Physical, Mental and Spiritual health benefits of Yoga



Exercise in any form is good for our health; be it a cardio workout, Zumba, jogging, and so on. One such form which is practiced since ancient times in India is ‘YOGA’.  It has gained immense popularity in recent years all over the world because of the innumerable ways yoga benefits health. Patanjali was the pioneer of classical yoga. According to him, Yoga is a way to still our minds for realizing the higher self.

The term “Yoga” is a Sanskrit word which means “Union”. Thus, yoga develops a better connection between our mind and body through multifarious postures, asanas, meditation, and breathing techniques and calming down the fluctuations of consciousness. Mainly Yoga is classified as “RajaYoga” (meditation and contemplation) and “HathaYoga” (yoga postures and asanas).

It is a way to get in tune with your body and inner self. In order to learn Yoga, one need not be a professional athlete. There are modifications for every Yoga Pose and beginners can begin in their own style, so anyone can start practicing it. Let’s take a look at the 10 benefits of yoga.

Do you know who is known as the Yog Guru?
Read about Adiyogi who is the source of Yoga

Physical Benefits Of Yoga

Yoga benefits the health of people of all classes and ages, which has led to its enormous popularity in recent years. The foremost advantage of Yoga is that it improves the flexibility of the body and loosens the stiff muscles. Initially, we may not be able to touch our toes by bending forward, but with continual practice, we are able to bend and twist our bodies in all surprising ways.

Through stretching and sweating while doing Yoga, body fat burns considerably without any side-effects. Few minutes of Suryanamaskar is the best and easy way to remain fit and slim.

Lethargy only prevails till we start with the session. However, after we perform the Yogic exercises and asanas, we start feeling very energetic. It helps to build strength and improve our balance like balancing on one leg in Tree pose.

One of the common problems existing among the present youth is back pain due to long hours of sitting while working or driving. Through diverse asanas along with backbends and forward bends, Yoga-enthusiasts are relieved of this malady.

The twisting poses of Yoga allow the waste to move through our body smoothly that enhances metabolism which in turn serves as a remedy to multiple health problems.

Savasana (Corpse Pose), as compared to simply lying on the couch is believed to drop the blood pressure to a great extent. It is beneficial for those having High blood pressure. On the other hand, Yoga also helps to lower blood sugar levels and bad cholesterol and boost good cholesterol. This also decreases the risk of diabetic complications.

The humming sounds – like those made while chanting OM or practicing Bhramari Pranayama – opens the sinuses and facilitates drainage.

Various breathing exercises such as Anulom-Vilom, deep breathing, etc tend to take fewer breaths of greater volume. It promotes breathing through the nose so that filtered air enters our lungs. It leads to better functioning of the lungs and oxygenation.

Exercises such as Headstand and Shoulder-stand encourage blood flow throughout the organs, boost the level of hemoglobin, and cut down the level of blood–clotting.  This can prevent heart attacks and strokes.

Regular Yoga ensures a lower pulse rate and low cortisol levels combined with a strong immune system.

Another physical change includes increased cortical folding in the brain. Cortical folding increases the brain’s efficiency, information processing, memory, and decision-making ability.

Yoga is imbued with several exercises for better eye-hand co-ordination, ills of menopause, and for controlling diseases such as diabetes, asthma, and Migraines. Even Cancer patients who practice Yoga are able to suppress the feeling of nausea during chemotherapy and are able to maintain a positive spirit. 

Mental Benefits Of Yoga

Yoga is the practice of quieting the mind

PATANJALI SUTRAS

Yoga benefits health in an astonishing way, not just physical health but mental health as well. Yoga poses for mental health include Balasana, Shavasana, Tadasana, Uttanasana, and Makarasana. Depression is the most prevalent mental disorder in the world today. Stress, Depression, and hypertension- all these have devastating effects on our mind and body.

Yoga enormously helps in managing stress and developing coping skills to have a positive outlook in life. A significant benefit of practicing Yoga consistently is that it improves our concentration, coordination, reaction time, memory, and IQ scores. We get distracted less by our ever-changing thoughts.

