Fitness trends come and go, but yoga has been practiced for thousands of years and shows no sign of fading away any time soon. Yoga continues to attract more and more followers every year representing all ages and physical fitness levels. What’s the attraction? Although yoga originally evolved as a spiritual practice, it has become a popular means of promoting physical and mental well-being.
The poses, stretches, breathing and relaxation/meditation techniques associated with yoga are credited with maintaining good health and improving health conditions that tend to affect us as we age. Here are three examples of the health benefits of yoga, based on recent research evidence. Click the links to read more about the related studies.
1. Relieve your aching back
Chronic low back pain is a very common and disabling condition. Drugs help, but come with risks of side effects. Yoga may help relieve the pain. Studies show it can be an effective, safe, non-drug therapy either by itself, or used in combination with medication (1).
2. Boost your balance
Our balance tends to diminish with age. It’s important to work at maintaining it because balance is key to preventing falls and falls-related injuries. Yoga – which involves controlled movements, concentration and holding various poses – can improve balance and mobility in people who practice regularly (2).
3. Ease symptoms of disease
The combination of physical exercise (poses and stretches), mindful breathing and relaxation/meditation aim to strengthen and improve the body, mind and soul. Studies show that this holistic approach to health and wellness can help improve health-related quality of life and mental well-being in older adults, as well as relieve symptoms in people recovering from or coping with diseases such as cancer, asthma and type 2 diabetes (3-6).
Yoga your way
There are many types of yoga, including classes for beginners or those with physical limitations.
Most poses can be adapted… or you can simply choose not to do some of them. Yoga may be practiced by millions of people around the world but how, where and at what level is uniquely personal. If you haven’t already done so, consider giving it a try. You have nothing to lose – except possibly some pain and stiffness – and much to potentially gain including pain relief, balance and overall quality of life.