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International Yoga Day: 13 Health Benefits Of Yoga

Yoga is an ancient Indian practice that brings the mind and body together by building strength, awareness, and harmony. Due to the immense popularity of yoga and the health benefits that it provides physically and mentally, many schools have introduced yoga as a part of their curriculum.

There are different kinds of yoga practices that incorporate breathing exercises, meditation and poses to promote relaxation and lower stress.

Health Benefits Of Yoga

1. Improves heart health

Studies have shown that yoga can keep your heart healthy and lower the chances of heart diseases. A study published in the Indian Journal of Physiology and Pharmacology found that, people above 40 years who practised yoga for five years had reduced blood pressure and pulse rate compared to those who didn't practice yoga [1] .

2. Builds strength

Practising yoga daily helps in building strength and muscles. A study published in the Asian Journal of Sports Medicine showed that sun salutation or Surya Namaskar increases upper body strength, promotes weight loss and endurance [2] .

3. Reduces depression

Yoga has an antidepressant effect on the mind, which could decrease the symptoms of depression [3] . This is because yoga lowers cortisol levels, a stress hormone that influences serotonin levels, the neurotransmitter often linked to depression.

4. Lowers stress

Cortisol is the stress hormone that is mainly responsible for creating stress in your body. A study showed the powerful effect of yoga in women suffering from stress, and after a 3-month program, they had low levels of stress, fatigue, anxiety, and depression [4] .

5. Relieves anxiety

Practising yoga is a great way to cope with feelings of anxiety. In a study, 34 women were diagnosed with anxiety disorder and after they practised yoga, their anxiety levels were reduced [5] .

6. Improves flexibility and balance

Another health benefit of yoga is it improves flexibility and balance. A study was conducted on 26 male college athletes who practised yoga for 10 weeks and saw a significant increase in flexibility and balance [6] .

Another study found that practising yoga could also help promote mobility and balance in older adults [7] .

7. Supports joint health

Regular yoga practice can lower joint pain by strengthening the muscles around the joints and lessen the pain. A study showed that practising yoga for eight weeks could decrease the severity of physical and psychological symptoms in patients with rheumatoid arthritis [8] .

8. Aids in weight loss

Practising intense yoga exercises can help you burn a lot of calories. According to a study published in the American Journal of Lifestyle Medicine, yoga can aid in losing weight [9] .

9. Lowers pain and inflammation

Yoga can help lower many types of chronic pain. A study conducted in 42 individuals with carpal tunnel syndrome found that yoga is effective in reducing pain and improving grip strength [10] .

Yoga is also known to reduce chronic inflammation as well. Chronic inflammation causes heart disease, cancer, and diabetes.

10. Promotes good sleep

Want to sleep better? Try doing yoga as studies have highlighted that yoga can promote good sleep. People who practise yoga fall asleep faster and sleep longer because yoga increases the secretion of melatonin, a hormone that regulates sleep and wakefulness [11] , [12] .

11. Enhances the quality of life

According to a study, practising yoga improves quality of life as well as reduces moodiness and fatigue [13] . In another study, women who were diagnosed with breast cancer underwent chemotherapy and the result was yoga decreased the symptoms of chemotherapy like vomiting and nausea [14] .

12. Helps in better breathing

Practising yoga every day could help you breathe better. A 2009 study found that, various breathing exercises like Pranayama can improve the symptoms of asthma [15] .

13. Can help treat migraine

According to a study published in the Headache: The Journal of Head and Face Pain, 72 patients with migraines who did a yoga therapy for 3 months led to a reduction in headache intensity, and pain [16] . According to the Journal of Pain, yoga stimulates the vagus nerve, which has been shown to be effective in relieving migraine headaches [17] .

