The Transformative Power You Can Add to Your Diet
5000 years and counting, and yoga is still one of the best ways people can achieve more out of their current diet and exercise program. Strictly physically speaking, yoga improves flexibility, strength, balance and endurance. In terms of energy, yoga teaches you how you can cope with stress better by bringing a sense of ease using both active and passive poses. Psychologically, yoga helps create mindfulness by shifting awareness to your sensations, thoughts and emotions that accompany any of the poses or exercises. Women are the more intuitive and emotionally aware of the sexes, which is why so many more women report the positive effects that yoga has brought about than their male counterparts.
Yoga’s many benefits are meant as an addition to regular exercise, good nutrition and a healthy sleep pattern, not as a substitute, but it can help augment all three so you get the most out of your effort. Yoga improves brain functions in just 20 minutes. According to a study by the University of Illinois participants were shown to have better performance on tests measuring cognitive function after yoga, as opposed to the same amount of time doing aerobic exercise. Hatha yoga, which is a form that practices the physical postures rather than body movement or sequencing is shown to boost focus and working memory.
It also lowers stress levels by decreasing the activity of proteins known to play roles in inflammation, and alters gene expression which offers many healthy benefits that boost immunity. Another form of yoga, Bikram, which is a series of 26 postures that are performed for 90 minutes in a hot place (also referred to as “hot yoga”) is proven to increase the flexibility of shoulder, lower back and hamstring muscles as well as increasing dead-lift strength and decreasing body fat as compared with a control group. All of the above benefits can be found after just the first class.
Upon practicing yoga for a few months, even more benefits are harvested. It improves blood pressure caused by mild to moderate hypertension as found in a study by the University of Pennsylvania, even more so than participants who were part of a walking, nutrition and weight counseling program. Along with better blood pressure is an improvement in lung capacity as found in Hatha yoga which places emphasis on deep breathing methods known as pranayama. This also is good news for asthma sufferers, who find benefit from an ease in symptoms using yoga. (The Health Benefits of Yoga)
More benefits after a couple months include:
- An improvement in libido: Based on a 2009 study from Harvard University, yoga was shown to boost arousal, sexual desire, orgasm and satisfaction for women. It is also thought to help by familiarizing women with their own bodies, which boosts confidence and sense of self awareness.
- Chronic neck and back pain: Just 4 weeks of Iyengar yoga, which is a sub-type of Hatha yoga that stresses alignment and the use of equipment, reduces the intensity of pain reported by sufferers, as well as helping clear away the irritability associated with constant pain.
- Helps emotional health: Though all exercise is shown to help people alleviate things like anxiety and restlessness, a study by Duke University Medical Center suggests yoga can even go further, by benefiting those who suffer with depression, schizophrenia, sleep disorders and other psychiatric conditions including post traumatic stress disorder. Yoga releases more serotonin than traditional exercise, and seratonin is the happy hormone associated most closely with feelings of contentment.
- Fights against heart disease: Adding just 8 weeks of yoga to a traditional diet and exercise plan increases the capacity for exercise and improves heart health by reducing arterial plaque.
- Handy helper for diabetics: Adding yoga to a diabetes regimen as prescribed by a physician results in steady blood sugar levels after only 3 months, as well as a sharp reduction in body mass.
- Improves balance: Though the elderly are more prone to accidents involving lack of balance, there are some people for whom vertigo is a problem, or who have just never been very good at balancing altogether. Yoga’s many poses and deep breathing exercises that allow the mind to center the body is shown to help prevent falls in women over 65, and improve the overall balance of otherwise healthy patients in a 2008 study by Temple University.
When yoga is done long term the benefits are even further reaching. Not only are women more attuned to their own body’s needs and functions, but they’re deeply connected to their sense of well-being, and self confidence. Good health radiates from a woman who is able to use yoga as a release in addition to her nutrition plan, and cravings end up non-existent. Yoga is often used as a recovery tool, allowing doctors of osteopathy the ability to see the patient heal faster, and spend less time in their offices. The many differing types of yoga are sure to fit anyone’s preference, and can be chosen for the day, or forever as moods or time allows.
More long term benefits are:
- Stronger bones: Practicing yoga improves bone density among older adults based on bone mineral density testing (DEXA) scans. The patients tested had not lost any bone density at all, but actually gained some. Patients who did not participate in yoga lost a small amount of bone after 2 years.
- Perfect weight and shape: Among 15,000 healthy middle-aged adults, regular yoga practice was found to result in decreased weight on average, as well as tighter, toned muscles, and soft feminine curves due to the passivity of the motions of most yoga patterns.
Yoga when added to a tailored nutritional regimen and exercise program like Venus Factor can easily boost a woman’s ability to see her goals achieved far more quickly than those for whom yoga does not play a part. Yoga becomes an integral part of the day and exercise routine very quickly as a source of joy and a sense of calm that is hard to find in the frenetic pace of today’s world. It brings about better posture, which is proven to help with self-confidence. It is thought that if you look self-confident (which good posture promotes) then you will feel it as well. Having a power partner like yoga helping you lower cholesterol, fight triglycerides and pumping up your immune system is a recipe for success.