No one would blame you if you had a bad attitude about yoga. The last thing you want to do when you come off a tough shift on the floor is contort yourself into a pretzel for the sake of some weird, spiritual benefits that some funny looking yogi pronounced from on high. Actually, the reality of yoga is much different. Not only does yoga improve your flexibility, posture, and strength, it also has numerous other benefits to your health that medical science is only now starting to unlock. Researchers are looking at it seriously to see if it helps with chronic diseases, such as heart disease, and finding it beneficial. The good news is that you don’t have to be a contortionist to reap the benefits. Even beginners who can’t touch their toes can benefit from yoga.
How yoga helps with breathing Problems
Yoga can help with some breathing problems because it focuses on taking long, slow, deep breaths from the diaphragm. You will not get an aerobic workout from yoga unless you are going through poses vigorously, but you will be encouraged to breath deeply. This aspect of yoga is studied as a possible benefit for those who suffer from asthma and other chronic breathing conditions, according to WebMD. If you have a chronic breathing problem, just practicing the belly breathing that yoga encourages can help oxygenate your lungs.
How Yoga helps with Stress and Mood
Although you might think that stretching to within an inch of your life is not stress relieving, it actually does help to release tension. It decreases stress hormones in your body, and lowers the amount of neurotransmitters that are circulating in your brain. Yoga even encourages the release of oxytocin, according to WebMD. This hormone creates feelings of closeness and well-being that make you feel connected to others. This all adds up to a calm mood. Research has also shown that yoga helps to relieve depression and anxiety symptoms, and has even shown promise for obsessive-compulsive disorder.
How yoga helps with Heart Disease
Hard as it may seem to believe, yoga helps fight heart disease. Actually, tangible evidence backs up this bit of research. Slowing your breathing and relaxing your muscles lowers your heart rate and your blood pressure. This helps decrease your risk of heart disease, and is one of the primary benefits of yoga. In fact, Dr. Dean Ornish recommends yoga as part of his diet to reverse heart disease, high blood pressure, and stroke. It is also thought that yoga has an anti-oxidant effect that helps fight free radicals, or toxins, that attack healthy body tissues. More research into these claims is still forthcoming.
Other Benefits of yoga
Yoga has taken western medicine by storm, and it has been studied for numerous medical conditions with varying results. It has shown some promise in the fields of arthritis, multiple sclerosis, back pain, and insomnia to name a few. Then there is the idea that yoga benefits the spirit of the practitioner, and enhances his/her interpersonal relationships. If you are of the spiritual persuasion, much anecdotal evidence exists of people who experience enlightenment and fulfillment from practicing yoga. If you are not, though, there are still many good reasons to hit the yoga mat, and strike a pose.
WebMD; The Health Benefits of Yoga