Yoga is a form of spiritual and ascetic practice, which originates from ancient India and aims to promote self-care and wellbeing. It focuses primarily on breathing and movements that create a flow between the mind and body. Because the practice of yoga has been found to improve one’s physical and mental conditions, scientists believed it can also be a way of improving a person’s medical conditions. As such, medical professionals, especially those in the mental health, started to embrace yoga into their clinical practice.
The International Association of Yoga Therapists defines Yoga Therapy as the process of empowering individuals to progress toward improved health and well-being through the application of the teachings and practices of Yoga. It’s a self-empowering process that centers around a person’s healing at all levels.
One of the proven benefits of yoga therapy is its amazing work of reversing heart disease. It’s not only a preventive measure against diseases but also an effective tool for the healing of various illnesses.
Yoga therapy doesn’t require anyone to be flexible. You will simply begin where you are and progress from there towards the path to healing and recovery. All you have to do is use with the maximum capacity the yoga tools that aid in the healing processes, such as physical and breathing exercises, relaxation, meditation, and others.
When you perpetually follow a yoga practice, you will reap these amazing benefits:
1. Relieves stress
Since yoga practice can ease your nerves and promote feelings of relaxation, any stress you feel will simply fade into the background. Numerous studies have shown that the levels of stress hormones known as cortisol are reduced with a regular yoga practice.
Not only the practice helped alleviate the participants’ stress levels, anxiety, and depression but also improved their mental health.
2. Relieves anxiety
Yoga has also been found to reduce anxiety symptoms. Separate studies were done on women diagnosed with an anxiety disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder or PTSD. At the end of each study, the participants showed reduced symptoms of anxiety.
What’s more interesting is that a number of women no longer displayed any signs of PTSD. Though there was no scientific explanation of this result, researchers attributed the improvements to the spiritual aspect of yoga where the practitioner naturally finds peace while staying at the moment.
3. Reduces inflammation
Inflammation is the body’s immune response against injury. But prolonged or chronic inflammation can lead to serious health conditions like heart disease, diabetes, and cancer. If someone you know has developed any of these pro-inflammatory diseases, tell them to try yoga.
In one study, breast cancer survivors were found to have lower inflammatory markers after a 12 weeks practice of yoga.
4. Improves the quality of life
Yoga practice is for everybody, young and old. Seniors who practiced yoga for six months manifested better mood and increased energy.
Cancer patients who are yoga practitioners also showed reduced symptoms of chemotherapy side effects, thereby improving the quality of their lives.
5. Reduces chronic pain
In one study, yoga was found to be more effective at reducing wrist pain in people who have carpal tunnel syndrome after an eight-week yoga practice. Similarly, participants suffering from osteoarthritis showed reduced pain after a yoga practice.
6. Improves heart conditions
The heart regulates blood circulation throughout the body. Health issues like high blood pressure can affect the heart’s proper function. Because yoga practice focuses on your breathing, it greatly improves blood circulation and promotes heart health in the process.
Individuals who practiced yoga for five years showed lower blood pressure and pulse rate compared to those who didn’t.
7. Wards off depression
Yoga shows a greater influence on a person’s hormone responses. Several studies show that people with depressive episodes brought about by alcohol dependency have improved mood after a regular yoga practice. It’s because the stress hormone cortisol is reduced with each yoga practice, decreasing the likelihood of depression.
8. Improves the quality of sleep
Yoga can help alleviate sleep problems. Seniors who were assigned to practice yoga showed better sleep quality. They fell asleep much easier and slept longer compared to the controlled group. Researchers attributed this to the increased production of melatonin, a hormone that helps regulate sleep and wakefulness.
9. Improves flexibility, strength, and balance
With regular yoga practice, you’re bound to have improved flexibility, strength, and balance. It’s because yoga poses are centered on your core, which naturally increases strength and improves balance. And the more you do stretches, the more you improve your flexibility. Even older adults practicing yoga showed improved balance and mobility according to one study.
10 Improves breathing
Yoga practice is essential for people suffering from lung disease and asthma. There’s a yoga variation that focuses mainly on breathing exercises and techniques. It’s called Pranayama. Pranayama was found to help participants increase their vital capacity, which is the maximum amount of air expelled from the lungs. With improved breathing techniques, you’re likely to improve your endurance and overall performance.
In addition to the above benefits, yoga has also been found to improve the following health conditions:
- Eating disorders
- Musculoskeletal Problems
- Back pain
- Brain injury
- Multiple sclerosis
If you believe yoga therapy is the best alternative in your healing processes, seeing a yoga therapist is a must since they’re the best people trained to help you aid in your healing journey. They know the right poses that have positive direct effects on your specific ailment. For symptoms that require gentle movements like PTSD, poses that regulate the nervous system are what you need to focus on. Similarly, if you complain of back pain, you and your therapist will focus on movements that target this specific area.
While yoga therapy is geared to help people regain their wellness and overall wellbeing, you can also enjoy yoga therapy even when you’re feeling physically alright. Yoga therapists are also open to help people seeking a fulfilling exercise program, wanting to slow down their aging processes, and seeking to be more flexible in their personal yoga practice.
So, don’t wait for any bodily pain as a trigger to start a yoga practice. Try it now and you will reap benefits that go far beyond your expectations, not to mention the feelings of flow and blissfulness.