The Benefits of Yoga {Guest Post}

A short while ago, I was approached by a fellow blogger named Carolyn. She asked if she could write a guest post for my blog to help spread the word on yoga and its many health benefits. Considering I have been getting more into yoga myself, I thought it would a perfect opportunity to collaborate.

She put together a wonderful post and included research studies to support her findings. Here is her article…enjoy!

Psychologist Recommended: Yoga Promotes Mental and Emotional Health

I’m not going to lie …when I first decided to give yoga a try it wasn’t because of the possibility of inner peace that I could gain. It was because it seemed to be a great way to get a workout in that works all parts of the body and was something that I could do either at a studio or at home (which is always a bonus seeing as how I tend to come up with excuses of why I “just had to go home and couldn’t make it to the gym”). However, since starting yoga to now, I have realized that there is waaay more to yoga than toned arms and the ability to actually be able to touch the ground flat with my hands when I bend over!

Yoga has a far greater impact on people’s health than I originally believed (and, probably a lot of other people out there share my original assumption). Experts are finding that practicing yoga can support not only physical health, but promote mental and emotional well-being as well. Many clinicians recommend yoga as a complementary therapy to psychotherapy; yoga can make it easier to deal with stress, depression, anxiety, anger, and fatigue.

Yoga and Mood

The world is a stressful place. Many people experiences stress, tension, low energy, sleep difficulties, and numerous obstacles that keep them from experiencing optimal well-being. Yoga can positively affect people’s lives by helping them effectively deal with negative feelings.

A study published by Harvard Medical School involving emotionally distressed women found that three months of regular yoga classes had a significant impact on the participants’ moods. The women reported feeling 50% less depressed and 30% less anxious. In general, they experienced a 65% boost in perceived well-being.

Another study conducted in 2005 on patients with mental health disorders, including schizophrenia, severe depression and bipolar disorder, also reported improvements from yoga practice. The yoga participants said they had a significant drop in levels of anger, fatigue, tension, depression, and anxiety.

Yoga and the Stress Response

Yoga appears to aid mental and emotional health by helping to manage the body’s natural response to stressors. When the body perceives a threat, the heart starts to beat faster, blood pressure rises and stress hormones are released. Yoga may modulate stress response systems to reduce physiological arousal, thus resulting in lowered blood pressure and heart rate.

By changing the response to stress, people can enhance feelings of calm. A reduced stress response can also increase pain tolerance. People with stress-related disorders are usually hypersensitive to pain; there is a correlation between stress and perceived pain. MRIs show that yoga practitioners experience low amounts of activity in the areas of their brains associated with the pain response. Better management of stress can lower the brain activity in this area and increase tolerance to pain.

Yoga Types and Physical Benefits

People looking to begin a yoga program should begin by deciding what type of yoga they wish to do. In the western world, the word yoga applies mainly to the physical yoga styles. Although there are other types of yoga, in the US and Europe, yoga typically refers to the physical styles identified mainly as Hatha, Ashtanga (sometimes referred to as “power yoga”), Bikram, and Lyengar. The term “hot yoga” is also used, generally to describe yoga classes conducted in heated rooms.

Generally, Hatha yoga classes are slower paced and emphasize gentler poses than some other styles. Asthanga yoga is more physically challenging and faster paced. Bikram yoga takes place in rooms heated to between 95 and 105 degrees and is designed to relax the muscles. Lyengar yoga emphasizes structural alignment and the use of yoga props.

All styles of yoga may improve muscle tone, as well as increase endurance, aerobic endurance and breath control. Orthopedic surgeon Dr. Glenn Axelrod explains how useful yoga is for improving overall strength, balance and flexibility, so much so that yoga is even used by many professional athletic teams as part of their training.

Anything that is being used to get professional athletes into shape but also allows me to do it within my own house is a plus in my book!

Carolyn is a 20-something year old with a passion for life, fitness and overall well-being. She is an avid cycler, golfer and has known to bust some serious moves on the dance floor. Check out Carolyn’s blog at



A quick little teaser of what’s to come later this week…

Happy Tuesday my friends!


This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. paleoinpdx

    Don’t forget vinyasa/power vinyasa! This is another common style that is very strength-induced, challenging and fluid. I’ve been practicing this style for many years and truly love it.

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