Are the benefits of yoga scientifically proven? If yes, how did the inventors of yoga make up the asanas and know their benefits?
The yoga is part of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of UNESCO, and is native to India: it is a practice that could go back to the II nd century BC, approximately. It is a practice that seeks, through meditation and physical exercises, to unite the physical, psychic and spiritual aspects of the human being.
Become an extremely popular practice, it is now almost impossible that a gym does not offer yoga classes: we propose you 13 reasons to join this “trend” (which is however an ancestral practice!), Whose multiple benefits have been scientifically proven.
Benefits of yoga: a practice that is good!
Yoga is known for its ability to reduce stress and promote relaxation. Indeed, multiple studies have shown that the practice of yoga lowers the levels of cortisol, the hormone related to stress .
Thus, whether used alone or in addition to other activities to reduce stress, such as meditation, yoga can be a very favorable and effective method.
Relief of anxiety
Many people start practicing yoga to manage their anxiety, which is a good idea because several studies indicate that it actually helps to relieve anxiety disorder.
In a study of 34 women with diagnosed anxiety disorders, those who took yoga classes twice a week for two months had much lower levels of anxiety than those in the control group.
Similarly, another study focused on people suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (which is characterized by intense feelings of anxiety and fear following traumatic events). After 10 weeks, women who did yoga once a week had lower symptoms of post-traumatic stress: in fact, 52% of participants no longer met the criteria that characterize post-traumatic stress at all .
The effects of yoga on anxiety are not yet completely clear, but its effectiveness could come from the fact that this practice focuses on living in the present and on the search for appeasement.
Can reduce inflammation
Yoga is not only useful for mental health, but also for physical health: it can reduce inflammations. The inflammation is a normal immune response, but chronic inflammation is problematic because it may lead to diseases such as diabetes, heart disease and cancer.
A study conducted in 2015 divided its 218 participants into two groups: those who did yoga regularly, and those who did not. Then both groups did moderate and energetic exercises, developed to increase stress. At the end of the study, those who did yoga had fewer indicators of inflammatory reaction than those who did not. Similarly, another study found that 12 weeks of yoga helped to reduce inflammation indicators in women who had overcome breast cancer.
Improved heart health
Several studies suggest that yoga can improve heart health, and effectively protect the heart against diseases. A study with participants over 40 found that those who had been doing yoga for 5 years had lower blood pressure and heart rate than those who did not. High blood pressure is one of the leading causes of heart disease: reducing it could reduce the risk of stroke and heart failure.
Similarly, other studies seem to suggest that yoga, as a supplement to a healthy lifestyle, may slow the progression of heart disease. One study followed 113 individuals with heart disease, looking for the effects of a lifestyle change that included yoga, dietary changes and stress management for 1 year. Participants had a 23% drop in their total cholesterol and 26% in their bad LDL cholesterol. In addition, 47% of patients had a stop in the progression of their heart disease ( 12%).). It is not very clear if yoga has played a major role in these results in relation to diet. What is certain, however, is that yoga contributes to the reduction of stress, an important factor in cardiovascular pathologies.
Improved quality of life
Yoga is increasingly used to improve the quality of life of individuals. A study of seniors showed that those who practiced yoga for 6 months saw an improvement in their quality of life much more significant than those who had been walking or members of the control group. Yoga also improved the quality of their sleep and mood .
Other studies have focused on improving the quality of life for people suffering from cancer through yoga. One study followed women with breast cancer who used chemotherapy: yoga helped them reduce the symptoms of chemotherapy such as nausea and vomiting, while improving their overall quality of life . A similar study found that women with breast cancer, after 8 weeks of yoga, felt less pain and exhaustion, were more accepting of their situation, and felt more relaxed . Similarly, other studies have suggested that yoga helps improve the spiritual well-being, quality of sleep, and sociability of cancer patients, while reducing their symptoms of anxiety and depression .
Can fight depression
Some studies suggest that yoga has anti-depressive effects and would reduce the symptoms of depression. This may be related to the fact that yoga can lower the levels of cortisol, the stress hormone that influences levels of serotonin, the neurotransmitter often associated with depression . One study found that practicing for two weeks Sudarshan Kriya, a type of yoga that focuses on the rhythm of breathing, helped participants get an alcohol addiction program to reduce their cortisol levels and symptoms of depression. They also had lower levels of corticotropic hormone, a hormone that stimulates the production of cortisol.
