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Is Yoga Truly Beneficial? Just do It and See for Youself

Updated on October 6, 2017
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Lacy competes in Martial arts and Fitness competitions. She has mastered how to be completely kick-butt while looking good doing so

Dont Try to BS me about the Benefits of Anything

I'm a skeptic on everything. If someone tells me something, I will break my phone out right then and there and google for answers to find out if there are any facts to the information people are trying to tell me. In today's world, where the internet is filled with everyone trying to sell you a product, it is hard to find real sources of good information. One can't simply do some research to find out information, one needs to research the research; who paid for the article or study to be published; what's the agenda; who's truly benefiting from this article or study( remember how the canola oil company paid to have a study show us how horrible coconut oil is for us- if you can't beat them, make up stories about them right???)

Getting information is exhausting, time-consuming and confusing. So we are here to take the confusion out of some of the claims that our yoga instructors make during some of our yoga sessions. I've been in yoga classes where the instructor states as if it's common knowledge fact that such and such a pose will change your hormones and help you function better. Hormones are responsible for carrying messages from your endocrine glands to all areas of your body. These powerful chemicals affect parts of your body and mind such as development, metabolism, sexual function and mood. When your hormones become unbalanced, your body may be affected in a big way. So it does seem to make sense that if a certain pose can affect your hormones then you would, in turn, feel better. Anyone who practices yoga will adamantly tell you that yoga effects him or her for the better. Some people do yoga every day and swear to its magical powers to be able to heal you. Sources online claim very specific poses do some very specific magical healing. For example, the Bridge pose is said to help stabilize blood pressure levels by keeping your head lower than your heart. Since blood pressure can affect hormone secretion, the bridge pose may be effective in balancing the body. The Standing Head to Knee pose is said to balance blood sugar and keep insulin levels from spiking which is a common cause of unbalanced hormones. The Rabbit Pose is said to help with depression as well as balancing hormones by stimulating the thyroid and parathyroid.

What does Science Say about Yoga

To my knowledge, there are absolutely zero real scientific studies which document real scientific changes to the endocrine system as it's affected by yoga. So the Science just has not be studied properly. We can not prove or disprove this. Now we need to look at anecdotal evidence. As mentioned above, if you ask any yogini, he or she is going to tell you that yoga changed their life. So there must be something to it. Is it a placebo effect? Is it good marketing just making an influence on them making them think it's working because everyone says it works? Not necessarily.

Current research does suggest that a carefully adapted set of yoga poses may reduce low-back pain and improve function. If you're not in pain every day of your life, you're certainly going to be happier. Other studies also suggest that practicing yoga (as well as other forms of regular exercise) might improve quality of life; reduce stress; lower heart rate and blood pressure; help relieve anxiety, depression, and insomnia; and improve overall physical fitness, strength, and flexibility. But some research suggests yoga may not improve asthma, and studies looking at yoga and arthritis have had mixed results.

One NCCIH-funded study of 90 people with chronic low-back pain found that participants who practiced Iyengar yoga had significantly less disability, pain, and depression after 6 months.
In a 2011 study, also funded by NCCIH, researchers compared yoga with conventional stretching exercises or a self-care book in 228 adults with chronic low-back pain. The results showed that both yoga and stretching were more effective than a self-care book for improving function and reducing symptoms due to chronic low-back pain.
Conclusions from another 2011 study of 313 adults with chronic or recurring low-back pain suggested that 12 weekly yoga classes resulted in better function than usual medical care.

So why should I Do Yoga Anyway

While yoga is not a cure for cancer, nor a definitive way of preventing it, yoga increases physical, emotional and spiritual wellness, and brings about a certain peace, of which many cancer patients desire. Research suggests that yoga can produce an invigorating effect on mental and physical energy that improves fitness and reduces fatigue. Additionally, when practicing yoga, a fundamental emphasis is placed on accepting one's moment-to-moment experiences creating mindfulness and not forcing the body past its comfortable limits. Researchers are only beginning to understand how disciplines such as yoga promote personal growth, health and well-being. By acknowledging the unity of mind, body and spirit, mind-body fitness programs (i.e. yoga) can assist people in their pursuit of peace, calmness, and greater wholeness and integration in their lives.

If doing Yoga makes you feel better, regardless of what science can tell us, then do yoga, however, do it within your own ability. Data from the National Electronic Injury Surveillance System (NEISS) from 2001 to 2014 were used to estimate the incidence and type of yoga-associated injuries. The number and age distribution of yoga participants was estimated using data from National Health Statistics Reports. These national population estimates were applied to the NEISS data to determine injury rates overall and stratified according to age categories. There were 29,590 yoga-related injuries seen in hospital emergency departments from 2001 to 2014. The trunk (46.6%) was the most frequent region injured, and sprain/strain (45.0%) accounted for the majority of diagnoses. The injury rate increased overall from 2001 to 2014, and it was greatest for those aged 65 years and older (57.9/100,000) compared with those aged 18 to 44 years (11.9/100,000) and 45 to 64 years (17.7/100,000) in 2014. Participants aged 65 years and older have a greater rate of injury from practicing yoga when compared with other age groups. Most injuries sustained were to the trunk and involved a sprain/strain.

While there are many health benefits to practicing yoga, participants and those wishing to become participants should confer with a physician prior to engaging in physical activity and practice only under the guidance of certified instructors.

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