Despite the scientifically proven benefits of yoga, yoga is underrated compared to other fitness activities. Studies have found that short, 20 or 30-minute yoga sessions have more benefits than walking and light jogging —if done consistently. Based on research, here are the top seven scientifically proven benefits of yoga.
Scientifically Proven Benefits of Yoga
1. Helps Control Your Emotional Responses
The study included three groups completing 25 minutes of either mindfulness meditation, Hatha yoga or quiet reading. The research team found that participants did better following both yoga and meditation. The study also found that those who did yoga were sporadically more focused for the first few hours following the session.
According to Peter Hall, associate professor in the School of Public Health & Health Systems:
“Hatha yoga and mindfulness meditation both focus the brain’s conscious processing power on a limited number of targets like breathing and posing which might have some positive carryover effect in the near- term following the session, such that people are able to focus more easily on what they choose to attend to in everyday life.”
2. Helps Fight Alzheimer
A research team from the University of Southern California saw a notable increase in participants` Brain-derived Neurotrophic Factor levels —BDNF— following 3 months of meditation, yoga and a Mediterranean diet.
In case you didn`t know, BDNF is a protein found in the areas responsible for learning, memory and critical thinking and it`s usually produced at lower levels in Alzheimer`s patients.
This study shows the correlation between BDNF and cognitive impairment. When BDNF increases, your cognitive functions improve, and so will your focus and long-term memory.
3. Reduces Inflammation
The same research team from USC found that yoga helped decrease inflammation by increasing the levels of Interleukin-10, an anti-inflammatory substance that plays a role in the regulation of immune responses. This can also be linked to the boost yoga provide to BDNF levels since some studies also believe that BDNF upregulates interleukin10.
Gamma-Aminobutyric Acid —GABA— is an amino acid found in the Central Nervous System and is responsible for regulating muscle tone and blocking impulses between nerve cells. Low GABA levels are usually linked to epilepsy and mood swings.
One study found that participants who took yoga sessions for 12 weeks significantly elevated their mood and brain GABA compared to others who chose to walk 60 minutes a day, three times a week for 12 weeks.
5. Helps you sleep better
Yoga can be a great cure for insomnia. A 2014 study found that 12 weeks of yoga sessions improved sleep quality, sleep efficiency and sleep latency for old adults. Similarly, another study on 120 nurses found that those who performed yoga more than two times a week for 50-60 minutes/session reported improved sleep quality and lower work stress compared to the non-yoga group.
6. Reduces Chronic Pain
Grey Matter is a major component of the Central Nervous System especially the parts responsible for hearing, decision-making, emotional regulation, and self-control.
Any type of chronic pain is usually accompanied by a reduction in the grey matter causing patients to suffer a notable drop in pain tolerance. According to studies, practicing yoga regularly increases the gray matter in critical brain areas thus helping fight both chronic pain and depression.
7. Reduces bad cholesterol
Low-density lipoprotein —LDL— is also known as the bad cholesterol which, when increases, raises your odds of heart diseases.
According to this study, six months of practicing yoga helped participants significantly reduce LDL and Triglycerides and thus improved their cardiovascular activities. The same study also found that yoga can improve your thyroid function and make you burn more fat.
What about you? Do you practice yoga? And if so, what is the one thing you love the most about it? You can share your comment in the comment section below 🙂