trusted Source).
Other studies have looked at how yoga can improve quality of life and reduce symptoms in patients with cancer.
One study followed women with breast cancer undergoing chemotherapy. Yoga decreased symptoms of chemotherapy, such as nausea and vomiting, while also improving overall quality of life (16Trusted Source).
A similar study looked at how eight weeks of yoga affected women with breast cancer. At the end of the study, the women had less pain and fatigue with improvements in levels of invigoration, acceptance and relaxation (17Trusted Source).
Other studies have found that yoga may help improve sleep quality, enhance spiritual well-being, improve social function and reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression in patients with cancer (18Trusted Source, 19Trusted Source).
SUMMARY:Some studies show that yoga could improve quality of life and may be used as an adjunct therapy for some conditions.
May Fight Depression
Some studies show that yoga may have an anti-depressant effect and could help decrease symptoms of depression.
This may be because yoga is able to decrease levels of cortisol, a stress hormone that influences levels of serotonin, the neurotransmitter often associated with depression (20Trusted Source).
In one study, participants in an alcohol dependence program practiced Sudarshan Kriya, a specific type of yoga that focuses on rhythmic breathing.
After two weeks, participants had fewer symptoms of depression and lower levels of cortisol. They also had lower levels of ACTH, a hormone responsible for stimulating the release of cortisol (2Trusted Source).
Other studies have had similar results, showing an association between practicing yoga and decreased symptoms of depression (21Trusted Source, 22Trusted Source).
Based on these results, yoga may help fight depression, alone or in combination with traditional methods of treatment.
SUMMARY:Several studies have found that yoga may decrease symptoms of depression by influencing the production of stress hormones in the body.
Could Reduce Chronic Pain
Chronic pain is a persistent problem that affects millions of people and has a range of possible causes, from injuries to arthritis.
There is a growing body of research demonstrating that practicing yoga could help reduce many types of chronic pain.
In one study, 42 individuals with carpal tunnel syndrome either received a wrist splint or did yoga for eight weeks.
At the end of the study, yoga was found to be more effective in reducing pain and improving grip strength than wrist splinting (23Trusted Source).
Another study in 2005 showed that yoga could help decrease pain and improve physical function in participants with osteoarthritis of the knees (24Trusted Source).
Although more research is needed, incorporating yoga into your daily routine may be beneficial for those who suffer from chronic pain.
SUMMARY:Yoga may help reduce chronic pain in conditions like carpal tunnel syndrome and osteoarthritis.
Could Promote Sleep Quality
Poor sleep quality has been associated with obesity, high blood pressure and depression, among other disorders (25Trusted Source, 26Trusted Source, 27Trusted Source).
Studies show that incorporating yoga into your routine could help promote better sleep.
In a 2005 study, 69 elderly patients were assigned to either practice yoga, take an herbal preparation or be part of the control group.
The yoga group fell asleep faster, slept longer and felt more well-rested in the morning than the other groups (28Trusted Source).
Another study looked at the effects of yoga on sleep in patients with lymphoma. They found that it decreased sleep disturbances, improved sleep quality and duration and reduced the need for sleep medications (29Trusted Source).
Though the way it works is not clear, yoga has been shown to increase the secretion of melatonin, a hormone that regulates sleep and wakefulness (30Trusted Source).
Yoga also has a significant effect on anxiety, depression, chronic pain and stress — all common contributors to sleep problems.
SUMMARY:Yoga may help enhance sleep quality because of its effects on melatonin and its impact on several common contributors to sleep problems.
Improves Flexibility and Balance
Many people add yoga to their fitness routine to improve flexibility and balance.
There is considerable research that backs this benefit, demonstrating that it can optimize performance through the use of specific poses that target flexibility and balance.
A recent study looked at the impact of 10 weeks of yoga on 26 male college athletes. Doing yoga significantly increased several measures of flexibility and balance, compared to the control group (31Trusted Source).
Another study assigned 66 elderly participants to either practice yoga or calisthenics, a type of body weight exercise.
After one year, total flexibility of the yoga group increased by nearly four times that of the calisthenics group (32Trusted Source).
A 2013 study also found that practicing yoga could help improve balance and mobility in older adults (33Trusted Source).
