Yoga not only calms your body but also your mind! It is an art and science of healthy living.
The word ‘yoga’ is derived from the Sanskrit root ‘Yuj’, meaning ‘to join’ or ‘to yoke’ or ‘to unite’. It is a spiritual discipline based on an extremely subtle science which focuses on bringing harmony between mind and body.
The practice of yoga leads to the union of individual consciousness with that of the universal consciousness indicating a perfect harmony between the mind and body.
According to modern scientists, everything in the universe is just a manifestation of the same quantum firmament. One who experiences this oneness of existence is said to be in yoga and is termed as a yogi, having attained to a state of freedom referred to as mukti, nirvana or moksha.
Benefits of Yoga
One of the main reason people are afraid to begin a personal yoga practice is the inevitable feeling of, “I’m not flexible enough for all of those poses.” But people have created this misconception in minds about connection between flexibility and yoga. Besides, yoga doesn’t require you to be flexible enough to pull your leg behind your head or even to touch your toes from a standing position.
Workout fads come and go, but virtually no other exercise program is as enduring as yoga.
Yoga not only just burn calories and tone muscles but it's a total mind-body workout that combines strengthening and stretching poses with deep breathing and meditation or relaxation. There are more than 100 different forms of yoga. Some are fast-paced and intense. Others are gentle and relaxing.
#1 Flexible body
Improved flexibility is one of the first and most obvious benefits of yoga. Yoga poses stretch our muscles and increase our range of motion and can help us move better and feel less stiff or tired . And eventually regular practice of yoga notice reduces aches and pains and our body will be fit and healthy. But this flexibility is result of months or years of yoga practice.
#2 Builds muscle strength
In yoga, we lift our body weight instead of dumbbells. Some yoga poses have the ability to break our muscle fibers by creating tension in them.
Then, our body builds more muscles as backup, thereby increasing the muscle mass.
When you build strength through yoga, you balance it with flexibility. Besides, strong muscles protect especially elderly people from conditions like arthritis and back pain.
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#3 Increases blood flow
Yoga poses like downward dog pose, camel pose, triangle pose, shoulder stand pose and warrior pose are best to promote blood circulation in the body
Yoga boosts levels of hemoglobin and red blood cells which carry oxygen to the tissues. And it thins the blood by making platelets less sticky and by cutting the level of clot-promoting proteins in the blood. This can lead to a decrease in heart attacks and strokes since blood clots are often the cause of these killers.
Besides, yoga also improves blood circulation by dilating the affected arteries which increases the diameter of the blood vessel if blood vessel gets affected by PAD or atherosclerosis. This enhances the dilated artery’s carrying capacity improving the supply of blood to the affected areas and also enervates the nerves associated with the muscles around the affected arteries which spikes the overall transportation of the blood through them. #4 Efficient functioning of heart.
The heart pumps the blood to distribute oxygen and nutrients to all the parts of the body, and to remove wastes from the body. The blood must pump at a certain rate in order to effectively perform these functions.
Yoga improves the efficiency of the heart muscle and with this improved efficiency, the heart is able to pump a greater volume of blood with each heartbeat, which means that fewer heartbeats are needed per minute.
Furthermore, studies have found that yoga practice lowers the resting heart rate, increases endurance, and can improve your maximum uptake of oxygen during exercise which is all reflections of improved aerobic conditioning. #5 Lowers blood pressure and also gives relief from stress.
Yoga poses like balasana, sukhasana, shavasana, cobra pose etc. can reduce stress due to controlled breathing and improves blood circulation throughout the body.
Besides, specifically shavasana yoga pose calms brain, relieve stress, relaxes the body, reduces headache, fatigue and insomnia.
The recent studies of people with hypertension, published in the British Medical Journal "The Lancet" compared the effects of Savasana (Corpse Pose) with simply lying on a couch. After three months, Savasana was associated with a 26-point drop in systolic blood pressure (the top number) and a 15-point drop in diastolic blood pressure (the bottom number and the higher the initial blood pressure, the bigger the drop.
#6 Regulates Adrenal Glands
Yoga reduces the production of cortisol by inhibiting the triggers for the same in the hypothalamus this eventually decrease the stress response of the body and produces the cortisol at optimal levels keeping the ill effects of its overproduction at bay.
The regular practice of yoga like Ardhmatsyendra Asana, Sarvangasana, Paschimottanasana, Agnisara Kriya, Uddiyana Bandha is best for regulating adrenal glands as it lowers the heart rate, anxiety levels, blood pressure, and stress on the cardiac system. #7 Lowers blood sugar
Yoga and other mind-body therapies can reduce stress-related hyperglycemia and have a positive effect on blood glucose control.
Besides, it also lowers blood sugar and LDL ("bad") cholesterol and boosts HDL ("good") cholesterol. In people with diabetes, yoga has been found to lower blood sugar in several ways by lowering cortisol and adrenaline levels, encouraging weight loss, increases glucose uptake by muscular cells, which in turn, helps to lower blood sugar levels and improving sensitivity to the effects of insulin.
#8 Promotes concentration and focus
Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) increasingly affects minds of people a lot as cell phones, TVs, tablets, laptops, and social media absorb our attention and distract us from being fully present in our day-to-day lives.
