Yoga has 3000 years of ancient wisdom and history. It is now regarded as a holistic health therapy in the Western world and is listed as a form of complementary and alternative medicine by the National Institutes of Health. Yoga is derived from the Sanskrit “yoji”, which means unity. It combines breathing exercises, meditation and various asanas. The main purpose is to encourage relaxation and reduce stress.
In this article I will introduce 13 benefits of yoga that are backed by scientific evidence.
1. Can reduce stress
A number of studies have shown that it can reduce the secretion of cortisol, which is the stress hormone. A study tracked 24 women who believed that they were depressed. After three months of yoga classes, women’s cortisol levels decreased significantly. They also have lower levels of stress, anxiety, fatigue and depression. 131 people also practiced yoga for 10 weeks and got similar results, which helped reduce stress and anxiety, and also helped improve the quality of life and mental health.
2. Reduce anxiety
Many people start practicing yoga to cope with feelings of anxiety. Interestingly, in a study, 34 women who were diagnosed with anxiety disorders participated in yoga classes twice a week for two months. At the end of the study, the anxiety levels of those who practiced yoga were significantly lower than those in the control group. .
Another study tracked 64 people with post-traumatic stress syndrome (PSTD), which was characterized by severe anxiety and fear after exposure to a traumatic event. Ten weeks later, it was found that those who practiced yoga once a week had fewer symptoms of traumatic stress syndrome, and 52% of the participants no longer met the criteria for suffering from traumatic stress disorder. These studies show that practicing yoga can reduce anxiety symptoms.
3. Can reduce inflammation
In addition to improving your mental health, some studies have shown. Practicing yoga can also reduce inflammation and help prevent certain diseases caused by chronic inflammation.
Inflammation is a normal immune response, but chronic inflammation can lead to cancer-promoting diseases such as heart disease, diabetes and cancer.
A 2015 study divided 218 participants into two groups: those who practice yoga regularly and those who do not practice yoga regularly. Then both groups performed moderate and vigorous exercise to induce stress. The results of the study showed that people who practiced yoga had lower levels of inflammation markers than people who did not practice yoga. A small study in 2014 also showed that 12 weeks of yoga practice reduced inflammation markers in breast cancer survivors who continued to fatigue.
4. Can improve heart health
Your heart health is an important part of overall health.
A study found that participants over the age of 40 who had been practicing yoga for five years had lower blood pressure and pulse than those who did not participate in yoga.
High blood pressure is one of the main causes of heart attack, such as heart attack and stroke. Lowering blood pressure helps reduce the risk of these problems.
There are also some studies that show that incorporating yoga into a healthy lifestyle can help slow the progression of heart disease.
One of the studies tracked 113 heart disease patients and found that their continuous yoga training for one year affected their lifestyle changes, dietary adjustments and stress management. Participants’ total cholesterol was reduced by 23%, and bad cholesterol was reduced by 26%. In addition, 47% of heart disease patients stop progressing. This confirms that yoga can reduce stress and help reduce the risk of heart disease.
5. Improve the quality of life
Yoga is an adjunct therapy to improve the quality of life of many people, and it is becoming more and more common.
In one study, when 135 elderly people were assigned to yoga and walking for six months, compared with a control group who did not do yoga, practicing yoga significantly improved the quality of life, mood, and fatigue.
Another study found women with breast cancer who received chemotherapy. Yoga reduces the symptoms of chemotherapy, such as nausea and vomiting, while also improving the overall quality of life.
A similar study looked at the effects of eight weeks of yoga on breast cancer patients. At the end of the study, women had less pain and fatigue, and their levels of vitality, acceptance, and relaxation had improved.
Other studies have found that yoga may help improve sleep quality, enhance mental health, improve social function, and reduce anxiety and depression symptoms in cancer patients.
Some studies have shown that yoga may have antidepressant effects and can help reduce the symptoms of depression.
This may be because yoga can reduce the level of cortisol, which is a stress hormone that affects the level of serotonin, which is usually associated with depression.
In one study, participants in an alcohol dependence program practiced Sudarshan Kriya, a special type of yoga that focuses on rhythmic breathing.
After two weeks, the participants had fewer depressive symptoms and lower cortisol levels. They also have low levels of ACTH, a hormone responsible for stimulating the release of cortisol.
Other studies have similar results, showing an association between practicing yoga and reducing depression symptoms.
Based on these results, yoga can help fight depression, alone or in combination with traditional treatment methods.
7. Can reduce chronic pain
Chronic pain is a persistent problem that affects millions of people, and has a range of possible causes, from injury to arthritis.
More and more studies have proven that practicing yoga can help reduce many types of chronic pain.
In one study, 42 people with carpal tunnel syndrome received a wrist splint or did yoga for 8 weeks. At the end of the study, yogis were found to be more effective in reducing pain and improving grip strength than wrist splints.
