Yoga is a low impact exercise that is said to have a conceptual background with its origins in ancient Indian philosophy. Being a common form of exercise practiced in the modern day today, scholars substantiate that yoga centers on both mind and body fitness and primarily involves a combination of muscular activities as well as an internally directed mindful focus on an individuals energy, breath and most importantly, a conscious focus on self-awareness. Despite the fact that there is a growing body of clinical research studies that give evidence on the therapeutic effects of yoga, there are very few studies that substantiate on the significant benefits of Yoga to both the physical and the mental health of an individual. The core intent of this research paper is to discuss the crucial benefits of yoga to both the mental and physical health.
To begin with, like any other form of exercise, yoga is known to be overly beneficial to an individuals physical health through its ability to increase muscle strength and tone. Bussing, Michalsen, Khalsa, Telles, and Sherman, contend that the fact that yoga involves a lot of stretching makes it ideal for elongating the fascia, which is a protective sheath of connective tissue that covers all muscle and muscle cells. This, therefore, benefits an individuals physical being since the stretching of the fascia gives the underlying muscles enough room to grow. More fundamentally, Downward Dog, which is a common yoga pose encourages the use of both the legs and the arms and hence giving much strength to ones back, glutes and the legs.
Similarly, yoga is considered useful in improving a persons physical flexibility, which is an essential aspect of physical fitness. Woodyard, points out that with age, the human body dehydrates and stiffens. Thus, by adulthood, a persons body usually has lost about 15% of its moisture content. Practicing yoga, however, ensures that bodys elastic fiber does not get bound up with the collagenous connective tissue that hinders a persons yielding abilities. Besides, according to modern day literature, the stretching done in the yoga produces important tissue lubricants and hence slowing down the dehydration process. For instance, McCall states that it is due to this kind of stretching that all the interwoven cellular cross-links are pulled apart, and as a result, they rebuild with very healthy parallel cellular structure (Taylor and McCall).
A broad array of modern-day studies suggest that yoga has a similar effect to antidepressants and psychotherapy. According to these studies, yoga can influence neurotransmitters, as well as boosting serotonin. In the same regard, studies that were aimed at identifying the importance of yoga among prison inmates evidenced that it was an effective method for reducing both aggression and anxiety among prisoners. These studies also indicated that, after doing yoga once a week, for an approximated period of 10 weeks, participants showed a significant decrease in the stress levels and also scored better on tests aimed at determining their executive control. This, in essence, indicated a higher degree of thoughtfulness and also more significant attention to the participants surrounding (Pratap Singh).
In 2016, the Institute of Science in Society (ISIS), reported that the meditative factors that characterize yoga are significantly effective in altering an individuals genetic expression. This is because this form of meditation is said to have numerous beneficial effects on the human mind. Besides according to Woodyard, the yogic meditative practices indicate to have positive effects on both the blood pressure and the heart rate. Besides, common examples of genetic effects that are obtained through the meditative practices of yoga are such as, cellular stress response genes, and also the down-regulation of genes that are associated with the pathway that helps in the breaking down of proteins.
Besides, one of the most important mental benefits of yoga is that it is an effective exercise that helps improve an individuals mental health and condition. Experiencing and encountering stressful moments is definitely everyones part of the day to day life. This being said, yoga significantly helps improve the mental health of an individual by acting as a form of relaxation that helps put stress at bay. Based on this regard, heath care professionals contend that yoga is a well-recognized form of mind-body medicine that primarily integrates the human physical, mental and spiritual aspects to improve the elements of health. More specifically, evidence shows that yoga helps in treating the health-related illnesses which increase the chances of suffering from diseases such as heart failure, stroke, heart disease, among other chronic illnesses. In addition, yoga is also viewed as a holistic technique that helps in managing stress. In this regard, yoga is considered as a form of CAM that evidently produces a physiological sequence of events in the body and hence reducing any kind of stress response.
More so, Matthew and McCall argue that over the recent years, yoga has been shown to significantly enhance the quality of life to people who are both ill and healthy. Particularly, review studies substantiate that yoga is a better form of exercise than other vigorous activities as it helps in improving a variety of both mental and physical health measures like stress and mood states. According to a meta-analysis done by Pilkington, it was concluded that owing to the fact that some of the common side effects of various pharmacotherapies are such as toxicity and weight gain, yoga, therefore is an effective as well as a less toxic auxiliary treatment for severe mental illnesses. Also, medics have proven that yoga may be applied as a useful monotherapy in the treatment of mild to moderate Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Owing to the fact that PTSD is a resulting mental condition that follows the exposure to disasters such as hurricanes or devastating accidents, yoga is reported to be an effective practice that significantly reduces the symptoms of PSTD as well as the self-rated symptoms of stress such as fear, anxiety, and amnesia, among others (Pilkington).
In conclusion, based on the fact that the scientific study of yoga has substantially increased over the recent years, there has been an increase in the number of clinical trials that have been designed to assess yogas therapeutic effects and benefits. In this regard, yoga is considered to be a form of exercise with many physical and mental health benefits. Ranging from the improvement of muscle strength to the improvement of the bodys flexibility, yoga enhances the adequate stretching of tendons and ligaments in the body muscles. Similarly, it improves on an individuals mental health by helping reduce stress, providing better sleep, and most importantly, decreasing the common symptoms of depression.
Bussing, Arndt, et al. "Effects of Yoga on Mental and Physical Health: A Short Summary of Reviews." Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine, vol. 20, no. 12, 2012, pp. 1-7.
Pilkington, Karen, et al. "Yoga for depression: The research evidence." Journal of Affective Disorders, vol. 89, no. 1-3, 2005, pp. 13-24.
Pratap Singh, Arun. "Yoga for Mental Health: Opportunities and Challenges." MOJ Yoga & Physical Therapy, vol. 2, no. 1, 2017.
Taylor, Matthew J., and Timothy McCall. "Implementation of Yoga Therapy into U.S. Healthcare Systems." International Journal of Yoga Therapy, vol. 27, no. 1, 2017, pp. 115-119.
Woodyard, Catherine. "Exploring the therapeutic effects of yoga and its ability to increase quality of life." International Journal of Yoga, vol. 4, no. 2, 2011, p. 49.
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