INTERNATIONAL YOGA DAY
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21st of June is International Yoga Day. This celebration was made official by the United Nations by request of India’s prime minister in order to help spread this ancient practice and its health benefits across all borders.
Yoga is a group of physical and mental techniques derived from a 5000 years old philosophical doctrine (Brahmanism). Since its origins and even to this day, yoga practitioners praise how much their lives improved thanks to their new lifestyle.
In developed countries, yoga has become extremely popular, in some cases 10 to 15% of the entire population are active practitioners. Most of them don’t have any kind of spiritual expectations or motivations when they first start their lessons, instead, people mostly seek to improve their wellness (health of body and mind).
Before discussing yoga and its health benefits, you should note that most studies have been done in countries like the UK and the US. This fact needs to be considered since it may influence how meaningful these studies conclusions are for the general population.
What we now know as yoga was initially created as a form of meditation, therefore, is not surprising that many studies praise how beneficial it can be not only as a form of exercise, but also as a stress management method. Other benefits attributed to yoga include: improved resilience and mood.
Many authors also agree yoga can have a positive effect on patients experiencing depression and/or anxiety as a result of disease or trauma. Interestingly, there is not a lot of data about which routine to follow in order to obtain the best results, but 2 sessions/week during a 12 weeks period has allowed noticeable improvement in patients where pharmacotherapy alone was insufficient.
People who practice yoga frequently express how their lives changed after starting their lessons. The idea of yoga can help improve mental health is accurate, but this doesn't mean it is the solution to every condition, many practitioners still have problems that should be treated properly with other types of interventions. To this day, yoga is seen only as a form of auxiliary treatment.
Research shows yoga brings a good number of health benefits for people of all ages. When compared with non-practitioners: body mass index and smoking frequency decrease and diet became more healthy.
Probably the most well-researched aspect of yoga is its benefits for people with cardiovascular disease. On this point, unfortunately, yoga alone has almost no direct effect over the mortality rate; however, it does help with weight loss and inflammation, which are important elements of cardiac problems potentially influencing its progression.
Other physical health benefits include: prevention/retardation of metabolic disorders, back and joint pain reduction and alleviation of premenstrual syndrome.
the health benefits of yoga are enough to consider it as a good addition to any treatment against mood, weight, inflammation or heart problems, however, it should not be considered as an alternative to more traditional methods since its effects can be limited.
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- Ross, A., Friedmann, E., Bevans, M., & Thomas, S. (2013). National survey of yoga practitioners: Mental and physical health benefits. Complementary Therapies in Medicine, 21(4), 313-323. doi:10.1016/j.ctim.2013.04.001
- Nyer, M., Roberg, R., Nauphal, M., & Streeter, C. C. (2018). Yoga as a Treatment for Depression. The Massachusetts General Hospital Guide to Depression, 223-231. doi:10.1007/978-3-319-97241-1_17
- Park, C. L., Riley, K. E., Bedesin, E., & Stewart, V. M. (2014). Why practice yoga? Practitioners’ motivations for adopting and maintaining yoga practice. Journal of Health Psychology, 21(6), 887-896. doi:10.1177/1359105314541314
- Macy, R. J., Jones, E., Graham, L. M., & Roach, L. (2015). Yoga for Trauma and Related Mental Health Problems: A Meta-Review With Clinical and Service Recommendations. Trauma, Violence, & Abuse, 19(1), 35-57. doi:10.1177/1524838015620834
- Cramer, H., Lauche, R., Haller, H., Dobos, G., & Michalsen, A. (2014). A systematic review of yoga for heart disease. European Journal of Preventive Cardiology, 22(3), 284-295. doi:10.1177/2047487314523132
- Bernstein, A. M., Bar, J., Ehrman, J. P., Golubic, M., & Roizen, M. F. (2014). Yoga in the Management of Overweight and Obesity. American Journal of Lifestyle Medicine, 8(1), 33–41. https://doi.org/10.1177/1559827613492097
- Sarvottam, K., & Yadav, R. K. (2014). Obesity-related inflammation & cardiovascular disease: efficacy of a yoga-based lifestyle intervention. The Indian journal of medical research, 139(6), 822–834.
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