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10 Benefits of Yoga That Are Supported by Science

by Alyssa Johnson

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Today, there appears to be countless claims being made about yoga in order to urge people to take up the practice. But how much of these are fact and which are speculations or exaggerations? Well, in this article, I’ll be sharing some insights on what science really says about what yoga can do for you! 

You may already heard that yoga comes with an abundance of health benefits. For starters, a scientific review published by the European Society for Cardiology found that in terms of physical benefits, the advantages of a regular practice of yoga are similar to those of conventional exercises such as jogging and walking, and other physical activities. 

With that, find below 10 proven effects of yoga that’ll make even the hardest of skeptics to consider on taking up the practice!

1.    Yoga Reduces Risk of Heart Disease

woman hands on yoga mat

In a 2010 study, researchers at Harvard found that people who regularly took part in any form of yoga boasted better heart health and were at a lower risk of developing heart disease compared to people who did not practice yoga regularly.

The participants involved in the study were able to lower their blood pressure, harmful cholesterol levels and shed five pounds on average.

2.    Yoga Strengthens the Nervous System

women hi 5 during yoga class

According to Dr. Timothy McCall, an internal medicine doctor based in San Francisco, it is essential to have a nervous system that reacts to stress and relaxes in the absence of a stressor. Unfortunately, most people fail to relax after eliminating the stressor. Their systems remain tense and running on overdrive.

Unfortunately, people who are regularly overstressed are more prone to heart disease, the stroke foundation explains. According to Dr. McCall, people who are stressed tend to engage in unhealthy behavior such as smoking, overeating, and physical inactivity, which tends to increase an individual’s blood pressure and in turn risks damage to the heart. 

Yoga is a meditation and relaxation technique that helps keep the body calm, relaxed and working as it should.

Hence, it can reduce your chances of engaging in behavior that may be risky to your health. It is also a form of physical exercise that can help in reducing blood pressure levels.

3.   Yoga Improves Cardiovascular Fitness

woman fitness on beach

A recent study involving 40 patients with heart failure published in the Medicine Science in Sports and Exercises revealed that yoga promotes cardiovascular fitness and improves the quality of life. For this reason, yoga is particularly beneficial for patients who have suffered or are at high risk of suffering heart failure. 

For eight weeks, the patients participated in 16 yoga sessions as part of their treatment regimen. Physicians observed notable improvements in the patients after the eight weeks including improved flexibility, better quality of life scores and reduced heart inflammation compared to patients with the same heart failure conditions who did not engage in yoga.

4.    Yoga Can Correct Irregular Heart Beats

Atrial Fibrillation (AFib) is a condition characterized by abnormal heart rhythm. Because of the irregular beating of the heart, this condition is responsible for stroke and other significant heart conditions.

According to a journal published by the American College of Cardiology in 2013, the AFib experiences reported by patients dropped drastically among patients who engaged in regular yoga sessions to half the number they had at the beginning of treatment. These patients also reported lower blood pressure and heart rates than they had at the beginning of the study.

5.    Yoga Promotes Focus & Creativity

yoga promotes focus and creativity

The practice of asanas (poses), meditation, and conscious breathing, all of which is a part of a yoga practice, have been proven to change the structure of the brain – more specifically on the frontal cortex. This part of the brain has been linked to focus, calm, and concentration. 

A 2012 study published in Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, MRI scans found that those that routinely practice yoga and meditation have higher levels of gyrification – the folding of the brain’s cerebral cortex linked to effectiveness and faster processing of information.

With enough practice, yoga practitioners can expand this particular area of the brain as well as increase their alpha brain waves that fosters creativity.

6.    Yoga Helps Deal with Anxiety Attacks

woman practicing yoga outdoors

Anxiety attacks are often characterized by rapidly escalating and overwhelming anxiety. They can start whenever you feel stressed out or get into an unfamiliar environment. Sometimes you can experience it due to mental or physical health issues as well. The best way to cure them is to see a specialist. Doctors suggest engaging in yoga exercises because they will help make things better and reduce anxiety attacks.

The symptoms include irregular heartbeat, shortness of breath, sweating, shaking, muscle spasms, fatigue, and weakness. Once you feel these symptoms coming, you need to remind yourself to breathe. Practice deep meditation exercises such as yoga that still focus on breathing to ensure that you can deal with anxiety attacks more effectively and rapidly.

7.    Yoga Helps to Improve Quality of Life

woman practicing yoga on the sand

Yoga is increasingly common as adjuvant therapy that will improve the lives of individuals who do it. In a study conducted on a group of 135 seniors, they were encouraged to walk, do yoga or work in a controlled group. Yoga significantly enhances the quality of life by reducing fatigue and cheering up one’s spirit compared to other groups.

For cancer patients, yoga helps them deal with the pain and reduce the feelings of stress and depression. In a study to find out how eight weeks of yoga affected women in chemotherapy, yoga helps to reduce general feelings of vomiting, nausea, and improves their overall quality of life.

8.    Yoga Reduces Chronic Pain

woman on yoga mat leg stretch

Chronic pain is often an issue that affects millions of people and has many different causes.

There is growing evidence that suggests that a few minutes of yoga every day can help reduce chronic pain. It shows that there is a decrease in physical pain and improves mobility for patients with knee problems and osteoarthritis.

9.    Yoga Improves the Quality of Sleep

yoga improves quality of sleep

Do you always have issues getting enough sleep or have a hard time getting quality rest? By incorporating yoga into your routine, you have the chance to promote better sleep.

It works better than sleep medication because it helps you achieve deeper relaxation rather than ‘knocking you out’. It also improves the quality and duration of sleep in patients with lymphoma.

Once they’ve began a regular yoga practice, they no longer needed sleep medication to fall into slumber. With enough sleep each day, you’ll become better at problem-solving and can enjoy feeling more energized each day.

10.   Yoga Increases Flexibility and Balance

woman's silhoutte tree pose on a pier

Most people decide to take up yoga in order to improve their flexiblity and balance. 

It is indeed one of the most well-known and accepted benefits of yoga. According to research, one can easily increase their flexibility and their sense of balance much more efficiently with yoga compared to other forms of physical exercises. With just one year of consistent yoga practice, you can increase your flexibility up to 30%!

Want to start working towards a healthier version of you through yoga? A yoga retreat for beginners is the perfect place to start. 

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