Benefits of yoga
Amit Eknath

November 09, 2019

What is Yoga?

In the ancient language, Sanskrit, yoga means “union”. The synchronization of mind and body create a sense of calm during the practice. The exercise is a combination of posture, breathing, strength, and meditation.  Overall, research indicates that yoga has several definitive benefits such as a happier disposition (due to raised levels of GABA brain chemicals that are linked to depression), relief from pain, better sleep, improved sex life, boosted confidence levels, increased strength, and a calmer temperament. 

The popularity of yoga has grown tremendously in recent decades. Data from the National Centre for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM) reveal the use of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) treatments for all conditions is on the increase. Yoga is among the commonest types of complementary and alternative medicine therapies, which is increasingly being practiced worldwide.

Yoga is a popular workout that focuses on breathing, strength, and flexibility. Practicing yoga may offer many physical and psychological health benefits.

Yoga's role in health care

Yoga is not an alternative to conventional treatments but is a useful free therapy and a possible tool to recover overall health and wellbeing. Regular practice of yoga has been shown to increase endorphin release, leading to improved pain management and stress reduction. Reduced levels of anxiety have been noted in people practicing yoga that changes their perception of stress leading to an increased feeling of well-being, achievement and control over chronic pain, which, till they started practicing yoga has been absent. Improved musculoskeletal function has also been related to the practice of yoga giving a legitimate exercise plan to recover or maintain muscle strength and aerobic capacity.


See: Yoga for Type 2 Diabetes

However Yoga has been misunderstood as primarily "stretching" from the positions which comprises one of eight elements of a wider discipline of comprehensive physical, psychological, and spiritual health and balanced frame of mind. Numerous techniques in Yoga can be tailored to suit the needs of people with different physical or emotional limitations and may vary from gentle to strenuous exercise, some providing cardiovascular rehabilitation whereas others concentrate on comfort and calming the mind.

Between 2012 and 2017, the percent of people in the United States practicing yoga climbed from 9.5 % to 14.3 % in adults .

The 2012 National Health Interview Survey reported that around 94% of people who practice yoga at the U.S. do this for health reasons to exercise more, eat healthier, sleep better, lower stress, and reduce alcohol intake. Increasing evidence tends to suggest that yoga may also provide many other benefits to health. We list some of these possible benefits in the sections below.

Health benefits of Yoga

Yoga cannot cure chronic disease, but it can improve quality of life and help alleviate some symptoms by promoting relaxation and overall fitness.  Primarily, yoga acts a stress reliever, making horrible chronic disease symptoms more manageable. While yoga is commonly known as a method of finding a sense of internal calm and tension release, the practice also has a profoundly positive impact on those suffering from chronic disease as well. 


1. Reducing stress

Regular yoga practice can help reduce stress and aid relaxation. People frequently practice yoga to reduce stress and aid relaxation. Researchers are now learning the mechanics behind how yoga reduces stress. Persistent surges of stress hormones, including adrenaline and cortisol, can damage blood vessels and elevate blood pressure. However, research has shown that people who practice yoga frequently have low cortisol levels. Studies have also found that practicing yoga for at least 3 months may lower cortisol and sensed stress and reduce pro-inflammatory cytokines that cause inflammation.


2. Relieving anxiety

Although most people feel anxious from time to time, anxiety is Also a symptom of many conditions, such as anxiety disorder, social anxiety disorder, post-traumatic anxiety disorder (PTSD), and phobias. A 2016 Meta-analysis discovered that practicing Hatha yoga had a promising impact on anxiety. Yoga was most beneficial in people who had the greatest levels of stress at the beginning of the studies. An older study from 2010 demonstrated that yoga enhanced mood and stress levels over walking. The researchers suggest that this was because of high levels of this brain chemical gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA). GABA action tends to be lower in people with mood and anxiety disorders. The researchers tested GABA action and discovered that yoga increased GABA levels in the participants.


3. Managing depression

Major depression affects around 17.3 million adults in the U.S. in any given year. Although medication and talk therapy are common treatments for Depression, yoga has had some promising results as a complementary treatment. A 2017 systematic review discovered that yoga could Reduce depressive symptoms in several people, including individuals with depressive disorder, pregnant and postpartum women, and health professionals. Research from 2017 looked at individuals with depression that hadn't reacted well to antidepressants.

Study participants that completed two months of Sudarshan Kriya Yoga experienced a decrease in depressive symptoms, whereas the control group showed no improvements.

Researchers suggest that yoga can lower symptoms of depression by reducing cortisol, or the "stress hormone."


4. Decreasing lower back pain

Some research suggests that yoga could be better than physical therapy for lower back pain. Reduced back pain impacts Around 80 percent of adults at some time in their lives, and it affects their ability to do daily activities, exercise, and sleep. Yoga might be a convenient and affordable way to offer some relief. A 2017 analysis connected yoga practice with lower back pain relief and an improvement in back-related function. Military veterans and active duty military employees often experience higher rates of chronic pain compared to the general population, particularly in the lower back.

One study in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine revealed a 12 week yoga program enhanced scores for handicap and pain intensity and decreased opioid use among military veterans.

