Here at One2One, we advocate exercise in general, but our regular pilates and yoga classes were deliberately chosen for their all-round Health benefits for body, mind & soul.
However, yoga also has other evidence-based benefits, which fit perfectly with one2one’s multidisciplinary approach to all round wellbeing. Here’s just some of the side-benefits our clients can enjoy when attending a yoga class:
1. Stress and Anxiety Reduction
Multiple studies have shown that yoga decreases the secretion of cortisol, the primary stress hormone.
One study demonstrated the powerful effect of yoga on stress by following 24 women who perceived themselves as emotionally distressed.
After three months of attending yoga classes, the women had significantly lower levels of cortisol. They also had lower levels of stress, anxiety, fatigue and depression.
Another study of 131 people had similar results, showing that 10 weeks of yoga classes helped reduce stress and anxiety. It also helped improve quality of life and mental health.
Our yoga classes are conveniently located on the Bridgend Industrial Estate and are a perfect relaxing antidote to a stressful day.
2. Pain reduction
Several studies have shown that Yoga can effectively reduce pain.
In one study, researchers contrasted MRIs of 12 experienced yoga practitioners, 14 people with fibromyalgia (a condition many researchers consider a stress-related illness that is characterized by hypersensitivity to pain), and 16 healthy volunteers. All participants were subjected to finger pressure to cause pain.
The participants with fibromyalgia — as expected — perceived pain at lower pressure levels compared with the other subjects. Functional MRIs showed they also had the greatest activity in areas of the brain associated with the pain response. In contrast, the yoga practitioners had the highest pain tolerance and lowest pain-related brain activity during the MRI. The study underscores the value of techniques, such as yoga, that can help a person regulate their stress and, therefore, pain responses.
In another study, 42 individuals with carpal tunnel syndrome either received a wrist splint or did yoga for eight weeks. At the end of the study, yoga was found to be more effective in reducing pain and improving grip strength than wrist splinting.
3. Reduced Inflammation and cellular aging
In an exploratory study published in Oxidative Medicine and Cellular Longevity, researchers found that 12 weeks of yoga slowed cellular aging. The program consisted of 90 minutes of yoga that included physical postures, breathing, and meditation five days a week over 12 weeks. Researchers found indications of lower levels of inflammation and significantly decreased levels of cortisol. The study also found higher levels of BDNF after the yoga program, suggesting that yoga could have potential protective effects for the brain as well.
A recent study published in Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, similarly found that a three-month yoga retreat reduced inflammation and stress in the body. Levels of protective anti-inflammatory markers increased after the retreat, while harmful pro-inflammatory markers decreased. Researchers also found that BDNF levels tripled.
4. Improved Heart Health
Increasingly, evidence is emerging that yoga can have a positive impact on the heart, and professors and researchers at leading medical institutions are taking notice. Hugh Calkins, M.D., director of the Cardiac Arrhythmia Service at Johns Hopkins, explains:
“A large number of studies show that yoga benefits many aspects of cardiovascular health. There’s been a major shift in the last five years or so in the number of cardiologists and other professionals recognizing that these benefits are real.”
5. Reduced blood pressure
Increased blood pressure puts strain on all the major organs of the body. While implicated in heart attacks and stroke, high blood pressure can also contribute to kidney disease, eye problems, sexual dysfunction and even bone loss. The full list of risks makes for scary reading.
High blood pressure can be controlled via medication or diet, however a 12 week study in 2011 showed that attending a yoga class could have a remarkable effect on blood pressure.
Study participants had slightly or mildly elevated blood pressure and were not receiving treatment, and were divided into two groups.
One group, who had no prior experience of Yoga, attended daily yoga classes over a 12-week period. The other group were given personalized dietary adjustments. The authors concluded that “Twelve weeks of Iyengar yoga produces clinically meaningful improvements in 24-hour systolic blood pressure and diastolic blood pressure.”
In addition to all these benefits, studies show that attending regular yoga classes can deliver increases in strength, endurance and flexibility – something our professional athletes work hard to achieve in the gym.
Yoga classes deliver so many positives for health, wellbeing and mental health, maybe it’s time to take a second look at fitting at least one into your weekly routine – view it as taking an hour for yourself.