Millions of people do yoga – and hope it will have a positive effect on their body and psyche. Numerous studies have investigated whether these really exist. And if so, with what limitations? For sure there are no limits to playing online casino nz.
A daily sun salutation, 30 days to perfect the crow pose or a month to achieve the perfect headstand: every January, social networks such as YouTube, Instagram and Co. are flooded with so-called yoga challenges. Participants hope that taking up a regular yoga practice will help them lose weight, deal with everyday stress, or even have a therapeutic effect on various illnesses – hopes that have been nurtured by numerous studies.
Yoga is in vogue: According to statistics, between 250 and 300 million people worldwide are said to follow the practice originating in India, which is also finding more and more followers in this country. According to a representative survey by the Gesellschaft für Konsumforschung (GfK), 3 percent of Germans regularly rolled out their mats in 2014, but by 2018 the figure was 5 percent, or just under three and a half million people. These are the latest figures collected on behalf of the Federal Association of Yoga Teachers (BDY) in Germany.
Studies show many positive effects:
Two-thirds of those surveyed said they wanted to improve their physical condition with yoga. Almost as many named improving their mental well-being as a goal. In fact, studies have been pointing to a variety of positive health effects for decades.
For a long time, especially in Western countries, yoga was primarily associated with the yoga postures, the so-called asanas: for example, with the dog looking down, the cobra or the warrior. Depending on the type of yoga, the movement aspect is more or less pronounced.
DOES IT HELP YOUR BACK?
Ashtanga yoga or Bikram yoga, which is practiced in a room with a temperature of about 40 degrees Celsius, are considered to be more physically demanding, while Yin yoga focuses on balancing elements. More physically demanding forms of yoga in particular could have a similar alleviating effect on chronic back pain as conventional exercise therapies, wrote an international research team in 2022 following a meta-analysis in the Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews. However, the evidence base of the studies has been of rather low quality.
LOSE WEIGHT WITH YOGA?
In a German study, obese participants who regularly practiced traditional hatha yoga for twelve weeks reduced their weight and abdominal circumference. “No participant started a calorie-restricted diet during the study period,” the authors point out in the “Deutsches Ärzteblatt International.” That’s surprising, since yoga certainly makes you sweat, depending on the practice, but tends not to be practiced at an intensity that burns massive amounts of calories. Nevertheless, the weight-reducing effect also occurred in another study with 60 overweight women, which U.S. scientists reported in 2022 in the journal “PLOS One.”
IS YOGA GOOD FOR THE CARDIOVASCULAR SYSTEM?
Other studies found improved blood counts and a strengthened immune system, as well as positive effects on the heart and circulatory system. A meta-analysis published in the European Journal of Preventive Cardiology in 2014 concluded that yoga could have the same protective effect against cardiovascular disease as regular endurance exercise.
The result was recently confirmed by a study conducted by Canadian researchers: In the three-month study, 60 subjects with high blood pressure completed an exercise program. Half of the participants combined endurance sports with stretching exercises, the others with yoga. “The aim of this pilot study was to determine whether the addition of yoga to regular exercise training reduces cardiovascular risk,” lead author Paul Poirier of Canada’s Laval University in Quebec explained in a news release.
According to the paper, although several studies suggested that yoga interventions and physical activity produced cardiovascular outcomes. However, they differed considerably in terms of the type, components, frequency, duration and intensity of the yoga sessions studied.
Poirier thus addresses a fundamental problem in yoga research: Many studies are difficult to compare because of the sometimes very different yoga practices, and what’s more, the subject groups are often very small. “We wanted to use a rigorous scientific approach to identify the cardiovascular risk factors for which yoga is beneficial for high-risk patients and to find out how it could be used, for example, in a prevention program,” the physician emphasizes.
Indeed, the health status of both groups improved within the three-month study period: In the case of the yoga practitioners, however, upper systolic blood pressure and resting heart rate decreased more significantly.