Yoga, which means yoke or union is an ancient practice that brings together mind and body. It focuses on breathing, strength and flexibility. Its physical and mental health benefits includes improved flexibility, better balance, reducing stress, improving sleep, easing anxiety and stronger muscles.
According to statistics, there are over 37 million yoga participants in United State of America. The global yoga market size is forecast to reach $66.2 billion by 2027 and is expected to have a compound annual growth rate of 9.6% from 2021 to 2027 (AP News, 2020).
Many styles of yoga exist from gentle and slow moving to intense and fast pace. Below are the health benefits of yoga:
- Reduce inflammation
Inflammation is a normal immune response, but chronic inflammation can contribute to the development of pro-inflammatory diseases, such as heart disease, diabetes and cancer.
A 2015 study divided 218 participants into two groups: those who practiced yoga regularly and those who didn’t. Both groups then performed moderate and strenuous exercises to induce stress. At the end of the study, the individuals who practiced yoga had lower levels of inflammatory markers than those who didn’t.
- Managing depression
Major depression affects millions of adult every year. Although, medication and talk therapy are common treatments for depression, yoga has been able to reduce depression.
A 2017 systematic review found that yoga could reduce depressive symptoms in many populations, including people with depressive disorder, pregnant and postpartum women, and caregivers.
This may be because yoga is able to decrease levels of cortisol, a stress hormone that influences levels of serotonin, the neurotransmitter often associated with depression.
- Improve heart health
Yoga isn’t generally considered a cardio workout, because it does not get your heart pumping as hard as running does, for example. However, it does still work your cardiovascular system and helps keep your heart healthy.
One study found that participants over 40 years of age who practiced yoga for five years had a lower blood pressure and pulse rate than those who didn’t. Some research also suggests that incorporating yoga into a healthy lifestyle could help slow the progression of heart disease.
- Improve quality of life
Many people use yoga as a complementary therapy alongside conventional medical treatments to improve their quality of life. Some evidence suggests that yoga may improve quality of life for people with prostate cancer, stroke, ulcerative colitis and rheumatoid arthritis.
- Decreasing lower back pain
Lower back pain affects around 80% of adults at some point in their lives, and it affects their ability to perform daily tasks, exercise, and sleep. Back pain is sometimes tied to poor posture.
Yoga may be a convenient and inexpensive way to provide some relief as it helps improve posture, muscles’ flexibility and endurance, as well as your mobility. .
A study conducted in 2011 shows that three months of yoga reduced pain in people with chronic or recurrent low back pain more than those who just received their usual care.
- Improve arthritis symptoms
Arthritis, a condition that causes pain and stiffness, is due to inflammation of a joint. A 2020 review of studies on patients with rheumatoid arthritis found yoga improved their physical function. The studies’ participants were between the ages of 30 and 70, and 86% of them were women.
Although, some people with arthritis may need to avoid high-impact exercise due to the stress it causes on their joints, yoga may be a better workout because you use only your body weight, and you can go at your own pace.
- Relieve migraine
Migraines are severe recurring headaches that affect an estimated 1 out of 7 Americans each year. Traditionally, they are treated with medications to relieve and manage symptoms.
However, increasing evidence shows that yoga could be a useful adjunct therapy to help reduce migraine frequency. A study treated 60 patients with migraines using conventional care with or without yoga. Doing yoga resulted in a greater decrease in headache frequency and intensity than conventional care alone.
- Improve breathing
Pranayama, or yogic breathing, is a practice in yoga that focuses on controlling the breath through breathing exercises and techniques.
Most types of yoga incorporate these breathing exercises, and several studies have found that practicing yoga could help improve breathing, which in turn will help build endurance, optimize performance and keep your lungs and heart healthy.
Generally, yoga has health benefits and is a safe way to increase physical activity. Therefore, incorporating it into your routine would help enhance your health, increase strength and flexibility and reduce symptoms of stress, depression and anxiety.