The Remarkable Benefits of Yoga
By High Desert Family Medicine
October 29, 2021
Category: Osteopathic Care
When people imagine yoga, they think of deep stretches, meditation, and an amazing tool for wellness and stress relief. Indeed, yoga is an ancient technique that has been proven to be an effective relaxation, mindfulness, and all-around health tool.
The benefits of yoga are extensive and well-documented. In addition, yoga can be easily done with little or no extra tools, making it the perfect exercise for those with limited means or on the go.
What is Yoga?
Yoga is an ancient practice that originated in India an estimated 5,000 years ago. Yoga brings together physical, mental, and spiritual practices.
Yoga involves various methods for mindfulness, including deep breathing, physical poses, relaxation of muscles, stretching, and concentration. Yoga is now widely practiced by many Americans, with a survey showing that one out of every seven people practice yoga! The name yoga literally means "to join," and comes from the word "Yuj" in Sanskrit.
Besides being physical exercise, yoga is a great way to combine the body, mind, and spirit to better increase overall health. Physically, yoga helps people:
- Build muscle strength
- Increase flexibility
- Reduce muscle tension and stress
- Improve sleep through relaxation
It's estimated that people burn an average of 180 to 460 calories during a single yoga session. This is, of course, based on the type of yoga done, the intensity of the session and length of time, and if the person doing yoga is male or female. Because of the number of calories burned, yoga is a great weight-loss tool when combined with healthy eating habits and other lifestyle changes.
Because yoga incorporates mindfulness techniques, such as meditation and deep breathing, it is thought to be beneficial to those undergoing treatment for chronic pain, anxiety, and depression. A recent study published in the Journal of the American Osteopathic Association found that, after practicing Hatha yoga, people's PHQ-9 scores (measuring depression) dropped 3.7 points.
In addition, deep breathing during yoga has been found to be one of the best ways to activate the parasympathetic nervous system to slow down anxious thinking and stop anxiety in its tracks.
Although yoga shouldn't completely replace other therapies or treatments for mental disorders, it can be a powerful tool to help those struggling with anxiety and depression. By helping people increase mindfulness, people are better able to reduce stress and manage anxious and negative thoughts.
Talk to your osteopath about starting a new exercise such as yoga. After you get the OK, there are ample videos online and even free yoga classes to help you increase your overall health.