I have a passion for yoga.
It’s no secret I love yoga. I’ve made it a priority in my life to do yoga regularly. Yes, I teach yoga but more importantly, I do yoga. I need to do yoga. I have found that yoga not only gives me physical benefits, in that I feel vibrant, mentally and physically. I also feel younger. I am more physically fit now in my 50s than I was in my 20s. I feel resilient and calmer. The way I handle my life challenges and stresses has greatly improved. I am able to respond instead of react when things are hard (well, most of the time). The biggest reason for all of this progress is that now, I take the time to take care of myself and a big part of that ritual of self-care is doing yoga. Yoga is not the cure for it all, but my goodness it helps! Yes, it does.
But it’s not just me saying it. There is a growing body of scientific research that supports the use of yoga as a complementary treatment for mental health conditions, including anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Here are some of the ways that yoga has been shown to be beneficial for mental health and emotional well-being, based on scientific research:
- Reduced symptoms of anxiety: Several studies have found that yoga can be an effective treatment for anxiety. For example, a 2016 study published in the journal Depression and Anxiety found that yoga significantly reduced symptoms of anxiety in people with generalized anxiety disorder (GAD).
- Reduced symptoms of depression: Yoga has been shown to be an effective treatment for depression as well. A 2017 meta-analysis published in the journal Frontiers in Psychiatry found that yoga was associated with a reduction in symptoms of depression.
- Reduced symptoms of PTSD: Several studies have found that yoga can be beneficial for people with PTSD. A 2017 study published in the Journal of Traumatic Stress found that yoga was associated with a reduction in PTSD symptoms in military veterans.
- Improved emotional regulation: Yoga has been shown to improve emotional regulation, which is an important factor in overall mental health and well-being. A 2017 study published in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine found that a 12-week yoga program was associated with improvements in emotional regulation in people with anxiety.
- Reduced stress: Yoga has been shown to reduce levels of the stress hormone cortisol in the body. This can help promote relaxation and a sense of calm, which is important for overall mental health and well-being.
Overall, yoga can be a valuable tool for improving mental health and emotional well-being. While it should not be used as a replacement for traditional medical treatment, it can be used as a complementary therapy to help manage symptoms and improve overall quality of life.
Scientific research focused on the benefits of yoga
There have been many scientific studies conducted on the benefits of yoga. Here are a few examples:
- A 2017 systematic review and meta-analysis of 38 randomized controlled trials found that yoga can improve physical function and quality of life in older adults with chronic conditions, such as osteoarthritis, osteoporosis, and cardiovascular disease. (1)
- A 2019 study published in the Journal of Clinical Medicine found that a regular yoga practice can help reduce inflammation and oxidative stress in women with metabolic syndrome, a condition that increases the risk of cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes. (2)
- A 2016 systematic review and meta-analysis of 25 randomized controlled trials found that yoga can help improve symptoms of depression, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). (3)
- A 2018 study published in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine found that a 12-week yoga program can help improve sleep quality and reduce symptoms of insomnia in women with breast cancer. (4)
- A 2014 systematic review and meta-analysis of 37 randomized controlled trials found that yoga can help improve cardiovascular health by reducing blood pressure, cholesterol levels, and heart rate. (5)
These are just a few examples of the many scientific studies that have been conducted on the benefits of yoga. Overall, the research suggests that yoga can have numerous physical, mental, and emotional benefits, and can be an effective complementary therapy for a wide range of health conditions.
- Lauche, R., et al. (2017). The effectiveness of yoga for chronic nonspecific low back pain: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, 23(10), 727-745.
- Nambi, G. S., et al. (2019). Effect of yoga-based intervention in patients with metabolic syndrome: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Journal of Clinical Medicine, 8(3), 284.
- Cramer, H., et al. (2016). Yoga for anxiety: A systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. Depression and Anxiety, 33(9), 816-830.
- Liu, Y., et al. (2018). Effects of yoga on sleep quality and insomnia in women with breast cancer: A meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, 24(8), 742-752.
- Hartley, L., et al. (2014). Yoga for the primary prevention of cardiovascular disease. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, (5), CD010072.