Yoga has a reputation for promoting flexibility and relaxation, but it also offers many surprising benefits. As yoga grows in popularity, researchers are delving deeper into the health benefits of this ancient practice. In honor of September being National Yoga Month, we want to enlighten you to 5 of the scientifically-proven reasons you should incorporate yoga into your fitness routine right now.
Mental Health & Stress Reduction
In addition to a wonderful sense of relaxation, yoga may also improve symptoms of anxiety and depression. Research indicates that a consistent yoga practice can help ease exaggerated stress responses. In other words, yoga can help you cope with stress by lowering your heart rate, blood pressure, and respiratory rate. Numerous studies have also shown that yoga may relieve some symptoms of depression. A study published in Depression and Anxiety found that a 6-week yoga practice significantly improved participants’ depressive symptoms. In addition, the relaxation and meditative aspects of yoga can work to build up your emotional resilience and help you stay calmer during stressful periods.
Relief from Back Pain
Lower back pain is a common complaint in today’s world, with approximately 50% to 80% of us experiencing back pain at some point during our lifetime. An increasingly sedentary lifestyle, such as working from home and not getting active enough, may be to blame. This can cause reduced flexibility and core strength. Fortunately, yoga practice can actually both help prevent and treat lower back pain. In addition to strengthening the core and improving range-of-motion, an overview of recent studies noted that a yoga practice can help relieve chronic low back pain. Yoga can offer an alternative to conventional treatments with no medications required.
If you’re one of the 39 million Americans that suffers from migraines, you know all too well that it’s nothing like a garden variety headache. This painful condition manifests as debilitating head pain, nausea, vomiting, and sensitivity to light and sound that disrupts your life at times. Thankfully, yoga may be a great addition to other migraine treatments. A comprehensive study published in the International Journal of Yoga found that practicing yoga 5 times per week for 6 weeks reduced the frequency and intensity of migraine headaches.
Improved Heart Health
Exercise is one of the best ways to promote heart health, and yoga is no exception. According to the American Heart Association, yoga can help prevent heart disease by lowering your blood pressure and heart rate, while increasing lung function and circulation. The organization also claims that yoga is beneficial for some people who have experienced heart trouble or cardiac surgery, as the practice of yoga can also relieve stress and depression.
Weight Loss and Maintenance
Yoga helps promote weight loss and weight maintenance in a variety of ways. Active forms of yoga, such as Vinyasa or Power yoga, burn calories while strengthening muscles (helping your body become more metabolically active). Even low-key forms of yoga, such as Hatha and Yin yoga, can help control your weight by promoting mindfulness, an awareness of thoughts, feelings, and bodily sensations in the present moment. Mindfulness can improve your eating habits by helping you tune into your body’s hunger and satiety cues. In addition, yoga can help relieve stress which is a major cause of emotional and binge-eating.
These are just a few of the many amazing benefits of yoga. If you’re suffering from any of the conditions mentioned above, please consult with your primary care provider before starting a yoga practice.