When most people think of yoga and its benefits, increased flexibility and reduced stress are often the first things that come to mind. While yoga is indeed well known for these benefits, there are many other conditions that can be helped with yoga.
Below we look at some surprising health issues yoga can help with.
A study carried out by York University in 2011 found that back pain sufferers had greater ability to tackle everyday physical tasks such as walking and bending over if they did weekly yoga sessions.
Yoga teacher Rahoul Masrani says practising yoga helps to reverse the damage caused by sitting at desks all day, “Forward bending and backward bending when done properly can be extremely healing for the spine. All of the back-strengthening exercises we do in yoga are hugely beneficial for any postural problems too.”
In 2010 a study from the University of Kansas Hospital revealed that vigorous yoga practice cut patients’ episodes of atrial fibrillation (a common heart rhythm problem that is a leading cause of stroke) in half.
Many people forget that certain yoga practices really get the blood pumping and raise heart rates, making it a great cardiovascular workout.
A recent study for Harvard showed that a 30-45 minute daily yoga practice helped people fall asleep 30% faster and reduced waking in the night by 35%. Masrani believes this is due to yoga helping to quiet the mind,
“Mindful breathing is one of the key things in yoga. Learning to breathe mindfully is very helpful in getting people to sleep and also improves the quality of sleep.”
A 2009 study published in The Journal of Sexual Medicine found that regular yoga practice improved sexual desire and function in women. At the end of the 12-week study 75% of participants said their sex lives had improved significantly.
Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
Last year a study published in the Journal for Traumatic Stress revealed the benefits of yoga for those with PTSD. The year-long study found yoga to help lower anxiety levels as well as helping to regulate painful memories and promote relaxation.
Researchers from Manchester and Newcastle Universities found that women who practised yoga had significantly decreased anxiety scores when compared to women who received normal antenatal treatment.
Masrani says yoga can help pregnant women physically too,
“Yoga is great for pregnant women because it provides a low-impact form of physical activity which helps to strengthen muscles, lubricate joints and get rid of any stiffness that pregnancy might bring.”