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How Yoga Benefits the Body

How Yoga Benefits the Body

The practice of yoga has always involved a deep quest for the unity of body and mind. It involves increased mindfulness that leads to an awareness of the mind, the body and the spirit.

There are physical as well as the spiritual aspects of yoga that can add immense value to your life. Yoga does not only assist you with mental stability but it has been proven to be a very powerful tool for your health too.

There are several studies that show the added benefits of practicing Yoga as an effective way of complementing modern medical treatments. For example, Yoga has been very effective when practiced by patients that have schizophrenia.

But Yoga is not simply about gaining a positive mind set; it is also a brilliant way to tone and strengthen muscles. The art of Yoga incorporates several different poses or “Asana” that are used to stretch and lengthen the muscles which in turn increase flexibility. All the following benefits are according to studies conducted throughout the United States: The benefits are based on a daily, monthly and yearly analysis.

From Day One

  • Improved brain function

After a mere 20 minute Hatha Yoga class which focuses on physical postures; improved cognitive functioning were detected as well as increased levels of concentration and memory. A study conducted at the University of Illinois found that test subjects had higher brain functioning after Yoga class than when compared to the same amount of time spent on high energy aerobic exercises.

  • Lowered Stress Levels

University of California studies showed that Yoga was able to lower stress levels thanks to its ability to decrease protein activity which cause inflammation. Inflammation, if constantly activated, can contribute to a multitude of chronic health problems. In turn, less stress was detected and subjects were much healthier.

  • Increased Flexibility

Bikram Yoga used in a study conducted by the Colorado State University, found that this 90 minute; 26 posture form of Yoga was able to increase the flexibility of the hamstrings; shoulders and lower back of participants. It also decreased their body fat – thanks to the fact that these classes are conducted in heated rooms.

For any non-medical person this may sound like a weird sci-fi term but it pertains to a Harvard study that showed that yoga was able to alter gene expression in the immune cells, Basically, this means a stronger immune system.

After Several Months

  • Lower Blood Pressure

Stress plays a huge role in causing high blood pressure and a few hours of Yoga can dramatically lower your blood pressure. A study in Pennsylvania showed that people who had practiced yoga had lower blood pressure. Those who had simply undergone nutritional weight counseling and walking did not achieve these significant results.

  • Increased Lung Capacity

Lung capacity studies showed that practicing Hatha Yoga poses over a fifteen week period increased one’s maximum amount of exhaled air or vital lung capacity after a deep breath. Breathing to the max is vitally important in fighting everyday stress and one good breath is all that is needed to release tension.

  • Reduced chronic pain related to back and neck pain

Within the first 4 weeks most candidates found that their chronic back and neck pain had substantially reduced.

  • Diabetes patients had steady blood sugar levels

Diabetes sufferers found that after 3 months of yoga combined with diabetes care their body mass index decreased and there were decreased blood sugar levels.

  • Anxiety relief

In 2010 Boston University concluded a study that showed that GABA (gamma-amino butyric) levels in the brain were increased after 12 weeks of yoga, effectively reduced anxiety.

After Years of Yoga

  • Stronger Bones

Dr Loren Fishman did a pilot study that showed how practicing yoga improved bone density in older adults.

  • Healthy Weight

Yoga has been found to assist in permanent weight loss and decreased weight in over fifteen thousand middle-aged adults who were healthy.

  • Lowered heart disease risk

Harvard Health Publications stated that yoga lowers cardiovascular risks; especially with factors such as high cholesterol; blood sugar and blood pressure.

Frances Masters

Frances Masters is a BACP accredited psychotherapist with over 30,000 client hours of experience. Follow her @fusioncoachuk, or visit The Integrated Coaching Academy for details about up coming training.