Yoga is a 5,000-year-old practice that is said to have originated in India. The ancient practice amalgamates physical, mental, and spiritual disciplines to attain total harmony. Yoga is believed to unite the body and the mind, provide fulfillment, yet restraint, and create a balance between nature and human. It is a holistic approach towards attaining health and complete well-being.
Yoga, a type of mind–body training, has eight constituents such as personal discipline, conduct within society, breathing, postures/poses (asanas), contemplation, concentration, absorption/stillness, and meditation. The United Nations General Assembly has recognized the mental and physical health benefits of yoga and declared June 21 as International Day of Yoga All participant countries have since been organizing mass yoga events every year to celebrate the day.
A study published in the journal BioPsychoSocial Medicine found that practicing yoga could increase an individual’s memory and at the same time, decrease their anxiety levels. Another study published in the International Journal of Yoga stated that the regular practice of yoga helped balance energy. In addition, yoga also encourages the individual to relax, shifting their focus from the flight-or-fight response. Further, it helps lower blood pressure, cortisol levels, and heart rate and increase blood flow to the vital organs. Regions of the brain associated with fear, rage, and aggressiveness are also suppressed by regular yogic practice.
A study published in the Indian Journal of Psychiatry stated that yoga is beneficial in reducing cortisol levels. High levels of cortisol are responsible for the development of a disease called hypercortisolemia, common in people suffering from depression. The authors concluded that with regular practice of yoga, a significant drop in the levels of cortisol was noted. It thus acted as an antidepressant, reducing the occurrence of depression.
Known for its positive effects on overall health and soul, yoga has been found to be helpful in treating post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). A study conducted by the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI), revealed the efficacy of yoga in reducing the symptoms of PTSD. The researchers involved in the study noticed that practicing yoga improved the physical functioning of patients by improving the capability to tolerate physical and sensory pain and fear, along with increasing emotional awareness.
A study published in the Journal of Eating Disorders examined 20 girls aged between 14 and 18 years from an outpatient eating disorders clinic. The patients participated in weekly classes at a yoga studio while continuing to receive outpatient care from the clinic. The studio’s instructors also received training on areas related to the patients. The researchers used questionnaires at week six and 12 to measure the levels of body image disturbances, anxiety, and depression. The results showed decreased levels of all the three disorders in the patients throughout the period they engaged in yoga.
A small, however, rising number of well-designed clinical trials on alcohol addiction and illicit substance use have established the clinical efficacy of yoga. For instance, a randomized controlled trial found that alcohol-dependent individuals, undergoing an eight-week yoga practice session, achieved superior decline in dependence severity compared to participants in the exercise control condition. Amongst patients in an outpatient methadone program, intervention involving yoga was shown to be as effective as conventional group psychotherapy, if not more, for decreasing substance use.
Regular, yet, gentle practice of yoga releases a neurotransmitter in the brain known as gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA). This chemical plays a crucial role in suppressing the neural activity that leads to anxiety and insomnia. A study published in the Journal of Ayurveda and Integrative Medicine stated that regular practice of yoga by the elderly population can greatly help in regulating the sleep cycle and also improve quality of life.
A study published in the journal Plos One stated that regular practice of a form of yoga known as Sahaja Yoga is associated with an increase in the volume of gray matter and enlargement of certain regions of the brain associated with self-control, sustained attention, and compassion. Another study in The Journals of Gerontology Series A stated that regular practice of a form of yoga known as Hatha Yoga was associated with higher cognitive function, together with the expansion of brain structures responsible for executive control.
Given the rising fame of yoga and scientific evidence substantiating its positive outcomes on overall health, it is unsurprising that this practice is being imbibed into diverse cultures and treatment programs for various disorders. Yoga is now practiced in workplaces, prisons, senior citizen communities, and drug treatment centers. As stated by an enlightening editorial on drug recovery and yoga therapy in Social Work Today, yoga is one of the most efficient client-based forms of alternative therapy in clinical settings. Yoga therapy can be performed as a part of the treatment program (inpatient or outpatient) and even during recovery management. Many psychotherapists, mental health professionals, social workers, and other professionals engaged in the management of drug addiction have come to an understanding that yoga can complement the key constituents of drug treatment such as medication and psychotherapy.
If you or someone you love is battling a mental disorder or an addiction and is looking for inpatient mental health or addiction treatment centers, then get in touch with the Invictus Health Group. Our network of reputed behavioral health centers has experienced therapists that combine the benefits of alternative therapies like yoga with conventional medication management to achieve lasting results. For more information call our 24/7 helpline 866-548-0190 or chat online with a representative.
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