Yoga is an absolutely amazing practice that has the ability to help you reduce stress and anxiety naturally, improve flexibility, strength, and balance and so much more. Here are 10 amazing proven benefits of yoga and why you should incorporate yoga into your daily routine.
Yoga has the ability to decrease the secretion of cortisol, which is known as the primary stress hormone. In one study, in particular, that included 131 people who did yoga for 10 weeks found that they had reduced stress and anxiety by doing this practice. The majority also noted that they had an improved outlook on life and that their mental health had also improved.
Similar to its stress reduction power, yoga also has the ability to relieve or even rid you of anxiety. For example, one study that included 64 women with PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder), which is characterized as "severe anxiety and fear following the experience of a traumatic event;" found that just 10 weeks of yoga was enough to significantly improve their symptoms. And, amazingly enough, after just 10 weeks 52% of the participants no longer even met the criteria for PTSD at all!
Perhaps what most people think of when they think of yoga are flexible people with impressive balance. Well, there is a good reason for this. Countless studies have concluded that daily yoga does, in fact, increase flexibility and balance but also significantly improves strength as well. In a study that included 79 older adults who practiced yoga 6 days a week for 24 weeks, all participants at the end of the study had significant improvements in upper body strength and endurance.
Inflammation is a normal immune response but chronic inflammation can contribute to the development of pro-inflammatory diseases such as heart disease, diabetes, and cancer. A 2015 study divided 218 participants into 2 groups: those who didn't practice yoga on a regular basis and those who did. As you might expect, at the end of the study, the individuals who didn't practice yoga on a regular basis had significantly higher levels of inflammatory markers than those who did.
It should come as no surprise that yoga, which has the ability to decrease stress, inflammation, anxiety, and depression also has the ability to improve heart health. According to healthline.com, "one study found that participants who practiced yoga for five years had lower blood pressure and pulse rate than those who didn't." It should be noted that high blood pressure can lead to many heart problems including heart attacks and strokes.
135 seniors (citizens) were assigned to either six months of yoga, walking, or to a control group that did neither. The results found that practicing yoga significantly improved quality of life, mood and reduced fatigue compared to the other groups. Additionally, what I find to be absolutely amazing is in another separate study yoga was found to decrease symptoms of chemotherapy in cancer patients and also boost their mood and outlook on life as well.
Yoga, as you now know can decrease levels of cortisol, which is a stress hormone that influences levels of serotonin (a neurotransmitter often associated with depression). There is a strong association between practicing yoga and decreased symptoms of depression. This again should come as no surprise given that yoga also has the ability to decrease stress, anxiety, and inflammation.
A study done in 2005 showed that yoga could help decrease pain & improve physical function in people with osteoarthritis in their knees. More and more research shows that practicing yoga on a regular basis can help reduce many different types of chronic pain.
Reduce pain, decrease anxiety, stress, and symptoms of depression and you are sure to improve sleep quality. Yoga has also been shown to increase the secretion of melatonin, which is a hormone that helps our bodies know when it's time to sleep and when it's time to wake up.
Much of yoga is focused on breathing and maximizing each breath that you take. A study that included 287 college students who took a yoga course for 15-weeks found that at the end of the course all had significantly increased in vital capacity. This is simply the measure of the maximum amount of air that can be expelled from the lungs.
There is lots of evidence that yoga (at room temperature) can positively affect blood pressure, however, there has been little research (until recently) that suggests hot yoga could have a similar impact. In a small study of adults with elevated or stage 1 hypertension, research presented at the American Heart Association's Hypertension 2019 Scientific Sessions showed that taking hot yoga classes lowered blood pressure.
Stacy Hunter Ph.D., study author, and assistant professor and lab director of the cardio physiology lab at Texas State University recruited a total of 10 men and women between the ages of 20 and 65 years old, along with some colleagues of hers to participant in this study. The participants either had elevated blood pressure (systolic blood pressure between 120 mmHg to 129 mmHg and diastolic pressure less than 80 mmHg) or stage 1 hypertension (130 mmHg to 139 mmHg systolic and 80 mmHg to 89 mmHg diastolic pressure). It is important to note that the adults in this study were not taking any type of blood pressure medication and were not active for at least six months before the study.
The researchers randomly assigned five participants to take three one-hour-long hot yoga classes per week for 12 weeks and assigned the other five to a control group that would not partake in any form of yoga, whatsoever. After the 12 weeks were up they compared the average blood pressure of the two groups (over a 24-hour period) as well as their perceived levels of stress and vascular function.
After the 12 weeks were up they found: In the group that practiced hot yoga, the average systolic blood pressure dropped 126 mmHg at the study's start to 121 mmHg after 12 weeks of hot yoga. Furthermore, the average diastolic pressure also decreased from 82 to 79 mmHg. Whereas the control group—the group that did not partake in any form of yoga— did not notice a change in blood pressure nor did their stress levels change.
"The results of our study start the conversation that hot yoga could be feasible and effective in terms of reducing blood pressure without medication." Hunter continued, "However, larger studies need to be done before we can say with confidence that hot yoga has a positive impact of blood pressure."
According to Hunter, adults taking hot yoga classes need to make sure they are well hydrated before and are drinking plenty of water throughout the class. Dress appropriately and be aware of signs that the heat may be getting to you.
A small study showed that taking hot yoga classes 3 times per week over the course of 12 weeks lowered blood pressure. Stress levels also decreased for the participants involved in hot yoga classes. More research is needed to determine if hot yoga does have a positive impact on blood pressure.
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