Why Yoga Is Good For Our Health
Yoga is good for us! We readily accept this fact, but how many of us actually know exactly why yoga is good for our health?
This article will shine a spotlight on the many health benefits you can receive from regularly practicing yoga.
Personally, I have practiced yoga on and off for years. Gratefully, I have recently stepped back into my practice thanks to my recent wellness holiday, at Kamalaya, in Koh Samui and also thanks to finding a truly fantastic, online yoga instructor, Tim Senesi.
*Tidbit – If you want to see the what makes yoga such a standout form of healthy exercise, then you need to watch this inspirational story of a severely hunchbacked, 85 year old grandmother, who thanks to just a couple months of practicing yoga, is now standing straight and tall!
Now, before I get to all the outstanding health benefits that yoga has to offer us, first up is…
The History Of Yoga In Brief
The history of yoga is spiritually intricate and very hard to summarize into something so brief, but here goes…
*If you would like further information on the history of yoga, you will find oodles of info on the web.
Yoga first originated in Northern India. around 5000 years ago, (although some believe it to be closer to 10,000 years ago).
Cultivated by mystic seers, this first introduction to yoga was known as Pre-Classical Yoga and was based around sacrificing the ego through actions and wisdom.
Known also as Raja Yoga. Classical Yoga was created by Sage Patanjal. Patanjal complied the famous Yoga Sutras.
Classical Yoga saw a refining of Pre-Classical Yoga and the introduction of a systematic practice that was based around an “eight limbed path”, which when practiced, was believed to lead to enlightenment.
Post Classical Yoga
This period was the birth of Tantra Yoga, a yoga series that focused on rejuvenating the body and extending life.
The ancient yoga practices were rejected in favour of using the physical body to achieve enlightenment. It was this style of yoga that lead to, what we refer to now as Hatha Yoga.
Modern Yoga/ Hatha Yoga
At the end of the 1800’s, yoga reached the Western World.
Yoga continues to evolve and branch out across the world. These days there are many different forms of yoga practices to embrace. Yoga can be varied enough to cater for all ages and fitness levels.
How Yoga Works To Keep Us Healthy
Yoga is about both holding and fluidly moving through a series of postures while focusing on and paying attention to your breath.
YOGA IS MINDFUL EXERCISE.
This really is the key to successfully practicing yoga and reaping the full health benefits that yoga has to offer us.
Not paying attention to your breath when doing yoga, is not doing yoga effectively. You need to focus on the breath just as much as you focus on getting into the postures.
When you first hold a yoga pose, your muscles contract and the feeling can be very strong and even painful, but as you breathe in and out steadily through your nose and use your breath to relax into the posture, your muscles then start to relax into the posture and it becomes more comfortable.
Essentially, you are teaching your body to react to physical stress with calmness and this has hugely positive health impacts.
Overtime and with regular yoga practice, your body will be able to move through these postures with greater flexibility and ease.
Yoga and Body Awareness
Yoga teaches you the ultimate body awareness, as each and every posture has to be done in a very precise and accurate way. You need complete concentration!
To practice yoga effectively, you have to pay attention to every single movement, from how you place the palms of your hands and the soles of your feet on the yoga mat, to how your hips, knees, head and spine are aligned.
The focus needed to do yoga is a form of meditation in itself . Yoga helps to calm and focus the mind and in turn, alleviate stress.
The Health Benefits You Get From Yoga
Regular practice of yoga will give you plenty of positive health benefits, such as;
Yoga builds Stronger Muscles & Bones
- You use your own body weight a lot when doing yoga; e.g in poses such as downward facing dog, bridges, planks and headstands.
- Bearing your own body weight, helps to build lean muscle and strengthen bones, thus helping to prevent Osteoarthritis.
Yoga Improves Flexibility & Posture
- When your body has greater flexibility, there is less chance of injury if you fall or move the wrong way.
- Yoga works to correctly align your entire body. Yoga straightens and lengthens your posture.
Yoga Reduces Stress & Inflammation
- Regular practice of yoga has been shown in numerous studies to reduce Cortisol levels. High Cortisol levels cause anxiety, stress and depression.
- Stress in the body causes inflammation, which leads to ill heath and disease. By reducing stress you are in turn reducing inflammation.
- Yoga helps the body increase Serotonin production, which makes us feel happier.
Yoga, Lowers Blood Pressure
- Practicing yoga is a great exercise for heart health.
- Yoga helps to lower blood pressure through the practice of conscious, slow and regulated breathing.
Yoga Increases Blood Flow & Lymphatic Drainage
- Yoga helps to strengthen our immune systems. The postures in yoga work to stimulate and drain the lymphatic system, aiding the removal of toxins from our bodies.
- Yoga increases blood flow. The various inverted postures in yoga, work to get our blood circulating efficiently around our bodies.
Scientific Studies On The Health Benefits Of Yoga
- In a year long study of middle-aged people in China with Metabolic Syndrome, who were put onto a regime of yoga. Results saw improved overall cardiovascular health, including regulated blood pressure.See report here
- Yoga has been shown to effectively reduce blood glucose levels in patients with Type II Diabetes – see study here
- Daily practice of yoga has scientifically shown to reduce Cortisol levels to help reduce the symptoms of depression – see study here
- A clinical study on breast cancer patients showed, that even if yoga was practiced just twice a week, over a period of 3 months, it significantly reduced fatigue by 57% and reduced inflammation by 20% – see study report here
- YOGA AUSTRALIA has an entire page of clinical studies on the health benefits of yoga, including yoga as treatment for the symptoms of chronic back pain, asthma, cancer, IBS, hypertension, diabetes, depression, weight management and more – see here
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