The Benefits of Yoga: Seven Powerful Reasons to Begin Practicing Yoga Today
According a survey conducted by the Yoga Alliance in 2016, Yoga in America is expanding at a phenomenal pace, with nearly 37 million people or 1 out of 10 Americans practicing Yoga on a daily basis.
What was the driving force behind Yoga’s sudden popularity and growth? Why are both women and men from all ages starting this ancient practice?
Traditional Yoga originated in India no more than 2000 years ago and despite its simplistic positions, it’s an esoteric system that involves breathing, postures, concentration, meditation, and other practices.
Modern Yoga, on the other hand, is common in the west and is more essentially focused on the postures over anything else, combined with concentration and breathing. But even with its focus on the physical, it differs from other fitness routines. Yoga connects everything, from the movements of your body to the rhythm of your breathing.
Ask anyone who practices Yoga on why they do it, and they’ll give you a ton of reasons why they do it. Some do it to relieve stress, some do it to be flexible, while others just do it to feel better.
But believe it or not, there are scientific studies that back up yoga’s benefits on our physical and mental health.
Here are seven reasons, all backed by research, on why you should start your Yoga practice today:
Yoga helps alleviate stress
Stress is a big detriment to our physical and mental health, and this is further aggravated by a lot of conditions – from work to commute to even family. Whenever we’re stressed, our body’s fight or flight mechanism kicks in, and several reactions take place. Your blood pressure goes up, your cortisol (stress hormone) also goes up, and overtime this wrecks your physical health.
Yoga is known for its ability to leave practitioners feeling at ease and relaxed, and science confirms that practicing yoga has a direct effect in the reduction of cortisol levels.
Yoga reduces anxiety
Like stress, anxiety is a big detriment to our health and is very rampant given that 1 in 4 adults suffer from a full-blown anxiety disorder. Yoga has been known to reduce symptoms of anxiety and has been known to be effective in treating depression.
Yoga decreases inflammation
Inflammation is thought to the root of many modern illnesses, like cardiovascular diseases and type 2 diabetes. Yoga can help reduce blood markers for inflammation, as shown in a 2017 study published in Frontiers in Human Neuroscience. Participants of this study not only had reduced levels of inflammatory cytokines and increased levels of anti-inflammatory cytokines, they also reported to have decreases in their anxiety and depression.
Yoga reduces risks of heart diseases
Yoga has been known to reduce blood pressure, which can lead to reduced risks of developing cardiovascular diseases. A newer study done at the American College of Cardiology Middle East Conference back in October 19 to 21 2017 looked at 750 patients who were diagnosed with coronary artery disease. Out of these patients, a group practice yoga in addition to aerobic exercise, which is a common exercise prescribed for people with heart disease. Those who did yoga together with aerobic exercise had an astounding two times reduction in blood pressure and body mass index or BMI over those who only practiced Yoga or aerobic exercise.
Yoga improves sleep quality
Quality Sleep is important to maintain good health and poor sleep quality increases your risk for a number of diseases, like diabetes, cancer, and heart disease. Yoga, with its ability to induce physical and mental relaxation, is a natural ally in improving sleep. Older people who have problems with sleep also have trouble in staying asleep. A 2005 study done in 120 residents at a home for the elderly used a yoga-based intervention compared to a herbal preparation and no treatment control group. Residents who received the yoga-based intervention took less time to fall asleep and stayed asleep longer compared to the other groups.
Yoga improves flexibility, strength, and balance
Some of the more well-known benefits of doing yoga are increased flexibility, strength, and balance. We all know that these 3 start to decline as we age, and that can lead to slightly permanent damage when left unchecked.
Yoga can help improve as well as maintain a practitioner’s flexibility, strength, and balance, and it doesn’t matter how old you are.
Yoga helps manage chronic pain
Chronic pain is a serious condition, with 1.5 billion people worldwide suffering from it. Low back pain and knee pain from osteoarthritis are contributors to this dreadful disease. Yoga, with its many postures and combined with controlled breathing and meditation, has been shown to reduce pain and improve both flexibility and mobility in people who suffer from chronic pain, including back pain and knee pain.