The bendy benefits of yoga are obvious when you see the magic in action, but the perks of this ancient practice go far beyond the physical. Here are some of the best, science-backed results that come from doing yoga.
Increase balance and flexibility
Numerous studies have backed the ability of yoga to increase balance and flexibility, while also boosting other athletic performances that require these skills.
Spend a few seconds in downward dog and you’ll realise how much strength yoga requires, but studies have found that a few sessions will help you build brawn. In one study, 79 adults completed a series of foundational poses six days a week, for 24 weeks. The participants experienced a significant increase in upper body strength and endurance, and the women in the group noticed weight loss and decreased body fat.
Improve sleep quality
Struggling to get some shut-eye? Try some regular stretching. In one study, yoga participants were found to fall asleep faster, snooze longer and felt more well-rested upon waking.
Combat back pain
A 2005 study found that yoga was more effective than other exercises and a self-care book in treating chronic low back pain, with results lasting for several months after the trial.
Chronic inflammation in the body has been linked to a host of health issues like heart disease, diabetes and cancer, to name only a few. A 2014 meta-analysis on the effects of mind-body therapies on the immune system found that yoga reduces inflammation-based blood markers. This was also found in a small study of women with breast cancer and breast cancer survivors.
Reduce anxiety and depression
It’s well established that regular exercise can help combat and manage mental illnesses. Several small studies have found that yoga can reduce stress, anxiety, post traumatic stress disorder and depression. Experts believe it works as a self-soothing technique, managing stress response systems by reducing the heart rate, lowering blood pressure and easing respiration. Research has also indicated that it reduces the secretion of cortisol, the body’s stress hormone.
Get you a promotion
Itching for an upgrade in your career? It might be time to take up yoga. New research has found that just 25 minutes of stretching and mindfulness a day can improve goal-directed behaviour, boost brain function and up energy levels.
Reduce period pain
Foetal position is the pose of choice when period cramps hit, but expanding your repertoire could have some major benefits for pain relief. Research found that in one group of women, an hour-long yoga session once a week over three months significantly decreased the intensity of menstrual pain, compared to the group that did no yoga.