The Science-Backed Benefits of Yoga

From easing pain and helping us release anxiety to boosting joy and energy, here are all the ways yoga can complement your Ayurvedic routine.

In This Article

Yoga and Ayurveda

Recently, there have been a few studies that should motivate all of us to hit the yoga mat or the yoga chair. Yes, you read that correctly.

In one study, chair yoga was more effective for arthritis pain than a health education program.

In another study, a meta-analysis of 12 randomized studies evaluating the effects of yoga on more than 1000 men and women found that yoga was effective for chronic low back pain.In This Article:Yoga for PainYoga for PleasureYoga for The Seasons

Yoga for Pain

While conventional exercise has been successful for osteoarthritic pain, the ability to perform regular exercise can decrease with age or injury. The Arthritis Foundation recommends yoga to reduce joint pain, boost flexibility and reduce stress, but many adults have a hard time performing classic yoga. Chair yoga is a great way to start and build up to classical yoga.

The chair yoga study evaluated 131 older adults who had osteoarthritis. They were given a chair yoga class or a health education class twice a week for 8 weeks. Compared to the health education group, the chair yoga group saw a greater reduction in pain that lasted for 3 months after the classes ended. They also saw a reduction in fatigue and increased gait speed. (1)

For chronic low back pain, there have been many studies suggesting that yoga outperforms conventional exercise for low back pain. One report said that 75-84 percent of the general population in developed countries have experienced low back pain. (3) The direct costs of caring for low back pain is close to 100 billion a year in America. The indirect costs are estimated to be as high as 200 billion a year. (3)

As sister sciences, Yoga and Ayurveda unite the knowledge of lifestyle, diet, daily and seasonal routines from Ayurveda with yoga to bring union, subtle energy balance, health and longevity to the body, mind and spirit.

Yoga for Pleasure

One study published in the Journal of Holistic Nursing was titled “I Am a Nice Person When I do Yoga.”  In that study, the regular practice of yoga increased happiness by 86.5 percent while also significantly boosting compassion, joy and indifference to pain. (4)

The study suggested that yoga improved interpersonal relationships by making them more patient, kind, mindful and self-aware. Many also reported that they were better able to handle difficulties, like death or divorce, and felt that had a greater sense of purpose. (4)

Clearly, yoga–which means the union of our mind and body or, in a deeper sense, the feeling of union with everything–is in the true sense of the word, a holistic practice.

Yoga for The Seasons

Yoga, like Ayurveda, is a seasonal practice.

  • Vata yoga is warming and calming, and is best practiced in the winter. It is a very important practice for vata body types.
  • Pitta yoga is cooling and best practiced in the summer. For those hot-headed, pitta body types, pitta yoga can provide centeredness and grounding calmness.
  • Kapha yoga is more stimulating to help move the earth and water that governs kapha, or the spring season. Kapha body types, who are generally bigger framed, love engaging in kapha yoga each spring. It is just what the doctor ordered!

Ayurveda adds to these beautiful cycles of yoga with lifestyle, diet, and daily and seasonal routines to sync us up with the rhythms of our unique body type and the circadian cycles of nature.

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To dive deeper into the marriage of yoga and Ayurveda, I invite you to join me in my new course, Ayurveda 101, where I teamed up with experts from Yoga Journal Magazine and Kripalu Yoga Center to teach Ayurveda and Yoga in a seasonal format for the first time ever. As a culture, studies tell us that we have been totally disconnected from the circadian cycles of nature. Re-connecting with these rhythms will revolutionize medicine as we know it. Ayurveda and yoga laid a seasonal blueprint for health and longevity thousands of years ago.

References

  1. http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/jgs.14717/abstract
  2. http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/14651858.CD010671.pub2/abstract
  3. https://stacks.cdc/view/cdc/32142
  4. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/articles/PMC4196270

References

  1. http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/jgs.14717/abstract
  2. http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/14651858.CD010671.pub2/abstract
  3. https://stacks.cdc/view/cdc/32142
  4. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/articles/PMC4196270

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