Practicing just 15–30 minutes of yoga each day could make a big difference for those looking to enhance performance by increasing flexibility and balance.
SUMMARY:Research shows that practicing yoga can help improve balance and increase flexibility.
Could Help Improve Breathing
Pranayama, or yogic breathing, is a practice in yoga that focuses on controlling the breath through breathing exercises and techniques.
Most types of yoga incorporate these breathing exercises, and several studies have found that practicing yoga could help improve breathing.
In one study, 287 college students took a 15-week class where they were taught various yoga poses and breathing exercises. At the end of the study, they had a significant increase in vital capacity (34Trusted Source).
Vital capacity is a measure of the maximum amount of air that can be expelled from the lungs. It is especially important for those with lung disease, heart problems and asthma.
Another study in 2009 found that practicing yogic breathing improved symptoms and lung function in patients with mild-to-moderate asthma (35Trusted Source).
Improving breathing can help build endurance, optimize performance and keep your lungs and heart healthy.
SUMMARY:Yoga incorporates many breathing exercises, which could help improve breathing and lung function.
May Relieve Migraines
Migraines are severe recurring headaches that affect an estimated 1 out of 7 Americans each year (36Trusted Source).
Traditionally, migraines are treated with medications to relieve and manage symptoms.
However, increasing evidence shows that yoga could be a useful adjunct therapy to help reduce migraine frequency.
A 2007 study divided 72 patients with migraines into either a yoga therapy or self-care group for three months. Practicing yoga led to reductions in headache intensity, frequency and pain compared to the self-care group (37Trusted Source).
Another study treated 60 patients with migraines using conventional care with or without yoga. Doing yoga resulted in a greater decrease in headache frequency and intensity than conventional care alone (38Trusted Source).
Researchers suggest that doing yoga may help stimulate the vagus nerve, which has been shown to be effective in relieving migraines (39Trusted Source).
SUMMARY:Studies show that yoga may stimulate the vagus nerve and reduce migraine intensity and frequency, alone or in combination with conventional care.
Promotes Healthy Eating Habits
Mindful eating, also known as intuitive eating, is a concept that encourages being present in the moment while eating.
It’s about paying attention to the taste, smell and texture of your food and noticing any thoughts, feelings or sensations you experience while eating.
This practice has been shown to promote healthy eating habits that help control blood sugar, increase weight loss and treat disordered eating behaviors (40Trusted Source, 41Trusted Source, 42Trusted Source).
Because yoga places a similar emphasis on mindfulness, some studies show that it could be used to encourage healthy eating behaviors.
One study incorporated yoga into an outpatient eating disorder treatment program with 54 patients, finding that yoga helped reduce both eating disorder symptoms and preoccupation with food (43Trusted Source).
Another small study looked at how yoga affected symptoms of binge eating disorder, a disorder characterized by compulsive overeating and a feeling of loss of control.
Yoga was found to cause a decrease in episodes of binge eating, an increase in physical activity and a small decrease in weight (44Trusted Source).
For those with and without disordered eating behaviors, practicing mindfulness through yoga can aid in the development of healthy eating habits.
SUMMARY:Yoga encourages mindfulness, which may be used to help promote mindful eating and healthy eating habits.
Can Increase Strength
In addition to improving flexibility, yoga is a great addition to an exercise routine for its strength-building benefits.
In fact, there are specific poses in yoga that are designed to increase strength and build muscle.
In one study, 79 adults performed 24 cycles of sun salutations — a series of foundational poses often used as a warm-up — six days a week for 24 weeks.
They experienced a significant increase in upper body strength, endurance and weight loss. Women had a decrease in body fat percentage, as well (45Trusted Source).
A 2015 study had similar findings, showing that 12 weeks of practice led to improvements in endurance, strength and flexibility in 173 participants (46Trusted Source).
Based on these findings, practicing yoga can be an effective way to boost strength and endurance, especially when used in combination with a regular exercise routine.
SUMMARY:Some studies show that yoga can cause an increase in strength, endurance and flexibility.
The Bottom Line
Multiple studies have confirmed the many mental and physical benefits of yoga. Incorporating it into your routine can help enhance your health, increase strength and flexibility and reduce symptoms of stress, depression and anxiety. Finding the time to practice yoga just a few times per week may be enough to make a noticeable difference when it comes to your health.