Yoga is an ancient practice that has been used for centuries in the treatment of a number of health conditions. It has deep roots in Eastern Indian culture as a way of centering self and finding spiritual enlightenment. However, people all over the world are discovering its many health benefits.
In the U.S. most yoga incorporates three primary elements: asanas (physical postures), dyana meditation, and pranayama (focused breathing techniques). These elements work together to unite and balance mind, body, and spirit. The results can be quite impressive and now they are backed by science.
Yoga as a treatment for PTSD
Post traumatic stress disorder is often debilitating and can lead to other serious health conditions. One study examined 64 women who had chronic PTSD that was resistant to treatment to determine if yoga is a viable treatment option. They were divided into two groups. One group practiced trauma-informed yoga for one hour a week for ten weeks. The other group was assigned supportive women’s health education on the same schedule. At the conclusion of the study, the group assigned to the yoga classes experienced a significant improvement in their PTSD symptoms.
Yoga as a treatment for stress, anxiety, and depression
Several studies have found that yoga is an effective treatment for anxiety and depression. One study that used Sudarshana Kriya Yoga to treat depression in individuals who are alcohol dependent found that after two weeks of alternate day yoga therapy cortisol levels were significantly decreased and participants’ Beck Depression Inventory scores were also greatly reduced.
Other studies examining the effectiveness of yoga as a treatment for depression had similar outcomes. Another study used lyengar yoga to treat young adults with depression. They attended one hour lyengar yoga classes twice a week for five weeks. The group that practiced yoga reported a substantial decrease in their depression and anxiety.
Yoga is good for the heart
Studies have found that the regular practice of yoga can reduce heart rate and lower blood pressure. A small study followed individuals for a year as they participated in a yoga based lifestyle. There were 42 patients in the control group and 71 patients in the study group. Patients in the study group had coronary artery disease.
Over the course of the year, researchers examined them and recorded their findings. At the end of the study, participants in the yoga based group had lower cholesterol and many had experienced a regression of their disease or progression of the disease had been arrested. In short, the overall conclusion was that yoga helped to improve their heart conditions.
Yoga may reduce inflammation and chronic pain
Chronic inflammation can lead to diabetes, heart disease, and cancer so it is vital that it is controlled and reduced. One study in 2015 found that participants who practiced yoga for one hour each day for five years had reduced levels of inflammatory markers than participants who did not practice yoga.
Another study examined breast cancer survivors who had persistent fatigue. After twelve weeks of regularly practicing yoga, they too had lower inflammatory markers. Yet another study found the regular practice of yoga to be more effective that splinting the wrists of carpal tunnel patients in reducing symptom of the conditions – including lowering pain levels. It was also found to reduce the pain of osteoarthritis.
Yoga provides an abundance of benefits for the body as well as the mind. There are volumes of studies that show it can help with a number of health conditions as well as improve sleep and give you a better quality of life. What a wonderful, exhilarating, natural way to look and feel better.