Are there any benefits of yoga practice? Does it worth spending time and energy on it?
I hope you pretty well knew the simple common fact that yoga practice is beneficial to your health and mind. However, I doubt everyone knows the comprehensive list of benefits that yoga practice has to offer. This article attempts to enumerate the benefits of yoga, at least the important ones, and explain them in detail.
Moreover, there are many claims of benefits whether they are proven or not. So the yoga aspirant should have the knowledge to identify the reality of the claims and also should be aware of the false claim. I hope, this article provides the required insight.
Benefits Of Yoga
The ancient approach to yoga was to avail of spiritual benefits. Today, People approach yoga only in pursuit of health benefits. Leaving off the spiritual benefits let us examine the other benefits of yoga. We may classify the other benefits into two categories.
- Physiological Benefits
- Psychological Benefits
For maintaining the health and wellness of both diseased and healthy individuals, yoga is as effective as any physical exercise or more effective than that. In other words, the intervention of yoga is equal or superior to exercise on many measurable outcomes. Several medical studies observe a feasible intervention and beneficial effects of yoga on many grounds.
Stable Autonomic Nervous System Equilibrium
In the present day stress dominated world, the dominance of the sympathetic nervous system or involuntary nervous system is more common. The sympathetic nervous system triggers the body’s involuntary response in a stressful situation. As a result, the blood pressure and heart rate increases, fresh oxygen, glucose, and hormones like cortisol are infused into the bloodstream and the brain, and the body becomes hyper-reactive at an unimaginable speed.
According to Harward School, many people are unable to put the brake on stress and encounter chronic health problems. Only the parasympathetic nervous system puts the brake on this grave situation. A study by C.C.Streeter et all observes that yoga helps to activate the parasympathetic nervous system.
Respiratory System Improvement
Several studies indicate that yoga has a positive physiological benefit on the respiratory system. It improves pulmonary function, cardio-respiratory endurance and breath-holding time. Yoga, when practiced by patients with Chronic Pulmonary Obstructive Disease, results in the improvement of lung function and quality of life. It decreases dyspnea related stress and improves diffusion capacity. Moreover, it reduces the respiratory rate.
Circulatory System Benefits
Yoga improves the functions of the heart, arteries, and veins. It reduces the heart rate and systolic blood pressure. Several studies show that yoga practice reduces the main factors of cardiac diseases like total cholesterol, LDL, and VLDL.
Yoga practice retards the progression of atherosclerosis. As a result, it helps to lower the risk in patients with severe CAD (Coronary Artery Disease). Furthermore, yoga practice helps in the regression of coronary lesions and improves myocardial perfusion.
Yoga addresses the other factors of cardiac diseases like obesity, stress, nervous system imbalance. This, in turn, helps one to have better heart health.
Digestive System Benefits
Yoga offers several postures for health conditions like bloating, indigestion, diarrhea, and constipation. Moreover, it regulates the functions of the bowel.
A medical study concludes,
Practicing yoga in conjunction with medications can be helpful in controlling and/or alleviation of symptoms related to digestive diseases.Can yoga be used to treat gastroesophageal reflux disease?
As we already know, yoga activates the parasympathetic nervous system. This activates the cranial and sacral nerves. In turn, cranial nerves stimulate the activity of the stomach, gallbladder, and intestines. Hence, yoga boosts the functions of the stomach.
The following poses improve the functions of the digestive system.
Skeletal System Improvements
As concluded by the pilot study authored by Maja PetriÄ, et al, in 2014, Improved body flexibility is one of the most obvious and quickly achieved effects of regular hatha yoga practice. The results of this study confirm that the regular practice of yoga has a significant effect on body flexibility in young healthy women, which is particularly obvious in measurements of the increase of the flexibility of skeletal muscles.
Furthermore, yoga practice strengthens the joints and makes the skeletal system disease-free. The overall health and well being of an individual depends much on the health of the spine. Yoga practice helps to have a healthy spine and contributes to overall health.
Endocrine System Benefits
Similarly, Palm Tree Pose stimulates the growth-hormones and directly influences the height of a growing individual. Plough Pose, Fish Pose, and Camel Pose help to have good thyroid health. Likewise, Head Stand, Shoulder Stand, Hero Pose, and Reclined Bound Angle Pose are beneficial to gonads. As a result, it regulates the functions of testes and ovaries.
Exocrine System Improvements
The practice of yoga improves the parasympathetic tone that promotes and regulates the salivary glands and pancreas. Moreover, yoga is effective in improving the quality of life in patients having health conditions like chronic pancreatitis.
Yoga improves blood supply to the breast and keep the mammary glands healthy. Regular practice keeps the diseases like breast cancer at bay.
Immune System Improvements
A study aimed to find the effects of yoga practice on students’ physiology in India. On the basis of effects studied on the alpha EEG and GSR level showed a significant change. So the study concludes that yoga practice helps to improve immunity. Similarly, another study concludes that yoga practice resists the impairment of immunity observed in the examination of stress.
In yet another study, IgG levels of the yoga practitioners were tested before and after a three times a week yoga program. The results show an increase in the level of IgG level. It means they are less likely to develop an infection.
Moreover, mind-body therapies reduce markers of inflammation and influence virus-specific immune responses to vaccination.
Muscular System Benefits
Yoga practice improves skeletal muscle strength, flexibility, and endurance. Moreover, several studies on yoga reveal the following.
- Yoga improves leg press muscular strength.
- Moreover, it enhances the strength of inspiratory and expiratory muscles. As a result, lung function improved.
- It boosts handgrip in normal persons as well as patients with rheumatoid arthritis.
- Similarly, in patients on ventilators with COPD, yoga practice decreased the number of days needed to transfer from bed to chair.
- Also, it enhances the aerobic capacity.
Renal System Improvements
Hatha Yoga is found to be a safe and effective adjuvant therapy in treating persons with Chronic Kidney Disease. It improves the renal functions and Quality Of Life in them. Moreover, it reduces the need for dialysis. In End-Stage Renal Disease Patients, it considerably reduces the oxidative stress which shows therapeutic, preventive, and protective effects for them.
Reproductive System Benefits
Many studies postulate that yoga triggers neurohormonal mechanisms that improve reproductive health. As a result, it can be beneficial in the prevention of infertility and male reproductive health. Also, it is found that it escalates female reproductive health during pregnancy.
Mental health is a precursor to the overall health of an individual. Many studies found its impact on the Autonomic Nervous System. It effectively handles the fight or flight response. In turn, it helps to handle stress, anxiety, and depression. Hence, yoga helps to prevent these conditions and their subsequent development into psychosomatic diseases.
The above list is not exhaustive. I know, I have knowingly skipped some smaller benefits to avoid this article becoming huge.