A word with origins in Sanskrit, yoga has only recently become popular in the West after many millennia as an important component of physical and spiritual wellness in the lives of its Eastern practitioners. Recent scientific studies have revealed the discipline’s numerous benefits, and the National Institutes of Health has rated it among the 10 most useful complementary health practices. Although yoga is already well known as a means of treating back pain, improving circulation, and reducing stress, additional research is being conducted to uncover what are anticipated to be even more advantages.
One recent study found that one style of yoga, hatha yoga, leads to significant reductions in blood pressure among adolescents predisposed to high blood pressure. Specifically, the study associated yoga practice with a reduction in a-amylase activity, a key indicator of blood pressure issues. Older yoga practitioners in another study demonstrated the improved balance that yoga creates in its adherents; a meta-analysis of yoga studies showed that seniors who practice yoga have fewer balance-related issues or falls, as well as fewer fears about falling. Meanwhile, more extreme yogic traditions have also come to scientists’ attention. The tum-mo style practiced by Tibetans is well known for enabling these dedicated yogis to withstand extreme cold, and researchers have confirmed this extraordinary practice, showing that tum-mo helps practitioners regulate body temperature using brown fat and increased blood flow.