10 Health Benefits of Yoga – A Cure for Everything?
You’ve probably heard about a number of different “super foods” and how eating them will result in amazing health benefits. Maybe you were skeptical that one food could turn around your health so much. And you’d be right. Most of the time the best thing to do for your health is to eat a varied diet of many different “super foods”. There’s not one cure-all ingredient.
But if there is one thing to add to your day that may actually be close to a cure-all, it’s yoga. Let’s admit right up front that yoga isn’t going to fix every health problem you have. It can, however, make a big difference in the overall way that you feel both mentally and physically. It can even prevent several dangerous health problems.
Let’s take a look at 10 amazing ways that yoga benefits your health.
Yoga reverses stress at the molecular level
Multiple studies performed over the span of a decade have lead researchers to the conclusion that performing yoga affects our DNA in a positive way. In fact, it reverses the very molecular reactions that can lead to depression or poor health resulting from stress. How? When your fight-or-flight response is triggered by a stressful event, genes are activated that turn on inflammation.
Inflammation is a healing mechanism in the short-term, but when it becomes chronic, it contributes to a variety of illnesses. Practicing yoga, however, decreases the production of the molecules that trigger the inflammatory gene expression. The result is less stress and inflammation.
Yoga improves resilience to stress
You may have noticed that you feel calmer and less stressed after a session of yoga, and now science can back up that feeling. A research team discovered that practicing yoga increases levels of brain derived neurotrophic factor and improves the cortisol awakening response. These changes to brain chemistry can help you cope better with stress even after the yoga session is over.
Yoga reduces symptoms of metabolic syndrome
Metabolic syndrome is a set of symptoms that are often a precursor to the development of diabetes. They also indicate an increased risk for heart disease. Performing yoga regularly has been shown to reduce some of the symptoms of metabolic syndrome, such as increased blood pressure, high cholesterol, and chronic inflammation.
Yoga makes us happier
Practicing yoga poses activates the vagus nerve, which is part of the autonomic nervous system. Among other functions, it regulates emotions. This part of the parasympathetic nervous system also generates a sense of calm and security in social situations, and being in this state of a well-functioning vagus nerve reciprocates between mental and physical health. Being happier, calmer, and more secure is beneficial even to individuals who are already healthy.
Yoga helps reduce anxiety and depression
Stress is a huge contributor to mental health issues, including anxiety and depression. Practicing yoga can actually help in multiple ways. Firstly, reducing stress makes you calmer and happier, which helps many people to cope better with anxiety or depression. Secondly, yoga reduces inflammation throughout the body, and inflammation is known to exacerbate mental illness. In fact, research is making it ever more apparent that mental and physical wellbeing are interrelated.
Yoga makes your heart healthier
People who practice yoga regularly tend to have lower resting pulse rates than those who do not practice it. Low-normal pulse rates are a sign of good cardiovascular health.
Yoga helps you recover
When people are undergoing treatment for serious illness, including cancer, yoga has been shown to increase energy and reduce stress. During health issues that might otherwise bring you down, yoga also helps to elevate mood and keep you feeling positive. Because anxiety and depression often go hand-in-hand with downturns in physical health, this can be an important benefit.
Yoga lowers blood pressure
In addition to lowering pulse rates, yoga helps your heart in another way–by lowering blood pressure. Yoga can actually have the same beneficial effects on blood pressure that other exercise does, such as walking.
Yoga relieves pain and improves flexibility
A lot of yoga poses involve stretches that help to work out tight muscles. This leads to greater flexibility. But another benefit of loosening those tight areas is that it can reduce chronic pain, such as low back pain that is often associated with muscle tightness.
Yoga works as a supplemental treatment
Most health professionals aren’t going to suggest that you treat all your mental and physical problems with yoga. But many of them would absolutely recommend yoga as a great way to supplement your other treatments. The numerous mental and physical benefits have been documented for decades.
If you want to change just one habit to improve your overall wellbeing, add yoga to your daily routine. Practicing poses most days of the week will help you to achieve all the benefits listed here.