Studies suggest that practicing yoga might improve your health and quality of life
In recent years the number of people practicing yoga has exploded world wide. According to “Yoga Alliance” in 2016 some 36.7 million Americans were practicing yoga.
What is the attraction to yoga and why are so many people doing it?
Yoga For Health
Yoga is synonymous with holistic health that we advocate throughout these pages. A belief that all parts make up the one, therefore must be treated together.
Some of the health benefits of yoga are:
||Increases your blood flow|
Wellbeing & Spirituality
Yoga is not a religion, it is however a type of exercise that incorporates mind and body awareness into it’s discipline.
The word yoga means “union” because it unites the body, mind and spirit. In this way yoga becomes so much more than just physical exercises.
Origins of Yoga
It has been around for thousands of years and although it’s origins are vague. The general consensus is that it was developed in Northern India by the Indus-Sarasvati civilisation about 5 thousand years ago.
Many people would argue that modern yoga bears no resemblance to its original form. True enough, like all things we adapt them to suit current circumstances.
In many cases the yoga practiced by a large percent of the population is probably a watered down version of the true discipline. However, that said it is still a good way to exercise.
Yoga teaches specific body postures, that are done in conjunction with breathing awareness and relaxation. These exercises are designed to stretch and flex the body.
The more extreme of these can take many years to perfect. Taking the time to learn the moves correctly lessens the chance of injury or damage to the body.
To practice yoga properly it is essential to have time and a calm environment. This is so that you become totally focused on what you are doing.
Contrasting with most other forms of exercise which allows the mind to wander off in all directions, while your body does the physical bit.
When I do my sit-ups in the morning, my mind is usually working out what to have for dinner or what I need to do next. This doesn’t make the exercises less effective, it just means I am not totally in the moment.
The health benefits of yoga are many and varied. Many tests and experiments have been done with positive results. For instance if you suffer from stress yoga can help to get stress levels down.
A report, presented at the Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA) conference in 2015, linked yoga to lowering levels of cortisol. This is the stress hormone.
Other test results in small experiments have shown that practicing yoga is more effective than physical therapy at reducing pain, anxiety and depression.
Studies have also found that yoga can have a positive effect on cardiovascular risk factors.
Unexpected results such as mindful eating have also been attributed to yoga.
It would seem that practicing yoga teaches people to slow down and pay attention to everyday things. By taking more notice of what they are eating, they in turn discover the need for more healthy options.
This helps to keep body weight at healthy levels, which fits well with the mind, body and spirit teachings of yoga.
The good thing about yoga is that it is not a one size fits all concept. There is something for everyone and you can go at your own pace.
Postures for beginners mean that you can develop flexibility and increase muscle strength with a daily routine of gentle exercises. Naturally as with all exercises it is wise to start slowly and build up over time.
Although the movements may appear languid and slow, you are stretching ligaments and muscle. Don’t be deceived into thinking you can do more than you should.
The Hatha System
If you are thinking of taking up yoga, one of the most common disciplines is the Hatha system. Hatha yoga focuses on pranayamas, they are breath controlled exercises.
This will teach you how to prepare yourself mentally and physically using basic yoga postures.
These moves aren’t difficult for beginners and are easy to understand. Learning to relax is harder than you think and will take practice.
The disciplines of Yoga are:
- Self Control
- Physical Exercises
- Breath Exercises
- Withdrawal of senses from external influences
- Complete realisation to attain inner peace and clarity.
Obviously this level of yoga is quite time consuming if you want to practice everything. However learning to master any one of these disciplines can be very beneficial for your health.
Although it can be practiced alone, it is popular now for people to join groups or go to classes. Selecting a yoga teacher or instructor is very important.
Because yoga is a fairly new mainstream activity, there are still little or no guidelines about qualifications. Anyone can set themselves up as a teacher and consumers have no way knowing how expert they are.
This is important since exercises need to be done correctly to avoid injury or harm. Before joining a class or taking tuition, find out as much as you can about the credentials and background of the teacher.
Practicing Yoga At Home
For practicing yoga at home, a download of videos is probably the best way to go. This way you can study the postures carefully before attempting them yourself.
You can start practicing Yoga for Healing in your own home now.
Practicing yoga is a great way to exercise the whole self, the benefits are enormous and if you do it regularly there is no reason why you shouldn’t maintain good health well into old age.