The origin of Yoga has been traced to the Indus-Sarasvati civilization in Northern India more than 5,000 years ago. Owing to globalization, the practice of yoga has become entrenched in western societies and represents a modern-day symbol of peace, serenity and well-being.
A recent study reported that more than 20 million Americans practice yoga. It further revealed that yoga practitioners spend more than $10 billion per annum on yoga-related products and classes.
Yoga focuses on core muscles, arms, legs, glutes and back. The relaxation techniques provided by yoga have been shown to provide a variety of health benefits. In this article we present the 5 scientifically proven benefits of yoga
Yoga can ease pain especially chronic pain. Studies have demonstrated that practicing yoga can lessen chronic pain, such as lower back pain, headaches, carpal tunnel syndrome and arthritis.
A recent study revealed that the practice of yoga can reduce pain catastrophizing, improve pain acceptance and enhance overall emotional functioning among individuals with chronic pain condition. Postures such as asanas and meditation alone or in combination have also been shown to reduce pain for individuals with hypertension, cancer, multiple sclerosis and auto-immune diseases.
Apart from the physical benefits, Yoga reduces the physical effects of stress on the body. The effect of stress on the body can manifest in a variety of ways such as headaches, back or neck pain, insomnia (sleeping problems) and drug abuse. Yoga exerts its stress management action by reducing the levels of the stress hormone cortisol. In addition yoga postures also improve digestion, lower blood pressure and ease symptoms of depression, fatigue and anxiety.
Improved Cardiovascular Function
Practicing yoga comes with certain cardiovascular benefits. The series of body poses and breathing exercises can lower the resting heart rate, improve oxygen uptake and enhance endurance. A study published in the European Journal of Preventive Cardiology which evaluated the effect of yoga on cardiovascular parameters (BMI, HDL LDL, blood pressure, heart rate and total cholesterol) revealed that, practicing yoga had the same effect on reducing cardiovascular markers like other forms of exercises. The study which involved 2800 people randomly assigned to do yoga reported that yoga and other types of exercises produced the same effect.
Improved Blood Circulation
Several studies have affirmed the effect of yoga on blood circulation .Yoga exercises, poses and meditation increases blood flow. This allows for more red blood cells to be oxygenated leading to improved body function.
Yoga poses and exercises have been found to aid weight control measures by burning excess calories and reducing stress. Researchers from the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle found an association between a reduced/ maintained weight and regular practice of yoga. In a study that involved more than 15,000 healthy, middle-aged adults. According to the report, individuals practicing yoga who were overweight at the commencement of the study lost about 2.26 kilograms while those not practicing yoga gained about 6.3 kilograms during the same period.
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