If you’ve been doing Yoga for some time, you’ve already noticed benefits of practice – maybe you’re sleeping better, gained flexibility, controlled your weight, and are less stressed.
Researchers Are Witnessing the Benefits of Yoga
Science is beginning to give concrete clues to more serious benefits of Yoga, such as improving health, reducing pain in general, and even preventing disease.
Author of several books on Yoga, the physician and editor of the Yoga Journal, Timothy McCall has gathered scientific evidence from all over the world and tested himself for the effects of Yoga for the body and for the mind.
42 Benefits of Yoga for Health
Increasing flexibility is one of the most obvious benefits of Yoga . During your first class you probably will not be able to touch your toes, but do not worry.
Over time you will notice a gradual improvement, and eventually poses that were impossible to make will be a reality in your life.
At the same time you will also notice that some pains will disappear. This is no coincidence . Yoga has the power to teach your mind how to connect different muscles so that your body works in synergy.
Want an example?
Locked hips may require too much of the knee joint, leading to misalignment of the thigh muscles and leg bones.
And then these problems in the thigh bring pains in the lumbar, that cause pains in the back. It’s all connected.
In addition, lack of flexibility in other tissues, such as ligaments, can cause poor posture.
Can you see how one thing leads to another?
- Builds strong muscles
Having strong muscles is much more important than having a good appearance. They protect us from diseases such as arthritis and back pain, in addition to preventing falls in the elderly, one of the major causes of death at this age.
When you build your muscles through Yoga, balance that gain with increasing flexibility. If you did this in the gym you would probably build muscles at the expense of your flexibility.
- Lose weight
The secret? The indirect benefits of Yoga for weight loss.
In addition to toning his muscles and speeding up his metabolism, Jared felt the side effects of this activity, such as decreased anxiety, blood sugar levels and improved sleep.
All this contributed to him being able to lose weight fast, almost 10 pounds per month in 150 days.
- Improves posture
Imagine your head like a bowling ball – round, big and heavy. When it is aligned to the spine, your neck and back will not have problems to support it.
However, if you hold yourself a few inches forward you will strain those muscles. 12 hours a day holding that bowling ball and you still wonder why you’re tired and sore …
And if it gets worse, your body compensates by misaligning other muscles and especially the spine, which can cause more pain and incurable diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis.
Yoga helps giving you a greater body awareness and improving your posture in the day to day.
- Prevents joint pain
Every time you practice yoga , you take your joints to the maximum of the movement they can do.
This prevents arthritis because it makes the synovial fluid (which nourishes the joint) flow, decreasing the friction between cartilage and bones.
Cartilage is like a sponge: it receives new nutrients when it is tight, pushed, used. Without these nutrients, the friction increases and can reach the bones … at this time you will know what is real pain.
- Protects the column
If they become static, the intervertebral discs (the shock absorbers in your spine) can cause hernias and pinch nerves.
That’s why they need to move, because that’s the only way they can get nutrients. If you have a regular practice of Yoga , with specific movements for that area, your spine will be healthy.
- Improves bone health
It is common sense that weight-bearing exercises strengthen bones and prevent osteoporosis.
Yoga also has that power!
Several positions require you to raise your own weight, some of them specific for the bones of the arms, the most vulnerable to osteoporosis fracture.
A study conducted by the University of California, found that it can improve bone density in the vertebrae with a few weeks of Yoga. In addition, as this practice controls cortisol levels (see # 12) helps maintain calcium in the bones.
- Improves blood flow
Yoga makes your blood flow through the relaxation exercises, especially the circulation at the extremities – hands and feet. Oxygenated, the cells work better.
Inversions such as shoulder and shoulder stops make venous (non-oxygenated) blood flow from the legs and pelvis back to the heart more quickly. This relieves swelling in the legs and may help soften kidney problems.
In addition, Yoga turbines the levels of hemoglobin , a cell that carries oxygen to other tissues. Thinner, blood flows better, which prevents heart attacks and strokes.
- Drains lymph and enhances immunity
When you contract and lengthen the muscles between the poses improves the drainage of lymph, a fluid that contains cells that fight against diseases.
As this system does not have pumping like blood vessels, jogging helps the lymphatic system to fight off infections, cancer cells and cleanse the toxins from the body more efficiently.
- Raises heart rate
When you raise your heart rate constantly decreases the risk of a heart attack and can relieve symptoms of depression. Not all types of Yoga exercises are aerobic, but all get some elevation of that frequency.
Research has revealed that Yoga practitioners are able to maintain a lower frequency at rest, have greater physical stamina and better use of oxygen during exercise. All this reflects on physical fitness.
In addition, breathing control allows you to do the same exercise by expending less oxygen, which in the long run fights the aging of cells since a product of the reaction with oxygen are the feared free radicals.
- Lowers your blood pressure
Do you have high blood pressure? Try Yoga.
Two British studies published in The Lancet compared people with hypertension in two situations: while some of them did the Savasana , the position of the corpse (lying belly up controlling the breath), others just lay on a sofa. After 3 months both measurements, diastolic and systolic fell dramatically in the group that did Yoga.
