By now, we all know that yoga helps improve flexibility, strength, balance, and endurance. But yoga has so much more to offer than just the typical physical benefits of a workout. Research continues to unveil more and more health benefits of the various types of yoga. Here are a few you might have never even heard of:
Improves your Mood
Feeling down? One study found that a consistent yoga practice improves depression and leads to a significant increase in serotonin levels and a decrease in cortisol and levels of monoamine oxidase (an enzyme that breaks down neurotransmitters). At the University of Wisconsin, Richard Davidson, Ph.D., found that the left prefrontal cortex showed heightened activity in meditators, a finding that has been correlated with greater levels of happiness and better immune function. A study from Duke University Medical Center suggests that yoga could benefit those living with depression, schizophrenia, other psychiatric conditions.
Reduces Heart Disease
Yoga has been found to lower LDL cholesterol levels, cortisol and adrenaline levels. It also has been found to encourage weight loss, and improves sensitivity to the effects of insulin.
Focus and Memory Boost
Studies have found that regular yoga practice improves coordination, reaction time, memory, and even IQ scores. People who practice Transcendental Meditation demonstrate the ability to solve problems and acquire and recall information better: probably because theyre less distracted by their thoughts; most likely due to less mental and physical stress.
Helps you sleep
Another by-product of a regular yoga practice, studies suggest, is better sleep. When experiencing insomnia, practice relaxing asanas or postures, such as forward fold (uttanasana) or lying on your back with your feet up the wall. This will help with circulation, and calm your body and mind.
Better Breathing (Reduces Asthma)
Breathing exercises, known as pranayama, have been shown to help ease the symptoms of asthma. Also, yoga requires breathing through the nose, which filters the air, warms it (cold, dry air is more likely to trigger an asthma attack in people who are sensitive), and humidifies it, removing pollen and dirt and other things youd rather not take into your lungs.
Another study from Swedens Karolinska Institute suggests that humming sounds (like those made while chanting Om) open the sinuses and facilitate drainage.
Prevents digestive problems
Ulcers, irritable bowel syndrome, constipation, all of these can be worsened by stress; so if you stress less, youll suffer less. Yoga, can ease constipation?and theoretically lower the risk of colon cancer?because moving the body facilitates more rapid transport of food and waste products through the bowels. And, although it has not been studied scientifically, yogis suspect that twisting poses may be beneficial in getting waste to move through the system.
[paragraph by dailyburn.com]
Helps keep you out of the pharmacy
Studies have shown that yoga has helped people reduce their dosage of meds used for asthma, high blood pressure, Type II diabetes, OCD, anxiety, and depression. Imagine just by taking on yoga you can save money from the high cost of meds and reduce your risk of the side effects associated with them!
Betters your relationships
Yoga appears to reduce anger by increasing feelings of compassion and interconnection by calming the nervous system and the mind. It also increases your ability to remain steady in the face of drama and take a beat so you can choose a more thoughtful approach to situations, therefore reducing the likelihood of arguments and rash decisions.
Though a hand-stand may be the last thing you wanna do when hungover this pose along with ‘shoulder stand,’ ‘plow,’ and ‘fish’ work on the thyroid gland and improve metabolism, thus getting rid of a hangover faster.
A study indicated that iyengar yoga, known for its use of props like belts, blocks, and other positioning aids, might help people with rheumatoid arthritis. This pilot study of eight people with rheumatoid arthritis showed that a six-week yoga program improved pain, pain disability, mental health, depression, vitality, and self-efficacy. Other types of yoga (especially those associated with heat like bikram) might help arthritis symptoms, too.
A study published in the Journal of Traumatic Stress found yoga could be a beneficial add-on to treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder. This pilot study evaluated the effects of 12-session Kripalu-based yoga versus no yoga intervention in 38 women with symptoms of PTSD. The women in the yoga group experienced greater reduction in PTSD symptoms than women in the control group. The results of this study hold promise for people with PTSD who have found little success with traditional psychotherapy.
Research shows that migraine sufferers have fewer and less painful migraines after three months of yoga practice. Though the cause of migraines isnt fully understood, it can be caused by body misalignment and muscles tension, both of which are fixed with regular yoga practice.
Boosts Sexual Performance
Studies have found that yoga can improve sexual desire, arousal, performance, confidence, orgasm, and satisfaction for both men and women. How? Physically, yoga increases blood flow into the genital area, which is important for arousal and erections, and it strengthens the moola bandha, or pelvic floor muscles.
A recent Norwegian study found that yoga practice results in changes in gene expression that boost immunity at a cellular level. And it doesnt take long: The researchers believe the changes occurred while participants were still on the mat.
You don’t have to be an expert to reap the benefits ? adding just a few poses to your daily routine can help your health in all kinds of unexpected ways.