Yoga: more than just an Instagram trend

The COVID-19 pandemic and the measures that have taken to manage the outbreak (social distancing and self-isolation) has led to people getting creative with their at-home exercise routines.

From celebrities, TikTok stars, athletes, to everyday people trying to stay fit during lock-down – at-home gyms and online workouts have risen in popularity.

One exercise trend that has increased in popularity during the pandemic is online yoga. And for good reason – the benefits of a good yoga session are many.

It’s well known that yoga provides a sustainable exercise alternative for thousands of people isolating at home.

Now new research from the University of South Australia (UniSA) has shed light on the fact that movement-based yoga can significantly improve mental health.

And with around 450 million people suffering from mental health issues, globally, this is a timely finding given strict social distancing measures.

The study published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine, conducted in collaboration with the Federal University of Santa Maria, UNSW Sydney, Kings College London and Western Sydney University, found that movement-based yoga improves mental health and conditions including anxiety, post-traumatic stress and depression.

What’s more, the study found that the benefits of yoga incremental with the amount of yoga practiced. So, the more you get on the mat, the more benefits you will see.

“As self-isolation escalates and people find themselves working from home and unable to physically catch up with their friends and family, we’re likely to see more people feel lonely and disconnected,” lead researcher, UniSA PhD candidate, Jacinta Brinsely said.

“Exercise has always been a great strategy for people struggling with these feeling as it boosts both mood and health.

But as gyms and exercise classes of all kinds are now closed … people are looking for alternatives, and this is where yoga can help.”

Associate Professor Simon Rosenbaum added: “Our results have significant implications and demonstrate that you don’t necessarily need to go for a jog to benefit from movement.”

He adds that while the results are promising challenges remain because vulnerable community members in the community may not have “access to exercise or yoga programs” – however, hopefully the rise of online yoga classes (and other online exercises classes) may help to alleviate the accessibility concern.