Yoga is an ancient Indian tradition that elevates physical, mental and spiritual well being through paying elevated attention to the mind-body-soul connect. The emphasis is on gentle stretching and sculpting exercises or positions called poses, and breathing techniques rather than endurance training or high-impact, heartbeat-accelerating physical exercises.
The benefits are no less though, and according to the UN, the 2 billion people who practice yoga worldwide would argue not only that it ‘works’, but is beneficial in ways other exercise disciplines are not.
This probably also accounts for why the number of Americans who practice yoga has increased by 50% to over 36 million between 2012 and 2016 alone, according to Harvard Medical School. Here are some positive physical fitness, mental and lifestyle effects of enjoying yoga regularly.
1. Lowers the Risk of Cardiovascular Disease
The European Journal of Preventive Cardiology recently reported that studies have shown a definite link between doing yoga and increase heart health. This was true for those who did both gentle and strenuous forms of yoga.
Those who did yoga showed an improvement in several spheres all linked to improved heart health. Study participants lost an average of five pounds, lowered their blood pressure by five points and also decreased their levels of harmful cholesterol by 12 points.
Harvard medical professors with an interest in yoga did not find the results to be surprising as yoga incorporates physical activity, meditation, and breathing.
Stretching the muscles helps them become more resistant to insulin, lowering blood sugar, while the deep breathing calms blood pressure. Stilling the mind, in turn, eases stress, controls anxiety and calms the nervous system, giving the adrenal glands a break. Cumulatively, the effects insulate the heart from risk and strengthen it overall.