Throughout the years I tried various different forms of exercise. When I was younger I was much more into sports that involved teams and collaborating with other people, but I also rather enjoyed other activities that focused on my individual self. One form of exercise that I haven’t properly tried is yoga. I always thought that going to the gym or just walking around would be a good enough form of exercise for me but, after a while of doing them, I thought about changing my exercise routine and trying something new. Yoga seems like a very peaceful and slow-pace form of exercise and it would be a nice change from my usual more dynamic fitness habits. As the weather is getting hotter too, yoga will be a nice form of exercise that wouldn’t require as much jumping but will still enable me to focus on movements and what my body can do without any equipment.
So what is yoga?
Yoga is a form of exercise which originates from India thousands of years ago. There are various forms of it as this practice involves different movements, breathing routines and allow you to be in tune with your spiritual self through meditation. One of the most well-known benefits of yoga as it can help reduce anxiety and promote relaxation.
Yoga can be really beneficial for those looking for a form of exercise to cope with stress and depression symptoms. A study was conducted by academics from the Psychiatry Department of Islamic Azad University in Iran in 2009 as they investigated this effect of yoga. The researchers sampled women and some were randomly chosen to go to a yoga clinic and participate in classes twice a week; whereas, the rest of the women did not participate. As a result, after two months of observation and analysis, the two groups of women were compared against each other. The conclusions of the study found that those who participated in yoga classes were reported to have decreased levels of anxiety compared to those who didn’t take up yoga. It’s worth noting that the women who were reported to have reduced levels of anxiety suffered from anxiety disorders, so yoga was not seen as the only solution for them but just as an additional method, besides therapy and/or medications (depending on the individual), to treat those symptoms.
Furthermore, another study from 2014 involved scholars from the Trauma Center at Justice Resource Institute in Boston, USA, who also looked at how yoga could help women who suffered from posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). This is when your memory is affected by a traumatic event and it involves various symptoms depending on the individual case; these can vary from flashbacks to physical symptoms, like sweating, or they can also include other ways that people use to avoid thinking about the specific event, like using alcohol or avoiding going to certain places. The study sampled over 60 women with this condition and it was observed how yoga could help the participants. The researchers found that yoga played an important role in reducing PTSD symptoms and may help individuals with the same condition live more serenely by enabling them to cope better with reminders of undesirable experiences.
Studies suggest yoga can also be beneficial when it comes to lowering blood pressure. A 2003 study was conducted by academics from the Department of Physiology in Nagpur. They recruited participants over 40 years old and compared the pulse rate and blood pressure levels of a group who didn’t exercise at all and the other consisted of individuals who had been practising yoga for 5 years. The study found that those who practised yoga reported lower levels of blood pressure and pulse rate compared to the former group, who were less active physically. As a result, it could be suggested that yoga can help delay cardiovascular diseases for older individuals.
The fact that yoga can help reduce blood pressure is really important when considering all those individuals who suffer from serious cardiovascular diseases. In fact, another study focused on hypertension which is when an individual has constant high blood pressure and can therefore make it harder for the heart to transport the blood to vital organs. As a result, it is a really serious condition that can affect the essential functioning of organs like the heart, kidneys and brain. Scholars from the University Department of Medicine in Birmingham found in their 2009 study that reducing blood pressure was the single most effective way to significantly reduce the risk of conditions, like hypertension, to become worst and affect our essential organs. Considering this study and the previously mentioned 2003 one, yoga can be seen as a form of exercise that can help individuals lower the risk of suffering from diseases affecting their cardiovascular system.
Hopefully, this brief overview of yoga and some of its most popular benefits will have interested you in starting your wellness journey and help you consider diversifying your current exercise routine by trying out this slow-paced yet challenging form of exercise. I will definitely give it a try and I’m looking forward to seeing its benefits for my physical and mental health.