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15 Health Benefits of Yoga

written by Lauren Curl-Ferrell on May 13, 2021. 

Medical Data Sourced by National Institute of Health.

The practice of yoga is believed to have begun at the dawn of early civilization. 

Historians have been able to place yoga thousands of years ago, even before religions or belief systems were born.

Yoga is the art and science of healthy living.

It was derived from the Sanskrit word "yuji." This means yoke or union. It's exactly what yoga does, it unites together the mind and the body.

Millions of people currently practice yoga because it has many benefits that range from heart health, to anxiety relief, and it can even help with migraines.

Practicing yoga can be therapeutic to the mind and the body and this article takes a look at 15 benefits of yoga.

This article takes a look at 13 evidence-based benefits of yoga.

1. Can Decrease Stress

Is yoga good for stress and relaxation? Absolutely. It is actually known for that. 

A large amount of studies have shown that yoga actually can decrease the secretion of cortisol (1.)

Cortisol is the primary stress hormone, it's like a built in alarm system. It controls your fear, motivation, and your mood. 

A study put 24 women who perceived themselves as emotionally distressed and had them practice yoga. The results showed that yoga had an incredible effect on lowering their stress (2.). 

These women followed a three month yoga regime. Once the program was completed, the women had significantly lowered their levels of cortisol. Their anxiety, stress, depression, and fatigue was also lower.

When one practices yoga as a stress alleviating method, it has shown to be a powerful way to help lower stress. Combine it with meditation and it is even more powerful at keeping those stress levels down. 

 

2. Relieves Anxiety

Anxiety is a familiar feeling amongst plenty of people and as it turns out, it's a great reason why many people begin practicing yoga. Yoga is a great way to relieve anxiety. 

A study performed by New York University Grossman School of Medicine randomly assigned 226 adults, diagnosed with General Anxiety Disorder, to one of three study groups to help educate and practice yoga as a treatment option for anxiety.

The groups that performed yoga were able to show an increase on the affect of yoga being able to help relieve their anxiety up to a 50% improvement. (3.)

Anxiety can be hard to manage. Yoga emphasizes the importance of being present in the moment and finding a sense of peace. That is how it can help with those anxious moments or days.

 

3. May Reduce Inflammation

Can practicing yoga reduce inflammation? Yes, there are studies out there that suggest that yoga may reduce inflammation. (5.)

Inflammation is a very regular and normal immune response. However, chronic inflammation can kickstart or increase the development of pro-inflammatory diseases, like cancer, diabetes, and heart disease.

In 2015, a study was performed that had 218 participants. They divided them into two groups. Group one was composed of people who were regular yoga practicers and group two weren't not. Both groups practiced a moderate and strenuous exercises to induce stress.

Once the yoga was completed, it shoed that those who practiced yoga frequently had lower levels of inflammatory markers compared to those who didn't.

At the end of the day, more research is always being conducted to confirm yoga and how it helps with inflammation, but most studies have been conducive to say that it can help protect against inflammation. 

 

4. Could Improve Heart Health

The heart is a champion. It pumps blood throughout the body. It supplies tissues important nutrients. If your heart is unhealthy, it can cause major issues to overall health.

Yoga can improve heart health and reduce risk factors for heart disease (6.)

Studies like the one linked above, the shown that participants that practice yoga have lower blood pressure and pulse rates compared to those that do not practice yoga.

A major cause of heart problems like heart attacks and stroke is high blood pressure. Yoga can help with lowering your blood pressure which will reduce the risk for these heart problems and conditions.

Just by simply practicing yoga or adding it to a health lifestyle, people have seen that it helps to slow the progression of heart disease.

If you're looking for a way to lower your cholesterol, try yoga. You can also add in things like Daily Multi Fiber to help with lowering it too. 

 

5. Improves Quality of Life

Yoga has been linked to being able to improve sleep cycles, enhance spiritual well-being, reduce symptoms of anxiety, improve your social function, and depression.

 It is becoming increasingly popular as a way to improve the quality of life. Yoga helps with balance, and strength. It also helps with mental health. It can even improve the overall energy a person has throughout the day. The practice of yoga has been shown that it is a natural way to feel more awake during the day

By practicing yoga, a person can definitely see improvement on things that would help with the quality of their life.

 

6. May Fight Depression

Yoga can fight depression. Mainly because it has been shown to decrease levels of cortisol.

Remember that cortisol is the hormone that influences the levels of serotonin we have in our bodies. Serotonin is the neurotransmitter that is often related to depression. 

If you're looking to decrease depression, yoga can help. It helps because yoga tends to focus on rhythmic breathing. Breath work and yoga go hand in hand together.

Finding the factors that contribute to depression will also help. When figuring this out. Things like low vitamin D have been linked to depression as well. 

When dealing with mental health issues, speaking to a doctor will be the best option. Although studies have shown that yoga may fight it, it may not be the only tool a person will need to combat depression. 

  

7. Could Reduce Chronic Pain

Chronic pain is a persistent problem that affects millions of people and has a range of possible causes, from injuries to arthritis.

There is a growing body of research (11) demonstrating that practicing yoga could help reduce many types of chronic pain.

In one study, 42 individuals with carpal tunnel syndrome either received a wrist splint or did yoga for eight weeks.

