In 2014, the UN decided that June 21 would be the International Day of Yoga, a sporting and spiritual practice with benefits for physical and mental health. Like any discipline that helps us move and keeps us away from a sedentary lifestyle, yoga has clear health benefits, such as a lower risk of obesity or cardiovascular disease. But, in addition, due to its characteristics, yoga has other benefits, not only for our body, but also for our mind. Let’s see some of them.
Helps control weight, diabetes and cardiovascular risk
Although it seems like a relaxed discipline, yoga also burns a lot of calories, more than we could imagine a priori, because in a full class you can burn about 500 calories. Practiced regularly, yoga therefore helps to maintain a healthy weight, with all that it entails for general health: less cardiovascular and metabolic diseases, diabetes, hypertension… In fact, a study carried out in India, concluded that, in three months, this discipline could help reduce weight, as well as metabolic diseases related to it, such as diabetes.
Other studies, such as the one published by the European Journal of Preventive Cardiology or in Europe PMC, also link the practice of yoga with better control of cholesterol and other cardiovascular risk factors, such as atherosclerosis.
It can improve stress, anxiety and even depression
In addition to the purely physiological effects, practicing yoga regularly can have many effects on our psychological and mental health, as it helps control stress and anxiety. These benefits are proven through various studies. In fact, in a systematic review of 25 studies, it is concluded that these investigations “provide preliminary evidence suggesting that the practice of yoga leads to a better regulation of the sympathetic nervous system and the hypothalamus-pituitary-adrenal system, as well as a decrease of depressive and anxious symptoms in a variety of populations. There are also other studies that link the practice of yoga with an improvement in the symptoms of depression and its benefits as a complement to pharmacological treatments.
This is due not only to physical exercise itself, which also improves anxiety and stress, but also to the very nature of yoga classes, which are often accompanied by breathing, relaxation and meditation exercises, also with proven benefits. in cognitive function.
Improves muscles and helps control the symptoms of osteoarthritis
The practice of yoga improves flexibility, balance, posture and strengthens the muscles, something that, in itself, already has many benefits for our health and well-being, such as reducing muscle pain -especially in the back, neck and lumbar area – or avoid the risk of falls, with all that this entails, especially after a certain age. In addition, practicing yoga strengthens the muscles, something that is also related to less chronic pain, a faster metabolism (we burn more calories) and less chance of suffering from osteoporosis.
In addition, regular yoga practice has also been shown to reduce symptoms of osteoarthritis, as suggested by a study published in The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine. This study concludes that, after eight weeks of yoga practice two days a week, patients with knee osteoarthritis improved significantly, “yoga may provide a feasible treatment option for patients over 50 years of age who had not previously practiced yoga and offers potential reductions in pain and disability caused by knee osteoarthritis.”
Other general benefits of yoga
Among other benefits attributed to yoga in Medline, although with less scientific evidence, we also find:
•Strengthen the immune system
•Help you fall asleep
•Improve your coordination
•Improve your concentration
-Dr. Syed Sadat Ali. “Effects of Yoga – Pranayama Practices on Metabolic Parameters and Anthropometry in Type 2 Diabetes”. International Multidisciplinary Research Journal, vol. 1, no. 10, Oct. 2011, https://updatepublishing.com/journal/index.php/imrj/article/view/2681.
-Paula Chu, Rinske A Gotink, Gloria Y Yeh, Sue J Goldie, MG Myriam Hunink (2014). “The effectiveness of yoga in modifying risk factors for cardiovascular disease and metabolic syndrome: A systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials”. European Journal of Preventive Cardiology. https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/pdf/10.1177/2047487314562741
-Manchanda SC1, Narang R, Reddy KS, Sachdeva U, Prabhakaran D, Dharmanand S, Rajani M, Bijlani R. “Retardation of coronary atherosclerosis with yoga lifestyle intervention. The Journal of the Association of Physicians of India”, 01 Jul 2000, 48(7):687-694.
-Michaela C.PascoeaIsabelle E.Bauerb. “A systematic review of randomized control trials on the effects of yoga on stress measures and mood”. Journal of Psychiatric Research. Volume 68, September 2015, Pages 270-282. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/ abs/pii/S002239561500206X?via%3Dihub
-David Shapiro 1 , Ian A Cook, Dmitry M Davydov, Cristina Ottaviani, Andrew F Leuchter, Michelle Abrams. Yoga as a complementary treatment of depression: effects of traits and moods on treatment outcome. Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2007 Dec;4(4):493-502. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/18227917/
-Sharon L. Kolasinski, Marian Garfinkel, Adam Gilden Tsai, Whitney Matz, Alison Van Dyke, H. Ralph SchumacherJr. Iyengar Yoga for Treating Symptoms of Osteoarthritis of the Knees: A Pilot Study. The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine Vol. 11, No. 4 (2005). https://www.liebertpub.com/doi/abs/10.1089/acm.2005.11.689