Yoga also provides relief from the hustle and bustle of everyday life. Yoga Nidra, Shavasana, pranayama, and meditation bestow a calm touch on our nervous system which encourages better sleep. It quells the mental loops of frustration, regret, anger, lustful desire, and fear. Instead of a fight-or-flight response, through yoga, our nervous system responds in a calm and restorative manner.

The regular practice of Yoga gives inner strength to make changes for the better in our lives- say one may finally quit smoking after years of failed attempts. Yoga builds awareness for transformation into a thoughtful and calm human being. Karma Yoga means service to others. When we serve others and see what they are going through, our problems then seem to appear less daunting.

Yoga also produces the placebo effect to cause change. It means just believing we will get better can make us better. Some advanced Yogis have the capacity to control their bodies in extraordinary ways such as generating unusual heart rhythms, raising the temperature of their hands by 150 F, and much more. These unusual physiological merits have also made scientists gape in awe.

Yoga benefits skin

Though numerous technologies and cosmetics are being used to enhance the vigor of our skin; yoga on the other hand is an excellent and natural way to achieve a glowing complexion. Yoga doesn’t cure our skin problems directly, but rather it helps in detoxification.

A person whose digestive system is in bad health, he or she is more prone to acne breakouts, allergies, and other skin problems. It is because the digestive system absorbs nutrients and minerals that repair and nourish our skin. And thanks to Yoga, it remarkably helps in stimulating our digestion.

It also keeps hormone glands in check which prevents acne breakouts. Sweating is good for the skin as it flushes out toxins and dirt that build upon our pores. Sweating out the toxins and bacteria during vinyasa practice can cure skin blemishes and dullness leading to fresh and clearer skin.

Certain Asanas such as shoulder stand, fish pose, child pose, plow pose, and triangle pose enhance blood circulation underneath the layers of our skin. Blood delivers nutrients and oxygen as well as flushes out waste from skin cells, which further gives a rosy glow to our skin.

Damaged skin cells can be healed through Pranayama and deep breathing. The oxygenated blood is rich in regenerative properties which assist in healing the damages caused to the cells due to excessive sun exposure. Yoga is effective in combating stress which otherwise makes our skin dry and dull.

Beauty in women especially shines through an invigorated countenance that can be achieved physically through Facial Yoga. It stimulates your facial muscles to regain their natural shape and prevent sagging.

Benefits to Hair

It is believed that mechanical stress restricts blood flow and leads to hair loss. Yogic exercises, where the head is leaning forwards or backward, helps to increase the blood flow to the scalp. This enables the growth of strong and healthy hair strands.

Yoga benefits pregnancy

One of the most precious phases of life for a woman is believed to be that phase when she is about to deliver a new life into this world. However, pregnancy is the stage where a to-be mother needs to look after herself a lot along with the baby in her womb. And the yoga benefits during pregnancy are miraculous in every sense.

During pregnancy, there is a constant sense of nausea, morning sickness, and mood-swings that prevail physically and mentally. Yoga benefits women’s health during pregnancy, like focusing on breathing exercises helps to reduce mood-swings and nausea, other yoga asanas help to improve posture and backaches.

Yoga helps the lady to feel calm amidst multiple doctors’ appointments, endless kicks from the baby, and the chaotic bustle during baby-shower. Breathing has been a huge part of the preparations for labor and anxiety-free childbirth.

Yoga has the benefits of keeping the woman in shape as well as helping her to get back to shape after delivery. Special Parental Yoga class provides a safe, supportive space catering to specific pregnancy needs and also a place to connect with other mothers-to-be.

Meditation is the best, quiet-reflective time to focus on the self. A mother can connect to the growing baby inside her and send warm wishes and thoughts down to him or her through the capacity she has inculcated from the benefits of yoga and meditation. It transforms the entire experience into a mesmerizing memory.

Yoga benefits for men

Yoga is not just a woman’s exercise; it’s an excellent practice for men too. Yoga benefits the health of their heart and increases stamina which helps to be productive at the workplace. Suicides among men as per census are higher and so through yoga peace of mind can be attained.

Yoga is no less than a heavy gym workout. Some intense yogic exercises help in building muscle and strength. Yoga also improves male libido. It enables man to focus on self-improvement more.

