By Arianne Brown, contributing blogger.
Yoga is an age-old practice that was created to connect the mind and body and strengthen them both in the process. It incorporates breathing exercises, meditation while encouraging mindfulness to reduce stress and promote oneness with yourself and the world around you. The poses require physical balance, strength, and flexibility, making yoga a complete mind-body workout.
If you practice Yoga, then you likely know that the above statement is true. However, if you are yet to embark on your own Yoga journey, you may need a little more convincing. This is why we’ve brought you the following four proven benefits of yoga to your overall health.
- Reduces stress and anxiety
One of the main reasons individuals begin a Yoga practice in the first place is to reduce stress and anxiety. After all, it has been noted for years as something that does just that. Just think about all the Yogi’s out there. They’re pretty chill, aren’t they?
Well, as it turns out, your friend who seems to turn the entire room into a wave of coolness even when an uptight aura enters the room is not putting on an act. In fact, a study of 34 women diagnosed with an anxiety disorder participated in yoga classes twice weekly for two months, with results showing that their anxiety reduced significantly. This prompted researchers to conclude that yoga is considered as a complementary or alternative method for medical therapy in the treatment of anxiety disorders.
- Improves heart health
In order to have a healthy heart, you need to be able to fill your body with a steady flow of clean oxygen and move your body as you do so. Your breathing patterns also regulate the way your heart beats, with the heart speeding up each time you inhale and slowing slightly when you exhale. This is a critical part of your central nervous system and essentially your overall health.
The controlled breathing and movements of your body while practicing yoga, helps with all of these things, leading to a healthier heart. If you’re still not convinced, check out this research by The Yoga Institute in Santacruz, Mumbai.
- Improves sleep
Many individuals with anxiety, depression and poor heart health tend to have difficulty sleeping, according to research. And as we’ve mentioned above, Yoga can play a role in remedying those issues, which can, in turn, improve sleep.
There was a study done on a group of elderly individuals in a home for the aged. Those who participated in yoga took less time to fall asleep and stayed asleep longer than those who didn’t. The group also reported feeling more well-rested.
And though science has not yet determined why this works, it has been noted in studies, including this one from the Defence Institute of Physiology and Allied Sciences that yoga increases the secretion of melatonin, which is a hormone that regulates sleep and wakefulness.
- Improves flexibility, balance, and strength
Yoga does not just include sitting cross-legged while looking out your third eye. There are several movements that require you to balance on one leg while stretching arms above your head and to the side. You need to be able to bend at the waist, perform movements from a plank position, and move from one position to the next in a controlled manner.
All that alone requires you to be flexible, have balance and strength to be able to practice yoga efficiently.
Thankfully, we don’t need to rely on just our sore muscles and improved strength and flexibility as proof that the practice is working. Science has shown by way of a study of 26 male college athletes who showed to significantly increase several measures of flexibility and balance after participating in 10 weeks of Yoga. Furthermore, a study of 79 adults who used a series of Yoga poses as a warm-up six days a week for 24 weeks experienced a significant increase in upper body strength, endurance, and weight loss.
Now that we have proven the benefits of yoga to you, it’s time to prove it to yourself. So, what are you waiting for?