The Health Benefits of Yoga
By Debra Rodzinak
Yoga has been practiced for over 5 millennia and the mental and physical benefits have been proven time and time again. Just a few yoga poses performed daily can help improve overall health in a number of ways.
Increased flexibility, strength, and balance -- along with providing a sense of calmness -- yoga not only improves a person's physical well-being, but also their psyche. Yoga can help teach people how to better deal with stress by shifting awareness to the mind during poses.
In a recent study from Duke University Medical Center, yoga was found to help patients suffering from depression and other mental conditions along with sleep problems. Oxytocin, the feel-good hormone, is stimulated during yoga. Meditation and yoga also raise serotonin levels, which improve mood.
Those who suffer with chronic back pain have found that yoga allows for better back support and flexibility. Even if a person has no back pain, practicing yoga can prevent many common lower back problems.
Patients who were suffering with heart failure were asked to practice yoga for two months. After this time, these patients reported an increased exercise capacity, improved heart heath, and an overall greater quality of life. Yoga has also been found to reduce arterial plaque that leads to heart-related problems.
For those with mild to moderate asthma, yoga can improve the symptoms of asthma. Pranayama is the breathing practice that is a critical part of yoga. This practice has been shown to relieve the symptoms of asthma patients.
For those suffering with painful rheumatoid arthritis, yoga has been found to improve pain, depression, and overall mental health. Since arthritis responds to gentle movement and heat, hot yoga can be very helpful for arthritis patients.
For those who suffer with bouts of insomnia, yoga can help them find a good night’s sleep. Relaxing yoga postures can increase circulation, calm the mind and body, and redirect the body to relax, which leads to a better sleep state.
Multiple Sclerosis (MS) can be quite frustrating with the loss of coordination and muscle control. Weekly visits to a yoga studio have been found to help those suffering with MS.
Since yoga reduces physical tension and mental stress, improved cognitive function is often seen in people who practice yoga regularly. When the mind and body are calm, the brain is able to work more efficiently.