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Benefits Of Yoga

12 Ways Yoga Will Boost Your Fitness, Health & Happiness

the benefits of yoga

If you already do yoga, you’ll know just how relaxing, energizing and uplifting yoga is

With its triad of gentle movement, flowing breath and mindful attention, you can enjoy the benefits of yoga whatever your age, flexibility or fitness level and enjoy that exhilarating sense of physical and mental wellbeing

Studying The Benefits Of Yoga

Yoga has enjoyed much scientific scrutiny, with results showing benefits on your structural, internal and mental wellbeing

You may read about the amazing benefits of a specific yoga exercise for relieving your back pain, eradicating your migraines, or sorting out your digestion

Yet, yoga is not reducible to a list of exercises. Even within this reductionist approach, the things that will help your issues are those that address their unique set of causes. Thus an exercise that will help my back may have little to offer you

Yoga is in essence a mindfulness-based body therapy. The contribution of regulated breathing and mindful attention is incalculable and profound

Thus, researches studying the benefits of yoga tend to pass on individual exercises in favour of studying outcomes associated with practicing yoga, integrated and whole

 

Yoga & Meditation

The centrepiece of yoga is attention

Whether you’re sitting quietly watching your breath, following a guided visualization or paying attention to your body and breath in a yoga posture, you’re practising yoga when you’re paying attention

Attention settles the mind in the here and now, freeing you from past trauma and future anxiety

Attention stills your mind, calms your breath and takes your body from doing to resting

Mindful attention is what makes yoga yoga. And the driving force behind the amazing benefits of yoga

the benefits of yoga and meditation

Stress, Rest & Inflammation

Stress: Motivation & Inflammation

Even before you’re born your brain can tell safety from danger. Faced with danger, your body responds to counter the challenge or flee to safety

Stress helps you survive. And also deal with everyday challenges. So why is stress bad? The problem is less stress itself and more a lack of recovery

Stress is pro-inflammatory. Persistent arousal and inflammation are linked to cardiovascular disease, diabetes, arthritis, anxiety, depression and other common diseases of our age

To maintain your physical and mental health, stress must give way to rest

Rest: Nature’s Cure

Safety leads to a body-wide rest response to reset all your vital functions and let your body recover and replenish its resources

Rest down-regulates inflammation, supports healing and repair and resets pain sensitivity

Rest is not doing nothing. Being inactive can feel anything but restful when you’re holding tension or feeling anxious. Indeed, research shows inactivity is linked to poor health

Yoga lets you rest as you move, soothing your nervous system to help you stay cool, calm and healthy

Physical Benefits Of Yoga
Structural Health

Popularly associated with flexibility, yoga is multifunctional, helping you effectively build strength, tone, endurance and improved posture

Sure, sitting in meditation won’t strengthen your muscles, though it will give you other benefits. But before you go running off to dynamic yoga, know that there are alternatives

By sustaining a moderate contraction posture-based yoga works your muscles very effectively to improve strength and tone

Sustaining postures improves your body awareness and helps you move with purpose, power and grace

Try it for yourself: join us on a relaxing yoga holiday under the Spanish sun, or treat yourself to one of our dedicated yoga and wellness retreats in Spain

Check all our 2022 yoga dates on our yoga calendar page

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Musculoskeletal Health

1 - Low Back Pain

Back pain has many causes. It can result from injury, dysfunction and even disease

A catch all for back pain in the absence of trapped nerve or other serious signs, mechanical low back pain is the commonest form

Mechanical back pain can appear after straining you back, sometimes trivially, and often for no apparent reason. It is not associated with tingling, numbness or other signs of nerve entrapment

It resolves by itself withing 2-3 weeks. Or it can persist to become chronic

Yoga has been shown to be helpful with this type of back pain, particularly in its persistent, or recurring chronic form

Systematic reviews looking at the benefits of yoga in low back pain found positive evidence for yoga in

  1. reducing pain intensity
  2. improving function, as well as
  3. measurably improving quality of life

References

Effects of Yoga Therapy on Pain, Quality of Life, and Functional Ability in Chronic Low Back Pain Patients. Singh (2016)

A systematic review and meta-analysis of yoga for low back pain. Cramer (2013).

Yoga As A Treatment For Low Back Pain. Diaz (2013)

2 - Neck Pain

Neck pain is almost as common as low back pain, with an equally broad range of causes

Though less extensively studied than low-back-pain, two systematic reviews have found yoga benefits neck pain, with the findings demonstrating a reduction in pain and pain-related disability

References

Effects of yoga on chronic neck pain  Kim (2016)

Effectiveness of Iyengar yoga in treating spinal pain: Crow  (2015)

3 - Tension Headache

Tension type headache is the most common form,  with a world-wide prevalence of 50%

The tension can be in the upper back, shoulders, neck, and the head itself. There is a strong association with stress

Two systematic reviews of have found yoga improves the severity, frequency and duration of pain

Yoga for Treating Headaches Anheyer (2019)

Effects of yoga exercises for headaches Kim (2015)

4 - Osteoarthritis

Osteo-arthritis is joint pain from wear-and-tear. It is associated with age, but can affect younger people, for example after injury

Pain can be sometimes better, sometimes worse, and at other times completely absent

For this reason x-ray evidence of wear and tear tells you little about your current state

The most crucial factor is probably joint function. Where an area is structurally compromised, good junction can make the difference between experiencing pain, or being pain free

Stress, too, plays a significant part

Systematic reviews have found yoga is beneficial for OA related pain and stiffness and significantly improves function

Yoga for Osteoarthritis: Lauche (2019)

The Effects of Yoga on Pain, Mobility, and Quality of Life in Patients with Knee Osteoarthritis Kan (2016)

