As one of the oldest spiritual and physical disciplines known to man, yoga has numerous proven health benefits. In an ever-changing world, you may not be able to control what goes on outside, but you can control what goes on inside. In a nutshell, that is precisely what yoga helps you to achieve; inner peace (not the kind that lets you catch a drop of water or turn into peach leaves like in Kung-Fu-Panda but still). The popularity of yoga has truly transformed the practice from an ancient ascetic discipline to an everyday physical and mental exercise. This blog will highlight some of the amazing health benefits of practicing yoga:
Top Health Benefits of Yoga
When people usually think of yoga, they often conjure up images of a bearded old monk or sadhu who is deep in meditation, while sitting cross-legged under a tree. However, the fact of the matter is, yoga has several health benefits for working professionals, mothers, students, literally anybody. These benefits are backed up by numerous medical studies as well. Here’s a brief look at some of the top health benefits of yoga:
Simple and Effective Stress Buster
When you are stressed out, it is little comfort to you if people tell you ‘It’s all in your head.’ Even if it is just in your head, the effects of stress can take a toll on your body. Thankfully, yoga is a proven stress-buster that allows you to calm your mind and rebuild strength. The first few lines of the Yoga Sutra itself describe the practice as “the suppression of the modifications of the mind.” In an article for the American Osteopathic Association, Dr Nevins states that regular yoga creates mental clarity and calmness.
Helps Improve Breathing
You may be surprised how something as simple as breathing correctly can help to improve your overall health. Pranayama is a specific branch of yoga that teaches you how to control the rhythms of ‘pranic’ (the Sanskrit word for ‘breath) energy for a healthy mind and body. During a medical study conducted in 1998, patients suffering from lung problems were taught yogic techniques meant to improve breathing. Just a month later, doctors noticed a marked increase in the oxygen saturation of their blood in addition to their increased exercise capacity.
Increases your blood flow
Yoga is out for your blood! No, not in a crazed Alfred Hitchcock ‘Psycho’ sort of way, but in a more all-round circulatory health sort of way. From blood circulation and heart rate to haemoglobin and red blood cells, you stand to gain a whole lot by practising a few simple yoga poses. For example, inverted yoga poses like a headstand, allows freshly oxygenated blood to be pumped to your legs to maintain energy and avoid fatigue. Twisting yoga poses are also known to draw out venous blood from your internal organs and provides fresh oxygenated blood once you release the pose.
Reduce Chronic Pain
A jolt of pain, however brief, is not a pleasant experience. You can imagine how frustrating it can be if you keep experiencing the pain for three months or more. That persistent pain is exactly what happens to patients who suffer from chronic pain. Yoga can help to reduce chronic pain, which affects millions of patients every year. Regularly practising yoga significantly reduces pain perception and strengthens white matter connectivity through neuroplasticity. Researches also noted that a yoga-based regime helps to relieve the symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome.
Promotes Sleep Quality
If you find it difficult to drift off into dreamland and if you get tired of counting sheep, it may help to strike a yoga pose. In an article entitled ‘Connection between yoga and better sleep’, the National Sleep Foundation suggests that insomnia patients who practice yoga daily not only sleep longer but fall asleep faster as well. The practice of Yoga Nidra, yogic sleep, is so effective that the United States Army used it as a way to combat Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) among soldiers. Yoga techniques have been known to increase the melatonin hormone, which helps to regulate sleep and wakefulness.
Even with the amazing benefits mentioned above, we have barely scratched the surface of what yoga can do for your life. Since it is quite impossible to capture hundreds of years of ancient yoga wisdom in an eight hundred word blog, you should go out and experience it yourself. Sign up for a yoga class or workshop and begin a journey to rejuvenate your life. After all, to paraphrase a famous saying, yoga every day can keep the doctor away.