11 studies that will make you start practicing yoga
Relieves tension, solves lower back pain, prevents dementia, and increases pain tolerance - these are just some of the medical benefits of practicing yoga.
Yoga is a physical training method with many approaches and branches. What all approaches have in common is the practice of regular physical postures, emphasizing the breathing process.
The yoga practice can be a dynamic and challenging practice, as is done in the Ashtanga stream for example, or a lower intensity practice that emphasizes the precision of the posture, such as in the Iyengar stream. Yoga makes use of physical practice and directs the practitioner's attention to breathing to quiet the mind and increase the ability to concentrate, similar to meditation practice.
The health benefits indicated by the medical studies are not exclusive to the practice of yoga but are the result of other types of physical activities, but the meditative element of the practice of yoga, together with other principles, such as physical practice without shocks to the joints, make yoga a physical practice with particularly beneficial effects.
1. Reduces inflammation
A study carried out at Ohio University in the United States and published in the journal Psychosomatic Medicine found a connection between frequent yoga practice and the reduction of inflammatory processes in the body.
The researchers examined the physical parameters of 25 subjects who practiced yoga at least twice a week during the past year and 25 subjects who participated in only 12 yoga practices in their lives. The measurements were taken before and after doing yoga, walking slowly on a treadmill, and before and after passively watching a video.
The study found that the C-reactive protein, an indicator of an inflammatory process in the body, was almost 5 times higher among the women who do not practice yoga compared to the women who do.
2. Relieves stress
A study carried out at the University of South Australia in 2007 reviewed the beneficial mental effects of yoga on 131 subjects who practiced yoga for an hour a week for 10 weeks. The women in the control group of the study underwent a weekly relaxation and relaxation class.
Questionnaires filled out by the subjects at the end of the experiment show that the yoga practitioners felt a benefit in seven parameters in the questionnaire that tests the levels of anxiety and stress they feel. At the end of the ten weeks, the yoga practitioners reported a benefit in their mental health at a rate of 7.8 times more than the control group.
The subjects also filled out questionnaires six weeks after the end of the experiment. In these questionnaires, no differences were observed between the group that practiced yoga and the control group. A health survey conducted in the United States among more than 34,000 respondents found that 80 percent of yoga practitioners report that the activity helps them relieve stress.
3. Helps increase alertness
Researchers from the University of California in the United States tested the effect of yoga practice on 31 women who are recovering from breast cancer. The women were asked to choose whether to participate in a 12-week program of bi-weekly Iyengar yoga practice or a bi-weekly lecture program on health issues.
The 16 women who participated in the yoga practice reported at the end of the 12 weeks a significant increase in their level of alertness compared to the women who chose to take part in the lecture program - the women who practiced yoga reported 33% less fatigue than the women who did not participate in the yoga practice program.
4. Increases pain tolerance
In a study published in the journal Cerebral Cortex, he examined 14 people who regularly practice yoga and 14 subjects who do not practice yoga but have similar physical data to subjects who are experienced in yoga. Both groups were subjected to a cold tolerance test in which their hand was dipped in ice water.
The experienced yoga practitioners were able to hold their hands in the cold water for more than twice as long as the rest of the subjects.
5. Helps to quit smoking
Researchers from the University of Oregon in Portland, United States found that practicing yoga may ease the symptoms of smoking withdrawal. According to the study, practicing yoga and meditation was found to be effective in helping to quit smoking in 14 clinical trials.
Two clinical trials showed that the practice reduced cigarette consumption by 20 to 26 percent. The studies also indicated that yoga practitioners reported a reduction in the urge to smoke compared to subjects who did not practice.
6. Solves lower back pain
A study conducted at the University of Boston and Pittsburgh found that yoga helps relieve lower back pain like physical therapy.
The study was carried out over a year and divided the 320 subjects into three groups - a group that practiced yoga 75 minutes a week, a group that received 15-hour-long physical therapy treatments, and a group that received training on ways to relieve back pain. The researchers checked the pain levels suffered by the subjects after 6, 12, 26, 40, and 52 weeks.
The researchers found that the subjects who practiced yoga and the subjects who received physical therapy treatments reported significant pain relief. Additionally, the subjects in the yoga practice group and the subjects who received treatments had to take 22 percent less pain relief medication. The researchers also found a correlation between the number of yoga practices of the subjects and the reported back pain relief.
7. Helps with a healthy diet
A health survey conducted in the United States in 2012 and including more than 34,000 respondents aged 18 and over found that 40 percent of yoga practitioners report that the practice encourages them to eat healthier food.
8. Helps with quality sleep
A study carried out in 2005 examined the effect of yoga on the quality of sleep of 120 participants. The subjects were classified into three groups - a group that practiced yoga regularly, a group that received herbal treatment for sleep difficulties, and a control group.
After six months, the researchers discovered that the time it took the yoga practitioners to fall asleep at night was 10 minutes shorter than the time it took them to fall asleep before they started practicing yoga. The subjects in the group of yoga practitioners also reported a high sense of alertness at the end of the six months. The subjects in the other groups did not report a change in their sleeping habits.
9. Reduces blood pressure
A study carried out at Northwick Park Hospital in England tested the effect of yoga practice on 39 participants with high blood pressure. The subjects were divided into two groups - the first practiced yoga for six weeks while the second group, which served as the control group, received a relaxing treatment that did not practice yoga.
Among the subjects in both groups, there was a decrease in blood pressure levels, but the decrease in the group that practiced yoga was more significant. In the control group, there was a decrease in blood pressure values from 169/101 to 160/96 while in the group that practiced yoga the average blood pressure values decreased from 168/100 to 141/84.
In the second phase of the experiment, the subjects in the control group also practiced yoga for six weeks, at the end of which they enjoyed a reduction in blood pressure similar to the reduction in the values of the participants in the first group.
10. Helps in weight loss
A study carried out in the Indian state of Karnataka in 2016 examined 80 extremely overweight men. The subjects were divided into two groups. The first one practiced yoga for 14 weeks while the second group which served as the control group did not exercise.
The BMI index of the yoga practitioners decreased on average by about one point at the end of the 14 seven, while the value of the BMI index of the control group remained similar to its value at the beginning of the study.
11. Improves memory and prevents dementia
A study published in the Journal of Alzheimer's Disease examined the effect of yoga practice on 25 volunteers older than 55 who reported memory difficulties. The subjects were divided into two groups - one practiced yoga for an hour a week and meditation with a frequency of 20 minutes a day. The second group performed exercises to improve memory.
At the end of three months, the researchers discovered that the verbal skills of the participants in both groups improved at a similar rate. The visual memory of the yoga practitioners improved significantly more after the yoga practice.
Anyone who practices yoga continuously may feel an improvement in flexibility and posture. In fact, many yoga practices also lead to the strengthening of body systems, including an increase in muscle mass and a decrease in fat. Many clinical studies in recent years have shown amazing improvements in flexibility, posture, and strengthening of the body in a variety of people who have practiced yoga.
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