Yoga has been pretty mainstream for a while now. But why?
Is it some hippie pseudoscience, or are there real benefits?
Has research proven many health changes for those who consistently practice yoga vs those who don’t?
In this post, we’ll explore the science behind the many claimed benefits of this ancient practice.
For the last several months, I’ve intergraded yoga into my daily morning & night routine. I was just going to give it a whirl, not really thinking it would have immense impacts.
But I can honestly say, I’ve fallen in love with it. And the results from doing it, both mental & physical, make it difficult to miss one session, even if its 10 minutes.
So, I began to dive into the science behind it, seeking to learn the true way it works. What are the effects it has on the body. Other than a more calm presence & a tighter core.
I was so amazed at all of the benefits of this practice, I had to share them with you.
What Does the Research Say?
Yoga has incredible impacts on the body. It improves brain performance, flexibility, arthritis, digestion, inflammation, and even diabetes.
A quick 20 minute yoga practice a day can completely transform your body.
Impacts on Brain Health
Research confirms that yoga has tremendous benefits to brain health.
Studies have shown that yoga increases the production of some key brain chemicals that companies synthesis in a lab.
Serotonin, for example, improves you mood. Low levels of this hormone are often associated depression & anxiety.
BDNF (brain derived neurotrophic factor), can be increased by a consistent yoga practice. This protein is responsible for the ability to adapt to changes, which is why the brain is capable of mastering skills & memorization.
Alpha wave activity also increases, promoting a more relaxed, calm body & state of mind.
Other studies show that performing yoga regularly can improve attention & cognitive performance.
Impacts on Inflammation
With chronic inflammation being the root cause of so many diseases & conditions, any way to naturally reduce inflammation is welcomed.
Your body’s inflammatory markers are called cytokines. Consistently practicing yoga has been shown to reduce cytokines, which means it reduces inflammation.
Two remarkable systems in the body work together to fight inflammation. These two systems are the lymphatic system and, of course, the immune system.
Yoga flows & inversions help stimulate lymphatic drainage, which helps carry immune cells throughout the body, boosting immunity.
Impacts on Arthritis & Joint Health
There is this myth that years of movement & joint use causes arthritis, simply because cartilage wears down over time.
However, recent research has shown that it is inflammation that actually wears down the cartilage.
As we just covered, a consistent yoga practice can help reduce inflammation, and has been shown to effectively manage rheumatoid arthritis.
It has also been shown to reduce joint pain & improve joint flexibility/mobility.
Impacts on the Nervous System
Yoga has been shown to have great benefits to the nervous system.
Studies have shown yoga can reduce chronic back pain & sciatica.
It can also help regulate the parasympathetic nervous system, which is responsible for rest & energy conservation.
Positive improvements on the digestive system & metabolism have also been shown from practicing yoga, as they are directly impacted by the parasympathetic nervous system.
impacts on type 2 diabetes
I was shocked to find out that yoga has been shown as a great, holistic way to manage (even cure) type 2 diabetes. Studies show that stress-relieving exercise has positive effects on blood glucose levels.
As we discovered, yoga has many benefits to brain health, such as stimulating the production of certain chemicals that naturally boost mood, reduce stress, and promote balance.
Because stress & imbalance increase blood sugar levels, it is key to manage these factors as much as possible with diabetes.
Yoga has proven to be an effective, holistic way to do this.
an anti-aging effect
One course, of the best ways to prevent aging is movement. Sore, aching muscles isn’t just something we have to accept with age. It can be prevented with lifestyle.
We all know that the body’s collagen production & integrity slowly weaken as we age.
Using the muscles in your body strengthens collagen fibers surrounding muscles.
Healthy muscles contain a network of collagen fibers that are woven into what looks like a woven, lattice pattern.
Studies show that inactivity causes this woven, lattice pattern to lose its integrity, causing it to wear down & weaken, causing sore, tight, aching muscles.
Practicing yoga is a perfect way to engage a number of muscles in the body. I must admit, when I first began yoga I was dumbfounded by the muscle engagement it takes for a 20 minute vinyasa flow. I thought it was going to be an easy excuse for a workout. I’ve never been so wrong. It’s a proper workout.
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The fact that you can promote healthy joints, reduce inflammation, grow stronger, get leaner, improve digestion, & invest in longevity all at once is incredible. This ancient practice has been around for over 5,000 years for good reason. It’s effective. It’s beneficial. You can completely turn around you wellbeing in 20 minutes a day.
One of the best things about it: its free. All you need is a little instruction & thanks to the internet, it’s abundant. There are so many great beginner-friendly yoga flows out there. I highly recommend trying a 7 day challenge. Begin your day with 15-20 minutes of vinyasa yoga every morning, for 7 days. And just see what happens. That’s how it began for me. After the second day, I was completely hooked.