Yoga and meditation originated in India, and are a fundamental aspect of the Hindu way of life. According to Indian tradition, Lord Shiva, one of the Hindu trinity is said to have bestowed yoga to humanity to help them attain to mukti or nirvana. Besides being a path to enlightenment, yoga and meditation also have several health benefits. Let’s look at four of them.
#1 Beats Insomnia and Helps You Sleep Better
Research from the Harvard Medical School indicates that a simple yoga practice can reduce chronic insomnia problems. The efficacy of a simple daily yoga practice was evaluated among a group of chronic insomniacs who were affected by sleep-onset and sleep-maintenance insomnia, and primary or secondary insomnia. The study measured several sleep quality indicators such as sleep efficiency, total sleep time, total wake time, sleep onset latency, wake time after sleep onset, and number of awakenings, and concluded that they improved significantly among the 20 participants after a 10-week schedule of daily practice.
#2 Raises Your Immunity
Norwegian researchers have found that the practice of yogasanas and meditation can enhance your immune systems. They found that four consecutive days of practice was sufficient to measurably raise the effectiveness of immune cells, though they aren’t quite sure how or why this happens. The study concludes that regular yoga practice can lead to rapid alteration of gene expression, which can result in long term cell biological and higher level health effects.
#3 Reduces Heart Disease Risk
Researchers in India conducted a study to measure how yoga practice boosts cardiac health. Investigating the effect of kriya yoga on the cardiovascular autonomic nervous system, they compared the short-term heart rate variability (HRV) of one group of individuals who were regular practitioners of yoga, with another control group who were healthy, age and gender-matched individuals. The study results indicated that the group of yoga practitioners have higher exercise tolerance, show improved cardiac responses when faced with stress, and are less likely to experience hypertension, ischemia or infarction.
#4 Focuses Your Mind and Improves Memory
Research from India published in the International Journal of Multidisciplinary Research in 2012, looked at how yoga and meditation helped students perform in concentration and memory stress. The researchers focused on 800 students suffering from stress, and enrolled them in a 7-week yoga and meditation program. The meditation techniques in the program focused on how to control the mind. At the end of the program, students showed significantly better concentration and performed better at short-term memory tasks.