Is It True What They Say about Yoga?

Is It True What They Say about Yoga?
A lot of good things are said about the physical and mental benefits of practicing yoga, but are they true? Can yoga really be that good for you? Is there any scientific proof behind the claims?

Yoga has been around for 5,000 years, but only recently have scientists been taking a closer look at the effects yoga has on the body and brain. Here are some of the more interesting claims about yoga and the science behind them.

Yoga is good for your heart. Yes. Yoga may not be a great cardio workout, but it has been found to play a significant role in the prevention of heart disease. In one study, for example, patients with heart failure improved their heart health and overall wellbeing after only eight weeks of practicing yoga. Other studies have shown yoga can help lower high blood pressure and high blood sugar and help reduce arterial plaque, all of which are very common heart disease risk factors.

Yoga increases flexibility and balance. Absolutely true. The benefits of stretching tight muscles may seem obvious, but yoga results in far more lasting and improved range of motion than simply bending over and touching your toes before a jog. Yoga also improves balance by strengthening the connection between mind and body. It improves your sense of how your body works and where you are in space.

Yoga can make you feel good. Yes, it can. Yoga, like all exercise, has been shown to help people feel better, even those living with depression and sleep problems. Practicing yoga releases feel-good brain chemicals like dopamine, serotonin and GABA, which help you relax and feel content. It’s also been found to slow down the reaction to stress, helping to moderate depression and anxiety. Feeling good is one of the major reasons many people do yoga.

Yoga slows down the aging process. True. By increasing telomerase, a DNA-protecting enzyme, yoga has been found to help reverse premature aging. Yoga also builds stronger bones and improves balance, which helps reduce the fear of falling. It’s also been used as an effective therapy for rheumatoid arthritis. Yoga also supports the number one factor in longevity – breathing. Yoga practice focuses on the breath, increasing the ability to deliver more oxygen to every cell in your body.

Yoga improves sex life. Yes. By reducing anxiety, increasing body awareness and flexibility and stimulating the release of hormones. studies have shown that both men and women report greater arousal, better orgasms and improved satisfaction from practicing yoga.

Yoga can help you lose weight. Yes and no. No matter how slim, trim and fit many yoga instructors look, yoga is not the best exercise for burning calories. Yoga has been found to depress metabolism, not making it a good aerobic workout. Spending an hour on a treadmill will burn more than 3.5 times as many calories as spending the same amount of time in a normal yoga class. However, yoga students generally start to take better care of their health and that may show up as weight loss.

Yes, yoga does offer some pretty amazing benefits and it’s not as intimidating as it looks. Don’t let the fact you can’t touch your toes stop you from starting a yoga practice. Everyone, including the yogi who twists himself into a pretzel, had to start somewhere. With millions of Americans doing yoga, you sure to find a beginner’s class at the local Y, gym or senior center. There are also countless free yoga videos on YouTube to help you get started at home. Namaste.

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