I became a yoga instructor after I was already an MD. Many people couldn’t understand why I would do such a thing. When I decided to shift my focus from treating the ill to keeping people healthy, I found yoga to be one of the most potent things I could prescribe.
Yoga has been around for thousands of years and the benefits of the practice have been observed and noted, but where is the evidence? Given my education, a part of me is still a scientist at heart, so I couldn’t help but wonder what evidence supports yoga as medicine. And by yoga I mean all the parts, especially asana/postures, breathing, and mediation.
Don’t worry, I won’t turn this into a thesis or a difficult to read statistics paper. After reviewing medical journals, yoga showed significant improvement in the following conditions, and in some cases, yoga was shown to work just as good as medication:
- Back and Neck Pain
- Blood Pressure
- Increases sex drive
- Immune Function
- Menopausal Symptoms
- Cardiovascular Disease
- Post-traumatic Stress Disorder
- Irritable Bowel Syndrome
- Premature ejaculation
- Post-surgical Recovery
- Anxiety and Stress (decreases cortisol aka the stress hormone)
- Depression (increases “good” neurotransmitters aka brain chemicals)
- Asthma (improves lung capacity even in non-asthmatics)
- Improves sleep, mood and quality of life
There are likely more diseases it prevents and improves, however, not all have been studied, and in some instances I didn’t include ailments where the data wasn’t compelling. For future blogs, I’d liked to explore some of these in more detail, but I just wanted to give you a general picture here. I always like to discuss limitations, so keep in mind many early studies were done in India, so the results are not readily available. Also study design methods are not perfect and the study group can be genetically or demographically very different from you.
Regardless, you get the gist as to why I am such a yoga fan. You may ask, "but why not other sweaty workouts?" Well, another study found that yoga, when compared to other exercise programs, resulted in better cardiovascular performance based on several metabolic measurements. So not only can it help you in all the ways listed above and give you a sexy body, but from personal experience it also makes you feel oh so good- in a relaxed, yet energetic, high on life kind of way!