What is Power Yoga?

Based on Ashtanga Yoga, Power Yoga consists of various vinyasas (series of poses done in sequence) and is considered as Gym Yoga. It is a speedy aerobic workout that focuses on flow from one posture to the next rather than focusing on each posture. The teachers are free to teach any pose in any order, making every class different and promote various forms of yoga for good health.

Due to its rigorous form, power yoga benefits health wonderfully and helps to burn more calories, raise metabolism, and enhance flexibility. One’s stamina also increases while performing the intense movements. It does not target a single muscle alone, but rather all muscles. It not only aids in self-continence and regulating energy levels but also reduces mental disorders and enriches mental health.

What is hot yoga?

Hot Yoga, also known as “Bikram Yoga”, is practiced in a room heated to 105oF (~ 40.6oC) with a humidity of 40%. It is high in trend comprising of 26 postures and miscellaneous breathing exercises. Though there are many Do’s and Don’ts behind hot yoga, it offers varied benefits.

Heat makes muscles more pliable and we can stretch our body very easily to unexpected levels. The warmer room makes the heart pump faster in order to keep us cool. It is a sign of a better cardio workout.

Due to the heat and stifling in the room, our focus is naturally more on deep breathing which facilitates relaxation and stress-relief. Also, deeper breaths cause our lungs to expand more than usual, thus, allowing more oxygen to enter the bloodstream and reach the organs.

Breathing exercises done in a blistering room helps train our lungs to retain more air, and increase the blood flow.

Greater the heart rate, the higher the burning of calories, and the reduction of weight. Undoubtedly, Hot Yoga is a pretty good calorie-torcher as it gets the heart going and this has also been witnessed in various studies.

Hot Yoga aids in sweating out the toxins from the body by which we feel refreshed and re-energized after the class.

Spiritual benefits of Yoga

The incredible physical benefits that Yoga brings are the icing and not the cake; even the mental and emotional stability are sprinkled on the Yoga cake. The real substance is that it is a practice that takes us beyond the regular dimensions of human life.

By way of different branches of Yoga such as Hatha, Raja, Bhakti, Kriya, etc- the sages have laid out the path to success. Each path of Yoga has a sophisticated method that is utilized to help us grow. In order to make progress, it is necessary to understand the path we have chosen and the methods that are used.

One cannot get evidence of spiritual growth and experiences from just going to one yoga class. The holistic practice must be made a part of life. In Yoga science, we are not expected to believe but to perform the methods ourselves and validate the results through our experiences

With a dedication to ancient wisdom and perseverance, every person can achieve the same inner experiences of the great sages or complete liberation through Yoga.

By religiously indulging in deep meditation, one is able to control the chakras in his body such as heart chakra, root chakra, and throat chakra.

We experience feelings of gratitude, empathy, and forgiveness as well as a sense that we are a part of something bigger. Indeed better health is just a by-product and not the goal of spirituality.

Another benefit is letting go and devotion to God!  For instance, in Balasana, our forehead is on the ground in reverence to the Almighty. It’s a reminder that there is a higher power at play who can offer us all we need, once we tune into its infinite energy.

Through Yoga, we can feel the Oneness with the self by moving beyond dualities like good and bad, right and wrong, rich and poor, happy and sad. Thus, rise above the causes of pain and suffering.

Conclusion

Accompanied by abundant advantages, Yoga is no less than a boon. It is a natural and versatile option to heal our body and mind to bring back youth and vitality to our lives. Infinite videos are available on YouTube along with telecasts on television channels teaching the asanas and kriyas of yoga. Rather than taking hefty gym memberships, to do yoga all we need is a Yoga mat and a little space!

Stretching in yoga helps to develop an attitude to do one’s best in any situation and letting go of things. The most inevitable reason to choose Yoga is vanquishing anxiety and stress by transforming them into self-confidence and happiness.

Health and Yoga go hand in hand. Thus, for good health yoga is a must.  As elegantly quoted by Sri Sri Ravi Shankar:- “The word Yoga means Skill- skill to live your life, to manage your mind, to deal with your emotions, to be with people, to be in love and not let that love turn into hatred.”

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