Yoga Benefits and Related Research
Why should you practice yoga regularly? Here are a few hundred reasons to get you started. But here's the deal: You have to practice consistently. You have to show up for yourself. So put a class on your calendar and start reaping the benefits.
"At the end of three days, the participants all told the researchers that they felt refreshed and better able to withstand the stress of unemployment. Yet follow-up brain scans showed differences in only those who underwent mindfulness meditation. There was more activity, or communication, among the portions of their brains that process stress-related reactions and other areas related to focus and calm. Four months later, those who had practiced mindfulness showed much lower levels in their blood of a marker of unhealthy inflammation than the relaxation group, even though few were still meditating."
"A recent study of healthy older women who practiced hatha yoga for at least eight years found that they had significantly greater cortical thickness (CT) in regions of the brain related to cognitive functions (attention and working memory) than a group of matched controls, which may be associated with cognitive preservation, the authors say . . . The authors hypothesize that asana and pranayama may improve cognitive functions in the brain because they require so much focus. "Attention and working memory are indispensable resources during yoga practice.” Yoga Journal
But not all yoga classes are created equal. ""They stressed that yoga is adaptable to accommodate individual needs, and suggested that styles such as Viniyoga, which emphasize customizing yoga practices for the needs of each person, be used."
"A recent study evaluating the effects of yoga on anxiety and depression associated with obesity presents a promising alternative for millions suffering from obesity and its related symptoms. Participants in the study showed improvement in all parameters after just 30 days, including decreased depression, reduced weight and body mass index (BMI), and alleviated anxiety.
More impressive however, is that these results were achieved without any dietary restriction; making the study one of the first of its kind."
"This is not just self-improvement hokum. For example,researchers in one 2003 study randomly assigned one group of study participants to keep a short weekly list of the things they were grateful for, while other groups listed hassles or neutral events. Ten weeks later, the first group enjoyed significantly greater life satisfaction than the others. Other studies have shown the same pattern and lead to the same conclusion. If you want a truly happy holiday, choose to keep the “thanks” in Thanksgiving, whether you feel like it or not."
"Now, in the largest study of yoga that used biological measures to assess results, it seems that those meditative sun salutations and downward dog poses can reduce inflammation, the body's way of reacting to injury or irritation. That's important because inflammation is associated with chronic diseases including heart disease, diabetes, and arthritis. It's also one of the reasons that cancer survivors commonly feel fatigue for months, even years, following treatment."
Helps Kids with Tummy Troubles
In a small pilot study, researchers had children with chronic stomach pain go through 10 yoga classes, while they tracked their degree of pain. Regardless of age, the children participating in the yoga classes reported an improvement in their pain, which continued at least three months after the completion of the yoga classes.
Lower Risk of Metabolic Syndrome
Nervous System Balance
Yoga increases vagal tone. It might be the secret to its powerful ability to regulate the nervous system. "We all know that yoga does a body (and a mind) good. But up until recently, no one could really say with any degree of certainty why—or even how—it improves conditions as varied as depression and anxiety, diabetes, chronic pain, and even epilepsy."
Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) Recovery
Yoga as a complementary treatment. "Traditional trauma therapies have faced challenges in the treatment of childhood onset chronic trauma and its associated symptoms of affect dysregulation, heightened physiological states, somatic problems, dissociation and avoidance. Body-based work, such as yoga, may act as a treatment bridge, increasing a sense of awareness, safety and mastery over one's body while building skills to effectively interpret and tolerate physiological and affective states."
Healing Back Pain: Viniyoga improves back pain.
Improving Scoliosis: The Benefits of Side Plank for Scoliosis
Why Practice Gratitude?
The Mighty Meditation
An infographic explains some of the benefits: mind, body, and spirit
The Power of the Breath
How Changing Your Breathing Changes Your Life: A simple infographic mapping some of the physical and mental benefits of yogic breath with relevant studies cited.
Knee Tidbit: Researchers Found a New Ligament in the Knee (and it might explain some chronic knee pain)