It feels like everyone, from celebrities to your average college student, is doing Yoga. Let’s be honest. Yoga looks intimidating! “You want my leg to go where?!” After experiencing some not so enjoyable Yoga classes. I decided to give it another whirl. Before diving into Yoga again, I thought it would be best to understand the benefits of Yoga.
Let me start by saying that Yoga is a lot more than an awkward-looking pose and saying, “ommm” repeatedly. Yoga is for the mind and the body. Its origins are in ancient Indian philosophy. There are a lot of different styles of Yoga; however, all combine spiritual and ascetic discipline, breath control, and techniques to relax.
Yoga comes with many benefits. Below is a list of benefits along with corresponding studies.
Yoga Benefits #1: Improved Sleep
In a 2005 study on older adults with sleeping problems, researchers found that those who practiced Yoga fell asleep faster, slept for longer, and felt more rested than those who did not do yoga (1).
Yoga Benefits #2: Lower Anxiety Levels
In 2018 a study found that practicing Yoga for 60 minutes per week for eight weeks helped cancer patients ease their anxiety (1).
Yoga Benefits #3: Improvement in overall quality of life
In a systematic review, cancer patients who practiced Yoga saw meaningful improvements in mental health, mood, fatigue, spiritual well-being, anxiety, depression, and coping.
The patients also reported significantly better emotional, social, physical, and overall quality of life compared to those who did not practice Yoga (1).
In like manner, a survey of 1,045 participants, 84.5% believed that Yoga improved their energy, 86.5% thought it improved their happiness, 67% believed it enhanced their social relationships, while 68.5% and 57.3% credit yoga with improving their sleep quality and weight respectively (1).
Yoga Benefits #4: Helps with Depression
Research done on 101 people found that when combined with usual treatment, those who practiced Yoga reduced their depression symptoms compared with those who only had standard care (1).
Yoga Benefits #5: Stress Reduction
A 12-week randomized controlled trial on work-related stress found that those who took a 60-minute class once per week showed a significant reduction in work-related stress compared to the control group.
The Yoga group also had a significant increase in stress adaptation, while the control group did not show any improvements (1).
Yoga Benefits #6: Improved Fitness
One hundred seventy-two adults saw improvements in muscle strength and endurance, flexibility, and cardiorespiratory endurance after 12 weeks of yoga (1).
Yoga Benefits #7: It Helps Reduce Pain
In an 8-week randomized controlled trial, researchers looked at whether Yoga could help alleviate chronic pain for women with endometriosis.
After the study, those in the yoga group reported significantly lower chronic pelvic pain levels than those who did not do yoga (1).
Likewise, an 8-week study found that Yoga could improve physical capacity and reduce pain for people with osteoarthritis of the knees (1).
Can It help me lose weight?
As we have mentioned, yoga can lower your stress levels and improve sleep quality, two essential pieces in a weight loss journey.
In a study by Kistenmacher et al., psychological stress raised cortisol levels in all participants. It also resulted in 80% of “stress-eaters” to eat 41% more food (1).
Not getting enough sleep impacts two hormones called Ghrelin and Leptin. Ghrelin is the hormone that sends your brain signals when it’s time to eat. Leptin is a satiety hormone that tells your brain when your body is full. When you aren’t getting enough sleep, your body will produce more ghrelin. The production of more ghrelin and less leptin results in eating more food. (2)
Researchers conducted a study on 60 women with abdominal obesity. Forty women were signed up for a 12-week yoga intervention program, and twenty women were put on a waitlist. Researchers found that waist circumference was significantly reduced compared to those on a waiting list. Researchers found moderate improvements in “waist/hip ratio, body weight, BMI, body fat percentage, body muscle mass percentage, mental and physical well-being, self-esteem, subjective stress, body awareness, and trust in bodily sensations compared to the control group (1).”
How to start?
Below are some of our favorite beginner-friendly poses, as well as detailed instructions on how to do them!
Upward Facing Dog Pose
Crescent Lunge Pose
Warrior 1 Pose
Warrior 2 Pose
Give it a try!!
As you can see, Yoga offers a lot of benefits, and it’s definitely worth a try.
Deciding to get into Yoga is a significant step forward in your fitness journey!
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