10 Benefits of Yoga That Are Supported by Science

by Alyssa Johnson

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There are lots of health claims being made about yoga (and plenty of other practices) in order to urge people to take them on. But how much of these are fact and which are speculations or exaggerations? Here’s what science really says about what yoga can do for you. 

Yoga can help prevent cardiovascular diseases. This is according to a review of yoga and cardiovascular disease published by the European Society for Cardiology. The review claims that yoga benefits are similar to those of conventional exercises such as jogging and walking, and even more than those. Here are 10 proven effects of yoga that will make you want to try it:

1.    Eliminates Heart Disease Risk Factors

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 perform yoga regularly. The study participants were able to lower their blood pressure, harmful cholesterol levels and shed five pounds on average.

2.    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. It thus reduces your chances of engaging in behavior that may be risky to your health. It is also a form of exercise, which allows you to be active thus reducing blood pressure. The benefit of yoga to the heart emerges from its ability to reduce stress and improve physical fitness, says the founder and director of the Cardiac Wellness program, at Montefiore Medical center, Robert Ostefield.

3.    Improves Cardiovascular Fitness

woman fitness on beach

A recent study published in the Medicine Science in Sports and Exercises reveals that yoga promotes cardiovascular fitness and improves the quality of life. For this reason, yoga is particularly beneficial to patients who have suffered or are at high risk of suffering heart failure. The study involved 40 patients with 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.    Corrects Irregular Heart Beat

group of women yoga class

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 had lower blood pressure and lower heart rates than they had at the beginning of the session. 

5.    Social Interaction

yoga pose on mat group class

For some people, yoga may be a way of strengthening the heart after a heart attack or stroke. According to psychologists, people who have gone through such experiences often feel isolated and lonely, which can cause them to develop depression. The value social interaction has for such people cannot be quantified. Psychologists agree that for an individual to feel safe and whole, they need to have people they can talk to. Such releases also go a long way in relaxing the mind which has an impact on the heart as well. Participating in a yoga class can help such people to fully recover and lead a happier and healthier life.

6.    Helps you deal with anxiety attacks

woman fitness on beach

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 the 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 faster.

Also, anxiety is an old friend of students, especially of those with а heightened sense of responsibility. The attacks can become more frequent towards the end of the term or whenever an important paper or a project has to be submitted. Just enroll in the nearest yoga class to learn how to deal with these attacks and improve your general wellbeing. When you calm and content, not only you feel better, but your academic performance rockets up drastically.

7.    Improves the 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 improving the quality of life.

8.    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 the chronic pain. It shows that there is a decrease in physical pain and improves mobility for patients with knee problems and osteoarthritis.

9.    Improves sleep

group of people practicing yoga

Do you always have issues getting enough sleep or sleeping at all sometimes? 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. It also improves the quality and duration of sleep in patients with lymphoma. Once they start yoga, they do not need any sleep medication. With enough sleep each day, you get better at problem-solving and can enjoy feeling more energized each day.

10.   Increases flexibility and balance

woman's silhoutte tree pose on a pier

Most people add yoga to give them flexibility and balance. There is considerable research that demonstrates how you can optimize performance by making use of the specific poses. With yoga, one can easily increase several measured balance and flexibility compared to when doing other forms of exercises. Just one year of yoga can increase your flexibility by 30-percent.

Conclusion

Yoga allows your body to relax, thereby preventing unhealthy behavior that can cause heart diseases.  Such exaggerations include binge eating and smoking, and physical inactivity. Deep breathing and mind-calming meditation techniques - key aspects of yoga science - allow the balance between the body and the mind resulting in calm nerves and less stress. If you have underlying heart problems, yoga may prove to be beneficial not only for your heart but also for your overall wellbeing. 


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

Alyssa is a yoga coach with years of experience. In her free time, she consults people who want to know more about yoga and its benefits for physical and mental health. She also writes articles on EssayOnTime.com.au about health, meditations, balanced diets, and different yoga techniques. Alyssa believes that harmony is key to a happy life and in her work, she helps people who strive to achieve that goal.​

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