In any beginning study of the ancient yoga texts, one of the first things that you notice are the many descriptions of amazing benefits of yoga practice. One of the most well known ancient texts on yoga, The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, describes the concrete benefits of a consistent yoga practice as “rupa lavanya bala vajra samhanana kaya sampat”, or perfection of body from the practice of yoga that results in beauty, gracefulness, strength, and robustness.
That definitely doesn’t sound too shabby for doing yoga a couple times per week. Unfortunately our so called common sense and reason usually say that these are probably the mythical stories of ancient primitive peoples. But science is now beginning to prove otherwise.
Claims which where once thought to be ancient creative exaggerations, are now being found by science to be entirely true, and possibly only the tip of the iceberg. In one of the first controlled studies done in the United States that examined the relationship between yoga and fitness, researchers at the University of California at Davis tested the muscular strength and endurance, flexibility, cardiorespiratory fitness, body composition, and lung function of 10 college students before and after eight weeks of yoga training.
Each student practiced yoga class with physical asanas, breath work and a bit of meditation, four times per week. After eight weeks, the students’ muscular strength had increased by as much as 31 percent, muscular endurance by 57 percent, flexibility by as much as 188 percent, and VO2max by 7 percent—a huge increase for such a short period of time. This study has become just one of the many studies across the globe which are producing the same incredible results and are showing us the true benefits of yoga and that these ancient yogis where actually telling the truth.
Yoga, although rooted in ancient practices, also has a lot of modern innovation in its practice. Because of that it offers a way of practicing yoga which is not only more challenging but also provides a huge amount of extra benefits. Here are 9 of the top science backed benefits which you can expect from practicing Yoga:
Yoga is a great way to build flexibility and ease stiffness in your joints. Particularly if you live a sedentary lifestyle, practicing Yoga can allow you to stretch and strengthen each muscle throughout your body. The warming nature of yogas postures and movements encourages the muscles to open and be more receptive to deep stretching, helping to gain more elasticity with every practice.
There is scientific evidence that yoga can directly improve energy levels and vitality. It is believed that the practice of asanas and pranayama release endorphins, increase blood flow to the brain, and reduce ruminative and negative thoughts. It has also been shown that poor posture can be directly related to lower energy levels which yoga can help correct.
The key to developing core strength is to not only engage the muscles in your lower torso but also to stabilize the spine to prevent low back strain. Yoga incorporates a large variety of poses that engage and strengthen your core muscles. Moving through a complicated sequence of side bends, backbends, and twists uses your own body weight to build core strength and will improve stability, power and balance.
The flowing movements of Yoga, especially Vinyāsa Yoga are not only great exercise, but it’s also considered a moving meditation. Moving through a sequence of poses requires focus, concentration, and deep breathing. This in turn calms your mind and relieves stress. If you suffer from anxiety, worry, burnout, or other stress-related problems, this style may be just the thing for you.
Vinyāsa yoga is an accessible yet dynamic aerobic physical activity which has been proven to lower the resting heart rate, increase endurance, and improve the maximum uptake and utilisation of oxygen during exercise. Regular cardiovascular exercise is essential to improving and maintaining good heart health. Upper back-bending postures can also increase circulation in the heart and surrounding muscles and tissues.
Maintaining a good range of motion and proper mobility is a key factor in reducing injury, improving posture, and completing daily tasks without pain. Luckily, the sun salutations and yoga asanas incorporated into Yoga have the effect of enhancing your mobility. The combination of flowing movements and muscle strengthening exercises provides an opportunity to increase range of movement while building strength for healthy mobility.
One of the most important benefits that yoga can give to you is a stronger respiratory system. The breathing techniques in Yoga work to expand the lungs to their fullest capacity and to strengthen the diaphragm. By routinely expanding your lungs, you can boost your lung health and improve your lung capacity, which is helpful in lung problems such as asthma or bronchitis.
Yoga keeps you moving almost constantly, especially with the practice of Surya Namaskar, which helps you to burn more calories and boost your metabolism. Studies have shown that people who practiced yoga regularly were able to lose weight and body fat, and improve fitness. An hour-long moderate level Vinyāsa Yoga class can burn between 400 to 800 calories.
Yoga is an excellent way to strengthen your immune system and stay healthy during the cold and flu season. The variety of Yoga poses and flowing movements activate the lymphatic system to flush out toxins and boost infection-fighting white blood cells. In addition to stimulating lymph glands, the practice also improves circulation and reduce stress levels to further help prevent disease.
Although I was already practicing yoga, working as a yoga teacher and experiencing these benefits when these studies began to come out, the solid scientific proof made all the more real what I already knew to be true. It also deeply inspired me to dedicate 100% of my time to sharing this life changing practice with others.
If these studies inspire you as well, I invite you to come and experience our Yoga Wellness Experiences; meticulously crafted, custom designed classes especially for you, in which you can be free, expand your wellness and re-awaken your passion for life. All you have to do is choose your experience, book your time, and start experiencing the amazing benefits of yoga. See you on the mat!