Yoga & Its Benefits

What Is Yoga?

Yoga is an ancient Indian practice of breathing, focus and postures that brings tranquility, health, energy and ultimately a greater connection with oneself.

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The word yoga in Sanskrit translates as “yoke” or “union” and the origins of yoga can be traced as far as 4500 BC. For a detailed history of yoga please click here.

Everyone can do yoga; young children, grandparents, professional athletes and “weekend warriors”.

The evidence used to validate the health and wellbeing benefits of yoga is often anecdotal.

Our approach has been more scientific. We have brought together the academic and scientific research on yoga and collated the synopses below for you to review.

The Health And Wellbeing Benefits Of Yoga Include:

  • Reduces production of stress hormone cortisol and improves the ability to manage stressful situations
  • Greater energy and focus
  • Improves physical health including weight reduction, improved organ health, improved muscle tone and cardiovascular health and reduced back pain.
  • Greater levels of happiness and self confidence
  • Increases job satisfaction.

Scientific Research On The Benefits of Yoga

“The evidence is growing that yoga practice is a low-risk, high-yield approach to improving overall health.”
Harvard Medical School Review April 2009.

Stress Relief

“By reducing perceived stress and anxiety, yoga appears to modulate stress
response systems.”
Harvard Medical School Review April 2009.

Research conducted at the University of California in 2008 showed individuals that practiced Meditation had a decreased brain response to stress.

In a German study by Duisburg-Essen University in 2005, 24 women who described themselves as “emotionally distressed” took two 90-minute yoga classes a week for three months. Women in a control group maintained their normal activities. Women in the yoga group reported improvements in perceived stress, anxiety, energy, fatigue, and well-being. Anxiety scores improved by 30%, and overall well-being scores by 65%.

Benefits In The Workplace

A 2008 article published in the Scandinavian Journal of Work Environment and Health studied the impact of a 3 month yoga course in the workplace on a group of 48 volunteers. They were divided in two groups of 24. One group attended weekly yoga classes and the other did not. The 24 people on the course reported scientifically significant improvements in feelings of clear-mindedness, composure, elation, energy, confidence, increased life purpose and satisfaction, and feelings of greater self-confidence during stressful situations. The authors concluded:

“Yoga is effective for enhancing emotional well-being and resilience to stress in the workplace. We suggest that employers should consider offering yoga classes to
their employees.”

A study published in the Academy of Management Journal showed that people who undertook a meditation course had higher job satisfaction levels and lower desire to change jobs than a control group of colleagues who did not receive the course.

Health

A 2009 study by West Virginia University divided 90 patients with chronic back pain into two groups. One went to yoga classes twice a week while the other half was given standard medication. The study showed that the people who attended the yoga classes experienced, a 42% reduction in pain at 24 weeks. This reduction far outweighed that seen in the control group.

A 2010 study at the University of Kansas Hospital monitored the heart activity of 49 patients who had irregular heart rhythms over a six-month period. For the first three months, patients were allowed to participate in any physical activity they liked and for the remaining three months, they underwent supervised yoga. The professor in charge concluded,

“It appears yoga has a significant impact on helping to regulate patients’ heartbeat and improves the overall quality of life.”

In 1994 the Journal of Rheumatology published a study on a yoga- treated group with osteoarthritis of the hands. It reported a significant improvement in “pain during activity, tenderness, and finger range of motion” than in the control group. It concluded, “This yoga-derived program was effective in providing relief in hand osteoarthritis.”

Children

A 2003 study by California State University, Los Angeles found that yoga improved students' behavior, physical health and academic performance, as well as attitudes toward themselves.

A 2003 Leipzig University study reported that yoga reduces feelings of helplessness and aggression, and in the long term helps emotional balance. The benefits of yoga are particularly strong among children with special needs, research shows.

In 2009 Riverside Primary School in Rotherhithe, South East London, scored a 100 per cent pass rate in Sats tests in English, maths and science after pupils were taught breathing exercises by a yoga teacher before the exams.

 
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