As a yoga enthusiast and practitioner, you’re probably already aware of the fact that yoga offers tons of benefits, but do you know exactly which benefits to believe in?
The list can get really overwhelming and if you aren’t patient enough to research the validity of each benefit, you might end up believing in something that’s just not true.
Guest writer, Meera Watts, explains.
Fortunately, you don’t really need to go through all the hard work. Below are the top benefits of yoga that have been proven by science.
1. It can decrease stress and relieve anxiety
Stress and anxiety are two of the most common reasons why people enroll in a yoga class. That’s not really surprising as yoga has this unique way of promoting relaxation and easing stress.
How is that possible?
One study suggests that it has something to do with the body’s cortisol level. In that study which was performed in a three-month period, women who practiced yoga were found to have lower cortisol levels. They were also found to have lower levels of depression, fatigue, stress, and anxiety.
In a separate study involving 64 women diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder, 52% of them no longer met the criteria of PTSD after 10 weeks of practicing weekly yoga.
Although it’s not clear as to how yoga can help with anxiety, experts believe that it has something to do with yoga bringing a sense of peace and mindfulness.
2. It can improve heart health
Hypertension, one of the most common heart issues today, happens when the blood vessels constrict. Most of the time, it leads to serious heart problems like heart attacks.
One way to stop that from happening is by lowering blood pressure and that’s where yoga can help.
In one study, participants who were over 40 years old practiced yoga for about 5 years. They showed lower pulse and blood pressure than people who didn’t.
And you know what else?
Research also suggests that adding yoga to a healthy lifestyle can help slow down the progression of certain heart diseases. This is because yoga can help minimize stress, a leading factor in the development of heart issues.
3. It helps relieve chronic pain
Practicing yoga on a daily basis isn’t just great for your stance and straightening your slouch. There’s this study that suggests how yoga can be an important tool in treating chronic pain, particularly around the neck and back area.
When you do yoga and when you hold poses, your muscles contract and relax as you breathe in and out. Once you’re able to feel relaxed, your pain may well subside.
4. It can improve your sleep
Not having enough sleep can have some serious negative consequences on your health. It can increase your risk of depression, obesity, and high blood pressure.
Easing yoga into your routine can help promote better sleep quality. You’ll be able to fall asleep faster and stay that way longer. You’ll feel well-rested when you wake up, too. These are the exact same things that the participants of this study experienced.
5. It makes the brain sharp
Yoga doesn’t just offer physical benefits. It turns out that it’s great for the mind, too.
Just consider this study that involved 133 adults who were 53 to 96 years old. These participants practiced a 30-minute yoga session twice a week for more than 30 days. After such time, they noticed an improvement in their cognitive function.
Yoga and the focused breathing it requires can maximize oxygenation. This increases the blood flow to the body and brain, improving their functions and performance.
About the author:
Meera Watts is a yoga teacher, entrepreneur and mom. Her writing on yoga and holistic health has appeared in Elephant Journal, CureJoy, FunTimesGuide, OMtimes and others. She’s also the founder and owner of SiddhiYoga.com, a yoga teacher training school based in Singapore. Siddhi Yoga runs intensive, residential trainings in India (Rishikesh, Goa and Dharamshala), Indonesia (Bali)