In the past couple of decades, there has been a growing interest in yoga in the United States, and around the world. What was once seen as a rather niche pursuit is becoming more and more common, with yoga studios becoming a standard landmark for many areas. When considering taking up any new hobby it is often important to look at what the potential benefits could be. If you’ve been considering taking up yoga (or even if you haven’t yet) read on! Yoga is something that has been shown to benefit both physical and mental health in a wide variety of populations.
First, let’s examine the effects yoga can have on your mental health. It is pretty common knowledge that yoga is a stress reducer. It helps regulate breathing, promotes relaxation and body awareness and has been shown to reduce cortisol and increase GABA (two chemicals in the brain related to stress responses and the nervous system). Given this, it makes sense that yoga can have a positive impact on individuals struggling with anxiety. In addition to that, it has also been shown to help reduce depression, increase focus in those with ADHD, and (in one study) it improved the symptoms of those with schizophrenia (when combined with medication). Yoga can also help improve sleep quality, which in turn can improve focus, concentration, and cognitive abilities.
Yoga can also improve physical health. Because of the focus on relaxation and deep breathing, participating in yoga can reduce blood pressure, which in turn can improve heart health. It also has been shown to help reduce inflammation and chronic pain in some situations. Additionally, yoga can help increase balance, flexibility, and strength, which also has a positive impact on overall health and wellness.
The benefits of yoga have been studied in all age groups from teens to older adults, as well as people with and without physical and mental health conditions. Overall, a large number of participants saw some positive impact from regular yoga. Now it is important to note that yoga is not a magical cure all, but when combined with therapy, medication, and/or other lifestyle choices it can be an important tool in improving physical and mental health as well as overall wellness. If you have any chronic conditions, it is also important to talk to your doctor before making any major lifestyle changes.
While joining a yoga class is always a good option, as it provides support and a community, but between the pandemic and the financial cost of classes, that isn’t always an option. Luckly, thanks to youtube, yoga can easily be done for free from the comfort of your own home. Everyone’s needs and taste are different, but here are some beginner videos to get you started. Lengths vary, there are 10 , 20, and 45 minute options, as well as 5 minute yoga that can be done at your desk.
If you would like to read more about the benefits of yoga, here are two articles to get you started.
This blog was written by our intern, Hannah Shaffett.