Exciting Results from UE Yoga Study!

by Emily Griebel, University of Evansville Exercise Science Major

The term yoga is derived from “yuj” which means “unite” or “yoke.” This strongly resonates with the idea that yoga enhances one’s sense of “self” and leads to increased mental well-being. By increasing the breathing control and relaxation, yoga has proven to be effective in coping with stress, reducing anxiety, and regulating the levels of neurotransmitters. Taking time to reflect, focus on taking care of your muscles, and listening to your body can provide healing effects on its own. Yoga has become increasingly popular among the fitness world also because of its healing techniques on the joints and muscles.

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However, one of the most crowning benefits of doing yoga is the increased balance that it can provide even after a short period of time. We were able to test our own clients to see how our yoga classes affected them during an 8-week period. We tested their balance by having them stand on a small platform, and reach to the side, behind, and in front of them to push a block with their foot. Not an easy task! But the results were very rewarding in that all of the clients that stayed with yoga and took at least one class per week had increased balance when tested again after the 8-week period. Balance becomes an increasingly important factor, especially as one grows older, because of the threat of falling. One-third of over 65 year olds fall once or more annually. Falls result in injury, hospitalization, disability and loss of independence in older people. By going to yoga even just one day a week, we can reduce our risk of falling.

Three out of four subjects reported that they had increased mood and felt calmer. Perhaps as we quickly approach this holiday season and the New Year, we should consider a yoga class to boost our balance but also our mental well-being. Simply the practice of yoga can bring these benefits; you don’t need to be a master yogi to gain the increased mental health benefits of this simple practice! Give yourself a fresh start to the New Year by taking time for yoga to reflect, stretch your muscles, and re-center yourself. Beyond the calorie burning and miles on the treadmill, one of the greatest health benefits from yoga is the increased mental health. I think I can say with confidence that we all work better and have better relationships when we feel better, happier, and have more energy. I encourage you to try out yoga for the New Year, give it a few weeks, and allow it to let you re-charge and be happier.