Healthy Wednesday: The Power of Yoga

By Helena Schätzle, Geo-Magazine, published June 2013.

By Helena Schätzle, Geo-Magazine, published June 2013.

'Words cannot describe the worth of Yoga, it has to be experienced.' by B.K.S. Iyengar

The other weekend, my boyfriend's best friend, a physiotherapist, came up to me and gave me this 15-page long article about Yoga. He, himself received this from a patient and is totally new to it. It wasn't the typical article about where Yoga has started and what it actually is, but more about what Yoga can. Me, as an advocate of Yoga, immediately started to read it and did not stop until the last sentence was absorbed. The article is by the scientist Hania Luczak and was published in the GEO-magazine June, 2013. 

It is a report about Yoga's Health Benefits, but especially about recent scientific results. A GEO-team visited many researchers from Germany to the United States and even to India to learn more about its healing power. Here are the major findings:

1. Neck Pain, the Charité Berlin found out that patients had less pain after ten weeks of a 90-minute yoga lesson per week compared to patients who practiced back exerices by their own.

2. Back Pain, the University of Washington (Seattle), almost 80% of Yoga practitioners were able to quit their painkillers by doing yoga once a week for half a year.

3. Stress Level, it definitely reduces your stress level so that you become more calm and mindful. Stress, we know it all, is the cause for burnout, depression, anxiety, addiction, obesity, chronic inflammations and more. 

4. Aerobics vs. Yoga, University of California, Yoga is not only as good as physical exercise, but might be even better. The researchers suggest: Cardio for endurance, but yoga for your mind and well-being.

5. Sleep, Harvard University in Boston, after only eight weeks of yoga, people sleep better :)

6. Stress Reduction &High Blood Pressure, Yale University, patients were able to reduce their medications by doing yoga.

7. Relaxation, University of Dresden, Yoga calms down your heart :)

8. Changes in the Central Nervous System, Boston University School of Medicine, the researchers found out that Yogis and people who regularly practice yoga produce more gamma-aminobutyric acid, short GABA, which eases anxiety. They also compared this to sport activities.

9. Mental Health and Improvement in Cognitive Performance, University of California, L.A., only 12 minutes of Yoga per day lead to a reduction of depression, a highler level of mental health and cognitive performance compared to a group which only listened to relaxation music in those 12 minutes. Additionally, they've found out that there's also a reduction of cell aging. Incredible, right?

10. Breast Cancer, Department of Psychology, University of Calif., people who suffered from breast cancer and had to deal with the Fatigue-Syndrome, (which occurs after a chemotherapy) and did Yoga for three months, twice a week, felt an improvement in their physical and emotional condition.

I have to add that the researchers were mostly examining the Iyengar-Yoga which is based on these three pillars: Breath Control (Pranayama), Physical Exercise (Asana) and Meditation. Those three can be healing, but together they are invincible.

The key factor in those studies were that participants practiced a type of Yoga that includes the practice of breathing and mindfulness. Modern types like Bikram and Power Yoga will not lead to the mentioned benefits. With Yoga, Hania Luczak writes, one will slip into a Health-Provision-System. Often, you will subconsciously turn to a healthier lifestyle, have better relationships and a better working life.

After this well-written and well-explored article, I just had to start my Yoga practice again. I have thought about it a few months back because I was lacking routine, but this totally convinced me to get back deeper into it. Thank you Oliver for this article, I just needed a bit of motivation to go to the local Yoga Center and sign myself up :) The first 90-minute session this Monday was already worth the time and money :) 

Will you give the Power of Yoga a try? ;-)

Love and Namaste ♥

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