A centuries-old disciple, yoga has gained popularity in recent years due to the wide range of benefits it offers. From improving your mental and physical health to helping you to achieve internal peace and happiness, yoga has a lot to offer and is rightly considered one of the best ways to stay healthy and happy.
While the benefits of yoga have long been established, science is still catching up and is in the process of validating the claims that yogis have been making for centuries with research and data. Although researchers still have a long way to go, they have found scientific evidence to back the benefits of yoga. So, if you have been thinking of incorporating yoga into your daily life, but are a little uncertain if it really provides as many benefits as people claim, here are the top four science-backed benefits of yoga that will give you the motivation you need:
1. It Reduces Stress
One of the most widely known benefits of yoga is that it promotes relaxation and reduces stress. According to several research studies, yoga reduces stress by decreasing the release of cortisol in the body.
For those who do not know, cortisol is the primary stress hormone that our body releases when it perceives a threat and plays a key role in triggering the fight-or-flight response.
While cortisol is essential for our body to deal with stressful situations, when its levels remain too high for a long period of time, it can cause more harm than good. High stress levels not only have a negative impact on your mood, but also disrupt your sleep and contribute to high blood pressure, diabetes, and weight gain.
In addition to lowering the production of cortisol in the events of perceived threat, yoga also reduces the production of pro-inflammatory cytokines in the body as well as helps break down the mental loops of anger, fear, regret, and frustrations that often lead to stress.
2. Improves Heart Health
This is related to the previous one. Those who have been through this know that stress increases blood pressure, which is the biggest risk factor for heart disease. By helping you to relax, yoga lowers your blood pressure and normalizes your heartbeat and thus, has a positive effect on your heart health.
Several studies have also found that yoga can also help lower the LDL cholesterol and triglycerides levels, which also contribute to heart problems.
3. Improves Sleep
Whether it is due to stress or any other reason, lack of (good) sleep can have drastic negative effects on your health in the long run.
While lack of sleep is known to negatively impact your mood, causing lethargy and tiredness, and affecting your mental capabilities, it has far bigger and more serious implications too. Without adequate sleep, our body is unable to repair itself and as a result, develops many health issues.
While it is still not clear how it works, yoga has been found to help improve sleep quality by increasing the secretion of melatonin; a hormone that controls sleep cycles, also known as the sleep hormone.
4. Improves Brain Function
From helping you to gain mental clarity and improving your concentration to enhancing your cognitive abilities and memory, yoga provides a wide range of benefits to your brain.
Becoming aware of and focusing on your present are some of the basic components of yoga and meditation practices. This not only helps improve your concentration, but has also been found to improve your memory, coordination, and reaction time – when you are less distracted by thoughts and more aware of your surroundings, you tend to acquire, retain, and recall information in a better way.
The Final Word
Whether you are trying to cope with stress, struggling with poor sleep or insomnia, having difficulty thinking clearly or memorizing information, struggling with anxiety, want to improve your physical health, or just need a pick-me-up to feel good about yourself, yoga is the answer to all your issues.
It is one of the simplest forms of exercise with the most amazing and diverse benefits. Also, there are so many different types and techniques of yoga that you will find one that suits your needs. All you need to do is to take out some time. Start with 10 to 15 minutes and you will feel the difference within yourself in just a few days.