Um, Apparently Singing Is as Good For Your Body As Yoga
Uh, apparently an ahhhhh is as effective in calming your body and mind as an ommmm? That's according to researchers from of the University of Gothenburg in Sweden, who found in a recent study that singing is just as healthy as yoga.
In the study, researchers had three groups of teenagers perform three singing exercises, including chanting, humming, and and singing a hymn. They found that choir members' heartbeats started to synchronize, part of a calming effect on the mind and body that mimics the effects of yoga. Dr. Bjorn Vickhoff, the study's author, said: “Song is a form of regular, controlled breathing, since breathing out occurs on the song phrases and inhaling takes place between these. It gives you pretty much the same effect as yoga breathing. It helps you relax, and there are indications that it does provide a heart benefit.”
Jeremy Hywel William, a choir director in Wales, told The Telegraph: “Singing delivers a host of physical and emotional benefits, including increased aerobic exercise, improved breathing, posture, mindset, confidence and self-esteem. While singing alone is good, singing with others can be even better."
OK, I can easily see how singing might be similar to the effects of yogic breathing. But what about the physical effects of yoga? The calming mental effect of yoga is one thing, but yoga has a whole host of other physical benefits, too, especially depending on what type of yoga you practice (Bikram, Ashtanga, Iyengar, Hatha, etc). Stretching, strengthening, even a little bit of cardio... that's not something you can get from choir practice.
Dr. Vickhoff says the medical effects of singing need further investigation, despite the fact that this isn't the first study that's examine its health benefits; a 2012 study from Cardiff University found that cancer patients who sung in a choir had greater lung capacity, and studies have also shown that singing lowers depression and anxiety in older people.
Maybe the next health craze will be doing yoga while singing? In Los Angeles, there's already a karaoke yoga class that's gaining popularity. I picture rooms full of people, wearing Lululemon, holding Warrior II pose and belting out songs from The Sound Of Music. That actually sounds kind of fun.