The Hindu sage Patajali began to codify the ancient, meditative rituals practised in India sometime between the first and fifth centuries CE.
In 196 manuals known as the Yoga Sutras, he recorded methods that were almost as old as Indian civilization itself. Yoga was described in these texts as the ‘yoking’ or restraint of the mind from focusing on external things in order to achieve a state of pure consciousness.
Yoga evolved over time to combine elements of gymnastics and wrestling.
Today, there are many different approaches to modern yoga, but most of them adhere to Patajali’s three core components: physical postures, breathing exercises, and religious contemplation.
This combination of physical and mental exercise is thought to have a unique range of health benefits. Enhancing energy and flexibility, improving coronary heart and lung function, and improving psychological well-being are just a few of the benefits.
But what has modern research revealed about the benefits of this ancient custom? Despite many researchers’ efforts, it is difficult to make specific statements about yoga’s benefits. Its unique combination of behaviour makes determining which component is delivering a specific health benefit difficult.
Furthermore, yoga study is frequently made up of small pattern sizes with little variation, and the strong emphasis on self-reporting makes results subjective. There are, however, certain health benefits that have more scientific support than others.
Let’s start with energy and versatility. Several muscle groups are stretched by twisting the body into yoga’s bodily postures. Stretching will alter the water content material of certain muscular tissues, ligaments, and tendons in a short period of time, making them more elastic.
Stretching regularly activates stem cells, which differentiate into new muscle tissue and different cells that produce elastic collagen over time.
Stretching on a regular basis often decreases the body’s natural reflex to constrict muscle muscles, increasing the pain tolerance for feats of flexibility. Researchers have yet to discover which form of yoga enhances flexibility more than the others, so the impact of specific postures is unknown.
Yoga, like other low-impact exercise workouts, consistently improves fitness and flexibility in healthy people. The practise has also been shown to be a potentially useful therapeutic tool.
Yoga was found to be more effective than other forms of low-impact exercise at reducing pain and improving mobility in studies involving patients with a variety of musculoskeletal issues. Yoga can help people with difficult-to-treat conditions including low back pain, rheumatoid arthritis, and osteoporosis by increasing their vitality and flexibility.
Yoga’s combination of physical exercise and controlled breathing has been shown to be equally beneficial to lung health. Lung diseases such as power bronchitis, emphysema, and bronchial asthma reduce the number of oxygen-carrying passageways thereby weakening the membrane that transports oxygen into the bloodstream.
Respiratory exercise exercises like those used in yoga, on the other hand, relax the muscles that constrict these passageways and improve oxygen diffusion. Increasing the oxygen content of the blood is especially beneficial for people who have poor heart muscles and have trouble pumping enough oxygen across their bodies. For those with healthy hearts, this practise may lower blood pressure and reduce risk factors for heart disease.
The most widely publicised benefit of yoga will be the most difficult to demonstrate: its psychological effects. Despite the long-standing connection between yoga and mental health, there is no definitive evidence about how the practise affects mental health.
One of the most significant arguments is that yoga reduces symptoms of depression and anxiety. It’s difficult to measure yoga’s impact because the prognosis of certain conditions, as well as their nature and intensity, varies widely. However, there may be evidence to suggest that, in addition to meditation and rest, yoga may help reduce the signs of stress.
The study of yoga’s effects is still in its early stages.
In the long run, larger studies with more participants would be needed to assess the impact of yoga on coronary heart attacks, cancer rates, cognitive performance, and other factors. But, for the time being, yoga will continue to be practised as a way to exercise, replicate, and relax.