How about a remedy that reduces pain, shapes your body, strengthens the immune system, and makes you feel and look younger all at once? It doesn’t have any side effects and can be prescribed to literally anyone, regardless of their age and level of fitness. You can’t overdose on it and you can take it as much as you want for as long as you want. This remedy isn’t new; in fact it’s been known for centuries: it’s called yoga. What’s more, doing naked yoga multiplies the positive effects of the asanas used in each sequence. The best thing about yoga (and nude yoga) in particular is that it’s never too late to start. So here’s a list of benefits to look forward to and probably a little motivation boost to push you towards trying this type of yoga.
Prevents Cardiovascular Ailments
According to the research conducted by the Department of Physiology of the Government Medical College in Nagpur, yoga helps to lower the heart rate, and systolic and diastolic blood pressure. How? Everyday stress gradually deteriorates our cardiovascular system. Surges in heart rate accompanied by shallow breathing, continuous muscle tension and sedentary lifestyle result in poor blood supply to peripheral organs. Your heart is a powerful pump that works non-stop, but in such stressful conditions its workload skyrockets because blood is pushed against all the obstructed vessels, creating resistance. Nude yoga routines are usually performed in a relaxed manner with low muscular activity, so your heart gets the chance to slow down and your blood pressure and heart rate lower. As you stretch your limbs, you also stretch all the blood vessels, which improves circulation and ensures a supply of oxygen and nutrients to all the organs.
Improves the Functioning of the Gastrointestinal Tract
We often acknowledge the importance of our digestive system only when things go wrong. Something as annoying as IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome) makes us search for solutions, usually in the form of medication. But clinical studies by India’s Institute of Medical Sciences in New Delhi in 2004, the University of British Columbia in 2006 and the University of California in 2010 showed that you can deal with this problem by means of yoga. Even the practice of basic poses quickly reduces bloating, gas, constipation, and diarrhoea – the main symptoms of IBS. As yoga increases the efficiency of the cardio-vascular system, it also results in the normalisation of the gastrointestinal function because abdominal organs receive more oxygenated blood. Also, in certain asanas our abdominal organs get a good massage, which stimulates their activity. As a result, food and drinks are properly processed, absorbed into the blood and carried throughout the whole body.
Improves the Endocrine System
Our endocrine system has a direct effect on other systems in our bodies. Levels too high or too low level of some hormone will lead to various medical conditions. Thus, in order to feel happy and healthy we need to ensure the balanced functioning of all glands. That’s what yoga does perfectly. For example, according to a Washington State University College of Nursing study, Iyengar Yoga practice proved to reduce the levels of cortisol in cancer survivors who attended a 1.5-hour yoga class for 8 consecutive weeks. Cortisol is produced by the adrenal gland in response to stress, so by lowering it yoga improves a person’s emotional well-being. At the same time, yoga can stimulate the production of thyroid hormones that regulate our metabolism and help to maintain optimum weight.
Builds Strength and Improves Flexibility
While it’s obvious that yogis are bendy, we often doubt our own ability to improve flexibility. Marieke Van Puymbroeck, Laura L. Payne and Pei-Chun Hsieh, representing three U.S. universities, conducted research that showed a significant increase in muscle strength, endurance and flexibility in the group of people who did yoga for 2.5 hours per week for 8 weeks. While the researchers observed a group of unofficial caregivers who were in particularly stressful conditions due to their caregiving duties, yoga proved to be effective. Needless to say, in less complex cases it works even better.
Improves the Immune System
The researchers at the Washington State University studied female breast cancer survivors and came to the conclusion that yoga practice changes the way immune cells respond to activation signals. In other words, they more effectively attack cancer cells. Also, as yoga improves the circulation of blood and lymph, it also stimulates oxygen exchange, supply of nutrients to all body organs, and the delivery of harmful bacteria and cells to the lymph nodes for further destruction.
Reduces Stress and Anxiety
In March, 2012, the Boston University School of Medicine and the Columbia College of Physicians and Surgeons published the results of a new study that proved yoga to be an effective means of treating people with psychological and medical conditions related to stress. There’s a special chemical in our brain called GABA (gamma-amino butyric acid), which helps to regulate nerve activity. In people with anxiety disorders, GABA activity is usually reduced. It turned out that yoga practice helped to increase GABA levels and decrease anxiety. Moreover, yoga was more effective than walking or other forms of exercise and can be recommended as a good alternative to drugs that are often prescribed to increase GABA activity.
Apart from that, yoga is known to improve sleep, steadiness, and social adjustment, increase self-acceptance and self-actualisation. One of the reasons for such outstanding psychological effects is that yoga is non-competitive and process-oriented; it soothes the mind and helps to let go of negative thoughts and feelings.
Improves Mental Abilities
Results of the study conducted at the University of Pennsylvania confirmed that daily practice of meditation increases the blood supply to the region of the brain associated with learning and memory. It’s called posterior cingulate gyrus and it’s the first part of the brain to decline in those who suffer from Alzheimer’s disease. Besides, yoga is known to boost our memory, improve concentration, attention and learning efficiency.
Good news from the researchers at Ohio State University. Their study showed that ladies who regularly practiced yoga had lower amounts of IL-6 (cytokine interleukin-6) than ladies of the same age and with similar body type who weren’t yoga practitioners. IL-6 is an inflammatory protein linked to heart disease, stroke, arthritis, type 2 diabetes and general aging and stress. Besides, yoga is known to increase haemoglobin, thyroxin, vitamin C and the number of lymphocytes, while helping control white blood cell count and cholesterol levels.
Helps in managing chronic diseases and pain.
With the successful improvement of the functioning of the endocrine system comes the successful management of chronic diseases. For example, the American Diabetes Association recommends yoga as one of the methods of managing diabetes. Since yoga lowers cortisol (stress hormone), it helps to keep blood sugar level lower even when the patient is stressed. Also, yoga makes muscles more sensitive to insulin which again helps to control blood sugar.
According to the results of a clinical trial at West Virginia University, yoga is also great for back pain relief. Those individuals who did yoga twice a week for half a year relied less on pain medication than those who received usual treatment. In the study conducted by the researches from the Oregon Health and Science University, in more than half of the fibromyalgia patients who did yoga, pain, fatigue and stiffness reduced by 30 %, while those who were just on medication didn’t show any improvement.
Helps to Lose Weight
Although yoga burns less calories than an active gym workout, it’s a highly effective way to shed those annoying extra pounds. It gets right to the core of the problem, which is often nothing else but excessive eating. Yoga helps to reduce food cravings so it gets much easier to maintain a healthy weight. Also, there are types of yoga that require a lot of energy, like Bikram yoga, which is often performed in the nude. However, even those who practice less rigorous yoga notice their jeans suddenly become too big.
Alan Kristal DPH, MPH, who’s both a practicing yogi and a medical researcher, together with his colleagues at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle, completed a research on the effectiveness of yoga for weight loss among middle-aged people. Their trial involved 15,500 healthy men and women between the ages of 45 and 55. According to the results of this study, yoga can help people lose weight or at least prevent them from gaining extra pounds.
Nude yoga is not a medicine; it’s the way of activating your inner resources that help your body to gradually heal by itself. The results of your practice also highly depend on your attitude towards the selected activity. It works when you put your soul into it, so open your mind and consider the limitless possibilities of yoga. Remember that though nude yoga doesn’t require a prescription, it is still recommended to consult your doctor about the contraindications you might have for certain poses.