Originating in India, yoga has been around for thousands of years. Although it is a big part of Indian culture and tradition, the scientific community is beginning to understand great reasons why it has been around for so long. As we learn more about this exercise, it has begun to take on new forms in today’s society.
What people may see as a way to work out has become a vehicle for meditation, mindfulness, and therapy. Yoga has been growing rapidly in the U.S with an estimated 36.7 million practitioners in 2016 and growing. This is a significant increase from 20.4 million in 2012. With yoga being more available than ever, it may be a good time to consider if it could be helpful as a part of your life.
Physical Health Benefits
Studies have shown that in nearly every single outcome other than physical fitness, yoga was equal or superior to other forms of exercise. This means that, while lifting weights may help you build more muscle, yoga will help your body and mind overall.
Yoga has been shown to increase strength, balance, and flexibility. Slow movements along with deep breathing increase blood flow, which warms up muscles. Warming up and stretching your muscles is key for increasing flexibility, which can prevent injury and improve balance. The action of holding a pose is what increases your strength.
On top of being a great form of exercise, yoga seems to be a form of physical therapy as well. Numerous studies link yoga with improved cardiovascular health. It is able to do this by reducing blood pressure, blood cholesterol, and blood glucose levels. These three factors play a big part in heart disease and other health issues, so lowering them can be life-saving. Yoga can even help improve sleep, boost energy, and lessen arthritis symptoms. If you would like to read more about the health benefits of yoga, you can do so here.
Mental Health Benefits
All forms of exercise can improve your mood due to the endorphins released by your body. Endorphins are hormones that can help reduce pain and elevate our mood. Exercise has also been proven to decrease cortisol and adrenaline, the body’s stress hormones. However, most forms of exercise also bring some sort of intensity. Running, lifting weights, and calisthenics all get our hearts pumping faster and can get our minds excited.
Yoga, on the other hand, is one of the few exercises that can lower your heart rate. Most forms of yoga are characterized by slow, steady movements along with deep breathing. These exercises can help both your mind and body achieve a restful, tranquil state.
Yoga is even used as a meditative exercise because of its relaxing effects. Deep, focused breathing exercises are one of the tools used in mindfulness training to help calm us down. Stretching can also help calm the mind, as it breaks up the tension in our body. These two factors, combined with the endorphins released by the body, are what make yoga so effective.
On top of the effects it has from a biological standpoint, yoga helps the mind through self-improvement. Like many forms of exercise, yoga is a skill that can challenge you and teach you patience. At first, a pose may be very difficult for you and it can be frustrating seeing more experienced peers performing it with ease. However, with some dedication and time, you will be able to achieve what was once seemingly impossible.
Activities that you can improve upon over time can give you a boost of confidence and help you take on other challenges in life. Dedicating yourself to an activity that involves your body also has the potential to help you to make healthier choices. When you realize that bad habits in your life are holding back your potential in yoga or another healthy activity, it can become easier to change these habits.
Yoga in Treatment and Recovery
While receiving treatment for substance use disorder (SUD), people often go through physical, mental, and emotional symptoms on their journey to recovery. This is why it is so valuable to have a holistic practice that can cover all three. Although yoga will not heal someone alone, combined with treatment it can be an effective therapy. Since yoga is a skill that is built upon over time, it can be started during treatment and then continued along the path of recovery. Yoga is also usually practiced in a class setting, which allows practitioners to meet others and socialize.
Scientific studies have recently been singing the praises of yoga, especially in the last 20 years. It’s no wonder that so many people are attending classes for the first time. With its applications in fitness, treating illness, and mental therapy, yoga is quickly becoming a more widely used tool. There are also several styles of yoga, ranging from gentle movements to intense workouts. Almost anyone can find a use for yoga. Although yoga can be an effective form of therapy, recovering from SUD requires more treatment. If you or a loved one needs treatment, Everlast Recovery Centers is here to help. At our facilities in southern California, we offer yoga classes alongside traditional therapy modalities to give our clients the best chance of success. Our comfortable facilities and caring staff are ready to accommodate your needs and get you the help you deserve. Call us at (866) 338-6925 to learn how we can help.