Have you been one of those aspiring yogis who love the idea of practicing yoga yet don’t find the energy to do so?
Alternatively, maybe you are a newbie or someone who has experienced the benefits of yoga but don’t have a compelling description to describe those benefits to others.
This research-based article explains 15 health benefits of yoga.
Read on to find the motivation to start practicing yoga or to have the knowledge to explain to others.
Yoga is a 3,000-year-old tradition associated with different cultural, physical, and religious practices. The practice of yoga has gained significant attention by the researchers in the past few decades.
National Institutes of Health classifies it as Complementary and Alternative Medicine. There is no doubt that practicing yoga comes with both mental and physical health benefits to the person.
HEALTH BENEFITS OF YOGA:
Let’s see what science has discovered about the health and fitness benefits of yoga.
Yoga reduces stress
It is no longer a question of how it feels to be stressed, but how to reduce our stress levels. When it comes to stress, we all have been affected by it in some part of our lives.
What if I tell you that World Health Organization has labeled stress as the health epidemic of the 21st century?
Would you want to find a way to reduce it?
If yes, yoga is one solution.
Among the widely popular benefits of yoga, stress reduction is somewhere at the top of the list. Research has demonstrated reduced levels of stress as a result of practicing yoga.
If you do not care about the stress levels, read some alarming statistics here:
- Stress that ultimately converts to depression is one of the leading causes of disability worldwide.
- American Psychological Association reports that 75 percent of the adult population experiences moderate to high levels of stress and others have had their stress levels increased in the past one year.
- Lifeline Australia reports 91 percent of the adult Australian population being stressed over at least one important part of their lives.
- National Institutes of Mental Health survey concludes that approximately 1 out of 75 individuals may experience panic disorder which is a result of high stress.
In short, we are all vulnerable to high-stress levels. A simple yet joyous solution is the practice of yoga.
Yoga improves the heart of your health
Despite the readily available educational content to improve heart health, heart diseases still remain the leading cause of death worldwide. Yoga is an accessible and affordable option to keep your heart healthy. By practicing yoga along with healthy heart lifestyle, one can see the benefits in around 12 weeks of practice. The health benefits of yoga for your heart include:
- improved circulation
- healthy blood pressure levels
- improved heart rate
- a decrease in cholesterol levels
- low risk of heart diseases
Patients who have gone through any form of heart event mostly experience stress, anxiety, and grief. Those who have had a bypass surgery even go into depression, for now, they will have to deal with a chronic lifelong illness. Yoga helps alleviate that depression and grief providing tremendous benefits to already ill heart. If you have a heart disease, consult your physician before taking part in a yoga program.
Yoga helps improve your breathing
Research shows that most people do not use the full potential of their lungs. Instead, they practice shallow breathing. This leads to an inadequate supply of oxygen to the body and reduced metabolic function.
Pranayama (yoga breathing) is the foundation of yoga practice which improves respiratory function and increases the lung capacity. With better breathing habits, we do good not only to our physical wellbeing, but it also impacts the emotional health of an individual.
The research on yoga exercises has shown a decreased number of attacks in asthmatic patients. With more than 300 million people affected worldwide, asthma is a common respiratory disease. Yoga has shown to improve the symptoms and quality of life in these patients. Researchers have observed a decreased need for medicine intake as a result of yoga practice. Not just healthy individuals, but asthmatic population can also gain huge benefits from practicing yoga.
Yoga improves flexibility and balance
Multiple studies have shown that a combination of asana and meditation improves the functional mobility.
The first time you practice it, you lose balance and probably even fall.
Moreover, if you try to practice rolling your feet over your head and touch the toes on the ground, it won’t happen that easily the first time. However, a regular yoga practice helps to improve the proprioception, balance, and flexibility of your body.
Yoga helps fight depression
It is a common practice by psychiatrists to teach breathing exercises while treating depression. Research published in Journal of Clinical Psychiatry concludes that yoga breathing helps fight depression in individuals who do not respond to anti-depressants. Sudarshan Kriya yoga, i.e., a breathing technique, is specifically helpful against anxiety and depression.
Depression is a condition that affects around 350 million people worldwide. Based on high levels of stress, we are all vulnerable to have at least one major depressive episode in our lives. If yoga helps fight depression, there is no apparent reason to not practice it.
Also check: 11 Natural Anxiety Supplements That Really Work
Yoga helps migraine sufferers
Migraine, the intense and throbbing pain on one side of the head, affects more than one billion people worldwide. It the third most common disease after dental caries and tension-type headaches. Research suggests that yoga benefits migraine sufferers. Four poses help migraines.
- Child’s pose
- Bridge pose
- Downward facing dog
- Corpse pose
If you are on drug therapy for migraines, do not consider yoga as a treatment alternative. If yoga practice helps you and you decide to stop taking the medicines, speak with your doctor.
