Yoga is good for you; You’ve heard that before. The 5,000 year old form of exercise has persisted for so long because it works – for both mind and body. But there are several things that yoga has been proven – scientifically – to do that many people are unaware of. Let’s take a look at some of these little-known benefits of yoga.
- Improved sleep. There are many reasons that people struggle to sleep, whether it’s anxiety or a host of other health conditions. But there are even more reasons to do whatever you can to get adequate amounts of quality Sleep deprivation can worsen stress and depression, while weakening the immune system and even increasing the risk of obesity, heart disease and diabetes. Fortunately, a team of researchers working out of Harvard found that daily yoga greatly improved sleep quality in insomniacs. A related study that just two sessions of yoga each week improved sleep and reduced feelings of fatigue in cancer survivors.
- Reduced back pain. As people in general sit more and move less, chronic back pain is becoming more and more common. This issue can also naturally occur as we age, associated with bone loss and arthritis. One large study – following 313 patients for 12 months – looked specifically at the effects that yoga has on lower back pain. Interestingly, the subjects who took yoga classes experienced significant improvements in back function and a reduction in pain. It should be noted, though, that these results were only seen in the patients who actually when to the classes and stuck to the routine.
- Improved immune function. Because the immune system is so large and so complicated, it’s fairly difficult to prove the (very common) claims of improved immunity made by so many products and programs. In the case of yoga, however, Norwegian scientists were able to find pretty convincing evidence. The team observed that yoga – while the participants were still in the middle of the workout – caused a change in gene expression that can improve overall function of infection-fighting cells.
- Improved sexual health. The connection between yoga and sexual health is an ancient one, that dates back just about to the dawn of the practice. And, according to modern science, these claims hold up. Along with generally reducing anxiety (which we’ll look at more in a moment), yoga improves overall blood flow – including to the genitals. Studies have found that yoga can increase sexual desire, performance and satisfaction in both men and women.
- Improved mental and emotional health. Maybe this one isn’t as surprising as the other yoga-benefits on the list; but the full impact that yoga has on mental wellbeing often a new thought to people. Of course, the mindfulness and deep-breathing associated with yoga logically reduce feelings of stress and anxiety. But yoga has also been shown to improve mood, and reduce the symptoms of schizophrenia and other psychiatric disorders. Interestingly, practicing yoga in a group setting also causes spikes of oxytocin the brain – a hormone that makes you feel bonded to another person.