If you practice yoga regularly, you can probably see and feel some of the many positive effects it is having on you. I love the personal stories that I hear from clients, sharing changes in their bodies and minds (and even changes in numbers they’ve received from their doctors) and little things that they noticed along the way. But, if you’ve never done yoga or if you are more inclined to look to studies for proof rather than personal experiences, here are some studies that have shown a few of the many benefits of yoga.
REDUCED ANXIETY: Studies in selected clinical trials using yoga as therapy found that yoga decreased resting blood pressure, increased parasympathetic tone, and reduced physiological and psychological response to threat. Yoga may also affect levels of brain or blood chemicals, including melatonin and stress hormones.
DIABETES—helps to regulate blood sugar levels: In a recent study, participants with diabetes were studied for 40 days, practicing yoga for 30-40 minutes per day: they found a reduced waist to hip ratio and a decrease in fasting blood glucose. These changes are considered positive for the management of diabetes. The control group showed no positive changes in these parameters.
STRESS RELIEF: Yoga breathing and relaxation poses have been shown to reverse the physiologic effects of stress. Studies have also shown that yoga breathing techniques have positive effects on the autonomic nervous system (which controls our breathing rate, heart rate, blood pressure and more). This effects our response to stressful situations.
CARDIOPULMONARY ENDURANCE BENEFITS: Numerous studies have shown that a combination of yoga postures, breathing techniques and relaxation techniques significantly improved overall cardiovascular endurance in young, healthy subjects.
SOME HEALTH CONDITIONS SHOWN BY SCIENTIFIC STUDIES TO BENEFIT FROM THE PRACTICE OF YOGA:
Drug Abuse/Withdrawl, Eating Disorders, Fibromyalgia
Heart Disease, High Blood Pressure, Infertility, Insomnia, Migraines, Osteoporosis
Pain (chronic), Rheumatoid Arthritis and Many others
There is a growing amount of research being done to learn more about the effects of yoga and all it encompasses (breathing techniques, poses, etc). It is exciting to see the research backing what many find true from their own practice! I hope you found this short list helpful. Please feel free to send me any research and resources to share and anything you may like to see in a future post!
References: Specific studies noted in this blog are listed in the following reference: Raub JA Psychophysiologic Effects of Hatha Yoga on Musculoskeletal and Cardiopulmonary Function: A Literature Review The Journal of Alternateive and Complementary Medicine Vol 8, Number 6, 2002, pp797-812
Partial List of Health Conditions Shown by Scientific Studies to Benefit from the Practice of Yoga is from Yoga As Medicine by Timothy McCall, MD