Yoga has over the years developed into a buzzing worldwide phenomenon. This ancient practice has truly come to stay as it has rapidly grown into a multi-billion dollar industry. The industry is buzzing with the number of classes, books, clothing, equipments and certified teachers rapidly increasing by the day. One will then ask: What is yoga used for? The answer to this question is not hard to find. The practice of yoga is everywhere. Yoga is now commonplace in health clubs, schools, leisure centres and hospitals, just to mention a few.
Yoga, as a word, was derived from the Sanskrit word ‘yuj’ (pronounced ‘yug’), which simply means ‘union’. Yoga, in essence, is an activity mainly consisting of postures, connected by flowing sequences, with breathing exercises which usually end in a period of meditation. Yoga is therefore an ancient form of exercise that focuses on strength, flexibility and breathing to improve mental and physical wellbeing.
A Little Background On Yoga….
The exact truth as to how long yoga has been in existence continues to be a debate. The inception of yoga is widely believed to be traceable back to over 5,000 years ago whiles another school of thought argue that yoga maybe up to 10,000 years old. One fact about yoga that is indisputable is its origin, ancient India.
In simple terms, yoga is a group of physical, mental and spiritul practices (disciplines) which originated from ancient India. It came out of an oral tradition in which teachings were transmitted directly from teacher to student. In order to get on the path to divine enlightenment, yoga was developed to achieve harmony between the heart and soul. As the quest to attain divine enlightenment continued, the physical and health benefits of yoga were then discovered.
Yoga has truly taken off in the West as an answer to a myriad of ailments.
Benefits Of Yoga…..
Still contemplating whether to do yoga or not? Well, the benefits listed below should more than convince you and open your eyes to the countless benefits your body stands to gain from practicing yoga. Using phrases like, ‘yoga increases the flow of prana’ or ‘yoga drives energy up your spine’, will struggle to paint a clear picture of the benefits associated with practicing yoga to a newbie.
In simple plain language, some of the benefits associated with yoga are listed below:
- Improves and perfects your posture – This prevents back, neck, muscle and joint problems. Degenerative arthritis of the spine is also prevented.
- Protects your spine.
- Improves flexibility – This is undoubtedly the most obvious benefit of yoga. Aches and pains due to inflexibility in muscles and connective tissues, such as fascia and ligaments, start to disappear once you start practicing yoga.
- Builds and improves muscle strength – Yoga balances strength with flexibility. Strong muscles protect the body from back pain and arthritis.
- It clears your airways – Yoga helps to reduce the impact of asthma.
- It helps you to focus by sharpening your mind – Regular yoga practice improves memory, reaction time and coordination.
- Improves your balance – Regular practice of yoga improves your balance and ability to feel what your body is doing and where it is in space.
- Increases blood flow – Relaxation exercises in yoga boost blood circulation to especially your hands and feet. The level of hemoglobin and red blood cells, which carry oxygen to the tissues, are also boosted through yoga.
- Lowers your blood pressure.
- Lowers blood sugar levels – Lower blood sugar levels decreases the risk of diabetic complications such as kidney failure and heart attack. Regular practice of yoga boosts HDL (also known as good cholesterol) whiles getting rid of LDL (bad cholesterol).
- Reduces risk of heart attacks – Lower blood pressure and lower blood sugar levels reduces the risk of heart attacks. Yoga thins the blood by making platelets less sticky thereby cutting the amount of clot-promoting proteins in the blood.
- Increased heart rate – Regularly getting your heart rate in the aerobic zone lowers the risk of heart attacks. Not all yoga is aerobic, but even yoga exercises that don’t get your heart rate up that high can improve cardiovascular conditioning.
- It relaxes your system by regulating stress. The yoga practice of slow breathing whiles relaxing helps the body to get rid of stress. Depression is also kept at bay.
- It improves sleep. Yoga has the potential to provide relief from the hustle and bustle of modern life, thereby helping you to feel less tired and stressed. The end result is a sound and deep sleep!
- It can reduce your trips to the hospital or pharmacy. Physical and psychological stresses tend to worsen a lot medical conditions, so lifestyles like meditation and yoga could help. Is your medicine cabinet like a pharmacy? If your answer is a ‘yes’, then maybe it’s about time you tried yoga.
- Viruses and allergies are kept at bay – Some yoga practices involve rapid breathing exercises to elaborate internal cleansing of the intestines.
- It improves self-esteem – Yogic philosophy teaches you to get rid of negativity and adopt a positive approach to life. With regular yoga practice, you’ll sense that you are worthwhile.
- It can help you to lose and maintain a healthy body weight – If you have never thought of yoga as a workout, then you need a re-think.
- It gives you peace of mind – Fluctuations of the mind are quelled by yoga. Yoga slows down mental loops of frustration, fear, anger, regret and desires that poses the risk of stress. You’ll likely be able to live a healthier and longer life if you can learn to quieten your mind.
- It improves your sex life – The ‘cobra pose’ negates the need for a little blue pill. Studies have shown that men who regularly practice yoga saw an improvement in sexual desire, confidence and performance. The same studies also saw an improvement in women’s arousal, orgasm and satisfaction.
The above listed benefits of yoga are just a number of positives from the regular practice of yoga. There are so many more benefits not mentioned above.
Are There Any Side-Effects Of Practicing Yoga?…
There are no known side-effects of practicing yoga if carried out under proper guidance. Basically, yoga-related injuries are uncommon.
injuries may still occur with repetitive strain and or overstretching. Just like any other exercise discipline, yoga is perfectly safe if taught and carried out properly. Teaching must be done by people who understand it and have experience.
How Often Do I Need To Practice Yoga?….
Doing yoga daily for at least 20 minutes is great for the body. Yoga sessions also vary widely depending on the style, school and how advanced the class is.
Am I Too Old For Yoga?…
The answer is simply ‘no’. There are yoga classes for every age group. Yoga exercises can be enjoyed irrespective of your age and experience well into your advanced years.
Hopefully, you have taken note of the yoga benefits listed in this article. I wish you take up yoga and reap the benefits that come with this ancient practice.