Most yoga practitioners will tell you there are a range of benefits to be seen from this exercise – from improving flexibility to alleviating stress. New research has recently shone a light on even more physical and mental health benefits.
A study from the Florida Atlantic University has found evidence that yoga can be effective in the treatment of back pain. The study reported that movement-based mind-body interventions, like yoga, showed reductions in pain or psychological distress, as well as a reduction in pain-related disability and improved functional ability.
The benefits, it would seem, go beyond the physical. A study, published in The Journal of Psychiatric Practice, saw significant improvements for those who suffered from major depressive disorder when they practiced yoga.
What do the experts say?
Active+, one of New Zealand’s largest rehab suppliers, states that yoga has become an increasingly accepted part of illness and injury recovery amongst health professionals. However, experts say there is a greater need for education around yoga when it comes to rehabilitation, injury prevention and general health care.
“The main benefits that we see are actually related to improved mobility,” says Active+ yoga instructor Ariel Meadows. “Yoga moves your entire body and utilises all of your joints, from your hands to your feet. Rather than striving to achieve certain shapes, we focus on maintaining the mobility that we have now and sustaining it as we get older.”
Another key benefit, Ariel says, is around reducing stress and tension, which often shows up as shoulder and back pain.
“Many of us hold our breath without realising, especially when we’re anxious or under pressure – sitting in rush hour traffic, for example! Yoga teaches physical awareness, which stays with you throughout the day, long after your yoga class is over. This means you will notice when you’re holding your breath or when there is tension in your shoulders, and can use some of the exercises you’ve been taught to release it.”
Learn more about the benefits of yoga.