Yoga is one of the most popular physical and spiritual practices across the world. There are more and more people doing it. Social media accounts are full of great yoga pictures. If you are also considering starting yoga and wondering about its benefits, you are in the right place.
This article will review four proven health benefits of yoga.

First of all, what does yoga mean?

The term yoga comes from a Sanskrit word, which means union. Although there is not a standard definition of yoga, most people can agree that the purpose of yoga is to give you control over your body and your mind. It requires physical and mental exercises such as assuming and holding postures to stretch the limbs and the muscles. Yoga also involves breathing exercises that help relax the mind. It is ideal for those who are looking for relaxation as well as physical and emotional well-being. Yoga can be practiced by anyone, the elderly, pregnant women, and even young children.


1- Yoga reduces stress

We live in a stressful world. Unfortunately, money and work are still the leading cause of the rising stress level. As a result, people are continually looking for ways to release that stress. Yoga is one of them. Many studies have proven that yoga is very efficient to help reduce stress and its health damages. Stress reduction is one of the most obvious benefits of yoga. The poses, the breathing, and the meditation promote relaxation and therefore decrease the stress.

A study conducted on 24 female subjects who perceived themselves emotionally distressed has shown a rapid stress reduction after three months of yoga programs. (1)

The mechanisms behind this stress reduction have also been largely reviewed. It has been proven that yoga affects the cortisol hormone, our body’s primary stress hormone. This hormone affects our mood, motivation, and perception of fear.

A 2012 study published in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine support that yoga may reduce the cortisol from the baseline levels after only ten days. (2)

Also, yoga may increase the activity of the parasympathetic nervous system, which produces a calm, relaxed feeling in the mind and body and reduces stress.

A non-randomized controlled pilot study has also demonstrated the improvement of the parasympathetic nervous system after ten weeks of yoga in school. (3)

2- Yoga improves mental health

On top of its ability to relieve stress, many studies suggest that yoga has benefits for overall mental health concerns. Anxiety disorders are among the most prevalent mental health problems.

A systematic review of 8 studies has reported positive results about yoga’s effectiveness in treating anxiety and other anxiety disorders. (4)

A pilot study has demonstrated significant improvement of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) symptoms in 12 veterans after a six weeks yoga program held twice a week. (5)

Another study enrolling 64 women diagnosed with chronic treatment-resistant  PTSD has shown promising results. Ten weeks of trauma-specific yoga classes have significantly reduced PTSD symptoms and their severity. (6)

Researchers have also looked at the relationship between yoga and depression. One study suggests that yoga helps increase serotonin levels, which play an essential role in fighting depression. (7)

Furthermore, a review of 23 Yoga interventions has shown an association between practicing yoga and decreased symptoms of depression. (8)

3- Yoga promotes physical health

Yoga improves physical health in many ways. It helps to increase flexibility and balance.
Flexibility is essential for good physical health. Unfortunately, our body loses its flexibility due to many factors such as aging, improper posture, or movement. The good news is that yoga is highly effective to improve one’s flexibility.

A study followed 26 male college athletes. After ten weeks, the athletes who practice yoga twice a week have gained flexibility and balance. (9)

Although yoga is better known to improve flexibility, it can strengthen your muscles and bones. Most, if not all, poses in yoga aim to target a specific group of muscles in the body.

In one study, 26 participants between the ages of 20 and 58 were assigned to six weeks of regular yoga. Practicing yoga improved core and upper body strength. (10)

Similarly, a 2012 study showed that women who completed eight months of Ashtanga yoga program had significantly improved their leg strength compared to women who did not do yoga. (11)

Besides its effect on the muscles and bones, yoga also improves your joint health.
In one study, doing yoga decreased pain and symptoms in women with knee osteoarthritis. (12)

4- Yoga improves cardiovascular health

Many studies suggest that yoga benefits many aspects of cardiovascular health.

A study was conducted to examine yoga’s effect on cardiovascular function in subjects above 40 years of age. The results indicate that yoga reduces age-related deterioration in cardiovascular health. (13)

Yoga may also play a role in managing blood pressure.

In a study, researchers proceeded to a systematic review of 17 studies that examined the effect of yoga on blood pressure. Overall, yoga was associated with a significant reduction in blood pressure. (14)

A review of studies published in September 2017 in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine has also demonstrated the effect of yoga on blood pressure. Researchers reviewed a handful of studies that concluded meditation and yoga can decrease both systolic and diastolic blood pressure.

There is an important body of literature that suggests an association between yoga and heart health.
According to a study, 12 weeks of yoga sessions resulted in a lower heart rate among participants. The study also showed an improvement in cholesterol levels, known to increase heart rate (15, 16).

Many research suggests that yoga promotes better sleep. (17)
When we sleep, our blood pressure goes down, and the heart rate slows, allowing the body to rest, including the heart. Therefore, yoga improves cardiovascular health. (18,19)

Now that you know the benefits of yoga get your yoga mat, and get started!!!!


References

  1. https://www.medscimonit.com/download/index/idArt/438851
  2. https://www.liebertpub.com/doi/abs/10.1089/acm.2011.0265
  3. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7153865/
  4. Yoga for anxiety: a systematic review of the research evidence – PubMed (nih.gov)
  5. A yoga program for the symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder in veterans – PubMed (nih.gov)
  6. https://gap.hks.harvard.edu/yoga-adjunctive-treatment-posttraumatic-stress-disorder-randomized-controlled-trial
  7. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2077351/#r54-1
  8. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5871291/
  9. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4728955/
  10. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S1360859204000610
  11. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/24149206/
  12. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3665019/
  13. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/15255625/
  14. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3679769/
  15. https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/1474515116637734?journalCode=cnua
  16. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/7621302/
  17. https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/wellness-and-prevention/yoga-for-sleep
  18. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3667430/
  19. https://www.cdc.gov/features/sleep-heart-health/index.html

 

Spread the love

Tagged in:

, ,

About the Author

Hermione M.

My name is Hermione. I am the founder of WomenH and I write about women's health, wellness, mental health, and personal growth. I created this platform to inspire women to take care of themselves mentally, physically, and emotionally to become their best selves. Thank you for stopping by.

View All Articles