The effects of yoga on the human body have been studied extensively and they all point to the fact that yoga has many positive benefits for its practitioners. Yoga has been found to reduce stress, lessen anxiety, promote positive life choices, prevents cartilage and joint breakdown and can also help with osteoporosis. Yoga builds a mind-body awareness by creating a state of mental well being through mindful movement and intentional breath. The linking of breath and movement influences the chemical balance of the brain by reducing cortisol levels and lowering adrenaline levels. Yoga studies also show links between lower blood pressure, lower blood sugar, benefits the immune system by reducing the production of proteins called cytokines that cause inflammation at the cellular level.
Children’s yoga studies show that yoga helps them manage stress and increase concentration levels through breathing exercises, spatial awareness, meditation and healthy movement. Post-traumatic stress sufferers show decreases in stress levels by stimulating the parasympathetic (calming) branch of the central nervous system and reduce the hyperarousal symptoms of PTSD. At risk and underserved youth have shown increased self-esteem levels, increased ability to cope with social stresses as a result of practicing yoga. First responders groups all across the nation are beginning to incorporate yoga asana into their workplace training to reduce the emotional and mental stress associated with their line of work.
A yoga practice can be slow and deliberate; yin yoga, yoga nidra or it can be a physical workout; power yoga, vinyasa yoga. Regardless of the style of yoga you choose to practice, the effects of yoga on the human body are well documented and bring about an increased overall state of mental and physical well-being. That being said, if you’re not already practicing yoga; today is a perfect place to start from where you are right now. If you are already a yoga practitioner, bring a friend with you to class next time!