Anyone who’s ever done yoga knows very well how beneficial it is for both the mind and the body. From feeling as light as a feather following the practice to being able to manage stress more efficiently on a daily basis, the benefits of yoga are numerous, and don’t just include being more flexible or reduce the risk of various health problems, such as heart disease or cancer. There are numerous studies conducted on the exact health benefits of yoga on both the general population and the older practitioners (senior singles, rejoice!), and the results are promising to say the least. There is no doubt that the popularity of yoga will not cease in the Western world in the foreseeable future, and we can expect more of these studies with more concrete results in time.
#1: Yoga Helps Battle Depression and Anxiety
In a study conducted by Dr. B. Rael Cahn, from the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioural Sciences at the University of Southern California, Los Angeles, it was found that people who practiced yoga at a retreat for 3 months and were on a vegetarian diet experienced decreased anxiety and depression levels, and an increased level of mindfulness. There is evidence that suggests that after leaving the retreat, the practitioners of yoga and meditation saw better functioning of the hippocampus.
#2: Yoga Reduces Mild Cognitive Impairment
Another study conducted by the researchers from the University of California – Los Angeles noted that participants over the age of 55 who practiced Kundalini yoga once a week and Kirtan Kriya meditation for 20 minutes every day over a period of 12 weeks showed improved verbal memory skills. A combination of a 3-month yoga and meditation course, researchers concluded, may lead to a reduced risk of mild cognitive impairment, which is a precursor for Alzheimer’s disease, among other forms of dementia.
#3: Yoga Helps with MDD
In a study published in the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry, researchers found that participants diagnosed with a major depressive disorder (MDD) who do not respond well to antidepressants may see decreased symptoms of anxiety and depression after practicing Sudarshan Kriya yoga (breathing-based yoga) for 8 weeks. This is particularly important when we take into consideration that antidepressants don’t fully work for more than half of Americans who use them.
In addition, our bodies become more physically engaged when doing yoga poses on a regular basis, our muscles become stronger, and our spine more flexible. Yoga practitioners say that you’re as young as your spine, and there is no better way to deal with back pain than to do yoga several times a week. In terms of mental benefits, after practicing any kind of yoga for several weeks, you’ll find you’re able to focus better and manage stress thanks to all the balance exercises that teach us calmness and finding our peace of mind, ultimately leading to overall contentment and wellness.