Have doubts about the effectiveness of yoga on your overall health? Here are 10 amazing benefits of yoga that are supported by scientific studies.
The practice of yoga has existed on this planet for a long time. It was developed by the Indus-Saraswati civilization in India nearly 5,000 years ago.
Yoga was acknowledged by the UN, and the world celebrates International Yoga Day on June 21 every year. It is now practiced nearly all over the world for its positive effects on the individual’s well-being.
But does science support the effectiveness of this millennia-old practice?
Well, for years, a lot of people have questioned the effectiveness of yoga practices, and their suspicion was justifiable. If someone tells you that certain lifestyle changes can fix a chronic illness that medication cannot, you are supposed to be surprised!
However, researchers have found significant pieces of evidence that support several powerful benefits that yoga has to offer.
Here are 10 evidence-based benefits of yoga, proven by science.
1. Helps Relieve Anxiety
Anxiety can be a symptom of various conditions. One can experience anxiety from time to time due to post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), social anxiety disorder, or some phobias. No matter what causes it, proper yoga practices can help in relieving anxiety to a great extent.
According to a 2016 meta-analysis published on NCBI website, the practice of Hatha yoga has a good effect on anxiety. An older study from 2010 described that yoga improves mood and anxiety levels more effectively than walking.
Researchers have found that yoga induces higher levels of activity of the brain chemical GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid). GABA activity tends to be lower among people with anxiety and mood problems.
2. Strengthens the Spine
Our spine supports the central nervous system (CNS) in our bodies. Moreover, the backbone protects the spinal cord, provides structural support, and maintains the correct posture of the body. There are several yoga asanas that help strengthen the spine.
Asanas, such as Tadasana, Chair pose, Bharadvajasana, Savasana, Supta Pavanamuktasana, and Ardha Uttarasana, have a positive impact on spinal health. A systematic review reveals that the practice of yoga improves the functional ability in people who experience spinal pain, and reduces the pain.
Lower back pain is one of the most common problems that 80% of the adults experience at some point in their lives. A 2017 analysis highlighted that yoga practice could relieve lower back pain and improve back-related function.
3. Improves Brain Function
Studies have also supported the fact that yoga has the potential to stimulate brain function and improve energy levels. In a 2017 study, it was revealed that Hatha yoga improved the executive functions of the brain as well as the moods of the individuals. Executive functions refer to brain activities that are linked with goal-oriented behavior and emotional responses.
A study done back in 2012 also discovered that a single session of yoga could improve the speed and accuracy of working memory than an aerobic session. Other research indicates that yoga can boost mental flexibility, information recall, and task switching among adults.
4. Boosts Cardiac Health
Most are aware of the fact that heart-related ailments cause millions of deaths all over the world every year. A study confirms that yoga reduces the risk factors of heart disease, including cholesterol, blood pressure, and body mass index (BMI). It is also believed that yoga decreases changes in the blood vessels which often contribute to heart disease.
In a 2018 study, researchers found that combining yoga practices and aerobics reduces cholesterol levels, blood pressure, and BMI twice more effectively than taking part in just one of those two exercises.
5. Reduces Inflammation
Regular yoga practices also boost mental health and reduce chronic inflammation. Inflammation is related our body’s immune response. However, severe inflammation can lead to some serious problems such as diabetes, heart diseases and even cancer. Studies have shown that practicing yoga for at least 3 months, can reduce pro-inflammatory cytokines that cause inflammation.
In a 2015 study, 218 participants were divided into two groups, and only one group practices yoga regularly. Both groups were also asked to perform moderate and strenuous exercises to induce stress. The study revealed that individuals who practiced yoga had lower levels of inflammatory markers than the people from the other group.
6. Improves Bone Strength
Bone health depends on the mineral content with calcium, and vitamin D. Regular yoga practices have the potential to stimulate the capacity of the bones to retain those elements. Yoga poses, especially the ones designed for weight-bearing, such as arm balance, standing poses, inversions, etc. can cause a reversal of bone loss.
In a study, which continued from 2005 to 2015, 741 volunteers took part to assess the effectiveness of selected yoga postures in improving bone mineral density (BMD). The study revealed improved bone quality among the volunteers. In fact, they also experienced a reversal of bone loss in the spine and femur.
7. Increases Pain Tolerance
Pain is considered a subjective perception that is influenced by any noxious stimuli. Yoga can help increase the tolerance to resist the pain by generating neuroanatomical changes in the brain. This activity changes structural grey matter and better intra-insular connectivity. The practice of Yoga Nidra reduces pain by stimulating the pituitary gland.
Yoga boosts cognitive strategies like the detached observation of the present situation, increasing acceptance, mindfulness, relaxation, and control over immediate reactions. In other words, yoga helps alter pain perception and increases the threshold for pain.
8. Boosts Metabolism
Metabolism is a natural function of our body which involves chemical reactions that keep us alive. People who have fast metabolism burn more calories than people with slow or regular metabolism rate. On the other end of the spectrum, people with slow metabolism need to eat less to avoid weight gain as they burn fewer calories. Yoga can help balance metabolism.
Yoga induces fat burning, allowing to improve metabolism directly. Also, different asanas can help lose weight, influence the stimulation of endocrine glands, and increase the metabolism of individuals. A study has also shown that yoga practices with various asanas, pranayama, and meditation can reduce BMR.
9. Improves Oxygen Intake
Breathing is one of the essential activities we need to do to stay alive. Improper breathing can lead to less amount of oxygen intake in the lungs. With yogic breathing, also known as pranayama, one can improve oxygen intake and reduce its consumption. This exercise increases the flow of oxygen.
It is also proven that various bending postures of yoga can help improve pulmonary functions. A study reveals that pranayama improves lung ventilation and the strength of the respiratory muscles.
10. Prevents Premature Aging
Aging is a natural process that every person goes through. As you age, you are supposed to experience signs of aging, such as a decrease in physical and mental capacity, wrinkled skin, greying of hair, and growing risk of diseases. However, yoga can help slow down the signs of aging.
Yoga not only strengthens the body but also improves blood circulation and removes toxins from the body, helping maintain the youthfulness of your skin. Also, yoga and meditation-based lifestyle intervention (YMLI) has a positive impact on cellular aging. Yoga increases cardinal and metabotropic biomarkers of cellular aging.
Apart from the benefits mentioned above, yoga practices have tons of other advantages to offer. So, if you want to make some positive changes in your life, you can start practicing yoga to improve your overall health quality. Good luck!
By Henry Howkins
Henry Howkins is an academic expert who currently teaches at a high school in Adelaide, Australia. He is a part of MyAssignmenthelp.com, where he serves as an expert to provide students with assignment help on request. He is also a fitness enthusiast.
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