View Article References
  1. [1] Bharshankar, J. R., Bharshankar, R. N., Deshpande, V. N., Kaore, S. B., & Gosavi, G. B. (2003). Effect of yoga on cardiovascular system in subjects above 40 years.Indian journal of physiology and pharmacology,47(2), 202-206.
  2. [2] Bhutkar, M. V., Bhutkar, P. M., Taware, G. B., & Surdi, A. D. (2011). How effective is sun salutation in improving muscle strength, general body endurance and body composition?.Asian Journal of Sports Medicine,2(4), 259.
  3. [3] Pilkington, K., Kirkwood, G., Rampes, H., & Richardson, J. (2005). Yoga for depression: the research evidence.Journal of affective disorders,89(1-3), 13-24.
  4. [4] Michalsen, A., Grossman, P., Acil, A., Langhorst, J., Lüdtke, R., Esch, T., ... & Dobos, G. (2005). Rapid stress reduction and anxiolysis among distressed women as a consequence of a three-month intensive yoga program.Medical Science Monitor,11(12), CR555-CR561.
  5. [5] Javnbakht, M., Kenari, R. H., & Ghasemi, M. (2009). Effects of yoga on depression and anxiety of women.Complementary therapies in clinical practice,15(2), 102-104.
  6. [6] Polsgrove, M. J., Eggleston, B. M., & Lockyer, R. J. (2016). Impact of 10-weeks of yoga practice on flexibility and balance of college athletes.International journal of yoga,9(1), 27–34.
  7. [7] Tiedemann, A., O’Rourke, S., Sesto, R., & Sherrington, C. (2013). A 12-week Iyengar yoga program improved balance and mobility in older community-dwelling people: a pilot randomized controlled trial.Journals of Gerontology Series A: Biomedical Sciences and Medical Sciences,68(9), 1068-1075.
  8. [8] Surabhi Gautam, Madhuri Tolahunase, Uma Kumar, Rima Dada.Impact of yoga based mind-body intervention on systemic inflammatory markers and co-morbid depression in active Rheumatoid arthritis patients: Arandomized controlled trial.Restorative Neurology and Neuroscience, 2019;
  9. [9] Bernstein, A. M., Bar, J., Ehrman, J. P., Golubic, M., & Roizen, M. F. (2014). Yoga in the management of overweight and obesity.American Journal of Lifestyle Medicine,8(1), 33-41.
  10. [10] Garfinkel, M. S., Singhal, A., Katz, W. A., Allan, D. A., Reshetar, R., & Schumacher Jr, H. R. (1998). Yoga-based intervention for carpal tunnel syndrome: a randomized trial.Jama,280(18), 1601-1603.
  11. [11] Manjunath, N. K., & Telles, S. (2005). Influence of Yoga & Ayurveda on self-rated sleep in a geriatric population.Indian Journal of Medical Research,121(5), 683.
  12. [12] Harinath, K., Malhotra, A. S., Pal, K., Prasad, R., Kumar, R., Kain, T. C., ... & Sawhney, R. C. (2004). Effects of Hatha yoga and Omkar meditation on cardiorespiratory performance, psychologic profile, and melatonin secretion.The Journal of Alternative & Complementary Medicine,10(2), 261-268.
  13. [13] Oken, B. S., Zajdel, D., Kishiyama, S., Flegal, K., Dehen, C., Haas, M., ... & Leyva, J. (2006). Randomized, controlled, six-month trial of yoga in healthy seniors: effects on cognition and quality of life.Alternative therapies in health and medicine,12(1), 40.
  14. [14] Oken, B. S., Zajdel, D., Kishiyama, S., Flegal, K., Dehen, C., Haas, M., ... & Leyva, J. (2006). Randomized, controlled, six-month trial of yoga in healthy seniors: effects on cognition and quality of life.Alternative therapies in health and medicine,12(1), 40.
  15. [15] Saxena, T., & Saxena, M. (2009). The effect of various breathing exercises (pranayama) in patients with bronchial asthma of mild to moderate severity.International journal of yoga,2(1), 22–25.
  16. [16] John, P. J., Sharma, N., Sharma, C. M., & Kankane, A. (2007). Effectiveness of yoga therapy in the treatment of migraine without aura: a randomized controlled trial.Headache: The Journal of Head and Face Pain,47(5), 654-661.
  17. [17] Hord, E. D., Evans, M. S., Mueed, S., Adamolekun, B., & Naritoku, D. K. (2003). The effect of vagus nerve stimulation on migraines.The Journal of Pain,4(9), 530-534.

Read more about: yoga health benefits
Story first published: Thursday, June 20, 2019, 16:30 [IST]
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