The approaching of Fall also means the approaching of something else: the busy holiday season. I don’t know about y’all, but while I LOVE the holidays, I don’t love the stress that they can bring. With everything vying for our time and attention-- school plays, family gatherings, work parties, holiday vacations-- it can be easy to forget about wellness. But it’s during these busy times that we need wellness the most! If you haven’t yet tried one of our many yoga classes at Leon Springs or Alamo Ranch, the time has never been better. Yoga has been proven to reduce stress, relieve anxiety, decrease depression, reduce lower back pain, stimulate brain function, and more!
Reduce Stress and Anxiety
If you’ve taken a yoga class before you’ve probably felt its stress-reducing magic. But how exactly does it do that? Scientists are now discovering the mechanisms by which yoga reduces stress. Recent studies have found that the combined effects of pranayama (breathing), dhyana (meditation), and movements (asanas) reduce activation of our sympathetic nervous system, the part of our autonomic nervous system responsible for our “fight or flight” response, as well as increase levels of gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), a neurotransmitter that boosts mood and has a calming effect on our nervous system. Another study found that yoga helps regulate the hypothalmic pituitary adrenal (HPA) axis, which is our “central stress response system.” What this means is that yoga minimizes the inflammatory responses our bodies experience in stressful encounters, meaning those stressful encounters affect our bodies less.
Improve Heart Health
Yoga has been shown to reduce blood pressure, enhance heart rate response to deep breathing, and slow the build up of plaque in our arteries that can lead to heart disease.
Improve our Days and our Nights
Recent studies found that participants who practiced yoga were able to develop healthier relationships with food and with themselves: they consumed less, ate slower, and made healthier food choices, primarily through cultivating more present-moment awareness. Participants also reported more connected to and more positive about their overall wellbeing. Further studies have found that those who regularly practiced yoga had better sleep quality than those who did not practice yoga.
Reduce Lower Back Pain
Lower back pain affects over 80% of adults, and yoga has been shown in several studies to be an inexpensive and non-medicated way to provide some relief. An analysis done in 2017 linked yoga practice with lower back pain relief and an improvement in back-related functioning, and other research found yoga to be just as effective as physical therapy in reducing back pain.
Improve Metabolism in Type 2 Diabetics
There has been a lot of study on the effects of yoga on insulin, specifically in people with Type 2 Diabetes. Recent evidence showed improved glucose tolerance and insulin sensitivity on par with medication! Measurable improvements were seen in both fasting plasma glucose levels (levels taken while fasting) as well as postprandial plasma glucose levels (levels taken an hour or two after you’ve eaten).