Opinions differ when an Eastern practice, like yoga clashes with modern-day medicine. However, it’s hard to deny that the mix of breathing, physical movement, peace, and body and mind wellbeing that yoga fosters could have anything but a positive impact on the body and soul.
Luckily, with roughly 20 million North Americans donning stretchy pants, spreading out mats, and getting all downward dog can attest to the following eight body and mind benefits of regular yoga practice…
Yoga Makes Us More Bendy
You already know that yoga promotes flexibility. And Bikram yoga, which is a series of 26 postures performed for 90 minutes in a heated room, was found the most effective form of yoga when it comes to promoting shoulder, back, and hamstring flexibility, according to a Colorado State University study.
Numerous other studies find those who regularly practice yoga have greater overall strength and a lower percentage of body fat versus those who don’t get bendy on the mat.
Yoga Leads to Better Breathing
The way we breathe affects so many functions of the body. For instance, your lung capacity and the oxygen you take into your body affects your brain, blood, and physical function, as well as waste removal optimization. Luckily for yogis, a Ball State University study (from 2000) found that Hatha yoga, a combination of physical poses and breath work, improved overall lung capacity (or the amount of air taken in with each breath).
Yoga Fosters Balance & Core Strength
Do you ever wish you had better balance? I used to before I started a regular yoga practice. And it seems science backs up my claim. Research from Temple University found older yoga-practicing adults enjoyed improved balance and core-strength, which led to fewer trips and falls in females over 65-years old.
Improve Desire with Yoga
Yoga does more than boost strength! Studies show regular yoga exercise increases sexual desire, orgasm, and overall sex life satisfaction for women. It may have something to do with the fact that yoga also increases body image and self-confidence.
Yoga Enhances Bone Density
Studies show that yoga not only increases lost bone density among older adults—it actually replaces bone mass. In fact, one study entitled Yoga for Osteoporosis tracked and measured the bone density over a period of 2 years. The group that performed yoga gradually gained bone over the 2-year period—while those who didn’t practice yoga gradually lost bone.
Yoga Keeps Blood Sugar Balanced
Diabetics typically have issues when it comes to keeping their blood sugars level. Luckily, yoga can help! According to a 2011 Diabetes Care study, diabetics were able to better control blood glucose and even shed a few pounds after 3-months of regular yoga practice.
Yoga Expands Brain Function
You’ve likely heard the phrase, “he or she is lacking oxygen to the brain?” Well, maybe not if you’re a yogi. Regular practitioners of Hatha yoga, which focuses on breath-accompanied asana postures, were found to have better cognitive function, stronger focus, and enhanced memory function.
Yoga: The Best Medicine
If you suffer from chronic back pain or a mood disorder think twice before reaching for that bottle of prescription drugs. Several studies argue that yoga is more effective in treating pain and mood conditions than standard medical treatments and prescription drugs aimed at bandaging chronic problems.
In fact, yoga is touted for reducing anxiety and increasing feel-good brain chemicals (i.e., serotonin), required to reduce depression and anxiety-related disorders.