Author Scott Foster / Category Yoga / Published: January 25, 2020
The Incredible Benefits of Yoga
Yoga is one of the best forms of exercise. It is a low impact, high benefit exercise and is useful for people of all ages and fitness levels. That’s not the only reason it’s one of the best though. Many people look at yoga as a fun or relaxing way to stretch but don’t really look at it beyond that. However, the health benefits of yoga are vast and even surprising! Here we’ll discuss the incredible benefits of yoga including weight loss, heart health, and reduced stress.
The Origins of Yoga
Yoga was first developed in Northern India over 5,000 years ago. It’s been mentioned in some of the oldest and most sacred texts in the world. Classic yoga was defined by Patanjali’s Yoga-Sûtras and focused on the eight steps needed to achieve enlightenment. Many consider Patanjali to be the father of yoga.
Post-classical yoga was defined by Tantra Yoga. This type of yoga focused on fundamental techniques to cleanse the body and mind and break the ties that bind us to our bodies. This is the first type of yoga that began to forge the physical and spiritual connection. The evolution of this led is to hatha yoga.
What is hatha yoga? It is the modern period of yoga or how we know it now. T. Krishnamacharya opened the first hatha yoga school in Mysuru, India in 1924. The popularity of yoga eventually caused it to cross into the West when Indra Devi opened up the first U.S. yoga studio in Hollywood, California in 1947.
Since then, yoga has been widely studied and praised for its many physical, emotional, spiritual, and mental health benefits. Keep reading below to see some of the science behind what yoga can offer.
Yoga led to physical and psychological changes that supported weight loss including increased muscle tone, improved metabolism, reduced stress, improved mood, and greater self-acceptance and self-esteem.
Using Yoga for Weight Loss
While many see yoga as stretching or as a way to increase your flexibility, it’s also an incredible fat burner. Multiple research studies have shown that yoga not only helps you lose weight but also helps you keep it off.
Yoga has already been proven to help with the control of diabetes, actually causing blood sugar to drop. However, Dr. Maria G. Araneta of the University of California wanted to know how much it could help burn fat. The results were surprising and promising!
Dr. Araneta set up two groups, one that just stretched and one that practiced yoga. The yoga group lost more weight and burned 2.5 times the amount of fat. Plus, after six months, the yoga group was still continuing to lose weight while the other group had gained back their weight or more.
It’s not all about burning calories either. People who practice yoga report:
- Improved mindfulness while eating
- Reduced stress (and therefore less stress eating)
- A supportive group within the yoga community which encouraged further healthy choices
- Improved self-esteem and mood
- Reduced muscles and joint pain (which enabled certain people to do further exercise when they couldn’t before)
The Ability to Keep the Weight off With Yoga
The most interesting study on yoga and weight loss came out in 2017. A number of researchers from the National Institutes of Health found that yoga offers many psychological, physical, and social benefits; making it a useful tool for healthy, sustainable weight loss. The study concluded that the subjects who practiced yoga reported less stress eating, a reduced appetite, fewer cravings, and a shift toward healthier, more mindful eating.
Those who participated in the research study also stated that yoga provided them with social support and healthy role models. They added that yoga led to physical and psychological changes that supported weight loss including increased muscle tone, improved metabolism, reduced stress, improved mood, and greater self-acceptance and self-esteem.
The final note from the participants was the most surprising. They reported that this weight loss experience was distinctly different than past attempts. They stated this was because the weight loss was easier and they felt more confident in their ability to keep the weight off.
Yoga Helps Your Heart and Circulatory System
Even if you’re not looking to lose weight, yoga has many other proven health benefits. One of the most researched topics has been yoga’s effect on the cardiovascular system (your heart) and circulatory system. From preliminary studies, doctors already knew that yoga could lower blood pressure and reduce stress. But when they took a deeper look, it turns out practicing yoga offers so much more!
