The Benefits of Yoga

Most people look to yoga to increase their physical activity, improve their wellness and to feel better mentally and emotionally. Yoga has been around for thousands of years and recent research proves the benefits of yoga.

What is yoga?

Yoga is not just physical postures and breathing exercises. Yoga is a lifestyle that includes ethical practices and various levels of meditation. To read more about the 8 limbs of yoga, click here.

Reported Benefits:

In the 2012 National Health Interview Survey, it was found that

  • More than 2/3 of respondents reported that yoga enhanced their mood.
  • 2/3 of respondents said that yoga helped them get more exercise.
  • 80% of yoga practitioners said that yoga reduced stress.
  • 42% of respondents said that yoga motivated them to eat better.

But what does the research say?

  • Reduced Anxiety & Depression – A 2009 study published in the Harvard Mental Health Letter shows that yoga not only reduces depression and anxiety, it can improve energy and quality of life.
  • Reduced Low Back Pain – Boston Medical Center & Harvard University researchers studied 320 subjects for one year in a clinical trial. This study found that yoga is as effective as physical therapy when it comes to treating low back pain. (The yoga program was customized specifically for low back pain.)
  • Reduced Arthritis- Related Pain – Hatha and Iyengar yoga styles were used in trials with participants who suffered from rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis. In the study, they found that yoga practice not only reduced pain, but also reduced stiffness and swelling.
  • Lowers Risk of Heart Disease – The American Heart Association recommends yoga practice for physical, mental and emotional well-being. The AHA says that yoga can be used to improve heart health as a preventative measure or after a cardiac event.
  • Helps with Type 2 Diabetes – A study done on 864 patients with type 2 diabetes found that yoga is effective at lowering fasting blood-glucose levels as well as improving insulin resistance, blood pressure, glucose tolerance and cholesterol levels.
  • Reduced Inflammation – A 12 week study done on breast cancer patients noted that those who regularly practiced yoga experienced less fatigue, fewer inflammatory markers and more vitality.
  • Improved Brain Health – A study comparing yoga practitioners¬† with non-practitioners found that yoga may have protective effects against age-related decline in grey brain matter. Another study revealed that elderly women who regularly practiced yoga for a minimum of 8 years has greater thickness in the brain region that is associated with attention and memory – compared to non-practitioners.

As you can see, the benefits of yoga are plentiful. The best thing about all of this is that you don’t anything but a body, a brain and lungs to reap the benefits of yoga. Check out some of my other posts about yoga. Click here to see my favorite yoga poses for the hips. I also have a post that goes through a yoga sequence for the shoulders & hips.

All of this information was gathered from the IDEA Fitness Journal – a journal for fitness professionals like myself. To read the entire article and to get more information about this research, click here.

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