yoga benefits backed by science

There have been many studies and much research done on whether yoga can be proven scientifically to be beneficial. They have been carried out by Universities worldwide, Institutes of Complementary Medicine, Medical Research Laboratories and even   Neuroscientists, all in pursuit of scientific evidence into yoga and its effectiveness in helping to cure illness or improve the body’s functions.

The first trial was carried out in 1975 and reported in the Lancet. It showed that yoga was more effective than any other form of relaxation for reducing high blood pressure. Long before then, an explorer and journalist, Paul Brunton wrote an astonishing book in 1932, A Search in Secret India. One of his aims was to debunk what he saw as the myths of yoga practice and myths of yogis, but instead, through his travels and research throughout India, he saw for himself the remarkable powers and benefits, physical, mental and spiritual, that yoga brought to dedicated practitioners. These included yogis having an amazing control over their bodies and witnessed them be able to slow down their pulse and heart rate to an amazingly low level, which was verified by medical doctors!

By conducting many studies on benefits of yoga, scientists were able to show the amazing health benefits of yoga. Even though yoga doesn’t offer the ‘easy fix’ of a pill,  it can bring relief from many types of health problems. Here are three benefits of yoga that have been proved scientifically.

Yoga Eases Pain.

Persistent and chronic back and neck pain benefit from a regular yoga practice. Posture and stance improve immeasurably which is of immediate benefit to sufferers who tend to slump or twist their bodies in an attempt to relieve the pain. Muscle relaxant medication is often prescribed by medical doctors. In yoga, the same benefit is achieved because when a pose is held, the muscles contract, and then relax with the breath.

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Yoga strengthens the core and brings greater flexibility to the body, all of which not only helps to ease the pain but brings a greater benefit in that the body becomes stronger and indeed the effects of yoga bring a lasting benefit that drugs can’t replicate.

One of many studies into low back pain was published in the European Journal of Integrative Medicine in 2012. Another large trial in Bangalore compared yoga to other physical therapies. The result of this study was that yoga practice was found to be more effective in reducing pain, there was much improved spinal mobility as well as the reduction in anxiety and depression.

Yoga Improves Brain Function

It is well known and accepted that the physical body benefits from yoga, but did you know your brain does too! In studies, yoga practitioners aged 50+ who practise for a minimum of 30 minutes twice a week saw an improvement in cognitive function after as little as a month. This happens as a result of Pranayama or focused breathing which increases oxygen intake. That and the yoga movements bring increased blood flow through the body to the brain. Studies have shown that memory improves, and depression and anxiety decrease with lower levels of cortisol (stress hormone).

Of course, the meditative aspect of yoga is very calming and with a better-controlled mind comes better control over anxiety. By quieting your mind you can also improve your self-esteem by learning to focus and remain mindful for extended periods at a time. These benefits are not just for older people. These effects have been shown in practitioners of all ages and stages of life. There have been studies (University of California) into postnatal depression which show marked improvement between mothers who practice yoga and those who don’t. This is an important finding showing that yoga during pregnancy and after birth is extremely beneficial to new mothers brain function.

Improves Heart Function

Yoga is also beneficial to cardiovascular health. Practicing yoga vigorously increases the blood flow and physical condition leading to better overall health and well-being.

Boston University School of Medicine carried out research into the Vagus nerve, the large cranial nerve which affects the respiratory and nervous systems. Yoga was found to work by regulating the nervous system, Vagus tone improved and with it the body’s ability to successfully respond to stress. Moreover hypertension results from the blood vessels being constricted and blockages in the coronary arteries. Yoga relaxes blood vessels and reduces blood pressure and thus increases blood flow to the heart. Yoga is now being included in many cardiac rehabilitation programs due to its cardiovascular and stress-relieving benefits.

In conclusion, YOGA IS GOOD FOR YOU, beneficial for your physical, mental and emotional health and Science is catching on to this fact fast!

Kosta Miachin is the creator of VIKASA Yoga method – a unique, challenging and effective approach to yoga. He is also the founder of VIKASA Yoga Academy. You can find him online: http://www.vikasayoga.com

 


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