At the end of the study, yoga was found to be more effective in reducing pain and improving grip strength than wrist splinting.

Another study in 2005 showed that yoga could help decrease pain and improve physical function in participants with osteoarthritis of the knees.

Although more research is needed, incorporating yoga into your daily routine may be beneficial for those who suffer from chronic pain.

 

8. Could Promote Sleep Quality

Poor sleep is associated with quite a few health problems. Obesity, high blood pressure, depression, heart disease, diabetes, and more are all correlated with it.

Nobody is safe from the occasional restless night, however yoga can help decrease the frequency of poor sleep. 

Incorporating yoga into your routine could help promote better sleep greatly.

Yoga focuses on peacefulness and is a more relaxed state of energy release which allows the body to rest easier and more soundly. It's also been linked to help with the increase of the body's natural secretion of melatonin.

Melatonin is a hormone that the body creates that regulates sleep and wakefulness. Natural melatonin (directly created by the body) is best. Yoga will help stimulate that natural release.

If you're looking for a way to boost that good sleep on top of yoga, using a melatonin free aid like Power Down is incredibly helpful. Power Down and yoga both help promote restful sleep. 

 Yoga also has a significant effect on depression, anxiety, stress and chronic pain — all common contributors to sleep problems.

 

9. Improves Flexibility and Balance

The addition of yoga to a fitness routine will increase a person's flexibility and balance. 

Yoga uses specific poses that target flexibility and balance. Many people create yoga routines around improving these. 

Because there is a vast way of performing yoga, the practice can be customized to fit whatever needs to be more flexible, or a person's overall balance.

Age is not a factor with balance. Many older adults struggle with balance, and it has been shown to improve balance amongst them (7).

To begin with focusing on balance and flexibility with a yoga routine, practice for 15-30 minutes each day. This practice time can substantially impact those looking to increase flexibility and balance.

 

10. Could Help Improve Breathing

Pranayama, or yogic breathing, is known as the heart of yoga. Prana means life force or breath sustaining the body; Ayama translates as “to extend or draw out.” Together, the two mean breath extension or control.

When we focus on inhaling, exhaling, and relaxing it can help relieve minor fatigue, anxiety, and depression.

Most types of yoga incorporate these breathing exercises. 

Studies have shown that doing Pranayama can help improve lung health (8). 

 

11. May Relieve Migraines

Does yoga relief migraines? Traditionally a migraine is treated with medication. However, increasing evidence proves that yoga and actually be a resource in helping to reduce migraines all together (9).

1 out of 7 people are affected with these severe recurring headaches. Currently, more people are looking for natural ways of treating headaches and yoga is one of them. 

Practicing yoga leads to reductions in headache pain, frequency, and reduction. 

Yoga may help stimulate the vagus nerve, which scientifically has been shown to be effective in relieving migraines.

 

12. Promotes Healthy Eating Habits

Yoga is all about mindfulness. It has been linked to be encouraging healthy eating behaviors like the practice of mindful eating.

Mindful eating, is a concept that encourages being present in the moment while eating. 

It embraces the idea of paying attention to the texture, the smell, and the taste of your food while noticing any feelings, sensations, and thoughts you're experiencing while eating it. 

This practice has been shown to promote healthy eating habits that help control blood sugar, increase weight loss and treat disordered eating behaviors.

For those with and without disordered eating behaviors, practicing mindfulness through yoga can aid in the development of healthy eating habits.

 

13. Can Increase Strength

In addition to improving flexibility, yoga is a great addition to an exercise routine for its strength-building benefits.

In fact, there are specific poses in yoga that are designed to increase strength and build muscle.

People who practice yoga show an increase in upper body strength, endurance, and weight loss (10).

Practicing yoga can be an effective way to boost strength and endurance, especially when used in combination with a regular exercise routine.

 

14. Drains your lymphs and boosts immunity

When the body contract and stretches muscles, moves organs around, and comes in and out of yoga postures, it increases the drainage of lymph (a viscous fluid rich in immune cells).

Studies have show that this helps the lymphatic system fight infection, destroy cancerous cells, and dispose of the toxic waste products of cellular functioning (12).

 

15. Increases your self-esteem

Many people suffer from chronic low self-esteem. Often time people handle low self-esteem in a negative way.

Low self-esteem gives people negative personal thoughts.

People find ways to feed low self-esteem through negative choices. Yoga is a great way to alleviate the negativity.

Practicing yoga can teach people ways to be calm in anxious situations. It will provide it's practicers techniques to release negative thoughts and to embrace themselves.

If you practice regularly with an intention of self-examination and betterment—not just as a substitute for an aerobics class—you can access a different side of yourself.

Yoga gives an experience of gratitude, empathy, and forgiveness, as well as a sense that you’re part of something bigger.

 

Let's Wrap It Up

Better health is not always the goal of yoga spirituality, however it is a by-product.

There are multiple studies that have confirmed the plethora of physical and mental benefits to practicing yoga.

By adding it to your daily routine it can help with mental health, physical health. It can increase balance and strength. It will improve eating habits, will reduce stress, depression, and anxiety. Also, who doesn't want to be more flexible?

Find the time to practice yoga a few times a week and you can notice a difference when it comes to your health and the overall way your body and mind feel.