Does Yoga Have Mind/Body Benefits?

New Study Casts Doubt on the Benefits of Yoga
Author: Dr. Marcia Hootman
Published: October 30, 2011 at 2:34 pm

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This headline is catchy, but is it true?. Yesterday I was watching Joy Behar on TV. She and Bette Midler were talking about health and fitness, and the subject of yoga came up. Joy said, “I know you like to do yoga, but now they (who shall go nameless) say it’s not really that beneficial.” As a strong proponent of yoga being a mind/body practice, I had to investigate her claim.

Turns out there was an article published in the Archives of Internal Medicine. It concerned a recent research study funded and conducted by the National Institute of Health. Their conclusion? The physical aspects of yoga may be more beneficial than the mental aspects. How does one measure the mental benefits of something? I know when I wrenched my hips overdoing Wii Boxing, I was not in a very good mood. My body hurt, I couldn’t do much of anything without being in pain and my energy level was lower than usual. All this didn’t make me happy. On the other hand, when I swim laps in a warm pool and my body feels pliable, without aches or pains, I go through my day feeling really good. Those are the days when my answer to the question asked at the grocery store, “How are you doing today?,” comes back not as “Okay,” but as “Great!”

Yoga, although it has only gained recent popularity in the United States, is a 5,000 year old, Hindu disciple used specifically to promote control of the body and mind. You would think if the NIH study is true, someone, in 5,000 years, would have come up with the same conclusion, that the physical aspects of yoga far outweigh the mental aspects.. In my new book, “You Can Shoot 70 at 70,” I list some of the well-known health benefits of the practice, benefits agreed upon for as long as they were measurable.

Respiratory rate decreases
, Gastrointestinal function normalizes
. Posture improves
. Strength and resiliency increases
. Endurance increases
. Weight tends to normalize
. Sleep, immunity and balance improve

To me, the list names at least seven conditions that add to my mental health! My writing is directed at seniors, more particularly senior golfers. I included Yoga because in order to play golf, you have to keep strong, flexible and pain free. Even if you’re not a golfer, wouldn’t you feel better being strong instead of weak, flexible instead of stiff and pain free instead of being racked with aches and pains. My suggestion to the NIH researchers is to try Yoga for an extended period of time. Maybe their conclusions would be changed.

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