For those who visit Yogabomb regularly, you may assume that all I do with my day is teach yoga and attend yoga classes. This is partly true; however, the rest of the day is dedicated to science, research, and education. My PhD involves examining the relationship between perfectionism, overthinking and emotions. I also teach at York St John University where I try to instil a passion for research, psychology and physical activity in students. Therefore, I am fascinated in the science behind helping people feel good about themselves and gaining more fulfilment. For me, yoga is the answer. In the spirit of International Day of Women and Girls in Science, I will aim to give you a snap shot of the scientific evidence supporting the suggestion that yoga is the answer to a better life.
In examining the scientific evidence relevant to my argument that yoga is the answer to a better life, it is quite clear that research in the area is rather weak (e.g. a number of poorly designed studies) and I question some of the validity of the findings. Many studies have small sample sizes, do not have a control group, or do not compare yoga to other forms of physical activity. However, the evidence does seem to suggest that yoga has many physical and emotional benefits. Yoga can help alleviate lower back pain, improve strength, flexibility and balance, and reduce inflammation in the body. Furthermore, research shows that yoga reduces cortisol, cholesterol and blood pressure, compared to active control (Pascoe et al, 2017). Hot yoga, in particular, was found to improve lower back and hamstring flexibility. Compared to non-heated yoga, heart rate and sweat rate is increasingly higher for those taking part in hot yoga (Campbell, 2015). Yoga also increases creativity, improves mood, and decreases anxiety. Yoga assists relaxation and promotes quality of sleep.
It has even been suggested the physical and psychological benefits of yoga can complement cancer treatment/therapy. Research also shows that yoga can help to reduce in anxiety in infertility patients. In 2000, Domar found that 55 percent of infertility patients became pregnant (and had a baby) within one year of participating in her 10-session yoga, meditation and acupuncture program. In a control group, just 20 percent had babies. According to Domar; "Yoga is really good for patients who are highly anxious, and fertility patients tend to be anxious. A lot of these patients are angry with their bodies for not doing what they want. Yoga gets them back in touch with their bodies."Domar suggests lighter forms of yoga to help with problems conceiving. At Yogabomb, we offer “yin chill” which is a gentler and mindful form of yoga.
Taking away the science, our woman in the studio, Rebecca Grant, ‘Yogi of the Month’, said: “I have to say the welcome and kindness from the community in Yogabomb along with the benefits of learning yoga and starting to form a practice have helped me greatly and I’m so grateful for finding my mat and meeting so many wonderful individuals – I am looking forward to this continued journey which I hope is for life.”
Another 'Yogi of the Month', Carole, said: “Coming to Yogabomb has been a lovely, relaxing experience. I have already, after 4 sessions, seen an improvement in my flexibility and balance and feel that yoga is right for my body now and in the future.”
Benefits of yoga also extend to those teaching it. In 2007, research showed that the brains of yoga practitioners exhibited higher rates of neurotransmitter that acts like an antidepressant. I can vouch for that. As a “Woman in Science”, I do not need a journal article to confirm that teaching yoga makes me extremely happy.
In a nutshell, yoga is the answer to a better life.
Keywords: Yogabomb, York, hot yoga, women in science, yoga, science
Tracy Donachie, MSc, BS (Hons), FHEA
Believe. Positive Psychology.
Follow me on Twitter: @tdona005