Physical Benefits Of Yoga
Internal Health

Stress and a sedentary lifestyle are among the top causes of ill health and mortality in adults worldwide today

Yoga Down Regulates Inflammation

Stress triggers a cascade of hormones which prepares your body for action. Stress hormones also raise the level of inflammation in your body with effects ranging from heart disease to arthritis, allergies and even mood changes, with emerging evidence showing a strong link between inflammation and depression

By helping you switch from stress to rest yoga helps trigger active anti-inflammatory mechanisms to let your body heal and repair

Yoga & Movement Equals Health

Your body is made for movement. Movement strengthens your bones and muscles and maintains your posture, balance and coordination. Movement combats depression, improves cognitive function and may even retard the onset of dementia

And it isn’t all about exertion. A study by Sanjay Sharma, professor of cardiology at St. George’s Hospital, London, has found that just 25 minutes of daily walking can improve your health and fitness sufficiently to put 7 years on your life expectancy

You can enjoy the benefits of yoga and mindful walking joining us on a yoga & walking retreat in beautiful Extremadura

the benefits of yoga for internal health

Internal Health

5 - Cardiovascular Health

Some of the top risk factors for cardiovascular disease are raised blood pressure and altered levels of blood cholesterol and other fats

Add to this excess fat around your waist, and higher than normal blood sugar and you have a worrying combination known as metabolic syndrome, a major risk factor for developing type 2 diabetes and for suffering heart attack and stroke

Yoga has been found to reduce the risk factors for cardiovascular health at levels comparable to aerobic exercise

Systematic reviews on the benefits of yoga for cardiovascular health support these conclusions

Systematic Review of Yoga Interventions to Promote Cardiovascular Health in Older Adults. Barrows (2016)

A systematic review of yoga for heart disease Cramer H, et al (2015)

6 - Respiratory Health

The Benefits Of Yoga For Asthma

Asthma is a respiratory disease characterized by intermittent narrowing of the airways. Symptoms include wheezing, breathlessness, chest tightness, and coughing

It can be triggered by allergens, exercise or following a common cold

Positive evidence from early reviews has been somewhat refuted. More recent reviews have found moderate evidence that yoga can improve quality of life in asthma sufferers and can be considered an ancillary intervention to conventional management

Yoga and other slow-breathing techniques have also been found helpful in anxiety-related hyperventilation syndrome and breathing pattern dysfunction

Yoga for asthma: a systematic review and meta-analysis  Cramer (2014)

Yoga For Asthma Zu-Yao Yang, et al (2016)

7 - Irritable Bowel

IBS is a common condition of unknown cause affecting the digestive system. Symptoms include stomach cramps, bloating, diarrhoea and constipation. The condition affects 11 of 26 people globally

The benefits of yoga for IBS are evident, with a 2016 systematic review concluding that ” yoga might be a feasible and safe adjunctive treatment for … IBS”

Effect of Yoga in the Therapy of Irritable Bowel Syndrome: A Systematic Review. Schumann (2016)

8 - Fibromyalgia

Fibromyalgia is a disease of unknown origin characterized by muscle & joint pain, fatigue, insomnia, brain-fog and feeling, anxious or depressed

Yoga and other mindfulness-based movement therapies have been shown to improve sleep, fatigue, depression & health-related quality of life

Yoga provided the additional benefit of pain relief

Efficacy and safety of meditative movement therapies in fibromyalgia syndrome: a systematic review  Longhurst (2013)

Mental Benefits Of Yoga 

The Cognitive & Emotional Health Benefits Of Yoga

The benefits of yoga are not limited to your physical health. By reducing chronic arousal yoga helps many aspects of your emotional health

Reducing the perception of danger in favour of safety allows your body to settle into rest and repair mode

This has been found to be beneficial for reducing stress and anxiety, easing depression and otherwise improving your resilience to stressors

Rest-and-repair is mediated by the parasympathetic nervous system via the vagus nerve (see related article)

Discover for yourself the benefits of yoga on your mental wellbeing with one of our wellness yoga retreats in the Spanish sunshine

Mental Wellbeing

9 - Stress

A sedentary lifestyle and stress rank among the top killers of adults worldwide

One systematic has shown that movement therapies, including yoga are beneficial for reducing stress and improving overall health

A more recent review found that slow-breathing, increased rest & digest activity and produced brain-wave changes associated with emotional control and psychological well-being 

Effects of yoga on stress management in healthy adults: A systematic review Chon  (2011)

How Breath-Control Can Change Your Life: A Systematic Review  Zaccaro (2018)

10 - Anxiety

Yoga is effective in managing anxiety and is a recognized adjunct to psychotherapy for dealing with anxiety disorder

Yoga also provides a versatile range of tools to match to your needs

Yoga for anxiety: a systematic review of the research evidence. Kirkwood (2005)

Yoga for Depression and Anxiety: A Systematic Review Hanson (2016)

Yoga for anxiety: A systematic review  Cramer (2018)

11 - Depression

Systematic reviews show yoga can benefit people with elevated levels of depression, including individuals diagnosed with major depressive disorder

Yoga for Depression and Anxiety: A Systematic Review  Hanson (2016)

Yoga for depression: a systematic review and meta-analysis  Cramer (2013)

12 - Mental Function

The evidence for yoga and other mind-body systems improving cognitive function is strong

Studies show that yoga improves executive functions such as decision making and judgement, as well as memory, attention and processing speed to make you faster, smarter and more productive

Effects of yoga-related mind-body therapies on cognitive function in older adults: A systematic review with meta-analysis Bhattacharyya K K, et al (2021)

Impact of mind-body interventions in older adults with mild cognitive impairment: A systematic review Farhang M, et al (2019)

Yoga and Cognition: A Meta-Analysis of Chronic and Acute Effects  Gothe N P, et al (2015)

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