Yoga practice is low-impact
Over the past ten years, yoga practice has exploded globally. Beyond options to join a yoga studio that specializes in the many specific types of yoga practice, you may have noticed that even your local gym has included yoga classes. So what is so great about yoga, that it has new practitioners flocking in droves? It is a low-impact exercise that has as many benefits for physical fitness as it does managing stress throughout your day. As much as the Western medical world tends to avoid prescription of yoga, for now the testimonies of regular practitioners and new research studies continue to point to yoga as a viable option to improve overall health. Some of these reported benefits include:
1. Detoxifies the organs
Different poses and contortions in yoga actually target specific organs in the body and can improve digestion, elimination, and detoxification. Yoga practice stimulates and promotes the drainage of our lymphatic system which carries off the waste from cellular activities.
2. Improves flexibility and range of motion.
Yoga is a great compliment to strength training, running, or other vigorous exercises because often those of us who engage in strenuous physical activity do not stretch enough. Adding yoga as a staple to your workout regimen can not only improve your flexibility and range of motion, but also prevent injury.
3. Increases muscle tone and strength
When practicing yoga, your balance is challenged and in the process many poses also increase strength in the core, arms, quadriceps, back, and glutes.
4. Reduces the symptoms of chronic pain
Several studies have show that yoga can be beneficial for pain relief. A study conducted in 2000 showed that yoga was more effective that traditional treatment in those suffering from carpal tunnel syndrome. Positive results also occurred with patients suffering from osteoarthritis, while non-specific back pain didn’t show clear improvements.
5. Improves blood circulation and cardiovascular health
Although yoga is not an aerobic exercise, research has proven that regular yoga can improve the regular markers for overall physical fitness. A variety of poses, such as inversions, and poses in which blood flow is cut off to areas of the body for short periods of time also help to improve blood circulation.
6. Promotes healing through relaxing and centering of the mind or mental chatter
As our heart beat slows, and we breathe at a slower rate, our blood pressure also drops, and the body literally goes into healing mode. When engaging in deep breath you activate the parasympathetic nervous system, which reverses the stress response in your body. As the stress response decreases, and our focus goes to our breath and movements, our thoughts naturally reduce. This breathing through difficult postures keep our minds more calm and centered, and also makes it easier to breathe and respond rather than react to stressful situations in our daily lives.
7. Improves anxiety and depression
Numerous studies have shown that yoga as an intervention for depression or anxiety has significant results when practice is engaged in regularly for several weeks. Just like any other workout, yoga practice does release the feel-good chemical called endorphins which improve our mood. Because yoga is a form of mindfulness it can help us to regularly detach from unsavory thoughts that may keep us in a downward spiral and worsen symptoms of anxiety or depression.
- Garfinkel M, Schumacher HR Jr. Yoga. Rheum Dis Clin North Am. 2000
Feb;26(1):125-32, x. Review. PubMed PMID: 10680200.
- Kuntz AB, Chopp-Hurley JN, Brenneman EC, Karampatos S, Wiebenga EG, Adachi JD,
Noseworthy MD, Maly MR. Efficacy of a biomechanically-based yoga exercise program
in knee osteoarthritis: A randomized controlled trial. PLoS One. 2018 Apr
17;13(4):e0195653. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0195653. eCollection 2018. PubMed
PMID: 29664955; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC5903657.
- Prathikanti, S., Rivera, R., Cochran, A., Tungol, J. G., Fayazmanesh, N., & Weinmann, E. (2017). Treating major depression with yoga: A prospective, randomized, controlled pilot trial. PLoS ONE, 12(3), e0173869. http://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0173869
- Tran, M. D., Holly, R. G., Lashbrook, J., & Amsterdam, E. A. (2001). Effects of Hatha Yoga Practice on the Health-Related Aspects of Physical Fitness. Preventive Cardiology, 4(4), 165-170. doi:10.1111/j.1520-037x.2001.00542.x