Many people think about the short term benefits of exercise when they start a new regime: we want to lose weight, look better, feel fitter. Yoga can help with all those goals, but it also can have seriously good consequences for your long term health.
Ward off Back Pain
Back pain is a major complaint for many Australians, especially as we get older. Yoga classes help improve muscle strength, flexibility and the suppleness of spinal disks – all improving back strength and health. Tight hips, knees and hamstrings can cause pain and misalignment in close areas and tight hamstrings in particular can cause a flattening of the lumbar spine which leads to back pain. The strength that also comes with yoga will help you have far better posture and combat the likelihood of degenerative arthritis.
The movement of your joints in yoga also helps cartilage to not become worn out, which improves the movement and health of joints in the future. The same is true of spinal disks.
A NCAM funded study in 2011 found that yoga was far more effective than self-care in treating adults with chronic back pain. Though the self-care patients followed a book on treating back pain they did not have the same improvement in function and symptoms as the yoga practitioners. These benefits could be seen after just 6 months.
Ward off Heart Attacks
There are many studies that suggest that yoga can seriously improve the health of your heart – an important consideration considering how many people die from heart attacks each year. One indicator of heart health, heart rate viability or HRV has been tested, with a medical study revealing that regular yoga practitioners have higher HRV – a sign of a healthier heart. Yoga can also improve hypertension, with a British medical journal, The Lancet, revealing that Savasana (corpse pose) as opposed to lying on the couch could reduce systolic blood pressure.
Be Happier and Stress-free
Those who practice yoga can expect an increase in their feelings of happiness and wellbeing according to many medical studies. Yoga has been proved to lower cortisol levels which when chronically high can damage memory and lead to depression and high blood pressure. A Harvard study of mental health also found that yoga could help people struggling with anxiety or depressive symptoms.
Regular yoga practice with a qualified instructor can have these benefits and many more.