4 Ways Regular Yoga Practice Can Give You A Health Leg Up
One aspect of the holistic wellness program at Reco Intensive, the intensive outpatient program associated with Reco Institute’s sober living housing, is a regular yoga practice. Along with yoga’s rewarding spiritual implications, this popular form of exercise comes with a variety of mental and physical health benefits that make it a particularly good choice both for people in recovery and for more or less anyone! Let’s take a closer look at some of these upsides in the list below.
1. Reduces Pain And Inflammation
Studies have shown yoga to be beneficial in reducing pain, with studies having found benefits for patients dealing with many different types of illnesses. For instance, one study found that regular yoga practice reduced the intensity of migraine pain for sufferers, while another found that it was more effective than a wrist splint at relieving pain from carpal tunnel syndrome.
Women with breast cancer also reported less pain and fatigue while participating in an eight week yoga program, while multiple studies have shown yoga practice to be a relatively effective short term treatment for lower back pain. Yoga has also shown benefits for decreasing pain and improving physical function for arthritis patients, which may be due to its ability to reduce inflammation, which also lowers the risk of many devastating systemic conditions like heart disease and diabetes.
2. Improves Flexibility, Strength, And Balance
Regular yoga practice has also been shown to increase balance and mobility, including in studies done on both older and younger adults and one study done on stroke patients. It was also shown to be four times as effective as calisthenics in increasing flexibility in a group of elderly participants, and to improve flexibility and balance in student athletes.
Forms of yoga that are more intense and athletic can also help the body build strength, as evidenced by a study that showed improvements in participants’ deadlift strength after they participated in a yoga intervention and another that showed that adults who practiced 24 cycles of sun salutations six days a week showed improved upper body strength, along with weight loss and improved endurance.
3. Improves Your Breathing and Cardiovascular Health
Another purported benefit of yoga is its ability to improve the health of your cardiovascular system. In patients with arrhythmia, a yoga intervention helped them to have fewer episodes of atrial fibrillation as well as lower blood pressure and heart rate.
Another study done in college students indicated that yoga and breathing exercises led to increased vital capacity, which is the ability of the lungs to expel air and an important indicator of respiratory health. Yoga has also been shown to be beneficial to patients with asthma, improving symptoms and lung function. It can also help patients with hypertension to lower their blood pressure, possibly by helping their body relearn how to balance it.
4. Enhances Your Mental Well Being
Mental health and physical well-being are inextricably intertwined, hence the ability of physical activity to help balance one’s mental state. Yoga is shown to decrease levels of the stress hormone cortisol, which can contribute to the development of depression.
Multiple studies have shown the ability of regular yoga practice to lower levels of stress, anxiety, fatigue, and depression, with participants instead reporting they are more relaxed. Yoga has also been shown to be effective in reducing the symptoms of a group of women who suffer from PTSD, to the extent that by the end of a 10 week yoga intervention, slightly over half of the women no longer met the criteria for PTSD at all.
Yoga can also work to heighten your sense of mindfulness and bodily self awareness, which can help you to maintain other healthier habits, like healthier eating and sleeping patterns, as you become more sensitive to and able to respond to the physical cues it is giving you.
Of course, as with all things, yoga does have some downsides: there are cases of injuries and even fatalities associated with the practice, though these usually resulted from inexperienced yogis trying advanced poses like head or shoulder stands. Or, if yoga just isn’t your jam, you can get many similar benefits from other forms of exercise, especially those like tai chi that have a mental as well as physical component.
The social component of yoga may also contribute to its effect on wellbeing by giving its practitioners a sense of community, as can the ability of yoga to provide a sense of routine and structure to one’s day to day life. Reco Institute can serve much the same purpose by providing an empathetic and structured environment where those in early recovery can be held accountable by their peers. To learn more about why Reco Institute’s sober living program might be the safest place to kick-start your recovery, feel free to call us any time at 561-665-5925.