Research has found out that yoga improves the way our organs function. In particular, yoga stimulates bone marrow stem cells trafficking to the blood surrounding it. This, in turn, helps reduce inflammation, reduce apoptosis, revive lost cells and delay the aging process. The results of this study were published in the Journal of Ayurveda and Integrative Medicine.
In the study, the authors looked at yoga and pranayama, which both originated in India and have now found an international following. In a survey by Yoga Alliance, it showed that this ancient art found some 37 million practitioners in the U.S. in 2016. This is nearly twice than that of 2012, which was only 20 million, indicating a significant increase in people who are into yoga.
Matching these findings is the fact that nearly three-quarters of people have been into yoga for less than five years. This means people have embrace yoga fairly recently.
In the study, the researchers suggested that the movements practiced in yoga – stretching, bending, and twisting – can likely release stem cells into the bone marrow and increase circulation. These stem cells, once released, travel to bone, tissue, or muscle, where it is used for repair.
Pranayama, in particular, can create a brief episode of hypoxia, that is, the absence of oxygen, similar to that of intense exercise. This allows stem cells to be efficiently transported throughout the body, and it also activates beta cells needed for insulin production.
"In diabetic patients, pranayama is likely to play a major role in activating beta cells for insulin production," the authors added.
Because they have solid evidence to back them up, the researchers recommend yoga as a key to improved quality of life and longevity.
More reasons to get into yoga
If you need more reasons to get into yoga – you've got it. Here are even more benefits that your body gets when it practices yoga.
Greater flexibility. Tight hips can burden the knee joint because the thigh and shinbones aren't aligned. Inflexible muscles and connective tissue can result in poor posture. Yoga loosens those tense parts of your body.
Improved muscle strength. Strong muscles mean more than a to-die-for body. It shields us from arthritis and back pain. It builds balance and keeps the elderly from falling into accidents. Yoga gives that strength and flexibility you won't get by lifting weights in the gym.
Enhanced posture. When your head isn't directly balanced over your erect spine, your neck and back muscles work more to support it, making you feel tired. You may soon experience problems with your back, neck and other muscles and joints and even develop arthritis of the spine. All that stretching and bending in yoga helps you perfect your posture.
Keeps cartilage and joint breakdown at bay. Yoga takes your joins through a full range of motion. This keeps arthritis away and prevents disability by "squeezing and soaking" parts of the cartilage that aren't used often.
Shields your spine. Spinal discs – which absorb shock between the vertebrae – need movement to get the nutrients they need. Bending and twisting many times make for healthier discs.
Better bone health. Many yoga postures require you to lift your own weight – thus, improving bone health and even preventing fractures. A California State University study showed that yoga raises the vertebrae's bone density. Yoga reduces stress hormones that retain bone calcium.
Better blood circulation. Yoga's relaxation exercises improve circulation, especially in the hands and feet. Twisting wrings out venous blood from internal organs and lets oxygenated blood flow. (Related: Yoga Reduces Inflammation and Improves Heart Health.)
Stronger immunity. Stretching your muscles move the organs around and raise the drainage of lymph (a fluid rich in immune cells). This helps beat infection and cancer cells. It also gets rid of toxic wastes in your body.
So get on that yoga mat now and stretch, twist and turn your body. It will reward you with a better quality of life for years to come.