Yoga is a practice that strengthens the body and mind through physical poses, breathing and meditations. It has been in existence since ancient time (5000 years ago) and its history has been traced to India. Yoga is not just a physical action, yoga encompasses mental inspirational practice and breathing exercise. The physical aspect of yoga involves series of different body positioning and breathing exercise that unite the body, mind and spirit. In today’s article we will be discussing the various health benefits you can derive from practicing yoga.
Health benefits of yoga exercise
It eliminate stress
The breathing exercise and meditation during yoga can help to improve relaxation and ease stress. Many people have found yoga as remedies to anxiety and depression due to its relaxative effect.
A study investigating the effect of yoga on stress, anxiety and depression shows that yoga has a significant and effective role in reducing stress, anxiety and depression that can be considered as a complementary medicine thus reducing the cost of purchasing drugs for treatment. 52 women were followed up for the study and depression, anxiety and stress were significantly reduced after they engaged in 12 sections of regular yoga practice.
If you are battling with stress, anxiety and depression practicing yoga can offer helpful hand to treat this condition.
Yoga increases flexibility
The stretching and different body positioning during yoga help to strengthen the muscles and connective tissues thereby improving the body flexibility. When you start as a beginner, you struggle and find it difficult to stretch different part of your body and also bend your back but as time goes on you start improving and stretching in different positions becomes easier. Yoga improves your posture in many ways and this is one of the obvious and glaring benefits of practicing it.
A study to determine the impact of 10 weeks of yoga practice on flexibility and balance of college athletes revealed that a regular yoga practice may increase the flexibility and balance as well as whole body measures in athletes. Yoga will aid athletic performance that requires body flexibility.
Yoga improve sleep quality
Insomnia is a major problem of many people especially in older adults. The inability to sleep well has been attributed to stress, high blood pressure, anxiety, depression, asthma and other conditions. Regular yoga practice may help normalise your nervous system and promote good sleep quality. According to a study published in the Journal of Ayurveda and Intergrative Medicine, adding regular yoga exercise in daily routine of elderly people can help to relieve sleep disturbance and improve sleep quality as well as quality of life.
It improves breath rate
Yoga practice such as ujjayi pranayama , kumbhaka pranayama and others are mainly directed at breathing exercise that will help to improve breath rate. A study to investigate the effect of yoga on physical and respiratory function in healthy inactive middle-age people revealed that physical and overall respiratory function was improved after eight weeks of practicing yoga exercise and the inclusion of pranayama added the benefit of improving respiratory muscle strength and full body flexibility.
Yoga may reduce blood sugar level
The regulation of blood sugar is another tremendous health benefits of yoga. Type 2 diabetes are usually caused by the body resistant to insulin and this is a major health concern because of the symptoms and complication it may bring up. Research has shown that yoga exercises have been effective in improving insulin sensitivity in the body.
A study published in the Journal of Endocrinology and Metabolism established that yoga practices such as asanas, pranayama, madras, brandha, meditation, mindfulness and relaxation are effective in lowering blood glucose levels and help in managing underlying health conditions that are associated with type 2 diabetes.
If you are a diabetic patient make sure you try out yoga exercises, they will help to regulate your blood sugar level and also treat comorbidities associated with your diabetes.
Yoga regulate blood pressure
Excess fat accumulation in the blood vessel exert a lot of pressure on the circulation of blood throughout the body. One of the benefits of yoga exercise is that it burns calories and eliminate excess fat in the blood vessel thereby regulating blood pressure. Several research have established that yoga helps to lower blood pressure in people with hypertension.
A study to analyse the impact of yoga on blood pressure and quality of life in hypertensive patient revealed that simple yoga exercise are effective and may be used as a supplementary blood pressure therapy in addition to medical treatment when prescribed by primary care physicians. In the study 83 adult patients diagnosed with hypertension were followed up and they were divided into three groups; (1) yoga class with yoga instructor (n=28), (2) yoga at home (n=28), (3) a control group (n=27). After 12 weeks of yoga exercise those that practiced yoga at home had a significant reduction in their diastolic blood pressure (by 4.4mmhg) compared to the control group.
Therefore, engaging in yoga exercise in addition to medications in patients with hypertension will help to regulate their blood pressure.
It relieves arthritis pain
Arthritis is the inflammation of the joint that results into pains, swelling and stiffness in and around the joints. Different yoga poses help to strengthen the muscles around the joint and other part of the body thereby preventing joint injury and reducing the symptoms of pains and stiffness. Regular yoga practice is effective in reducing joint pains, cartilage injury and improving strength and flexibility in and around the joints.
A study to determine the effect of hatha yoga on knees osteoarthritis suggested that yoga exercise can be used as a conservative treatment besides usual treatment and medications to improve the condition of people with arthritis. 30 women with osteoarthritis participated in the study and the were divided into 2 groups; Yoga group (15), control group (15). The yoga group practiced 60 minutes hatta yoga, 3 times a week for 8 weeks. The results of the study revealed that pains and other symptoms of osteoarthritis were significantly reduced in the yoga group and their scores of daily activities, sport, spare time activities and quality of life was significantly increased compared to the control group.
Yoga improves blood circulation
The breathing exercise, different physical poses and body positioning during yoga help to burn calories, eliminate fat from the blood vessels and increase the amount of oxygen in the bloodstream thereby promoting free flow of blood. This is the reason yoga is more beneficial in people with hypertension. Examples of such yoga include pranayama, kapalabhati, naukasana, parita karani and padattonasana.
Yoga prevent unhealthy weight gain
Obesity is one of the risk factors of many health conditions such as high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, osteoarthritis, and erectile dyfunctions. Regular practice of intense yoga such as tadasana, bandhasana, , and taraksrasana help to burn a lot of calories and stimulate weight loss especially in people who are obesed. If you are on a journey to losing weight you can start practicing these types of yoga for at least 25 minutes, 3 times per week.
A research found that yoga is effective and can be recommended to women in order to reduce their abdominal obesity. In the study 60 women with abdominal obesity were divided into groups and those that practice intensive care for 12 weeks showed reduction in waist circumference, waist hip ratio, body weight, body mass index and percentage of body fat.