There aren’t many things that both mainstream medicine and integrative medicine agree upon, but the benefits of yoga are one of those rare topics where there’s a consensus. Scientific research has shown the mental and physical benefits of yoga are real and significant. Here’s how yoga can help you feel better.
Yoga Benefits Your Mental Health
Anyone who’s practiced yoga knows the sense of peace and wellness they feel after a session. This isn’t just a placebo effect—studies have demonstrated that yoga decreases secretion of the hormone cortisol, a physical indicator that stress levels are reduced. Cortisol is best known as the stress hormone, but it also influences serotonin levels, which are associated with depression; it’s believed that by reducing cortisol, yoga practice can have a positive affect on people experiencing symptoms of depression.
Anxiety, too, has been shown to be relieved with yoga practice, likely due to its emphasis on being present in the current moment and breath work. In fact, many of the yogic breathing techniques that are incorporated into yoga classes are being used by therapists and other mental health professionals to ease anxiety in their patients.
Yoga May Reduce Inflammation
Chronic inflammation is increasingly linked to a number of diseases and conditions, which is why taking steps to reduce inflammation is one of the best things you can do for your overall health. Studies have found that people who practice yoga have lower levels of inflammatory markers than those who don’t practice, even when both groups were participating in other forms of exercise.
Yoga Supports Cardiovascular Health
Perhaps it’s because of that reduction in stress and anxiety, but there is also evidence that yoga can improve heart health by lowering blood pressure and pulse rate in practitioners. High blood pressure and heart rate are both risk factors for heart disease, heart attacks, and stroke. Research has also suggested that yoga can slow the progression of disease in patients who have already been diagnosed with heart disease.
Yoga Can Improve Chronic Pain
If you suffer from chronic pain, daily movement is important, but it can be difficult to find forms of exercise that don’t aggravate your symptoms. Yoga is a gentle way to get moving that’s been shown to reduce the symptoms of a number of painful conditions, including carpal tunnel syndrome and osteoarthritis. In addition to alleviating pain, yoga can improve function and mobility.
Yoga May Help You Sleep Better
Like inflammation, poor sleep quality is linked to a number of health conditions and it’s endemic in the United States, where fast-paced, busy lifestyles are the norm. Yoga can promote better sleep, with studies showing that people who practice yoga fall asleep faster, sleep longer, and feel better rested when they wake up in the morning. Yoga can reduce the need for sleep medications and decrease sleep disturbances by increasing melatonin secretion.
Learn More About the Benefits of Yoga
If you’d like to learn more about how yoga can benefit you, we recommend enrolling in one of our yoga classes. View our class schedule and find a time that works for you or contact us at 312-753-3249 to find out more about our offerings.