Any seasoned yogi will happily espouse the benefits of yoga practice – and now their claims are getting a lot of scientific backing.
Many recent studies show that yoga can lead to stress reduction, improved memory, lower blood pressure and all-round better health.
John Denninger, a psychiatrist at Harvard Medical School, is studying how yoga affects genes and brain activity in people who are chronically stressed.
“There is a true biological effect,” said Denninger. “The kinds of things that happen when you meditate do have effects throughout the body, not just in the brain.”
A study at Ohio State University found regular yoga practice can reduce inflammation, the body's way of reacting to injury or irritation, which is associated with heart disease, diabetes, and arthritis.
Harvard researchers found that people who meditated had a significant increase in grey matter in the hippocampus, which is associated with memory and learning, as well as a decrease in grey matter in the amygdala, which is associated with stress.
Two studies published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology have also confirmed the specific health benefits of yoga by studying women with breast cancer.
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