Yoga is a popular practice these days. Some people do it for the physical exercise, some because it is trendy and sexy. Some say that it’s not about physical exercise at all. And maybe they are right!
It does not really matter what reason you have for your yoga practice. What matters is that you actually practice it. While it is not going to help you lose a lot of weight or quickly build muscle mass before the summer season, it actually will help you in other really important areas of your health.
After a good and proper session of yoga, whether it is in a comfort of your own home or group class in the local studio, you should feel more relaxed and more at ease with the world and yourself. If you have that feeling of lightness and a smile on your face after, than you definitely have found a great yoga practice. Otherwise search for a more qualified teacher.
A good practice includes:
- Challenging poses
- Conscious breathing
Here is the scientific evidence on why you should practice yoga on a regular basis:
In this study 501 participants were reporting on their anxiety levels before and after a yoga class. Yoga proved to be very effective against anxiety. It had a real drastic effect on those who suffer from anxiety the most. So it is a great idea to take a yoga class, especially if you go through some hard times.
When we go through a stressful situation we can feel how our whole body becomes tense and stiff and we have very little control over it. The effect of stress has very negative effects on our health, and especially, on inflammation in our body. Some problems just cannot be solved in a day or a week. That is why it is so important not to wait for an upcoming vacation to release stress. Join a yoga class regularly! Yoga welcomes you to experience the opposite of stress: Relaxation.
In the 2nd study it is shown that yoga lowers inflammation in your body and it has a positive effect on chronic diseases.
You might be asked by your yoga instructor to move your body into uncomfortable poses, but combined with a conscious breathing effort, it puts your body and your mind into a relaxed state.
If your days are filled with stress, even a 1 hour daily practice helps to take you out of the stress and will start to rewire your brain slowly but surely into a more conscious and mindful state. This way you get to experience continuous relaxation that is proven to have a positive effect on your health.
In this study from the Benson-Henry Institute for Mind/Body Medicine at Massachusetts General Hospital and Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center the subjects were both short-term and long-term meditation practitioners. All subjects gave their blood prior to the session and 15 minutes after the meditation sessions. The researchers found that blood samples revealed changes in gene expression following meditation. Genes associated with energy metabolism, mitochondrial function, insulin secretion, and telomere maintenance were turned on, while those involved in inflammation, like in stress mode of the body were turned off. These effects were more pronounced and consistent for long-term practitioners.
You had a bad day and just want to watch TV and eat some junk food? We’ve all been there, but this might be the best time to step onto your yoga mat. In this study it was shown that yoga practice can increase serum Brain Derived Neurotrophic Factor (BDNF) and lower your cortisol hormone level. This literally translates into increased mood levels!
Over time, if you practice yoga consistently (at least twice a week), incorporate some mindfulness meditation into your day, and eat a whole food plant-based diet, your cortisol levels will start to decrease, and you might notice some positive changes in your body and mind. Give it a try and let us know how it goes!*
* Make sure to always consult your GP before beginning any exercise program. This information is not intended to diagnose any medical condition or to replace your doctor visit. Consult with your healthcare professional to create an appropriate exercise habit.