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Yoga's Remarkable Health Benefits: From an Ayurvedic Nutritionist

Feb 12, 2024

Yoga's Remarkable Health Benefits: From an Ayurvedic Nutritionist

Yoga has been an integral part of the ancient Indian healing tradition of Ayurveda for centuries. As both a certified Ayurvedic nutritionist and social psychologist, I can attest that yoga offers immense physical and mental health benefits backed by traditional wisdom and modern research.

Yoga's Doshic Benefits: Cooling, Heating, and Grounding Effects on Body and Mind

Yoga is a core component of the Ayurvedic daily routine because it balances the three doshas (mind-body types), improves digestion, and relieves stress. Different poses have cooling, stimulating, or grounding effects on the body and mind. For example, from an Ayurvedic perspective, forward bending postures tend to cool pitta dosha, while twists done on a yoga mat stimulate digestion and are good for kapha types. Backward bends are heating and grounding for vata dosha, as long as you follow the body’s cues and practice safely. Whatever the dosha, yoga cork blocks or yoga straps can help modify poses. Overall, Ayurveda suggests that yoga postures help to tone the body, enhancing strength, flexibility, and internal organ function. 

Yoga Reduces Anxiety and Depression, Research Shows

Studies utilizing MRI scans and other brain imaging technology show evidence of changes in both brain structure and function related to the practice of yoga. Yoga seems to increase grey matter volume and connections between brain cells in areas like the hippocampus and prefrontal cortex. This leads to significant improvements in learning, memory, decision-making, reaction time, accuracy, and other cognitive skills. Amazingly, yoga seems to counteract age-related cognitive decline by thickening the cortical regions that typically shrink with ageing.

The meditation and breathing practices in yoga also lead to decreased emotional reactivity and anxiety by calming the limbic system and increasing mood-regulating neurotransmitters like GABA. Studies confirm yoga's potent antidepressant and antianxiety effects, complementing clinical intervention. It can even augment treatment for PTSD by reducing intrusive traumatic memories and hyperarousal. Reviews show yoga and meditation are more effective than other relaxation techniques like massage for treating anxiety and depression in the elderly. The mood-boosting effects of yoga last longer as well.

Yoga Strengthens Kids' Motor Skills, Concentration, and Stress Management

And, guess what? Yoga is not just for adults! In fact, it teaches children physical control, concentration, self-discipline, stress management, and self-awareness. For example, I know from experience with my 5-year-old, that practising poses has helped with the development of motor skills, balance, and coordination. As children learn to regulate their breathing and focus their attention during yoga, they build concentration skills that will support academic learning. By managing stress and developing self-control, yoga gives kids invaluable life skills that set them up for success.

The Right Yoga Props Enhance Physical Flexibility and Comfort

In summary, modern research confirms yoga's myriad health benefits backed by centuries of traditional practice. It is a holistic healing tool that calms the mind, shapes the body, and uplifts the spirit. Yoga promotes strength, flexibility, mindfulness, and inner peace. Having the right yoga props can enhance your practice. Consider incorporating yoga matsstrapsblocksbolsters, and towels into your routine. And incorporate yoga into your entire family's routine for a lifetime of mental and physical well-being. The benefits can happily surprise you!

By Ilgin Ivy Chan

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  1 Gangadhar, G.H. et al. “Positive antidepressant effects of generic yoga in depressive out-patients: A comparative study”   Indian J Psychiatry. 2013 Jul; 55(Suppl 3): S369–S373. 
 2 Forfylow, A. “Integrating Yoga with Psychotherapy: A Complementary Treatment for Anxiety and Depression” Canadian Journal of Counselling and Psychotherapy / Revue canadienne de counseling et de psychothérapie ISSN 0826-3893 Vol. 45 No. 2 © 2011 Pages 132–150

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