Women who do yoga are healthier than those who don’t, according to a study from Northcentral University published in a 2011 issue of the International Journal of Yoga.
While the previous statement has been my long-standing personal opinion, a new yoga study found this to be true. In many yoga studies, the prescribed yoga session includes meditation, leaving us to wonder if the benefits of yoga are attributable to the meditation, the yoga asanas, or a combination of the two. In this yoga study, separate meditation sessions were not included in outcomes.
The Yoga Study Participants
Researchers examined data from 211 female yoga practitioners, let’s call them yoginis, between 45 and 80-years-old. The yoginis completed an online survey to assess the effects of practicing yoga asanas has on body mass index and the amount of medication taken. The researchers compared the results of the yoga group to a control group of 183 women between 45 and 77 with “no prior history of yoga practice.”
Expert Yoginis Have Lower BMI Than Beginners
The results of this yoga study show yoginis who are long-term expert practitioners are more likely to have a lower body mass index and take less medication than female yoga beginners. In fact, the researchers found no obesity among the 49 expert yoginis doing Hatha Yoga for 26 years or more. Researchers also found yoga beginners had lower BMI scores than people who never practiced yoga. The lowest BMI scores were more common among women reporting the most hours of Hatha Yoga per week and the most years of lifetime yoga practice.
Yoginis Take Less Medication
The yoga study results also revealed information on medication consumption. Researchers found 54% of yoga practitioners take prescription and pain medication, while 77% of people who don’t do yoga take these drugs. The data also show a significant relationship between practicing more hours of yoga and taking less medication, but no relationship between the number of years of practiced and medication consumption. Additionally, people who don’t practice yoga are more likely to take “medications for high blood pressure, high cholesterol, high triglycerides, blood thinning, diabetes or prediabetes, hot flashes, inflammation or arthritis, depression, anxiety, and pain” than both yoga beginners and experts.