Your mind and body are intricately connected, so it shouldn’t come as much of a surprise that they influence one another. Even the daily stressors you experience as a regular part of life have an impact on your mind, body and soul. In some cases, it simply can’t be helped that you get sick, such as with influenza, but the state of your mind can certainly have an impact on your recovery. One of the best ways to strengthen your body and mind is through yoga. Yoga has been proven to help with a variety of conditions, including:
Aches and Pains
You’ve probably heard that stress gives you gray hairs or wrinkles, and basically ages you before your time. That may be true, but the more surprising thing is that meditation and moving meditation like yoga has the opposite effect. It signals to your genes to stress less and age more slowly.
Yoga also reduces inflammation, which is a major factor for different kinds of pain. The effects may help diminish things like tension headaches, backaches and even arthritis. It may not be the Fountain of Youth, but it might keep the hair on your head its natural color for a few more years.
There are many different kinds of yoga. Aerial yoga is challenging, hot yoga is intense and smells, and aquatic yoga is a smooth, relaxing experience. A person that suffers from Parkinson’s disease will benefit greatly from aquatic therapy, which should include some yoga.
Parkinson’s sufferers have several symptoms, including things like difficultly balancing, tremors, rigidity or stiffness, a weak voice and small movements, among others. Aquatic yoga has several benefits. It helps increase strength and balance, both of which are affected by Parkinson’s. It’s usually held in a heated pool, which relaxes muscles and, even if you do fall, you’re cushioned by the water.
Fibromyalgia is a chronic disease that creates widespread pain and tenderness all over the body. It also contributes to a large amount of fatigue, which can be disabling in its own right. It’s thought that part of the reason fibromyalgia flares up and sticks around is because the body has trouble regulating stress. As a result, the muscles stay tense and the nervous system remains in the stress response mode.
Yoga, however, switches that off and gets the nervous system to calm down. It’s referred to as a relaxation response and is measured by a lower heart rate, calmer brain waves and ease of breathing. It lengthens and stretches the muscles, working out cramps and alleviating some of the pain. Since there is no known cause of fibromyalgia, we can’t say yoga will cure it. It will, however, help to alleviate the symptoms, and for sufferers of a chronic illness, that can be worth its weight in gold.
In a really amazing study, researchers found only benefits from having cancer patients practice yoga as part of their cancer treatment. The yoga didn’t make the cancer go away, of course – that was a job for medication. However, it did help to reduce their stress and cut down on many other symptoms that go along with cancer treatment.
Plus, yoga in a group setting is a social event. People who are suffering with cancer often feel very isolated, and this can help contribute to depression. The yoga classes helped to prevent that, and keep them in a better frame of mind.
Heart disease is the No. 1 cause of death in America. According to the CDC, approximately 25 percent of all deaths are due to heart disease. When you consider what can happen due to heart disease, like heart attacks and stroke, you have some pretty significant reasons to try and reduce your risk. Even though yoga isn’t usually considered aerobic exercise, in a large study, it was found to have the same effects on cardiovascular disease as classic exercise, like jogging or cycling.
One of the reasons people fall in love with yoga is because it helps to attune your body to your mind, making you more aware of yourself. Making an effort to check in with yourself is an important part of maintaining both a healthy state of mind and a healthy body.
Jennifer Landis is an avid yogi who loves ginger tea, any and every nut butter, but mostly being a mom. She writes about her adventures in parenting, yoga, and clean eating at her blog, Mindfulness Mama. You can follow her on Twitter @JenniferELandis.
Feature Image via: We Are Social