Many people choose to practice yoga for the relaxation and flexibility benefits it brings. Yoga is a low impact form of exercise that strengthens muscles, increases balance, improves flexibility, and reduces stress with various poses and breathing exercises. Recent studies show that there are actual physical benefits of incorporating yoga into one’s life. People who regularly practice yoga reduce compounds in the blood that contribute to inflammation. Yoga has also been shown to increase heart rate variability (HRV) which is a sign of good heart health.
Yoga is an ancient practice that combines physical poses and breathing exercises. The physical, mental, and spiritual benefits of yoga are numerous. Yoga improves circulation and respiration and can increase metabolism and energy. The mental benefits of yoga include relief from stress, anxiety reduction, and increased self-confidence. Many people practice yoga for the spiritual benefits and the connection it brings to the mind, body, and spirit.
A recent study conducted at Ohio State University included 50 female participants. Half of the women were yoga novices who had practiced yoga for fewer than 12 sessions and the other women were considered experts who had practiced yoga twice a week for 2 years. Blood samples were drawn at various times during the study when the women were asked to perform yoga and light treadmill walking and during a stress test.
The blood samples showed that women who did not regularly practice yoga had 41% higher levels of pro-inflammatory cytokine IL-6. This is a substance that increases inflammation in the body. Inflammation plays a major role in age-related diseases including heart disease and diabetes. This study shows that practicing yoga can help people fight illnesses as they age by reducing their levels of cytokine IL-6.
Another study shows that yoga increases heart rate variability. A high HRV is a sign of a healthy heart. The study assessed 42 men who were yoga novices and 42 men who were yoga experts. Those who regularly practiced yoga showed strengthening of parasympathetic control or control of heart rate indicating a healthier heart.
These studies show that there are numerous health benefits of practicing yoga on a regular basis. Yoga reduces the levels of cytokine IL-6, thus reducing inflammation in the body. Regular yoga sessions also increase heart rate variability which promotes heart health. By incorporating yoga into one’s life just 2 times a week, people can realize many physical, mental, and spiritual benefits.
Steve G. Jones, Ed.S.
Inderscience Publishers (2009, November 25). Yoga boosts heart health, new research finds. ScienceDaily. Retrieved January 22, 2010, from sciencedaily.com /releases/2009/11/091109121216.htm
Ohio State University (2010, January 14). Yoga reduces cytokine levels known to promote inflammation, study shows. ScienceDaily. Retrieved January 22, 2010, from sciencedaily.com /releases/2010/01/100111122643.htm
Roberts, S. The benefits of yoga. Retrieved January 22, 2010, from yogamovement.com