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Myth or Fact: Are the Health Benefits
You Read About Yoga True?


Are you thinking of taking up yoga? Or perhaps you’re worried that all of the “health benefits” you read online are just a bunch of new-age mumbo-jumbo. It’s good that you’re skeptical about the health benefits of “stretching in tights,” perhaps you shouldn’t be too quick to disregard everything you hear as myth.

Myth or Fact: What Are the Real Health Benefits of Yoga?

That’s not to say there aren’t a ton of disproven notions surrounding yoga. Today, we’re going to discuss some of the most widely believed health benefits of yoga and pointing out how factual each belief is.

Myth 1 – Yoga Makes You Happy

True yet False. Confused? Don’t worry; many people are unsure whether to believe yoga can make them happier or not. After all, how does simply bending your body into a pretzel make you “happy?”

Yoga and meditation are known to reduce cortisol production—the hormone that blocks serotonin, the happy hormone. However, those that believe practicing yoga can make them instantly happy are looking at the sport wrong. In fact, first-timers might even feel emotionally worse after the first few sessions. Yoga teacher, author, and TEDx speaker Jaya Jaya Myra claims that you know yoga is working for you if you experience ups and downs.

Myth 2 – Practicing Yoga Relieves Stress and Anxiety

True. This is somewhat related to the previous myth and how yoga can induce happiness. It’s all about how staying physically active can increase the production of endorphins, a naturally produced chemical that can help alleviate stress and anxiety.

Myth 3 – All Yoga Is the Same

False. To the uninitiated, the different types of yoga can sound and appear similar, but that’s far from the truth.

Justine Mastin from YogaQuest shot down the belief in yoga as a unitary practice. The use of different props, mantas, and movements associated with different yoga forms aim to achieve different goals. Some forms are aimed toward building core strength, while others, like Sat Nam Kundalini, are focused on releasing pent-up energy in your spine and alter your mindset.

Myth 4 – Yoga Boosts Self-Awareness

True. In brief, yoga is about the connection between the mind and body. The sport aims to help participants manage negative emotions by being aware of their surroundings but not being negatively affected by them (mindfulness).

Myth 5 – Yoga Helps You Live Longer

Somewhat True. This is one of the more extraordinary claims about yoga’s health benefits that’s hard to grasp. Yoga as an activity doesn’t play a direct role in increasing your lifespan, but the profound collective effects of yoga can.

For instance, a study conducted by the All India Institute of Medical Sciences found that after 12 weeks, subjects experienced less oxidative stress and inflammation and DNA damage, and more sirtuins and telomerase.

Myth 6 – You Should Skip Yoga If You’re Menstruating

False. Dr. Ingrid Yang, a yogi with more than two decades of experience under her belt, says this belief is wholly untrue. The belief stems from how inverted positions can cause blood to flow back into the body, which sounds reasonable at face value but isn’t supported by science. So, if you’re menstruating and want to practice yoga, go for it!

Myth 7 – Yoga Is Just as Good as Other Forms of Exercise

False. The last time we heard, there was no such thing as a pick-up yoga game. Practicing yoga is completely different from other types of sports, and the health benefits you reap from it can differ, as well.

Yoga can be the same as other sports in how different asanas can improve core strength, balance, and induce relaxation and happiness. However, the major difference is the end result—understanding your true self through meditation, poses, and breathing practices.

Myth 8 – Only Young People Should Do Yoga

False. This is probably one of the most infuriating things that yogis have to hear on a regular basis. There’s no such thing as being too old for yoga. While all successful senior yoga stories are purely anecdotal, there’s no reason for a 60, 70, or 80-year-old man or woman to refrain from doing yoga unless it physically hurts their muscles and joints. Even then, there are pain-free exercises, mantras, and seated poses that seniors can follow without issue.

Myth 9 – Yoga Can Improve Sleep Quality

True. If you find yourself struggling to fall asleep at night or waking up many hours before your alarm goes off, you should consider doing yoga.

One study found that participants who engaged in yoga fell asleep quicker, for longer, and woke up feeling more rejuvenated than their non-yoga-practicing counterparts. Another study backed up these claims in elderly participants.

Final Thoughts

Some of the more popular myths surrounding yoga are just hot air, while others hold some truth to them. Please note that yoga is not a cure for every mental or physical health condition, so there’s really no way to gauge how beneficial yoga is for you without trying it out.

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