In a busy, ever-changing world, many of us are often looking for ways to relax and improve our overall well-being. Wellness is one of the fastest growing topics and people are looking for healthy solutions more than ever before. Yoga has been used for centuries to improve health -both physically and mentally. It’s one of the best holistic ways to heal your mind, body, and soul. While Western medicine often turns to pharmaceuticals or artificial methods, Eastern medicine (yoga included) teaches us that we can heal ourselves from within naturally. This is not to say that Western medicine isn’t necessary, rather that we can help heal various ailments like stress and back pain through natural remedies like yoga.
Here are a few of the proven benefits of regular yoga practice.
Reduction in Pain
People who suffer from back pain can benefit greatly from yoga. A study conducted by West Virginia University School of Medicine found that 70% of people who practiced yoga for three months had less back pain. Even more, 88% of the participants reduced or quit pain medication all together!
Prevention and Treatment of Stress, Depression & Anxiety
Practicing yoga slows breathing and heart rate, reducing stress and increasing the brain-calming amino acid, GABA. A study conducted by Boston University’s School of Medicine discovered that after just one 60 minute yoga session, there was a 27% increase of the neurotransmitter GABA within the brain. GABA (Gamma-Aminobutyric Acid) is an amino acid that calms nervousness by inhibiting nerve transmission in the brain. Low GABA levels have been linked to poor memory, Alzheimer’s, anxiety, and depression.
Increased Flexibility & Strength
Yoga practice focuses on building core strength and flexibility. You can probably recall seeing yogis in all sorts of twisted positions. Many people who practice yoga regularly find that not only are they more mentally balanced, but their bodies are more agile and strong. Yoga, while low impact, is definitely a strength training practice. It is both calming and challenging, but luckily there are plenty of options for beginners. The best part about yoga is that anyone at any age, in any condition can start.
Aids in Cardiovascular Health
Yoga increases circulation and blood flow and has been proven to reduce heart attacks, high blood pressure, blood clots, and strokes. Thanks to its twisted and inverted positions, yoga actually thins the blood and increases blood flow, red blood cells, and hemoglobin levels. This oxygenates the body and helps improve overall circulation.
“Twisting poses wring out venous blood from internal organs and allow oxygenated blood to flow in when the twist is released. Inverted poses encourage venous blood flow from the legs and pelvis back to the heart and then pumped through the lungs where it becomes freshly oxygenated. Many studies show yoga lowers the resting heart rate, increases endurance, and can improve the maximum uptake and utilization of oxygen during exercise.” as reported on NCBI.
Yoga is an incredible holistic way to improve the function of your body and mind. From pain relief to mental wellness, stress reduction, and cardiovascular health, there’s no reason not to practice yoga. All it takes is 15-30 minutes a day to start getting relief from numerous ailments of the body and mind. We encourage everyone to try yoga for its many amazing, proven health benefits.
Rodney Yee is one of our favorite yoga practitioners. Below you’ll find one of his excellent beginner yoga routines to help you get started. Now you’re on your way to a healthier body and mind! Enjoy.