Other research suggests that yoga is just as effective at relieving back pain as physical treatment . Yoga may also have lasting benefits for many months.

See: Yoga for GERD

5. Ulcerative colitis. Taking a weekly yoga class for 12 weeks can increase quality of life for those who have ulcerative colitis, in addition to reduce colitis activity.


6. Rheumatoid arthritis. Joining a 8 week intensive yoga class may enhance physical and mental symptoms in people with rheumatoid arthritis, in addition to reduce inflammation.


7. Asthma.  In 1998, the Northern Colorado Allergy Asthma Clinic at Fort Collins conducted a controlled clinical study of college students ages 19 to 52 years old. It reasoned that yoga techniques are a valuable adjunct to the medical management of asthma. 

See: Yoga for Migraine

8. Cardiovascular Risk Factors.  A three-month residential study medicated patients with meditation, yoga, and a vegetarian diet in Hanover Medical University in Germany. They found a significant decrease in risk factors for heart disease including blood pressure and cholesterol in participants. 

Heart disease triggers around 610,000 deaths from the U.S. every year. It remains the leading cause of death. An analysis of yoga and heart health studies found that yoga reduced risk factors for heart disease, such as body mass index (BMI), cholesterol, and blood pressure. Changes in the blood vessels that contribute to heart disease may also be reduced due to yoga,. One study discovered that Bikram yoga, which occurs in a heated area, enhanced cardiovascular wellness.

The writers of a 2018 Research found that combining yoga practice and aerobic exercise saw double the decrease in BMI, cholesterol levels, and blood pressure in relation to participate in only one or the other.


9.  Carpal Tunnel Syndrome. A randomized, single-blind, controlled clinical trial at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine in Philadelphia concluded in this preliminary study that a yoga-based regimen was significantly more effective than wearing wrist splinting brace or having no treatment at all in relieving some symptoms and signs of carpal tunnel syndrome. The analysis, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association in 1998, also noted that topics in the yoga classes had significant improvement in grip strength and pain reduction, but changes in grip strength and pain weren't important for control issues.


10. Arthritis.  Also at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, in research conducted in 1994, a yoga-treated group with osteoarthritis of the hands participate in a randomized, control, clinical trial that was printed in the Journal of Rheumatology. It reasoned, there was significant improvement over the control group in pain during activity, tenderness, and finger range of motion. The yoga program in the study was quite effective in providing relief for osteoarthritis in the hand. Further studies are warranted to compare this with other therapies and to examine long-term outcomes.


11 Fibromyalgia. The mind-body frontier also responds well to yoga. This is particularly true for patients with chronic disease that elude rigorous physiological diagnosis. Patrick Randolph, Ph.D., director of psychological services at the Pain Center of the Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center, has studied the effects of yoga on fibromyalgia syndrome (FS), an often debilitating chronic pain condition affecting up to 6 million Americans with a broad spectrum of symptoms.


8. Improving quality of life . Many people use yoga as a complementary treatment alongside Conventional medical treatments to enhance their wellbeing. Some evidence suggests that yoga can improve quality of life People with these conditions:

- prostate cancer. Research indicates that attending a yoga class twice weekly through prostate cancer radiation therapy may decrease fatigue and enhance sexual and urinary function.

- stroke. Yoga may enhance post-stroke equilibrium and motor operate even when someone begins practicing it 6 weeks or more after stroke.

Early research for yoga's role in enhancing quality of life in many conditions is promising. But more studies are essential before researchers have the ability to draw firm conclusions.


9. Stimulating brain function. Yoga may stimulate brain function and provide a boost to energy Levels, according to many studies. One 2017 study revealed that Hatha yoga improved The brain's executive functions, in addition to people's mood. Executive functions are brain actions associated with goal directed behavior and regulating emotional responses and customs. Research from 2012 discovered that a single Yoga session enhanced speed and accuracy of working memory more than one session of aerobic exercise. However, the effects were short term, and occurred only immediately after the exercise. Other study suggests that yoga can enhance mental flexibility, task switching, and data recall among elderly adults.


10. Other chronic ailments, such as chronic Obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), cancer, cardiovascular diseases (CVD), obesity and diabetes mellitus, have emerged as serious problems globally. Yoga research is promising, and promising to provide some benefits.


Summary

Yoga has been used as a therapeutic modality in traditional Indian medicine for centuries and as a complementary modality more lately. Each chronic disease has many symtpoms that have a negative impact on quality of life of people who suffer and their family members. Every individual suffering with a chronic disease can create a clear and indisputable sense of wellbeing through appropriate practice of healing and restorative yoga. This favorable state of being, then, enables the mind and body to heal itself to its maximum capacity with surprising and unthinkable results.


Attitude can be the difference between living a productive, joyful life, or living among sorrow and sadness that potentially worsens the illness. The mind transforms perceptions with its enormous power. Yoga helps focus on the now, through meditation, body awareness, and guided breathing exercises that the mind is taught to tune out external pressures and focus on the present.

References

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2. Yoga has Beneficial Effects on Patients with Chronic Diseases and Improves Immune Functions Nobuhiko Eda* Waseda University, Faculty of Sport Sciences, Tokorozawa, Saitama, Japan

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