- Regulates the adrenal glands
Yoga controls the levels of cortisol. Does it seem little? Usually the adrenal glands secrete this hormone in response to acute seizures and this increases immunity for a while.
However, cortisol levels can not stay high after such situations or your immune system will be compromised.
Other studies have found that excess cortisol can cause depression, osteoporosis (by removing calcium from the bones), hypertension, and insulin resistance.
Research on rats has proven that cortisol in excess causes hunger, not day-to-day, but that when you are stressed and want to discount the calories.
Controlling cortisol is yes important!
- Makes you happier
Sad? Try a Yoga Position!
Studies have found that Yoga’s constant practice fights depression by raising serotonin levels and lowering blood cortisol.
Professor Richard Davidson of the University of Wisconsin has found that yogis have a greater activity of the prefrontal cortex, which is related to happiness and immune function.
- Helps you to be healthier
Exercise more, eat less – this is the mantra of those who are on a diet. And Yoga can help.
Constant practice helps you burn calories while increasing awareness of your own body, helping you make better choices, especially for your food.
- Decrease blood sugar
The Yoga helps to control blood sugar and lower LDL, the bad cholesterol, while increasing HDL, the good cholesterol.
People with diabetes find in Yoga a form of prevention: by lowering the levels of adrenaline and cortisol, aiding in weight loss and sensitivity to the effects of insulin. Controlling blood sugar levels also helps to reduce the risk of heart attack, kidney failure and even blindness.
- Keeps you focused
An important component of Yoga is keeping you focused on the present. Studies have found that Yoga can improve motor coordination, reaction time, memory and even its IQ.
Meditation practitioners have proven to be excellent problem solvers, as well as retaining more information. They were probably less distracted by other thoughts and focused on the task at hand.
- Yoga relaxes
Slow down your breathing, focus on the present and control your nervous system closely.
Yoga activates the parasympathetic nervous system, which causes a drop in hypertension and improved blood flow in the intestines and genitals, which Dr. Herbert Benson called the relaxing response.
- Improves balance
The Yoga can increase your proprioception , which is nothing more awareness to feel your body in relation to space.
People with crooked posture and weakened movements usually have poor proprioception, which may be tied to knee and back problems.
More balance = fewer falls, which for the elderly translates into independence of nursing care or nursing homes. For other people, this can be seen in class, with an ease to make poses more challenging, like the tree.
- Control of the nervous system
Some more advanced yogis are able to control their bodies in an extraordinary way, which happens thanks to the nervous system.
Scientists monitored Yoga practitioners who can induce their own heart rate or even generate brain activity to increase hands temperature !!!!
- Improve the tension in your limbs
Have you ever got caught using your cell phone, driving or even looking at the computer screen with your whole body tense?
This unconscious habit can lead to chronic tension and muscular fatigue of the wrists, arms, shoulders, neck and even the face, which generates a great stress. Yoga practice shows you where you hold this tension and helps you dissipate it . For larger muscles such as the quadriceps and trapezius, it may take some time for this to happen.
- Increased sleep quality
You do not want to overload your nervous system with very intense workouts, right?
The Yoga can ease the rush of modern life . One of the benefits of Yoga is the improvement in the quality of sleep, precisely because of this greater control of the nervous system.
- Turbine your immune system
Poses and breathing probably also help boost immune function, but so far meditation has the greatest effect on it, according to science.
The body can either increase its antibodies, in normal diseases, or decrease them as in autoimmune diseases like psoriasis.
- Give your lungs room to breathe
Yogis tend to have deeper inspirations and exhalations. A 1998 study aimed to teach a technique known as “total breath” for people with cardiorespiratory problems.
After a month, people’s breathing rate fell from 13.4 inspirations per minute to 7.6. At the same time, his physical abilities have increased greatly. Yoga has proved to be effective in increasing the volume of inspirations and the efficiency of exhalations.
By stimulating inspiration through the nose, Yoga improves the quality of the air we send to the lung because the nose is able to filter and warm it, something that the mouth does not do.
- Prevents problems in the digestive system
Ulcer, irritable bowel syndrome and colds – all of which can be caused (or aggravated) by stress. Yoga, like any other physical activity, improves bowel function by decreasing the risk of colon cancer.
It is not yet scientifically proven but practitioners have already reported that doing poses with bodily twists stimulates the functioning of this system.
- Calm your mind
Want a calmer mind? Yoga is the solution.
Frustrations, regrets, anger and fear are associated with stress as well as migraines, insomnia, lupus, hypertension and heart attacks. Learn to counteract this with a calmer, livelier mind more and better.
- Improve your self-esteem
Low self-esteem is a common problem. If you do not know how to deal with it you end up falling into addictions, or eating and overworking and sleeping less, and then you will pay the price with your mental, physical and spiritual health.
At first you will feel flashes of improvement, and over time your vision of problems expands, giving more clarity to your decisions.
If you practice regularly and take it seriously (not only as an exercise), you can reach what yogis call self-knowledge and experience good feelings such as empathy, gratitude, and forgiveness.
