10 Scientifically-Proven Benefits of Yoga
The benefits of yoga are not only limited to one’s physical state but also tremendously impacts his/her mental well-being. How? Let’s find out!
What is Yoga?
The word “YOGA” is derived from a sanskrit word “YUJ” which means “UNION”–to channelise and concentrate one’s attention. Yoga is a form of mind-body activity, which means it includes a combination of physical activity and internal or mental activity.
Mental activity involves deliberate focus on self-awareness, breath and energy. It is recognised as a “MIND-BODY-SOUL MEDICINE” because it integrates all the physical, mental and spiritual aspects which is needed to hail oneself fit and healthy and top of that it is non-pharmaceutical, cost-effective and safe too.
History of Yoga:An Enticing Brief
The development of yoga is over 3,000-5,000 years old, but some researches indicate that it may be 10,000 years old and has started at the very dawn of civilization. Yoga has been practiced for ages and it is introduced by India to the whole world, and now it is very prominent in Europe, America and the whole western world.
Though it is been performed from ages, but SAGE MAHARISHI PATANJALI, who is the “FATHER OF YOGA” is the one who systemized and structured the practices of yoga into an 8-fold path containing steps and stages to awareness and enlightenment, called “ASHTANGA”.
The benefits of yoga are so massively significant that it is classified by the National Institute of Health as a form of Complementary and Alternative Medicine(CAM).
Principles of Yoga
There are 4 basic principles of yoga which exist in the yoga practice, they are mentioned as follows:
1) Holistic Entity
The first principle is that the human body is treated as a holistic and integrated entity in which various dimensions exist and they all are inter-related and inter-connected.
2) Respect Individuality
The second principle states that every individual is unique which is why the practices of yoga should be approached, customized and tailored in different ways when dealing with different individuals.
Yoga engages the practitioner of it in the healing process and makes him/her its own healer. This means it helps an individual to generate a source of strength within himself/herself rather than helping that person to search for an outside source.
Yoga believes in this ideology that, “A positive mindset helps the person to become healthy and fit quicker as compared to the person who is pessimistic”.
Types of Yoga
In the modern era, people still recognise yoga with only asanas/poses. But the reality is, it is just one tool/type among many. There are many components of yoga which include deliberate breathing, meditation, usage of sound and so on. If we take a look at the variations of yoga, there are numerous variations and some of them are:
- Hatha Yoga
- Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga
- Iyengar Yoga
- Yin Yoga
- Bikram Yoga
- Aerial Yoga
- Power Yoga
“HATHA YOGA” is the one among all types of yoga which is mostly performed by the individuals, most renowned and it is the one which is most scientifically researched and evaluated. But this does not mean that other variations are not good, each one of them has its own place and benefits.
10 Benefits of Yoga
1. Mental Benefits of Yoga
A study published by Hindawi in September 2012 in the journal, Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine contained meta-analyses and several RCTs(Randomized Controlled Trials) and found numerous benefits of yoga for brain and disorders related to it. It reported a significant reduction in depression, anxiety, stress and posttraumatic disorder due to yoga.
2. Benefits of Yoga for Heart
The similar study in Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine conducted 7 controlled studies which reported drastic improvement in overall cardiovascular endurance of the subjects. The outcome measures were work output, anaerobic thresh, blood lactate and oxygen consumption.
3. Benefits of Yoga for Lungs
Globally numerous studies have proven that yoga helps in improving lung health and pulmonary function. The International Journal of Yoga(IJOY) reported that an 8 week yoga intervention improved overall respiratory and physical function. Also inclusion of pranayama improved inspiratory muscle strength and global body flexibility. How to improve Lung Health?
4. Improves Flexibility and Strength
As yoga consists of several poses/asanas which stresses and stretches the muscle fibres, hence improving the flexibility of an individual. Also it takes an immense amount of strength and a sense of balance in the body to hold few poses, which makes the body strong and mobile. 6 Best Stretching Exercises for your Body
5. Benefits of Yoga for Cancer
Though yoga cannot be considered as a cure to cancer but it can be used to prevent it and also for speedy recovery. The Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine journal provided 2 reviews, 2 meta-analyses and 1 letter to the editor with 6 studies and the findings were that the group of cancer patients which did yoga had significant improvement in their condition as compared to non-yoga group.
Also a mind-boggling research found that a total of 10,660 cancer patients who had different types of cancer including prostate cancer, lung cancer, breast cancer and so on, showed speedy recovery from cancer because of yoga.
6. Benefits of Yoga for Blood Pressure
The benefits of yoga are not only limited to cancer patients but also extend to people with hypertension(High blood pressure). A meta-analysis investigated 37 studies, 12 RCTs, 1 cross-sectional study, 11 uncontrolled trials and 1 yoga session and indicated a significant reduction of systolic and/or diastolic pressure.
7. Benefits of Yoga for the Immune System
Do you remember the COVID pandemic, everyone was prioritising yoga, why? Because yoga boosts the immune system enormously. A study published in July 2022, in the journal BMC Complementary Medicine and Therapies demonstrated yoga’s ability to boost the immune system and to inhibit cytokine release syndrome. A study from IJOY(International Journal of Yoga) favored the same.
8. Induces Better Sleep
Yoga tremendously improves the sleep quality and quantity. A study published in the journal, BMC Psychiatry demonstrated a positive impact of yoga on subjective parameters related to sleep and daytime symptoms in CI(Chronic Insomnia) disorder.
Even a study has shown betterment in sleep quality and quantity after 14 days in 20 adults suffering from sleep-on-set or sleep maintenance insomnia. One more study also reported improvement in sleep onset latency and sleep duration after 6 months of yoga training.
9. Soothes Arthritis
Many researches all over the globe have indicated that yoga improves the arthritis condition. A study published in the journal, Medicine(Baltimore) reported a total of 13 clinical trials consisting 1557 arthritis patients, showed improvement in knee arthritis of a yoga group.
10. Ameliorates Quality Of Life(QOL)
Due to numerous health benefits of yoga, one experiences an increment in QOL and reported promising benefits in real life at work place, relationships and societal aspects. Yoga ensures a sense of relief in an individual and balances his/her life.
The benefits of yoga are so enormously strong that incorporating yoga on a daily basis will definitely increase an individual’s physical, mental and spiritual state and will do wonders to the body.