Yoga improves eating habits
Yoga practices have revealed better eating habits in the practicing individuals. In a research study where women with binge eating disorders had undergone 12-week yoga treatment program, results showed that these women had a changed perspective about eating. The participant women had a healthy relationship with food and had improved food choices.
Regular yoga practice creates a habit of mindful eating. Since yoga makes a person more aware of his actions and surroundings, a yogi is more likely to reflect on what, when, where, and how he eats.
Yoga brings quality sleep
With some regular yoga practice, you will find that your sleep patterns have improved. It is especially helpful for those suffering from insomnia. If you can incorporate yoga into your daily routine, it’ll help you sleep better, longer and faster. It also improves the total wake time reducing the daytime sleepiness.
Pharmacological treatment of insomnia comes at a heavy cost of side effects such as daytime sleepiness, impaired mental functioning, confusion, and dystrophic moods. These side effects have led to alternative treatment options being more popular. Yoga is one of those alternative methods. It not only helps with better sleep but also brings joy.
Here are a few yoga poses that help with better sleep:
- Legs up the wall
- Wide-knee child’s pose
- Lying butterfly
- Corpse pose
- Standing Forward Bend, i.e., Uttanasana
Yoga alleviates chronic pain
Of all the things, chronic pain is one of the most debilitating conditions. Once again, yoga comes to your rescue because it helps in alleviating chronic pain. Research shows that yoga has exactly the opposite effects on your brain as compared to that of chronic pain. However, it is no magic pill. One needs to practice it properly to reap the benefits.
Yoga is a source of strength
If you get the imagery of weightlifting and bulky muscles as a symbol of strength, then weight training is a far better approach. However, strength training with the aid of yoga is a more balanced way of improving your musculoskeletal system.
Yoga strengthens your muscles and reduces the risk of injury as a result of functional activities. It tones all the muscles of your body and stabilizes the joints.
If you are looking for an enjoyable physical activity, yoga is a must try thing. Try these poses for strength from yoga practice:
- Downward Facing Dog
- Warrior Poses
- Chair Pose
- Boat Pose
Mental benefits of yoga
Of the numerous benefits of yoga, mental health benefits have been shown by a strong body of evidence. The practice of yoga has shown to have positive effects on stress, anxiety, attention deficit and hyperactivity, depression, and mood disorders. Yoga also helps lower the stress-mediated inflammation in the body. It improves the attention span of a person, reduces muscle tension and spreads a general feeling of calmness.
Deep breathing exercises are more popular to get mental health benefits. However, other forms of yoga are also related to calm and relaxed feelings.
Deep breathing yoga exercise for better mental health
Ujjayi breathing which is also called as “the ocean breath” is used to release stress and tension. All you have to do is to take a deep breath through your nostrils filling your lungs to their full capacity, pause at the top of inhale, and then exhale through your nose in a manner that it causes no distress and all the air is released. Feel the sound of air as it moves in and out. The time for both inhalation and exhalation should be the same.
Yoga may help ward off diseases
The immunity system of our body helps fight diseases. Certain factors decrease immunity, stress being one of them. Prolonged exposure to stress leads to health problems. This is where yoga comes in. It helps decrease stress and therefore removes the negative impact of stress on the immune system.
There are many microorganisms that reside in our body. Some of them attack only when an opportunity arises such as a decrease in immunity. Yoga helps to keep the immune system healthy. The better your immunity, the better your health.
Yoga aids weight loss and its maintenance
Studies have found an inverse relationship between yoga and obesity. Regular yoga practice is associated with less weight gain, especially in obese people. Women who practiced yoga for 16 weeks demonstrated weight loss with decreased body fat percentage and waist circumference. Yoga has also been associated with less weight gain as people age.
Individuals who practice yoga report that the social support and healthy role models have also helped them with a healthier eating and acquiring a healthy weight.
Yoga helps patients with arthritis
Sedentary lifestyle, decreased muscle strength, and low energy levels are commonly found in patients with arthritis. American College of Rheumatology signifies physical activity as an essential component of therapy for rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis patients. As most of these individuals have shown to like yoga more than traditional exercises, it is more likely for them to stick to yoga practice for long.
Yoga is an excellent activity for arthritis patients to minimize the impact of their diseased condition and stay active.
Yoga improves the quality of life
Quality of life is mostly compromised in the case of old people.
What’s the most common complaint of the old population?
It is the decreased flexibility.
With yoga, individuals of all age have found a way to a healthy and active life.
All in all, yoga provides mental, physical, and spiritual benefits that are bound to improve the quality of your life. Yoga changes you into a person who is self-aware, relaxed, healthy, and calm. The acknowledgment that you practice something with numerous health benefits in itself is a huge psychological support.
Reap the benefits of yoga by joining a yoga program near your home. If that is not the case, watch some yoga-related YouTube videos and start practicing at home.