10 unlikely benefits of yoga
From anti-ageing to boosting fertility — the health perks you may not know about.
For those who practise yoga, the benefits are obvious: flexibility, mindfulness, relaxation and strength. But there’s so much more this ancient practice can offer, so we asked the yogis at the newly opened Ebb and Flow yoga studio in Farnham about the lesser known benefits.
1. Yoga has medical benefits to cancer patients
Yoga helps to manage fear and anxiety, as well a helping to manage the physical pain brought on by emotional stress. In the US, the findings of a study led to calls being made for yoga to be prescribed to those struggling with pain and fatigue. The study found that those who practised yoga were 61 per cent less likely to say that their pain had worsened, nearly 50 per cent less likely to have mood problems and 31 per cent less likely to feel as though their cancer interfered with their day-to-day activities.
2. Yoga and heart disease symptoms
Heart disease causes more deaths in the UK each year than any other disease or condition. A study by the American College of Cardiology found that doing yoga improved heart disease risk factors. It helps with anxiety and stress, improves wellbeing and develops flexibility, strength, balance and coordination.
3. Multiple Sclerosis and yoga
Those that suffer from multiple sclerosis, a chronic, unpredictable disease that effects the central nervous system, will benefit from yoga. They often experience episodes extreme numbness in their limbs. One of the biggest problems for people who suffer from MS is balance. Most of the students use a cane or a walker to get from one place to another.
Yoga instructors have developed techniques to strengthen a person’s core muscles which help them balance whether they are sitting down or standing up. Yoga for these students is often taken using chairs, to add stability, build strength and create confidence.
4. The benefits of yoga on depression
Numerous studies have shown yoga to be of benefit for those with depression. One study on participants with major depression found that 20 sessions of yoga led to an elevation of mood and reduction of anger and anxiety. Another study on young adults with mild depression found that biweekly yoga classes resulted in improved mood and reduced anxiety and fatigue.
5. The benefits of yoga for improve memory and concentration
Yoga can boost brain power even more than doing conventional exercise. Just one session of Hatha yoga was found to significantly improve working memory and concentration. Study participants performed significantly better after 20 minutes of yoga than after other forms of moderate to vigorous aerobic exercise done for the same length of time. The top yoga poses for better concentration include the prayer pose, the eagle, warrior 2, and the alternative nostril breathing exercise
6. How yoga protects against brain ageing
There’s evidence that yoga protects the brain from shrinking that normally occurs with age. Using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), researchers found a correlation between doing yoga and increased brain volume. Older yoga practitioners had larger brain volumes than expected and, in fact, their brains were typical of those of much younger people. This preservation of brain volume occurred mostly in areas of the brain responsible for positive emotions and the relaxation response.
7. Yoga helps you sleep better
It’s a well known fact that sleep disorders such as insomnia are endemic in our stress-filled, caffeine-driven contemporary lifestyles. In a recent study, it was shown that Britons are the world’s most ‘sleep deprived’ people, with 37 per cent of the population reporting that they regularly don’t get enough shut eye.
The health implications of sleep deprivation are equally shocking. It’s been shown that when the brain is starved of sleep, its synapses begin to be ‘eaten’ by other cells in the brain. What’s more, a lack of sleep can trigger the release of a chemical in the brain that leads to Alzheimer’s disease, and even that it’s physically ‘as bad as smoking’
8. Soothes rheumatoid arthritis
There are different types of yoga and one of them, Iyengar yoga involves the use of more than a yoga mat. In this type, a student will use positioning props, such as blocks and belts. Studies have shown that this type of yoga can help people with rheumatoid arthritis manage their condition better.
9. Increases fertility
You might be wondering how yoga can increase fertility? Couples who have trouble conceiving are often told by their doctor that their stressful lives are responsible.
And since yoga is known to decrease stress, Yoga for couples can be the ideal tonic to aid fertility wellness. Moreover, since yoga can help regulate the flow of blood, it will cause more blood to flow to the reproductive organs. The organs will receive nutrition, more oxygen, while their performance can improve due to quicker removal of waste and toxins.
10. Improves other’s perception about you
Imagine if you are stepping into a job interview… they see you adopt a sloppy posture and looking defeated, how do you think it will colour their perception? Yoga helps you attain good posture. This is because it strengthens your core and brings your spine into balance with the rest of your body. Consequently, you will be perceived in a much more positive light.