Another study in 2005 showed that yoga can help reduce pain and improve physical function in patients with knee osteoarthritis.
Although more research is needed benefits of yoga, incorporating yoga into daily life is beneficial for people with chronic pain.
8. Can promote sleep quality
Poor sleep quality is related to diseases such as obesity, high blood pressure and depression.
Research shows that integrating yoga into your daily life can help promote better sleep.
In a 2005 study, 69 elderly patients were assigned to yoga practice, taking herbal preparations or becoming part of a control group.
The yoga group sleeps faster, sleeps longer, and feels better at rest in the morning than other groups.
Another study examined the effect of yoga on sleep in patients with lymphoma. They found that it can reduce sleep disorders, improve sleep quality and duration, and reduce the need for sleep medications.
Yoga has been proven to increase the secretion of melatonin, a hormone that regulates sleep and wakefulness.
Yoga also has a significant effect on anxiety, depression, chronic pain and stress-these are all common causes of sleep problems.
9. Improve flexibility and balance
Many people add yoga exercises to their fitness routines to improve flexibility and balance.
There is a lot of research supporting this advantage, proving that it can optimize performance by using specific postures for flexibility and balance.
A recent study examined the impact of 10 weeks of yoga practice on 26 male college athletes. Compared with the control group, doing yoga significantly improved several kinds of flexibility and balance.
Another study pointed out that 66 elderly people participated in yoga or aerobics, which is a weight management exercise. One year later, the total flexibility of the yoga group increased nearly four times that of the aerobics group.
A 2013 study also found that practicing yoga can help improve the balance and mobility of the elderly.
In addition of benefits of yoga, practicing 15–30 minutes of yoga every day will make a big difference for those who want to improve performance by improving flexibility and balance.
10. Improve breathing
Pranayama refers to yoga breathing also a benefits of yoga, when yoga practice focuses on controlling breathing through breathing exercises and techniques.
Most types of yoga include these breathing exercises, and some studies have found that practicing yoga can help improve breathing.
In one study, 287 college students participated in a 15-week course, where they learned various yoga postures and breathing exercises. At the end of the study, their lung capacity increased significantly.
Vitality is a measure of the maximum amount of air that can be expelled from the lungs. For patients with lung disease, heart disease and asthma, improving breathing can help increase endurance, optimize performance and maintain lung function and heart health.
11. Can relieve migraines
Migraines are severe and recurrent, affecting approximately 1 in 7 Americans each year.
Traditionally, migraines are treated with medications to relieve and control symptoms. However, there is growing evidence that yoga may be a useful adjunct therapy to help reduce the incidence of migraine.
A 2007 study divided 72 patients with migraines into yoga therapy or self-care groups for three months. Compared with the self-care group, practicing yoga can reduce headache intensity, frequency and pain.
Another study treated 60 patients with migraines using conventional care with or without yoga. Compared with traditional care alone, doing yoga leads to a greater decrease in the frequency and intensity of headaches.
Researchers suggest that doing yoga may help stimulate the vagus nerve, which has been shown to be effective in relieving migraines.
12. Promote healthy eating habits
Mindful eating, also called intuitive eating, is a concept that encourages the appearance of eating moments.
This is about paying attention to the taste, smell and texture of your food, paying attention to any thoughts and feelings you experience while eating.
This practice has been shown to promote healthy eating habits, help control blood sugar, increase weight loss and treat disordered eating.
Because yoga emphasizes mindfulness, some studies have shown that it can be used to encourage healthy eating behaviors.
A study included yoga in an outpatient eating disorder treatment plan. A total of 54 patients found that yoga can help reduce the symptoms of eating disorders and the temptation to food.
Another small study looked at how yoga affects the symptoms of binge eating disorder, a disease characterized by compulsive binge eating and loss of control.
It was found that yoga led to a reduction in binge eating episodes, increased physical activity and slight weight loss.
For people with and without disordered eating behaviors, practicing mindfulness through yoga can help develop a healthy diet.
13. Can increase strength
In addition to improving flexibility, yoga is a good supplement to fitness exercise programs because it helps to increase physical strength.
In fact, there are certain postures in yoga designed to increase strength and build muscles.
In one study, 79 adults performed 24 cycles of sun salutations (sun salutations), a series of basic postures often used as warm-ups — six days a week for 24 weeks.
Their upper body strength, endurance and weight loss increased significantly. The percentage of women’s body fat has also declined.
A 2015 study yielded similar results, showing that 12 weeks of practice resulted in improvements in endurance, strength, and flexibility in 173 participants.
Based on these findings benefits of yoga, practicing yoga can be an effective way to improve strength and endurance, especially when combined with regular exercise.
Yoga brings many benefits. Whether you can start to develop the habit of practicing yoga is up to you!
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