A New Study Shows Certain Yoga Postures Can Increase Energy and Self Esteem
Yoga has become such a popular fitness activity in the United States that it’s hard to believe it was ever considered a fringe activity — relegated to the world of hippies and bohemians. In the 50-ish years since yoga first entered the American fitness landscape, it has grown into a nearly $30 BILLION industry — made up of 83% women, complete with national studio franchises, magazines, blogs, apparel and lifestyle brands to support practitioners of the exercise regimen. This massive growth in the yoga community comes as no surprise to devotees of the ancient Eastern practice. Just ask any amateur yogi, and they’ll reveal a laundry list of benefits—including everything from sounder sleep to increased core strength. And science backs it up!
While the fitness benefits of yoga are clear to the naked eye — we’ve all seen the toned bodies gracing the lobbies of yoga studios — hundreds of clinical studies have also demonstrated a measurable link between regular yoga practice and decreased levels of stress and anxiety. Yoga’s rhythmic breathing is the key; it helps dampen the body’s reaction to stress by reducing levels of the hormone cortisol — our “fight or flight” response. But there may be another benefit to yoga that has gone largely unstudied, until now.
A new study published by the academic journal “Frontiers in Psychology” has discovered that certain yoga postures — or “asanas,” to you yogis out there — can measurably increase a person’s subjective energy and self esteem. Instructors and devotees of the practice have long touted the idea of “power poses,” but until now it hasn’t ever been quantified. The study compared the feelings associated with 4 traditional non-yogic power poses with 4 yoga postures.
Non-Yoga Power Postures:
- Standing pose, hands on the hips, chest inflated
- Standing pose, hands on the table
- Standing pose with hands covering the body, back slightly slouched
- Seated position, with back slightly slouched.
- Tadasana, or mountain pose: standing straight with the legs together and the spine and chest lifted.
- Urdhva hastasana: standing upright with the spine, chest and arms lifted.
- Garudasana, or eagle pose, where the arms are risen to be level with the shoulders and then crossed in front of the chest from the elbows upward. (once with left side dominant, once with right)
The results of this study likely come as no surprise to yogis — every participant reported higher feelings of self esteem and energy after completing the yoga postures than after completing the non-yogic postures. So there you have it, another reason to get on board the yoga train.
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