Yoga.. you might be thinking hang on a minute aren't you a Nutritionist and what’s that got to do with yoga? Well you aren’t wrong, I am a Nutritionist, but as much as I focus heavily on food intake and dietary choices, lifestyle plays such an important part of the process in so many aspects.
Yoga is something I’ve repeatedly been recommending to clients in clinic throughout my final semester at Uni and its rare that someone leaves a yoga class disappointed - but it can sometimes take some effort to get there in the first place. I like to think of yoga as an investment in yourself. We spend so much time these days rushing around, busy with work or families or both and this is a one hour investment in yourself. A time to shut out the noise, relax and connect with you. Yoga is a an ancient mind-body practice combining stretching, breathing exercises and meditation and the science to back it up speaks for itself. Here are some very good reasons why you should get yourself to your nearest yoga studio ASAP.
Stress // Yoga encourages controlled breathing and by taking slower longer breathes is a great way to destress and clear the mind. This allows us to switch on and activate our parasympathetic nervous system and take us out of fight flight mode and reduce cortisol levels. Stress can be accompanied by increased blood pressure and research shows that regular yoga has a positive impact on reducing blood pressure.
Anxiety // Research shows that people with anxiety tend to have lower levels of GABA, the neurotransmitters required for regulating over activity in the nervous system. This is where yoga comes in. Yoga helps to increase levels of GABA and therefore helps to reduce feelings of anxiety by calming the nervous system.
Depression // The exact reasoning behind the mechanism of how yoga can help to reduce depression isn’t fully understood. It is thought however that the slowing of breath incorporating the meditative and relaxation state that you achieve in the practice of yoga induces a sense of calm, wellbeing and mental clarity, helping to reduce depression and any associated stress.
Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) // Gut health and yoga, what’s the connection? The gut-brain-axis is influential in the development of IBS, in particular stress and again, dominance of the sympathetic nervous system (our fight flight mode) can worsen symptoms. Practicing yoga allows the parasympathetic nervous system to activate (our rest and digest mode.. hello) and helps to improve the quality of life in those suffering from IBS.
Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS) // Exercise as a whole is a great way to relieve PMS symptoms and yoga is included. A study conducted of females attending yoga over a 12 week period highlighted a reduction in abdominal swelling and cramps, tender breasts and cold sweats!
Immune Health // There is emerging evidence that yoga can help to down regulate inflammatory responses in the body and may be a beneficial intervention for anyone at risk or already suffering from diseases with inflammatory components. This is one to watch!
So the proof is in the pudding. Yoga is the perfect way to look after yourself! Its available to suit all fitness levels, ages and if you can’t touch your toes, well a few classes down the track and you’ll see the difference.