The world we live in is health-obsessed. Just look at the abundance of exercise gadgets and equipment available. Then there’s the digital space, overflowing with resources about wellness and fitness (even free materials!). From 5-minute stretches at work to a full-on 90-minute strength training at the gym, you’ll find everything you need to know on the worldwide web. But, with so much information, it can be challenging to figure out what specific physical program can meet your needs. Fortunately, there’s yoga, a form of exercise with healthy benefits, backed by science.
What is Yoga?
Yoga is a holistic approach to health that combines mind and body practices. Rooted in the Hindu religion, it has since evolved to become a mainstream exercise. The practice incorporates physical postures with breathing and meditation techniques.
Previously on the fringes of the fitness industry because of its association with the New Age movement, yoga has already become highly popular. In the U.S. alone, there are 55 million yoga practitioners (based on 2020 figures). The holistic exercise has become a huge favorite that it has created a whole industry of yoga influencers, studio businesses, and even apps. Statistics show that the yoga market will balloon to $66.2 billion by 2027. And there’s no surprise there, as studies show that yoga does work. In this article, we’ll explore why many people have incorporated the practice into their fitness regimen and why you should, too.
Healthy Benefits Of Yoga ( What Scientific Research says ) :
1. Yoga strengthens pelvic muscles
The pelvises of both men and women contain the reproductive organs, as well as the major digestive tissues and intestines. However, the female pelvis is designed to support childbirth, whereas that of the male is primarily structured for bipedal locomotion. This is why women have larger but thinner pelvises while men have more compact but smaller ones. While both sexes can profit from pelvic muscle exercises, they are especially helpful for women.
Pregnancy, childbirth, obesity, and other factors can weaken the pelvic floor, causing one or more organs housed in the pelvis to drop or press into the vagina. This can lead to many problems like pelvic floor dysfunction that induce constipation, painful urination, and even incontinence. Women deal with this issue by taking medication, using period underwear, doing Kegel exercises, and practicing yoga for pelvic floor muscles.
An experiment on postpartum women showed that yoga had a significantly positive effect on their physical rehabilitation. With the intervention of yoga, the position of the organs in their pelvises improved. At the same time, their anxiety and depression levels also decreased. And this brings us to the next benefit.
2. Yoga helps relieve anxiety and depression
Chronic stress can cause anxiety and depression. When we are agitated, our bodies release the stress hormone cortisol to increase our heart rate as our systems go into fight-or-flight mode. Constantly high levels of cortisol suppress our immune system. As a result, we become more vulnerable to food allergies, digestive problems, and many more diseases. Cortisol also constricts our arteries, increasing blood pressure and damaging our vessels, which can cause a heart attack or stroke. Through breathing techniques in yoga, you can reduce the effects of stress on the body. This helps regulate heart rate and blood pressure.
Any physical activity can enhance your mood by lowering cortisol and increasing feel-good hormones called endorphins. However, yoga may have extra benefits. First, it boosts levels of the chemical GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid) that decreases anxiety. Meditation also helps control limbic activity in the brain, allowing for a gentler, more reasonable response to stressful situations.
3. Yoga helps in weight loss
Studies show that practicing yoga can increase mindfulness. This, in turn, can help people strengthen their resistance to compulsive eating habits. Also, one is more aware of the kind of food and how much of it they consume at every meal. With meditative techniques that help you focus on the here and now, you are more connected with how you feel. You become more sensitive to what your body tells you, whether it’s already full or requires a more healthful diet. Thus, yoga can be an effective way to lose belly fat and keep the pounds off.
4. Yoga improves flexibility and reduces pain
As our bodies age, we may experience increased stiffness in our joints. This can result from thinner cartilage. Our tissues and tendons may also get dehydrated, resulting in the loss of elasticity. As a result, we become less limber and more prone to falls. On top of that, the diminished fluid in our joints can cause pain in our knees.
Yoga stretches can do wonders in enhancing our physical resilience. For example, the Harvard Medical School discovered that yoga increased blood vessel flexibility by 69%, boosting mobility and balance.
Additionally, yoga can cause the release of antioxidants in the body to fight many diseases.
Thus, pain management specialists have been advocating yoga to treat lower back soreness, fibromyalgia, migraine, and other illnesses associated with pain.
Yoga has indeed come a long way from its esoteric beginnings. With the backing of the scientific and medical communities, more and more people are practicing yoga and discovering all its healthy benefits. Because of this holistic mind-and-body exercise, its practitioners are stronger, happier, more flexible, and freer from aches and pains. So, get into yoga and enjoy the same quality of life for yourself!