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 top health benefits of yoga including weight loss, heart health, and reduced stress.
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, the health benefits of yoga extend beyond weight loss. 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!
Cold Season Coming? Yoga Boosts Your Immune 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.
If you do end up with a cold, don’t forget to check out our Best Remedy for Flu and Cold.
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.