What Happens To Your Body When You Do Yoga?
THIS ANCIENT PRACTICE IS DEFINITELY ONE OF THE BEST THINGS YOU CAN DO FOR MIND, BODY, AND SPIRIT.
For decades now scientists have been praising the benefits of aerobic exercise, such as running or cycling, for the wonderful health benefits and good feelings that these activities provide us.
Benefits such as better sleep, improved mood, greater energy, and lower risk of disease.
However, there is another form of exercise that may do even more for us (including weight control), and that is yoga.
The list of benefits that yoga provides is very long and very impressive!
This study goes back a few years – in 2010, researchers at the University of Maryland School of Nursing published a comparative analysis of 81 studies that examined the health benefits of aerobic exercise and yoga’s health benefits.
The researchers found what any yoga practitioner already knows – yoga to be especially effective at reducing stress.
However, even seasoned yogis may be shocked at the number of other health benefits that yoga can provide us – often greater than aerobic exercise.
Yoga does more than stretch us out and reduce our stress. “We were a little surprised by the results,” admits lead researcher Alyson Ross, MSN, RN. “We played around with the studies, making tables grouping the studies in a variety of ways (disease condition, health outcomes, and so forth). When we sorted them by exercise and yoga side-by-side, it became apparent we were on to something.”
In the research – yoga outperformed aerobic exercise in improved strength, improved flexibility, increased balance, lower pain levels among seniors, better energy levels, lower menopausal symptoms, better social and occupational functioning, and more.
That’s pretty amazing! With that being said, here is some follow up.
Beginners – Find An Online Or Local Class
If you’re a beginner then just know this. You don’t have to be as limber as the cast of Cirque de Soleil! It is best to find an experienced local or online yoga teacher though – as the risk of injury is always possible with exercise. And we always want to learn the proper poses to get the most out of our practice. I love YouTube for some great beginner videos and Groupon always has local discounts at yoga studios!
As Alyson Ross says, “the scientific literature has shown that the health benefits of yoga can be obtained with a single weekly class, but most studies have used a bigger ‘dose.’ So it is logical to assume that the more you put in, the more you’ll likely get out.
Don’t Give Up On Aerobic Exercise
Definitely continue (or start) aerobic exercises – they are a fun, healthy, cheap, and very effective way to get out there and be social, have a great time, and benefit from all of the positive gifts that these sports give us.
Instead, just integrate yoga into your daily or weekly exercise routine – even 10 minutes a day can have profound effects on your mood and your overall health.
Yoga Is Definitely Exercise
This research (and many other studies) tell us that yoga should no longer be seen as something just “woo woo” or that it’s only good for improving flexibility. “Yoga seems to be able to provide many of the physical benefits of exercise—and then some,” says Ross. “It behaves as both exercise and meditation.”
This study definitely makes it clear that yoga deserves a full time focus in your workout and exercise routine.
And once we participate in yoga, we know how physically demanding it can be!
Yoga May Help With Obesity
Ross and her fellow researchers see the connection between yoga’s amazing stress busting benefits and weight loss.
“Evidence suggests that chronic stress leads to changes in food-seeking behavior, including increased consumption of foods high in sugar and fat, which may eventually lead to obesity,” says Ross.
“As yoga provides many of the benefits typically associated with exercise, and is also so effective at reducing stress,” she continues, “it’s possible that yoga might be a particularly useful weapon in the arsenal against obesity.”
There you have it – yoga rocks!
Now get out there and benefit from this wonderful practice!
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