Yoga is a form of therapy which is backed by science for having potential health benefits. The most promising results come from a combination practice of asana (physical poses), and pranayama (breath work) and meditation.
Following are the health benefits not just for yogis but also for those who are new to the practice and suffer from existing conditions.
Doing yoga improves flexibility along with reduction in aches and pains. Tight hip muscles can affect the alignment of the thigh bones and cause knee pains. One can grow stronger and maintain muscle mass using the weight of the body. Yoga asanas builds muscle strength as well as improves cardiovascular fitness.
In a study of people with chronic neck pain, yoga reduced pain sores drastically. It is shown to reduce pain in people with arthritis, fibromyalgia and carpal tunnel syndrome. The benefits last several months.
In a small study conducted in 2007, UCLA researchers found that after eight weeks of practicing lyengar yoga thrice a week, the patients reported significant decrease in both anxiety and depression.
Scientists have discovered that meditation increases activity in the area of the brain associated with positive moods and emotional resilience.
Mental Sharpness and protection against Cognitive Decline
Practicing this meditation wards-off age-related cognitive decline as various aspects of yoga train the brain to work better.
An analysis of studies on yoga in Duke University found evidence that yoga can be helpful for treating sleep disorders.
Reduced Inflammation & Stress Responses
Researchers at Ohio State University found that regular yoga practitioners had much lower blood levels of an inflammation-promoting immune cell.
Better Immune Activity
Yoga has a beneficial effect on the functioning of the immune system as it boosts the body’s response when needed to fight an infection.
Better spinal health
By practicing good posture and alignment in yoga, the spine stays protected from the cumulative effects of bad posture.
Improved Lung Function
A study conducted in 1998 introduced a yogic breathing technique to people with lung problems due to congestive heart failure. After a month of practicing yoga, their exercise capacity increased drastically and did the oxygen saturation of their blood.