Health benefits of yoga

By Betty Murray

At one time, yoga was considered a means of promoting peace and serenity. While it is an excellent means of stress relief and relaxation, yoga also offers participants numerous health benefits.

Researchers have found the following health benefits of regular yoga practice:

  • Reduce risk of heart disease — Harvard Health Publications reports that yoga can lower cardiac risk factors including high blood pressure, high cholesterol and high blood sugar.
  • Ease headaches and migraines — Yoga can help improve skeletal alignment, which can be a cause of headaches and migraines. It’s ability to reduce stress may also improve or prevent headaches and migraines.
  • Promote a healthy weight — A study of 15,000 healthy adults found a link between regular yoga practice and decreased (or at least maintained) body weight.
  • Increase bone density — A 2009 study found that practicing yoga can make bones stronger by increasing bone density.
  • Lower blood sugar levels in diabetics — Reuters reported that three months of regular yoga practice decreases body mass and blood sugar in diabetics.
  • Provide relief from chronic back and neck pain — Various research studies have found that yoga can provide relief for sufferers of chronic back or neck pain.
  • Improved lung capacity — A 2000 study out of Ball State University found that consistent yoga practice over several weeks can increase vital lung capacity.
  • Improved immunity — A recent study from researchers in Norway found that yoga can boost immunity at the cellular level. Yoga promotes better breathing. Better breathing results in improved circulation, which improves function of all organs in the body.
  • Improve sleep — Researchers from Harvard have found that participating in daily yoga for eight weeks can improve quality of sleep for people suffering from insomnia.
  • Lower blood pressure — A study presented at the annual meeting of the American Society of Hypertension reports that yoga can help decrease blood pressure in people with mild to moderate hypertension.
  • Increase flexibility — A Colorado State University study found that a form of hot yoga, Bikram yoga, can increase strength and flexibility.
  • Fight cravings — Regular yoga practice has also been associated with mindful eating, according to researchers from the University of Washington.

If you are new to yoga, there are several yoga studios in the Dallas area that offer beginner classes. Take time to build yoga into your daily exercise routine and you will undoubtedly notice the physical benefits. You may even notice mental benefits, such as reduced stress level and improved mood.

Betty Murray, CN, HHC, RYT is a Certified Nutritionist & Holistic Health Counselor, founder of the Dallas-based integrative medical center, Wellness and founder of the Metabolic Blueprint wellness program. Betty’s nutrition counseling practice specializes in metabolic and digestive disorders and weight loss resistance. A master of the biochemistry of the body, Betty teaches her clients how to utilize nutritional interventions to improve their health. Betty is a member of the Institute of Functional Medicine and the National Association of Nutrition Professionals.

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