Dr. Hugh Calkins, director of the Cardiac Arrhythmia Service at Johns Hopkins, recently confirmed, “A large number of studies show that yoga benefits many aspects of cardiovascular health. There’s been a major shift in the last five years or so in the number of cardiologists and other professionals recognizing that these benefits are real.”
A study published in the European Journal of Preventive Cardiology confirmed these results. Participants in the study on yoga and cardiovascular health saw numerous improvements in factors that relate to heart disease. On average, the participants lost 5 lbs., lowered their blood pressure by 5 points, and dropped their levels of harmful LDL cholesterol by 12 points!
The circulatory system, which pumps all of the blood from the heart throughout the body, is just as important. Yoga is able to benefit the entire circulatory system. The daily stretching, especially in the legs, helps improve circulation and rejuvenates the blood. Since yoga focuses a lot on breathing, it further helps to oxygenate the blood, assisting the process of sending fresh nutrients along to all of your major organs. This improved circulation process will offer your brain more oxygen. In turn, this improves your alertness, memory, and even mood!
“True yoga is not about the shape of your body, but the shape of your life. Yoga is not to be performed; yoga is to be lived. Yoga doesn’t care about what you have been; yoga cares about the person you are becoming. Yoga is designed for a vast and profound purpose, and for it to be truly called yoga, its essence must be embodied.”
— Aadil Palkhivala, Fire of Love
Cold Season Coming? Yoga Boosts Your Immunity System
Even if it isn’t the cold season, a boost in your immunity is never a bad thing. Numerous studies have all concluded the same thing: yoga boosts your immune system and decreases inflammation in the body.
Researchers in one study concluded that yoga has a significant effect in ameliorating the autonomic, endocrine, and psychological changes brought about by stress. In addition, they found that yoga also had a beneficial effect on the immune system due to the circulating levels of cytokines found (proteins that are part of the immune system).
An additional study found that yoga increased levels of anti-inflammatory cytokines in the body. It concluded that overall, yoga decreases inflammation in the body and can aid in the treatment of chronic, inflammatory illnesses.
Get Relief from Depression & Anxiety, Plus Feel Happier
Depression is one of the most common mental illnesses in the world. It is estimated that there are at least 350 million people worldwide who suffer from this debilitating disease. There have been many studies done to see if yoga can be effective in helping with depression and the results have been overwhelmingly positive.
An extensive study in the International Journal of Preventive Medicine found that yoga had an effective role in reducing stress, anxiety, and depression. Researchers are Harvard Medical school also concluded that yoga practice is a low-risk, high-yield approach to improving overall health. They mentioned that it was particularly useful for dealing with depression, anxiety, and stress.
Reduce Stress and Sleep Better
Medical research has already concluded that practicing yoga can reduce stress, but can it help you sleep better? Studies have concluded the answer to that is a resounding ‘yes’! People who practice yoga even once a week showed fewer sleep disturbances and received an overall better, deeper sleep.
A national survey completed by the National Institutes of Health cemented those findings. In their study, they found that 55% of yoga users reported a better night’s sleep while 85% reported a reduction in stress. What’s more, over 60% of yoga users were motivated to exercise more regularly while over 40% were motivated to eat healthier.
As you can see, the health benefits of yoga range from psychological to physical. In almost every aspect of your life, yoga can help improve your health, mood, and habits. It can also assist you in losing weight, maintaining weight loss, and improve overall cardiovascular and circulatory health. If you’ve thought about trying yoga but haven’t yet, now is the best time to get started! Your body, mind, and spirit will thank you for it.
Let Asana Hawaii Help Gain all of the Benefits of Yoga
Asana Hawaii makes comfortable, durable, and high-quality activewear that is perfect for use during yoga. Yoga leggings should be the most comfortable leggings you own. The athletic pants we sell will help you easily achieve the yoga poses you desire. They move along with every curve of your body, are breathable, and allow you to reach all of your yoga exercise goals. Check out our active tops and active bottoms to find yoga leggings and other activewear that will be perfect for your yoga routines.
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Author Maxim Tourou / Category Architecture / Published: Apr-05-2018