Other studies have had similar results, demonstrating a link between yoga practice and reducing the symptoms of depression . It would seem, therefore, that yoga is an effective method to fight against depression, whether it is used alone or with more traditional treatments and methods (it depends on the needs and particular cases of each individual).
Reduction of chronic pain
Chronic pain affects millions of people, with problems ranging from injuries to osteoarthritis : more and more studies indicate that yoga can help relieve chronic pain. A study that looked at people with carpal tunnel syndrome divided participants into two groups: one group received a wrist splint, the other did yoga classes for eight weeks. By the end of the study, yoga had been more effective in reducing pain and strengthening the grip than the splint. Another study showed that yoga decreased pain and improved participants’ physical function with osteoarthritis in the knee.
Improved sleep quality
Poor sleep quality is associated with other health problems, including obesity, high blood pressure, and depression . Studies have shown that yoga can improve the quality of sleep: one study divided seniors into three groups, one did yoga, one drank a mixture of plants, and the other was the control group. Participants who did yoga fell asleep faster, slept longer and felt more rested than members of the other two groups . Another study focused on the effects of yoga on the sleep of participants with lymphoma They found that yoga decreased sleep disturbances, improved sleep quality and duration, and reduced the need for sleeping pills .
The exact action of yoga on sleep is not yet entirely clear, but it has been proven that this practice promotes the secretion of melatonin , a hormone that regulates sleep and wakefulness . In addition, as explained before, yoga has significant effects on anxiety, depression, chronic pain and stress: all important factors in sleep disorders.
Improved flexibility and balance
Many people add yoga to their sport routine to improve their flexibility and balance. Many studies have shown that yoga can help improve athletic performance by using specific positions that focus on balance and flexibility. A recent study looked at the impact of 10 weeks of yoga on the performance of 26-year-old male university athletes. The practice of yoga significantly increased the flexibility and balance of the participants in relation to members of the control group.
Practicing just 15 to 20 minutes of yoga a day could make a big difference for people looking to improve their performance by increasing their balance and flexibility.
Pranayama , the rhythmic breathing of yoga, is a practice that seeks to control the breathing rhythm by particular techniques. In one study, 287 university students took a 15-week class where they learned varied yoga positions and breathing exercises. At the end of the study they had increased their total lung capacity . Another study found that Pranayama’s practice improves the symptoms and lung functions of patients with moderate asthma . Improving breathing can promote endurance, optimize athletic performance, and help keep your heart and lungs healthy.
Several studies suggest that yoga, used as a complementary therapy, can help reduce the frequency of migraines. One study showed that practicing yoga over a period of three months helped reduce the intensity, frequency and pain of migraines significantly . Similarly, another study looked at the effectiveness of yoga used in parallel with conventional migraine treatments. The combination of the two resulted in a decrease in the frequency and intensity of migraine attacks compared with the use of conventional treatment alone . It seems that yoga helps stimulate the vagus nerve, which is effective in the relief of migraines .
Promotion of healthy eating habits
Eating in full awareness is a practice that invites people to be truly present when they eat. It’s about really paying attention to the taste, smell and texture of the food and paying attention to our thoughts and feelings when eating it. This is an extremely healthy eating practice that helps control glucose levels in the blood, promotes weight loss, and treats unhealthy eating behaviors .
Yoga focuses a lot on the concept of mindfulness, and studies suggest that this aspect of yoga can promote healthier eating habits. One study included yoga in the follow-up of people with eating disorders: this practice would help reduce symptoms of CAW and concern for food among participants . Another study looked at the effects of yoga on people with hyperphagia (a eating disorder that is characterized by excessive and compulsive eating). Yoga helped reduce hyperphagic phases in participants, while promoting increased physical activity and mild weight loss .
In addition to promoting flexibility, yoga is a sport that has benefits in relation to muscle building. In one study, people practiced 24 cycles of sun salutation (a basic movement that is used during warm-up) 6 days a week for 24 weeks. Participants noted significant muscle building, increased stamina, weight loss, and women also noted a reduction in body mass index . Another study had similar results: in 12 weeks, participants improved their endurance, strength and flexibility .