The Benefits of Yoga

Yoga has become increasingly popular throughout our country with more & more people aware of the practice and willing to give it a try.  But does it really work?  What exactly does yoga do outside of improving our flexibility?

 

As a physical therapist and yogi (a person who practices yoga), I became interested in learning more about the physiology and science behind yoga.  Was there actually literature out there to support the potential benefits?

 

The answer is “yes”.  A couple years ago, I took a continuing education course on yoga as it related to rehabilitation.  Here, I got the answers that I was looking for with research to support the claims.  Yoga’s apparent benefits were finally validated by science.

 

What I learned was that yoga has been found to be beneficial for a wide variety of conditions (in addition to the obvious benefits in strength, flexibility, and balance).  Yoga can also have a positive impact on: anxiety, pain, depression, sleep disturbances, cardiovascular conditions, and even immune conditions.

 

Here are a few highlights:

 

  • Yoga has a positive impact on hormone regulation. It helps lower cortisol levels, which in turn reduce pain-causing chemicals.
  • Yoga stimulates the vagal nerve via pressure recepors, which in turn has a positive effect on the immune system.
  • Yoga improves psychological functions including sleep, anxiety, and quality of life.
  • With regular practice, yoga has been effective in decreasing heart rate and blood pressure.

 

There you have it!  The science behind the art of yoga.  Of course, if you are experiencing a specific musculoskeletal or neurological injury, specific modifications and precautions will need to be considered before getting on the yoga mat.  Come schedule an appointment with us and I will be happy to help get you set up with an individualized program.

 

Melissa Meissner, PT, DPT