According to a survey from 2019, around 10% of Germans practice yoga at least occasionally1 – and the trend in recent years has been increasing. The wellness trend from India is said to bring a number of health benefits with it: The promises range from increased ability to concentrate to an improved immune system to better blood circulation, and all kinds of pain should disappear as a result.
But are these claims actually true? What are the real health benefits of yoga? And for which complaints is yoga advisable?
What is yoga
Yoga is a 2000 year old philosophy from India that is based on a holistic view of body and mind2. The physical exercises in yoga are designed to keep the body healthy. Yoga also includes mental exercises that train the spiritual focus and train concentration.
In the meantime, yoga has also spread in the western world and is mostly practiced without the extensive philosophical teaching. The focus is primarily on certain physical postures , combined with breathing exercises and mindfulness and meditation exercises.
How does yoga affect the body?
Anyone who has stayed in the looking down dog for a long time knows: The various yoga postures require a lot of strength, flexibility, balance and muscle endurance. Depending on which asanas you practice, yoga can be an effective muscle training and also counteract shortened muscle groups. The breathing exercises in yoga also seem to have a particularly positive effect
It has been shown that breathing exercises increase the concentration of the calming messenger. This messenger substance has a relaxing effect and reduces stress and anxiety.7 There are even indications that controlled, deep breathing in yoga increases brain performance .8 In a nutshell, the combination of movement and breathing calms our nervous system and thus counteracts stress.
What should you look out for in yoga?
Basically, yoga is a very safe sport. The risk of injury with yoga is no higher than with other types of movement. The prerequisite for this is that you do the exercises correctly. Beginners who learn yoga through video only are at greater risk of injuries. For this reason, it makes sense to attend a course with an experienced yoga teacher at the beginning
Yoga expert also advises not to focus on performance when practicing yoga. The basic rule is not to compare yourself to others and to concentrate fully on yourself. Only then can you fully enjoy the calming, stress-reducing effect of Indian gymnastics
Yoga has now been shown to be effective for a number of health problems. Several scientific studies have shown positive effects on the body.11 Yoga can help with the following ailments:
High blood pressure: Yoga is suitable as an additional treatment for patients with high blood pressure, as it can lower blood pressure. This effect is probably due to the breathing and meditation exercises in yoga.
Back pain: According to a US study, yoga is just as effective as traditional physiotherapy for chronic back pain.13 Here, the scientists believe that muscle training and stretching are responsible for the positive effect. After a herniated disc, yoga is a good way to rebuild the back muscles – provided a few guidelines are followed.
Against the side effects of chemotherapy: After all, yoga can be used as an accompanying therapy for cancer and improves the patient’s well-being there by alleviating the side effects of chemotherapy.