The practice of yoga, considering all its spiritual, mental and physical benefits for today’s lifestyles. Dates back at least 2,000 years with some references as far back as 5,000 years ago. With yoga doing so much good for our minds and bodies for so long, you’d think that more of us would be aware of its benefits.
But we’re a stubborn bunch that likes to see the results of things like lab tests and clinical trials before we feel that a treatment or practice may be worthwhile.
Fortunately, the world of science has been coming around more and more to back many of yogas claims to boost your mental and physical strength.
Here are just a handful of yoga’s better-known benefits and some scientific evidence to support the claims.
1. Reduces Stress
If there is one mind/body benefit yoga is most well-known for, it is in easing stress and promoting relaxation. It just makes so much sense. Stress can be part of our ancient defence mechanisms, like fight or flight. Using relaxation techniques to defuse these primal reactions is a great idea.
And there is a scientific link between increased physical activity, including the sorts of activities practiced in yoga, and a decrease of cortisol in the body. Cortisol is the hormone most responsible for producing stress.
2. Increases Quality of Life
Again, even in the absence of hard evidence, this makes perfect sense. Yoga is a practice that helps you deal with and manage many of life’s difficulties, including stress and anxiety. If we manage to reduce the effects of those difficulties, then our quality of life is bound to improve.
But it goes way beyond simply finding a coping mechanism for daily challenges. In one study of women with breast cancer who were undergoing chemotherapy, yoga was found to reduce the effects of the symptoms of chemotherapy treatments. Including nausea and vomiting, and as credited with improving quality of life at the same time.
3. Can Help with Depression
One of the most recommended ‘self-help’ treatments for depression is to get more active. Whether your depression is episodic or chronic, it can drain your energy levels significantly. The lack of activity only adds to the speeding snowball of symptoms. But activity, anything from walking to a full-on gym workout are all regarded as reliable ways to improve how you feel.
Again, yoga has been shown to reduce levels of cortisol in the body. Cortisol promotes the production of serotonin, which is a neurotransmitter associated with depression.
4. Can Relieve Chronic Pain
Persistent pain can seriously affect your quality of life. Whether the pain is caused by inflammation, injuries or conditions like arthritis. Yoga has been shown in a number of studies to help reduce pain and improve physical function.
In one study, 42 participants suffering from carpal tunnel syndrome were split into two groups. One group was treated with a wrist splint and the other group practiced yoga for eight weeks. At the end of the study, the yoga group reported a greater reduction in pain and had a greater improvement to their wrist strength.
5. Better Flexibility & Balance
It might seem obvious that practicing poses that often mean you must balance on one foot or stretch in any number of ways would improve your flexibility and balance.
But studies have shown, even in trained college athletes. Flexibility and balance are increased significantly across a number of measures in groups who practiced yoga versus groups who didn’t.
Starting earlier in April, trained and certified yoga instructor Sheila Abbruzzo has offered yoga classes every Monday night at Active Health Centre. Monday Night Yoga classes are suitable for all levels of yoga and you can choose to attend as many classes as you like. Contact us here at Active Health Centre to learn more.