Yoga Benefits Your Physical and Mental Health
Over 36 million Americans regularly practice yoga in one form or another. Practitioners often extol the exercise’s virtues and benefits.
But are the improvements people feel after doing yoga legitimate? Or are they simply a result of the placebo effect? While some of the benefits of yoga for men and women are debatable, others have been verified in scientific studies.
If you’re considering if yoga is right for you, learn more about the top benefits of yoga — as shown in medically valid trials.
Benefits of Yoga: Overview
Yoga is an umbrella term that covers a range of exercise and spiritual practices. The word “yoga” comes from a Sanskrit word meaning “create union.” It has a connotation of focused attention. So, yogic practices typically aim to use focus and attention to unify the mind, body, and spirit. Certain popular subtypes of yoga offer unique benefits.
Yin Yoga and Hot Yoga
For instance, yin yoga is a passive style of yoga that involves holding poses for long periods. Practitioners argue that the benefits of yin yoga include improved parasympathetic nervous system response, which improves rest and digestion.
A short trial demonstrated that a yin yoga intervention reduced sleep problems and plasma ADM levels.
Elevated plasma ADM levels are reliable biomarkers of future non-communicable disease development (like heart disease). Reducing them may reduce the likelihood someone develops an NCD.
Hot yoga is typically Bikram or Vinyasa yoga performed in hot, humid conditions. The key benefits of hot yoga include increased flexibility and improved circulation.
But, unlike yin yoga, hot yoga’s benefits have never been demonstrated in a clinical trial.
Trataka is a form of yogic visual concentration. In 2021, Frontiers in Psychology published the results of a trial that tested Trataka’s impact on a practitioner’s memory and attention.
The study tested practitioners’ memory and attention using the Corsi-Block Tapping Task. The results of the task indicated that Tratka sessions improve spatial attention, spatial memory, and working memory.
Physical Benefits of Yoga
Science cannot address the potential spiritual benefits of yoga. But, it absolutely demonstrates the physical benefits of yoga for women and men. Bodily yoga benefits fall into four categories:
- Decreased inflammation
- Increased cardiovascular endurance
- Boosted immune system
- Improved glucose regulation
In 2012, researchers published a literature review of all studies of yoga’s impact on health thus far. That review underscored the significance of yoga’s effect on stress, cardiovascular function, and glucose regulation. While the degree of impact varied for different participants, these positive effects were found across the board.
Yoga’s positive impact on the immune system was best demonstrated in 2022. In March of this year, the journal Brain, Behavior, Immunity, and Health published a study demonstrating that yoga enhances practitioners’ immunity to emerging infections.
In February 2022, the same journal published a different yoga study.
It showed yoga was a useful, supplementary treatment for patients with inflammation disorders. This was demonstrated through yoga’s effect on relevant biomarkers.
Mental and Emotional Benefits of Yoga
Yoga’s positive impact on mental and emotional health is widely reported. The 2012 review that noted evidence of yoga’s physical benefits also recorded notable mental and emotional benefits. Yoga demonstrably:
- Reduces depression symptoms
- Decreases stress and anxiety
- Improves PTSD symptoms
Yoga is also a great way to reduce stress. The cognitive benefits of Trataka are well-established.
Research on other yoga styles is still in progress. But, it seems likely that they, too, can improve memory and focus.
Whole-Self Health With Physicians Premier
As Physicians Premier, we offer high-quality care in a convenient environment. Our medical team cares about your overall health. That’s why we’re ready to advise patients on the benefits of yoga, and other complementary treatments.
At our emergency room in Cibolo, TX, you’ll find an upscale, high-tech environment where we take your problems seriously. Our experienced and caring staff never waste a minute.
Büssing, A., Michalsen, A., Khalsa, S. B. S., Telles, S., & Sherman, K. J. (2012). Effects of Yoga on Mental and Physical Health: A Short Summary of Reviews. In Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine (Vol. 2012, pp. 1–7). Hindawi Limited. https://doi.org/10.1155/2012/165410
Dalpati, N., Jena, S., Jain, S., & Sarangi, P. P. (2022). Yoga and meditation, an essential tool to alleviate stress and enhance immunity to emerging infections: A perspective on the effect of COVID-19 pandemic on students. In Brain, Behavior, & Immunity – Health (Vol. 20, p. 100420). Elsevier BV. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.bbih.2022.100420
Swathi, P. S., Bhat, R., & Saoji, A. A. (2021). Effect of Trataka (Yogic Visual Concentration) on the Performance in the Corsi-Block Tapping Task: A Repeated Measures Study. In Frontiers in Psychology (Vol. 12). Frontiers Media SA. https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2021.773049
Estevao, C. (2022). The role of yoga in inflammatory markers. In Brain, Behavior, & Immunity – Health (Vol. 20, p. 100421). Elsevier BV. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.bbih.2022.100421
Daukantaitė, D., Tellhed, U., Maddux, R. E., Svensson, T., & Melander, O. (2018). Five-week yin yoga-based interventions decreased plasma adrenomedullin and increased psychological health in stressed adults: A randomized controlled trial. In J. P. van Wouwe (Ed.), PLOS ONE (Vol. 13, Issue 7, p. e0200518). Public Library of Science (PLoS). https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0200518