Yoga practice itself is centered on concentration focus on the breath, the alignment, and the movement. Furthermore studies have found that regular yoga practice improves coordination, reaction time, memory, and even IQ scores.
#9 Peaceful Sleep
The combination of physical exertion and relaxing meditation yoga is a great way for you to improve the quality of your sleep as well as improving the duration of your sleeping hours by helping you to fall asleep faster.
Restorative asana, yoga nidra (a form of guided relaxation), savasana, pranayama, and meditation encourage pratyahara, a turning inward of the senses, which provides downtime for the nervous system which helps to get peaceful sleep.
Here are some pre-sleep yoga poses you can try before bedtime:
- Balasana (child's pose)
- Janu Sirsasana (head-to-knee pose)
- Baddha Konosana (bound angle pose) #10 Boosts your immune system functionality
Yoga lowers stress hormones and strengthens the nervous system while also stimulating the lymphatic system, which removes toxins from the body. It appears to have a beneficial effect on the functioning of the immune system, boosting it when needed (for example,
raising antibody levels in response to a vaccine) and lowering it when needed (for instance, mitigating an inappropriately aggressive immune function in an autoimmune disease like psoriasis). To reap the immune-boosting results of yoga, be sure to maintain a daily practice!
Here are some immunity booster yoga poses you can try anytime of the day
( Early morning preferred most )
#11 Increases your self-esteem
While better health is not the goal of spirituality, it's often a by-product. .Diverse yoga postures activate the parasympathetic nervous system, and meditation practices foster overall goodness. It also promotes mindful eating through the wisdom of yogic diet, a better mind-body connection, low-stress levels, healing episodes of trauma, physical suffering and increasing well-being. Here are some self esteem booster yoga poses you can try anytime of the day
( Early morning preferred most )
- Adho mukha svanasana
#12 Younger-Looking DNA
In a study published in Oxidative Medicine and Cellular Longevity, researchers found that 12 weeks of yoga slowed cellular aging. The program consisted of 90 minutes of yoga that included physical postures, breathing, and meditation for five days a week over 12 weeks. Researchers measured biomarkers of cellular aging and stress before and after the 12-week yoga program and found that yoga slowed down markers of cellular aging and lowered measures of inflammation in the body.
Asana and breathing have been proven to stimulate the parasympathetic nervous system, can slow physical aging and the harmful impact of stress at the cellular and DNA level and improve heart rate variability, and decrease the odds of death after heart attack.
Frequently asked questions about Yoga
1. Can I do yoga during periods ?
Practicing yoga is a great way to prevent and stop menstrual cramps. There's no scientific reason you should skip out on your workouts during your period. You can continue with exercise, but back off on the intensity, especially if you're feeling fatigued.
Yoga poses that should be avoided during menstruation include - Shirshasana, Sarvangasana, Dhanurasana, Halasana, Karnapeedasana, and Bakasana.
2. Which yoga is best during periods ?
- Baddha Konasana , Janu Sirsasana ,Upavistha Konasana,Paschimottanasana, Supta Baddha Konasana etc. yoga poses are one of the best yoga poses during periods
3. Do I have to be vegetarian to practice yoga ?
- Yoga philosophy is non-harming to self and others. People sometimes interpret this as not eating animal products and become vegetarian. So, its a personal decision that everyone has to make for themselves
4. How many times per week should I practice?
Yoga practice daily at fixed time is best to improve our body mobility and strength. Besides, if you dont have time to practice daily then once in a week is also good habit for similar benefits. Eventually you will likely find that after a while your desire to practice expands naturally and you will inculcate habit of starting your day with yoga and meditation.
5. I am not flexible ? Can I do yoga ?
Yes! Indeed You are a right candidate for yoga but that's a little bit like thinking that you need to be able to swim in order to take swimming lessons. Yoga eventually will make your body flexible and strong. Besides, flexibility will be achieved after consistent yoga practice for few months or sometimes it might take a year.
6. How do I know which yoga classes suits the age group I am in?
It is best to try out the different types of classes before deciding and also depends on health goals i.e. lose weight, or also for relaxation and de-stressing. Every health goal has different yoga poses so meet the instructor personally to get clear picture of which practice suits you best with reference to your health goal.
7. Are there any precautions I should note when practicing Yoga?
If you have any pre-existing medical condition then consult your doctor first before embarking on any exercise or yoga.
Inform the instructor of any existing ailment or medical condition before starting yoga class
Ask the instructor for a variation to the pose if you are unable to perform the full posture of a particular yoga move. Wrong movements will result in physical injury. Its always recommended to learn yoga under guidance of yoga instructor.
Yoga is not a competition and you should listen and embrace your body. You should be aware of your own body and not over strain while doing yoga. Take the complete benefit of this science of yoga and meditation which will eventually help you become courageous, confident, and lively for living a fulfilling and honored life.
The beauty of yoga is that you don’t have to be a yogi or yogini to reap the benefits. Whether you are young or old, overweight or fit, yoga has the power to calm the mind and strengthen the body. Don’t be intimidated by yoga terminology, fancy yoga studios and complicated poses.
Yoga is for everyone! Age is just a number!