The Science of Yoga

By: Sarah Brill  |  February 6, 2020

By: Sarah Brill, Sci-Tech Editor

A phenomenon has hit the nation. Ads for hot yoga, goat yoga, drunk yoga, regular yoga, flow yoga, and so on, are popping up everywhere. The concept of yoga has been skewed by the Western world and has been commercialized into our culture. But does this sacred and mystical practice have mental and physical health benefits that are based in science? 

Founded in India over 5,000 years ago, yoga has proven effective for many people, including those on journeys towards weight loss or living a healthier life. The Harvard Health Department reported that yoga promotes healthy eating habits. In America, overeating, Type 2 diabetes, and unhealthy food choices, run rampant. Knowing when to stop eating is one of the most common ways to lose weight or live a healthy “non-binging” life. Yoga contributes to this healthy habit. Yoga helps one become attuned with oneself. This in turn, leads to a mindfulness surrounding the body’s needs, including, but not limited to, eating healthy foods and refraining from binging. 

Yoga has been particularly effective in reducing the effects of non-insulin dependent diabetes and  high blood pressure. For people with Type 2 diabetes (non-insulin dependent), stress, caused by the hormone of cortisol, can raise blood sugar. Yoga has a calming impact, which enables this stress hormone to decrease, thereby lowering blood sugar. 

In order to study the health benefits, a small group of people from diverse backgrounds attended a 180-minute yoga class twice a week (with a certified instructor). It was found that “participants had both greater muscle strength and endurance, flexibility and cardio-respiratory fitness.” 

Yoga has always been both a spiritual and physical practice. It is the only type of fitness in the world to intertwine these two worlds. When approaching a work-out routine, we “pump it up” and “push through.” In contrast, yoga is a calming practice that people should attempt at least once in their lives because of its health and spiritual benefits. 

If you have a health defect, check with your doctor before practicing.

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