7 benefits of yoga

You may have heard about some of the seemingly implausible benefits that daily yoga practice has to offer. Although in its infancy in the West, the ancient practice of yoga is revered in the East not only as an exercise system but also for its meditative and spiritual properties.

There are a multitude of benefits associated with regular yoga practice, both physical and mental in nature.

1) Stress relief

It’s a stressful world we live in. Meetings, deadlines, financial difficulties and a whole myriad of societal pressures are but a few of the day to day stressors that require our attention.

Waking up with the sense of impending doom concordant with these types of stressors is all too common- but it doesn’t have to be.

Hitting the yoga mat in the morning may help more than just your muscles. Studies have shown that even twice-weekly yoga practice can significantly improve stress and feelings of depression [1]. Research on individuals with depression has also shown that regular practice can lower the amount of the stress hormone cortisol in the blood [2].

2) Sleep quality

Assumed in part, to be a product of decreased stress, yoga is excellent for sleep. Research has shown that daily practice increases the secretion of melatonin in the blood [3]. The hormone melatonin is used to regulate sleep. This might explain why yoga is so effective for increasing the quality of sleep.

3) Flexibility and balance

As we get older, the chance of a fall increases dramatically. Improving the balance of elderly people can be a very effective way to decrease the risk of a fall. Research has shown that regular practice can increase balance [4-5] and decrease the risk of a fall in elderly people [6].

4) Breathing and cardiovascular health

Various research has shown that yoga improves blood pressure, body weight, lipid profile and psychosocial stress, all of which are risk factors for cardiovascular disease [7].

5) Chronic pain

Having to deal with chronic pain can be a debilitating and frustrating ordeal. Chronic pain can be the result of a multitude of different issues and can be a serious detriment to health. Yoga has been shown to help alleviate chronic lower back pain [8].

6) Weight loss

You’d assume that weight loss through the practice of yoga would occur as a result of the physical exercise taking place. Although yoga is technically counted as physical exercise, it is less intensive than other forms of exercise so you may want to consider higher intensity exercise if physical exertion is your main goal.

Yoga’s weight loss power comes from its ability to increase the individual’s mindfulness. This is significant as being mindful of the foods you consume can help you to stay on track with your low carb lifestyle and make it less likely for you to have a moment of weakness.

7) Time to yourself

In this day and age, we often find ourselves rushing around after others and trying to tick of the many tasks on our long lists. Finding time to get away from the daily madness and focusing on ourselves if often not a priority. By committing to practicing yoga on a regular basis, you will not only reap the benefits listed above, but it can do wonders for our mental health. Even just 15 minutes is better than nothing.

References:

  1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16319785/
  2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4784068/
  3. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15165407/
  4. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3995122/
  5. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4728955/
  6. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0003999310000286
  7. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9401632
  8. https://annals.org/aim/fullarticle/718899

 

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