5 Fabulous Reasons To Yoga In 2018
We're already 8 weeks into 2018! Do you remember your New Year's resolutions that you made at the start of the year? How are they going? We have put together a case as to why yoga could be an extra resolution to add to your list of goals and desires this year! From both a students and teachers perspective, we proudly present to you 5 reasons yoga should be added to your list!
1. The Benefits Are Real!
There has been much research and scientific investigations into the benefits of yoga. Research on yoga's benefits have been studied for years. Some of the top benefits of yoga include: lowered anxiety levels, a reduction in pain, and relieving depression. Other studies have gone on to find improved bone density, strength and flexibility, back pain relief, a positive outlook on life, improved self-esteem, weight loss, in addition to aiding in the management of other physiological and physical conditions.
One study found positive, if moderate, short-term effects of yoga when compared to other standard treatment of depression. Yoga helps with depression by reducing HPA axis dysfunction and inflammation by increasing BDNF. The Adrenal Fatigue Situation states that the HPA axis involves relationships and signals that exist between the hypothalamus, the pituitary gland and the adrenals. For a simple overview of the HPA axis: it is the H in HPA standing for Hypothalamus, a small part of the brain that plays a significant role by sending messages from the brain to the adrenals, the pituitary, among other organs. It is responsible for regulating your body temperature, circadian rhythm, and energy levels. The P in the HPA axis stands for the Pituitary Gland. It produces many hormones that our bodies need. An example of this would be the small, pea-sized gland which produces vital hormones such as growth hormones. The pituitary gland is smaller than the hypothalamus, sits at the base of the brain, and is physically connected to the hypothalamus.
Finally, the A in the HPA axis stands for The Adrenal Glands. Two of them sit just above our kidneys. Although they are physically separated from the hypothalamus and the pituitary gland, they are still deeply connected. The adrenals produce even more hormones than the pituitary glands does, such as the cortisol and sex hormones like DHEA, in addition to stress hormones such as adrenaline and dopamine. The adrenal glands produce hormones that control chemical reactions over large parts of our bodies, including the 'fight-or-flight' response. Depression is the most predominant mental health problem worldwide, followed by anxiety, schizophrenia and bipolar disorder and in 2013, depression was the second leading cause of years lived with a disability worldwide, only lagging behind lower back pain. In 26 countries, depression was the primary driver of disability. Another study found that either yoga practice alone, or combined with antidepressants, decreased depression more so than antidepressants alone, according to the Hamilton Depression Rating Scale - a questionnaire designed to be conducted by health professionals in clinical interviews in order to identify depressed patients.
Additionally, Yoga Nidra has been found to help with depression and anxiety. Yoga Nidra is defined as ''a state of consciousness somewhere between waking and sleeping in which the body is completely relaxed, and the practitioner becomes systematically and increasingly aware of the inner world by following a set of verbal instructions.'' A study found that Yoga Nidra helps with depression and anxiety that was associated with menstrual disorders.
Several studies were conducted regarding yoga and its association with increases in bone density, strength, and flexibility. Performing yoga correctly can strengthen your bones and muscles while increasing your flexibility and coordination, and therefore, aiding in injury prevention. A study found that performing Hatha Yoga, if performed correctly, is physiologically beneficial to all age groups. It was found that it improves core stability and balance over the course of 21 days.
In another study of Hatha Yoga performed over a 12 week course, findings included increased lung function, muscle strength and endurance along with improved overall flexibility. Other studies found that overall strength improved in older adults when adopting a daily yoga practice without the need for extra equipment and it was found that yoga improved balance in male college athletes, which aided their performance in sports.
2. So Many Choices!
There are numerous styles of yoga, making it easy to implement a yoga practice and style that you personally enjoy. From dynamic and energising styles of yoga like Ashtanga or Visayans Flow, or more gentle, deep tissue stretching, increasing our range of motion and mobility while complimenting any physical activities that we might do, Yin Yoga might be a worthwhile choice or a style that is completely restorative and works on what is going inside the body, reducing our stress levels and resting our bodies and minds like Restorative Yoga or Zen yoga. It is an interesting practice that explores present moment awareness, alignment/asanas and energizes the energy lines in the body. These are really just a few styles of yoga, because there is also power yoga, Hatha yoga, forest yoga, acro yoga and much more that can fit everyone's needs and align with one's goals. Check out Yoga Journal's list and descriptions of the different types of yoga.
3. Progress, Not Perfection!
One of my personal favourite things about yoga is that you get to see and experience your progress. Obviously, this all depends on how much you practice yoga daily, weekly, monthly and each person's body. Which brings me to my next point, everyone's body is different, and in terms of what someone may be able to do another may not. I don't believe there is a perfect shape that everyone has to reach, I believe that it's more complex than this: "yoga is not a practice of attaining idealized physical postures, but a process of self-exploration, self-acceptance, and self-transformation. Reinforce" ― Mark Stephens, Yoga Sequencing: Designing Transformative Yoga Classes.
Here are a few quick tips to incorporate into your own practice to see your progression:
- Find a time that suits you, whether it's morning, at lunch, or before bed
- Adjust the duration of your yoga time to your schedule, if it's 10 minutes, it's still something. Do this every day and the 10 minutes adds up - Note: Start small and slowly increase
- Adapt your yoga time to your personal needs and to the time of day. For example: you may want an energizing session in the morning so that you can skip that cup of coffee.
- Pay attention to yourself! We tend to give a lot of our energy away to work, family, friends and other commitments. Use this time for you!
- Ignore! Ignore Instagram ready poses, you may or may not have seen these. It goes back to my previous point of unique bodies! Avoid compressions and the "This way is right" talk.
- Explore your range of mobility and movement in your own body, move to your limits and find your strengths and capabilities. And that's when you will start to see your progress!
4. What you learn in Yoga can be applied to everyday life
One of the founding fathers of yoga said: "99% of yoga is practice and 1% is theory". I see this quote as meaning that there is always room to learn and grow. Knowledge is limited and knowledge is only just information, in the end. What we do with this knowledge, shapes us, our beliefs, and our behaviours, this is our practice, therefore, this is the most important part.
5. Yoga Is For Everyone!
It's really true! All shapes, all sizes, all levels, all ages! There is no strict criteria to partake in yoga. The wide range of yoga styles, teachers, and disciplines make it accessible for everyone to try to practice yoga. Furthermore, yoga can become even more accessible, meaning you don't have to attend a class to enjoy the benefits of yoga, there are loads of online yoga classes available where you can practice in the comfort of your own home. NamasJay Online is actually launching this year! Sign up here to stay updated!