- Decreases pain
According to several studies, the combination of poses and meditation reduces pain in people with arthritis, back problems, fibromyalgia, carpal tunnel syndrome (hand problem) and other chronic diseases. When you relieve these pains your mood improves and you are less prone to using drugs.
- Gives clarity to your decisions
While it is relaxing, Yoga also gives you a strength to see life in other ways. You will be able to make important changes in your life, such as quitting smoking, exercising more, and eating better without having to strain yourself.
- Connects you with teachers (and others)
Good Yoga teachers can do wonders for your health. They do more than guide your poses – they can adjust them so that you do them to the maximum of their range, preventing injuries and helping you relax and enjoy Yoga safely.
There is even the possibility of taking classes online, but in this case look for a program that is reliable!
- Keeps you away from drugs (lawful and illegal)
If your medicine box looks like a pharmacy so full then maybe it’s time to do Yoga.
Studies with hypertensives, diabetics, and people with asthma have shown that exercise has decreased the dosage of the drug and in some cases they even stopped taking it. That means less expense and less risk of suffering from the side effects!
- Yoga = self-knowledge of the body
Stop, breathe, feel: Yoga is coming into your life and making you more aware. This makes it easier to clear problems and ward off bad emotions like anger and fear. Studies suggest that these feelings are linked to disorders such as diabetes, high cholesterol and heart attacks.
Yoga lessens this anger, arousing feelings like compassion and calming the mind and nervous system. It also increases the ability to look at your own life without making drama, and so you can make firm decisions or even absorb bad news and bad events with your head held high.
- Benefits your relationships
Love does not achieve everything, but it can help to heal. Cultivating the love of friends, family and community has proven to be very good for health.
And a regular practice of Yoga can further fuel this feeling, since it is Yogic philosophy itself to emphasize good, not to hurt people and to always tell and truth.
- Breathe better
You know what sound I’m talking about, right? Aaaummmm … consider using it in the next session.
Swedes at the Karolinska Institute have found that using some sound at the time of meditation helps to cleanse the sinuses by improving breathing. Not cool?
- Guide your body to healing
What do you want to feel? Studies have shown that designing a self-image reduces postoperative pain in addition to headaches.
This is great news for patients with HIV and cancer, who can have a higher quality of life just by imagining themselves happier.
- Helps you serve others
Karma Yoga (serving others) does not have this name for nothing – it is part of that philosophy.
A University of Michigan study found that seniors who volunteered for a cause for less than an hour a week had three more chances to be alive after 7 years than non-volunteers. Serving others gives meaning to life and makes you see that your problems are not as great as compared to other people’s.
- Helps you take care of yourself
In conventional medicine, most patients are passive in the healing process. In Yoga, everything you do is decisive . Practice gives you tools to change, and you may feel better already in the first session.
This generates a vice of good, which results in three things: you take more care, you realize you have power over the process (when you are sick) and from there comes hope. And hope in itself helps to heal.
- Improves connective tissue
By reading the benefits of Yoga, you must have noticed that many things are repeated, and it is because a lot of things are connected. Change your posture and your breathing improves. Improve your breathing and have the nervous system in your hands.
This is one of the great lessons of Yoga – everything is connected, your bone from hip to thigh, you to your community, your community to the world … these connections are vital to understanding Yoga, and this synergy is perhaps the best explanation for benefits of his health.
- Uses the placebo effect to cause change
Believing in improvement makes you better. Unfortunately many scientists believe that if something works because of the placebo effect it is because something is wrong.
But most patients want to improve, so if they chant some chanting – like the ones that are sung in Yoga – it helps to heal even through this placebo effect, why not do it?
- Improve sex
Sex is body, heart and head. And Yoga is good for all of this . 12 weeks of yoga worked for men and women involved in a study reported an increase in sexual appetite, performance, orgasm, satisfaction and above all, confidence.
Physically it was possible to notice an increase in blood circulation to the genitals and so Yoga is also indicated to combat premature ejaculation and lack of erection.
- Turbine fertility
There are some studies that indicate Yoga as a possible fertility lift, thanks to the decrease in stress.
The hormonal balance and circulation of blood in the genital organs would be secondary causes but also important for those who are trying to have a child.
- It soothes post-traumatic stress
Post traumatic stress is a disease of people who go through some remarkable (and bad) happening in their lives. There is no cure, but can be enlivened with Yoga sessions.
A US study divided 38 women into two groups: one did 12 yoga classes, and the other did nothing. Guess what happened?
Those who did Yoga had the symptoms of the disease drastically reduced, which makes this practice a path for those who are unsuccessful with conventional therapies and remedies.
- Relieves hangover
“ After a night of alcoholic drinking, Yoga may be the last thing on your mind, but that’s exactly what you should do, “ says Professor Linda McGrath.
For her, Yoga is a beautiful way to detoxify the body as it helps increase metabolism, improve thyroid work and blood circulation.
All of these benefits can help hangover cure much faster than just taking water lying in bed.