Benefits for Long-Term Yoga Practitioners

Woman in yoga pose

If stress is making you feel anxious, angry, or fatigued, yoga could be the solution to these problems.

 

What is Yoga?

According to literature, yoga is a physical, mental, and spiritual discipline whose goal is the attainment of a state of perfect spiritual insight and tranquility. Basically, it’s an ancient technique that helps promote health through meditation, exercises, and regulation of breathing.

 

Short-Term vs. Long-Term Effects of Yoga on Physical and Mental Status

Research has focused mainly on the short-term effects of yoga and results suggest that it can be very beneficial in terms of reducing stress and improving general health in individuals. That sounds terrific. But what about long-term effects? Fortunately, recent research has shifted the focus from short-term to long-term effects of yoga training, and now we can finally get some answers to that important question.

 

Research and Results

In order to look at yoga’s long-term effects, a team of researchers collected data from a sample of 38 women who had practiced yoga for two or more years as well as from a control group of 37 healthy adult females who had had no experience with yoga (Yoshihara, Hiramoto, Sudo, & Kubo, 2011). Then they compared the two sets of data. The initial screening had been carried out through the use of self-completed questionnaires and urine samples. The questionnaire used in this study tested for mood disturbance while examining the following mood subscales: tension-anxiety, fatigue, depression, anger-hostility, vigor, and confusion. The urine sample was used to measure psychological stress via levels of cortisol, 8-OHdG (8-hydroxydeoxyguanosine), and biopyrrin as stress–related biochemical indices, and results between the two groups (yoga and non-yoga practitioners) were compared.

 

Health Promotion

The investigators found that long-term yoga training did help to reduce levels of self-related anxiety, anger, and fatigue. However, while more research needs to be done to further explore and more thoroughly evaluate the long term effects of yoga training, we can be relatively sure about one thing: yoga helps decrease levels of stress and negative feelings while promoting mental and physical health.

 

Conclusion: How Yoga Can Help You

Generally, yoga is known for its therapeutic qualities in terms of mental disorders, but physical diseases as well. According to the researchers (who authored a peer-reviewed article chronicling the data collection and describing the findings), diseases such as asthma, hypertension, rheumatoid arthritis, migraines, musculoskeletal disorders, and cancer-related symptoms, among others, are linked with stress. While stress might not necessarily cause the development of such disease, it may definitely aggravate it. For instance, what happens when someone with chronic hypertension is under a great deal of stress? Blood pressure rises, possibly increasing the levels of stress even more. This becomes a vicious cycle. However, the previously mentioned article suggests that a few simple relaxation/breathing techniques can help to control many health problems. So why would anyone rely solely on pills or medications in other forms to manage health conditions? Why not try something new and make yoga a part of your life? It might work for you and you can move toward a healthier and happier state of being.

 

 

 

Reference

 

Yoshihara, K., Hiramoto, T., Sudo, N., & Kubo, C. (2011). Profile of mood states and stress-related biochemical indices in long-term yoga practitioners. BioPsychoSocial Medicine, 5(1), 6.