Whether you’re new to yoga or a seasoned practitioner, you’ve probably noticed some of the benefits – more energy, reduced stress, or a relaxed state of mind. Alongside these benefits, studies suggest that putting on your yoga pants regularly can affect longevity and life span. In this article, we explore the question: does yoga and meditation help you live longer?
While we are still discovering the many benefits of yoga, the benefits we are currently aware of can have a positive effect on life span. So, the short answer to this question is – yes, yoga and meditation can help you live longer! Below, we explore some of the benefits that promote long and healthy life.
During a yoga class, the joints are taken through their full range of motion. This helps the joint cartilage receive fresh nutrients, protects the underlying bones and prevents wear and tear. This range of motion also mitigates disability and prevents degenerative arthritis.
Many asanas require an element of weight-bearing. These poses help to strengthen the bones and prevent osteoporosis. Postures that bear weight on the arms strengthen the arm bones that are vulnerable to osteoporotic fractures. Better still, research suggests that regular yoga practice improves overall bone density.
Practicing yoga regularly increases blood flow in various ways. Firstly, relaxation helps with circulation. Movement transports fresh oxygen to the cells which enables them to function better. Inversions reverse blood flow making it flow from the body to the brain and heart. Yoga also increases hemoglobin levels which helps to prevent heart attacks, blood clots, and strokes.
As we move during a yoga session, lymph is drained which allows our body to fight infection, get rid of toxic waste and destroy diseased cells. Meditation also improves the function of the immune system. Meditating can boost the immune system when needed, for instance, in response to a vaccination, and lower it when needed, for instance, in response to an aggressive immune function that comes with an autoimmune disease.
Certain yoga classes are designed to boost your heart rate into the aerobic range. Studies suggest that the practice can also lower resting heart rate, increase maximum uptake of oxygen during exercise and increase endurance. All of these elements show that yoga can improve aerobic conditioning. Studies have also found that people who practice breathing exercises can do more exercise with less oxygen. Moving your heart rate into the aerobic range can relieve depression and lower the risk of a heart attack.
Regular yoga practice can lower cortisol levels. If your cortisol levels are high, they can compromise the immune system and potentially cause permanent changes in the brain. High cortisol levels have also been linked to osteoporosis, high blood pressure, major depression, and insulin resistance.
There are two types of cholesterol. LDL cholesterol is the bad type, while HDL is the good type. Regular yoga practice lowers LDL and boosts HDL as well as decreasing blood sugar. This can be particularly beneficial for those with diabetes as the practice can lower blood sugar by decreasing cortisol and adrenaline levels. Lowered LDL can also promote weight loss and improve sensitivity to the effects of insulin. Lower blood sugar levels decrease the risk of diabetic complications such as kidney failure, heart attack, and blindness.
Proprioception is the ability to feel where your body is in space and what it is doing. Regular yoga practice increases proprioception and subsequently improves balance. This can result in fewer falls, particularly amongst the elderly. This may allow the elderly to regain their independence and prevent admission to a nursing or care home. Often, this can prevent the onset of dementia and keep the brain young.
Heightened stress levels can wreak havoc on the nervous system. Thankfully, yoga and meditation can remove outside stimuli and provide the nervous system with some much-needed downtime. When the mind is relaxed, you can enjoy a deeper sleep and wake up feeling refreshed and recharged. During deep sleep, your body can repair muscles, organs and other cells to keep your system in optimum health.
With regular yoga and meditation practice, we learn to take fewer breaths of larger volume. This is both relaxing more efficient for the body. Deep breathing can help people with lung issues caused by congestive failure and also improve measures of lung function. Yoga and meditation promote breathing through the nose which warms, filters and humidifies air. This helps allergy sufferers by removing pollen, dust and other allergens and also prevents asthma.
One of the key benefits of yoga its ability to change your mindset and inspire a healthy lifestyle. Typically, yogis are more in tune with their health and they choose to eat a healthy, balanced diet and exercise regularly. Through yoga, you’ll learn that you can make changes to better your lifestyle and adopt healthy habits. When practiced over a long period, these habits can have an impact on life expectancy and help you to live longer.
The benefits above can have a positive effect on lifespan. With this in mind, putting on your yoga hoodie regularly can result in a long and healthy life. For best results, practice yoga and meditation at least 2 times each week. The benefits will certainly be worth it in the end!