Yoga is known to improve the health of a person in different ways. A team of researchers from India carried out an investigation on how Isha Hatha yoga affects the core stability and standing balance in healthy volunteers. The research team designed a quasi-experimental study at Isha Yoga Center at Isha Foundation in Coimbatore, India.
For the study, the participants involved in the study attended a training in Isha Hatha yoga provided by a residential program that the Isha Yoga Center. The training lasted for 21 days and included not only Isha Hatha yoga, but also Upa yoga, Surya Kriya, Angamardhana, Bhuta Suddhi, and asanas.
Hatha yoga is not an exercise, but is a way of understanding the mechanics of the body, creating a certain atmosphere, and then using body postures to drive the body’s energy in particular directions, according to an article published on the website Isha.Sadhguru.org. It is the science of using the body to boost an individual’s evolutionary process. It is the way of working with the body, disciplining, purifying, and preparing the body for greater levels of energy and possibilities. (Related: Yoga is a ‘life changing’ practice that reduces bipolar symptoms, anxiety, depression, and more.)
Prior to the training, the study participants took the single-leg stork test and the plank test. Then, they also took these tests again after the training. The standing-stork test is a way to monitor the development of an individual’s ability to maintain a state of equilibrium or balance in a static position. On the other hand, the plank test is a simple test to assess the strength of a person’s core muscle. It is mainly used to measure the control and endurance of the back or core stabilizing muscles.
The results of the study revealed that there were significant increases in the standing-stork test scores on the right and left sides of the participants. In addition, the plank test scores also increased. The researchers therefore concluded that training in Isha Hatha yoga significantly improves the core strength and balance of an individual.
The health benefits of yoga
Aside from improving balance and increasing strength, yoga provides other health benefits. It improves the life of a person not only physically, but also emotionally and mentally. Listed below are some of the health benefits of yoga.
Reduces stress – It is known to provide relaxation and decrease stress. Previous studies show that yoga can help decrease stress and lower the production of cortisol in the body, which is the main stress hormone.
Relieves anxiety and fights depression – Several studies suggest that practicing yoga can result to a decrease in symptoms of anxiety and depression. Being present in the moment and finding a sense of peace could help a person cope with it.
Reduces inflammation – Some studies indicate that the practice of yoga may reduce inflammation, although further studies are needed to confirm its anti-inflammatory effects.
Supports heart health – Yoga alone, or in combination with a healthy lifestyle may help decrease the risk factors for heart disease.
Reduces chronic pain – Chronic pain caused by injuries or arthritis can be reduced with the help of yoga, according to some studies.
Improves quality of sleep – Poor quality of sleep has been linked to obesity, high blood pressure, and depression. Practicing yoga could help improve sleep quality because of its effects on melatonin and its influence on some common contributors to sleep problems, such as stress, depression, anxiety, and chronic pain.
Improves breathing – Because yoga involves many breathing exercises, it could potentially improve breathing and lung function.