New Study Confirms Yoga Heals

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yogaA recent study shows additional healing benefits of yoga. The practice which dates back to pre-Vedic Indian traditions is a physical, mental, and spiritual practice or discipline which is now widely practiced around the world. As yogis learn more about yoga it is becoming more apparent that the benefits exceed that of the mind. A recent study confirms yoga has the potential to heal physically and emotionally.  Yoga helps people get centered and relaxed, which makes the heart rate go down and includes poses which help increase strength and flexibility.

The human mind, which is inherently impatient most times, tends to trigger emotional reactions when ideas of life collide with one’s reality. Navigating life can be challenging and often people exhaust too much time tormenting themselves because of choices they have made, opportunities they missed and paths they felt they should have taken. Other times people waste time dwelling on the future while neglecting the power of the present moment. These judgments and counterproductive thoughts become the source of emotional pain.

The body has no problem releasing pain when the underlying issues are healed, but the mind has a distinct way of holding on. The unique benefit which many yogis have experienced is learning to uncover the false perceptions which cause people to cling to pain. Yoga has long been known to open the mind up to a deep experience of peace.

yogaNow, in what has been reported as the largest study of yoga, results suggest that meditative salutations and downward dog poses can reduce inflammation. The study used biological measures to prove that yoga helps alter the body’s way of reacting to irritation or injury. Inflammation is closely associated with chronic diseases such as arthritis, diabetes and heart disease. It is also one on the reasons survivors of cancer commonly feel exhaustion for a lengthy period following treatment.

To complete the study the research team, which was led by Janice Kiecolt-Glaser, utilized 200 breast cancer survivors who had not practiced yoga before. Half of the group participated in yoga practices for 12 weeks, while the other half continued their lives without it. Kiecolt-Glaser, Ohio State University professor of psychiatry and psychology, stated the group which practiced yoga reported higher levels of vitality and less fatigue three months after their treatment had concluded.

In addition to the group’s self-reports, Ronald Glaser examined three cytokines for laboratory proof. Glaser is not only Kiecolt-Glaser’s husband and research partner, but is a vital part of Ohio State’s molecular virology, immunology and medical genetics department. He wanted stronger proof and used proteins in the blood which are known markers for inflammation to gain

Glaser’s findings were positive. Blood tests revealed after three months of yoga practice when compared before and after the trial, all three inflammation markers were lower by 10 to 15 percent. This biological evidence went beyond self-reports from the participants which was based on feelings. The new study confirms that yoga not only heals emotionally, but physically.

Although no one knows the exact reason yoga reduced inflammation in the survivors of breast cancer, but Cancer treatment often leaves patients with high levels of stress and fatigue accompanied with an inability to sleep well. Based on the study Kiecolt-Glaser stated:

Poor sleep fuels fatigue, and fatigue fuels inflammation. Yoga has been shown to reduce stress and help people sleep better.

The study’s results mirror other smaller studies which have shown that expert yoga practitioners had lower inflammatory stress responses as compared to novice yoga enthusiasts. Additionally, yoga reduced inflammation in heart failure patients and can improve crucial levels of insulin and glucose in diabetes patients. While much of the yogamedical community hold the results of yoga research in high regard, others continue to point to its flaws in attempts to undermine the results. When speaking of the practice of yoga Indian Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, said:

Yoga is an invaluable gift of India’s ancient tradition. It embodies unity of mind and body, thought and action, restraint and fulfillment, harmony between man and nature and is a holistic approach to health and well-being. It is not about exercise but to discover the sense of oneness with yourself, the world and the nature. By changing our lifestyle and creating consciousness, it can help us deal with climate change.

After the declaration of Modi, June 21 was adopted as the International Day of Yoga. This day was recommended because it is the Summer Solstice, according to the Prime Minister, meaning the longest day of the year in the Northern Hemisphere and has special significance in many parts of the world.

A recent study suggests yoga has the ability to limit or minimize stress-related inflammatory responses. As such, regular practice could have substantial physical and mental health benefits. As with any exercise regimen, there is always a risk of suffering physical injuries, therefore caution and common sense are recommended.   This new study confirmed in breast cancer patients that yoga has the ability to heal physically and supports many testimonies of emotional healing.

by Cherese Jackson (Virginia)  


National Geographic: New Study Shows Yoga Has Healing Powers
Psychosomatic Medicine: Stress, Inflammation, and Yoga Practice
Journal of Clinical Oncology: Yoga’s Impact on Inflammation, Mood, and Fatigue in Breast Cancer Survivors: A Randomized Controlled Trial
Chopra Centered Lifestyle: Healing the Source of Emotional Pain

Photo Credits:

Top Image Courtesy of Free to Breathe – Flickr License
Inside Image Courtesy of Elsie Eskobar – Flickr License
Inside Image Courtesy of Laura Taylor – Flickr License
Inside Image Courtesy of Andrea Parrish – Geyer – Flickr License
Featured Image Courtesy of Susan G. Koman – Flickr License