If you’ve ever done yoga, you probably already know that it can increase your flexibility, calm your mind and strengthen your muscles. Plus, it’s all-around fun! However, did you know that there are also significant healing properties to the practice of yoga?
There are many health conditions that yoga can help to prevent and help to heal. The following are just ten of the many that have been researched.
Practicing yoga on a regular basis may help to lower chronic inflammation throughout your body. This is crucially important, because inflammation, when left unchecked, can lead to a host of illnesses in the long term. For just one example of research on this subject, a 2014 study published in the journal Psychoneuroendocrinology tested the anti-inflammatory effects of yoga on breast cancer survivors. On their results, the authors summarized:
“A 12-week restorative Iyengar yoga intervention reduced inflammation-related gene expression in breast cancer survivors with persistent fatigue. These findings suggest that a targeted yoga program may have beneficial effects on inflammatory activity in this patient population, with potential relevance for behavioral and physical health.”
While this study was performed on cancer survivors, yoga may have anti-inflammatory effects on anyone who practices regularly.
A 2014 review published in the European Journal of Preventative Cardiology studied the effects of yoga on metabolic syndrome and the risk factors for heart disease. Based on their review of multiple studies, the authors concluded, “There is promising evidence of yoga on improving cardio-metabolic health.”
High blood pressure
According to a 2014 study published in the Journal of Clinical Hypertension, yoga shows real promise in lowering blood pressure. On their findings, the authors explain:
“This study has demonstrated that a yoga intervention can lower blood pressure in patients with mild hypertension. Although this study was not adequately powered to show between-group differences, the size of the yoga-induced blood pressure reduction appears to justify performing a definitive trial of this intervention to test whether it can provide meaningful therapeutic value for the management of hypertension.”
There is evidence that performing yoga can have numerous positive effects for individuals diagnosed with diabetes. As one example, the authors of a 2016 study titled “Effect of Yoga in Diabetes” wrote:
“Yoga can be used as an effective therapy in reducing oxidative stress in diabetes as well as other complicated disorders. It is also beneficial in improving glycemic parameters and Body Mass Index. Yoga can be administered as an add-on therapy to standard lifestyle interventions.”
Chronic lower back pain
One condition that yoga is particularly beneficial for is chronic lower back pain. In a 2013 meta-analysis published in the Clinical Journal of Pain, the authors explain:
“This systematic review found strong evidence for short-term effectiveness and moderate evidence for long-term effectiveness of yoga for chronic low back pain in the most important patient-centered outcomes. Yoga can be recommended as an additional therapy to chronic low back pain patients.”
A small study performed in 2016 and published in the journal Sleep Science and Practice tested the effects of yoga on chronic insomnia. Based on the cases studied, the authors concluded:
“There was an improvement in sleep quality, insomnia severity, depression anxiety and stress scores after yoga nidra. The improvement remained even after three months of start of intervention… Yoga nidra can be used as an important adjunct in the management of chronic insomnia patients.”
A 2013 meta-analysis published in the journal Depression and Anxiety studied the effects of yoga as a mind-body intervention for depression. Based on their results, the study authors wrote,“Subgroup analyses revealed evidence for effects in patients with depressive disorders and in individuals with elevated levels of depression.”
Postpartum depression can strike a significant percentage of mothers after they give birth, and natural remedies are sorely needed. A 2015 study published in the journal Complementary Therapies in Clinical Practice tested the effects of yoga on women with postpartum depression. On their results, the authors reported:
“The yoga group experienced significantly greater rate of improvement in depression, anxiety, and HRQOL [health-related quality of life], relative to the control group with moderate to large effects. Reliable Change Index analyses revealed that 78 percent of women in the yoga group experienced clinically significant change.”
Yoga has exciting potential to help people with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), research has found. The authors of a 2014 study published in the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry explained:
“Yoga significantly reduced PTSD symptomatology, with effect sizes comparable to well-researched psychotherapeutic and psychopharmacologic approaches. Yoga may improve the functioning of traumatized individuals by helping them to tolerate physical and sensory experiences associated with fear and helplessness and to increase emotional awareness and affect tolerance.”
On the effects of pranayama (yoga breathing) on chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), the authors of a 2016 study published in the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine wrote, “Results suggest that pranayama alone may have significant clinical benefits for symptomatic patients with COPD.”
These ten conditions are just the tip of the iceberg of the multitude of conditions that yoga can help heal. If you are chronically ill, it’s worth it to talk to a health professional you trust about how yoga may be able to help you. This practice is truly powerful.
— Meditation Daily