We went back to our 5 Fabulous Reasons To Yoga In 2018 and added an extra 4, maybe convincing you more to take up yoga in 2019? Who knows!?
There has been much research and scientific investigations into the benefits of yoga. Research on yoga’s benefits has been studied for years. Some of the top benefits of yoga include lowered anxiety levels, a reduction in pain, and relieving depression. Other studies have gone on to find improved bone density, strength and flexibility, back pain relief, a positive outlook on life, improved self-esteem, weight loss, in addition to aiding in the management of other physiological and physical conditions.
One study found positive if moderate, short-term effects of yoga when compared to other standard treatment of depression. Yoga helps with depression by reducing HPA axis dysfunction and inflammation by increasing BDNF. The H in HPA stands for hypothalamus which is responsible for regulating your body temperature, circadian rhythm, and energy levels via the hypothalamus. The P in HPA stands for pituitary gland which produces vital hormones such as growth hormones.
Finally, the A in the HPA axis stands for The Adrenal Glands. Two of them sit just above our kidneys. The adrenals produce even more hormones than the pituitary glands does, such as the cortisol and sex hormones like DHEA, in addition to stress hormones such as adrenaline and dopamine. The adrenal glands produce hormones that control chemical reactions over large parts of our bodies, including the ‘fight-or-flight’ response.
Depression is the most predominant mental health problem worldwide, followed by anxiety, schizophrenia and bipolar disorder and in 2013, depression was the second leading cause of years lived with a disability worldwide, only lagging behind lower back pain. In 26 countries, depression was the primary driver of disability. Another study found that either yoga practice alone, or combined with antidepressants, decreased depression more so than antidepressants alone, according to the Hamilton Depression Rating Scale.
Several studies were conducted regarding yoga and its association with increases in bone density, strength, and flexibility. Performing yoga correctly can strengthen your bones and muscles while increasing your flexibility and coordination, and therefore, aiding in injury prevention. A study found that performing Hatha Yoga, if performed correctly, is physiologically beneficial to all age groups. It was found that it improves core stability and balance over the course of 21 days.
In another study of Hatha Yoga performed over a 12-week course, findings included increased lung function, muscle strength and endurance along with improved overall flexibility. Other studies found that overall strength improved in older adults when adopting a daily yoga practice without the need for extra equipment and it was found that yoga improved balance in male college athletes, which aided their performance in sports.
“Studies found that overall strength improved in older adults when adopting a daily yoga practice without the need for extra equipment”
There are numerous styles of yoga, making it easy to implement a yoga practice and style that you personally enjoy. From dynamic and energising styles of yoga like Ashtanga or Visayans Flow, or more gentle, deep tissue stretching, increasing our range of motion and mobility while complimenting any physical activities that we might do, Yin Yoga might be a worthwhile choice or a style that is completely restorative and works on what is going inside the body, reducing our stress levels and resting our bodies and minds like Restorative Yoga or Zen yoga. Check out Yoga Journal’s list and descriptions of the different types of yoga.
One of my personal favourite things about yoga is that you get to see and experience your progress. Obviously, this all depends on how much you practice yoga daily, weekly, monthly and each person’s body. Which brings me to my next point, everyone’s body is different, and in terms of what someone may be able to do another may not. I don’t believe there is a perfect shape that everyone has to reach, I believe that it’s more complex than this:
“yoga is not a practice of attaining idealized physical postures, but a process of self-exploration, self-acceptance, and self-transformation. Reinforce” ― Mark Stephens, Yoga Sequencing: Designing Transformative Yoga Classes.
One of the founding fathers of yoga said: “99% of yoga is practice and 1% is a theory”. I see this quote as meaning that there is always room to learn and grow. Knowledge is limited and knowledge is only just information, in the end. What we do with this knowledge, shapes us, our beliefs, and our behaviours, this is our practice, therefore, this is the most important part.
It’s really true! All shapes, all sizes, all levels, all ages! There are no strict criteria to partake in yoga. The wide range of yoga styles, teachers, and disciplines make it accessible for everyone to try to practice yoga. Furthermore, yoga can become even more accessible, meaning you don’t have to attend a class to enjoy the benefits of yoga, there are loads of online yoga classes available where you can practice in the comfort of your own home. NamasJay Online is actually launching this year! Sign up here to stay updated!
All of the above may convince you to take up yoga in 2019 and in addition, we know that yoga can better our sleep increase our lung capacity helping us breathe efficiently improving our endurance and more. However, yoga can create that inner peace, calmness and even happiness. Yoga teaches us to sit still or move with a still mind, creating that dose of inner peace and calm.
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