oga has been practiced in India for 6000 years. And, while it has its origins in Eastern culture, it has hit the Western world by storm. Today, more than 19 million Americans practice yoga, and millions more do across the world. It is also a multi-billion dollar industry.
Those who do yoga report various benefits of yoga, some of which include:
- Build strength
- General fitness
- Peace and contentment
- Reduction of stress
- and much more
If you see yogis (persons who practice and teach yoga), you can see how well-developed their bodies are. They don’t necessarily bulk up, but you can tell that they have strength and endurance.
Main Benefits Of Yoga
One of the main physical benefits of yoga is that since the movements and poses in yoga are deliberate and yet slow, they do not strain muscles. Instead, the movements allow for better blood circulation, better stretching of muscles and it helps strengthen the joints. Yoga trains so many small muscle groups in the body that it is now a common practice for athletes in all kind of different sports to include yoga in their fitness routine.
As the body gains strength, so it also gains endurance. As the mind is able to control its reactions to stresses, so it learns to modify its perception of pain.
What most people do not realize about the main benefits of yoga, is that yoga is not just an exercise regimen or a workout routine like you do with strength training, cardio or fitness, but the slow and deep breathing is meditative and restores peace of mind and greater health at the same time. It allows the person to quiet his mind as he quiets his body by concentrating on breathing slowly and deeply.
The first thing you will notice is that the slow and deep breaths cleanse and remove the clutter from your mind. You will also notice that if you feel agitated, the slow deep breathing of yoga calms you down. But on top of all these yoga benefits, the more air you breath in this slow and deep way of breathing the more oxygen comes into your cells. And where there is enough pure oxygen in the cells there can be no disease…
For instance, when slow and deep breathing becomes a habit, you can see how it helps you relax even in the most tense and intense moments of your work day. The cumulative effect of these yoga benefits is that your body learns to avoid stress reactions.
Stress reactions are the body’s way of preparing us to fight or to flee situations which are perceived to be dangerous and threatening. This helps you when a barking dog chases you while you are jogging. However, when the stress reaction is prolonged or recurrent as when your body prepares to rush to meet deadlines all day, every day or prepares to “fight” with people who make life difficult for you, you are living with stress. Stress becomes a way of life and it overworks the heart and causes a lot of wear and tear in our organs.
Stress which is chronic or prolonged alters the chemistry in the brain, too. It makes you irritable and it affects your concentration and focus. It increases your vulnerability to diseases such as hypertension, diabetes and coronary artery disease. Yoga, because it helps you relax and neutralize stress, also helps you avoid these lifestyle diseases, as well.
Yoga’s meditative component increases your self-awareness
One of the other benefits of yoga is that it’s meditative component increases your self-awareness. This means that you become more aware of how you feel and what you are thinking. This makes it easier for you to self-evaluate, reflect and modify your emotional responses to everyday stresses and adversities. When you learn to modify your emotional responses, you also learn to put things in perspective. You will find yourself resisting anxious and depressing thoughts. The slow deep breathing which increases blood flow to the brain also helps to lift mood. You become more positive in your outlook.
Since yoga keeps the mind clear, it becomes possible to process information faster and to absorb them more readily. It does not make you smarter by increasing your IQ, but you learn to focus and make decisions more readily. You learn to use your faculties more purposively.
How To do Yoga
You can get started with yoga in various ways. Going to a class is one of the best ways to start with yoga, because without a yoga instructor it can be difficult to understand how to perform the many different yoga postures in the proper way. A yoga instructor can also help you define your physical limits so that you don’t get injured when you’re stretching those sour muscles in extreme ways.
Another way to start with yoga is by buying a yoga DVD workout and learning from home. However, it is important that the instructor takes time to properly explain the yoga poses, and that you can learn them one by one, without having to go into a 90 minute session from day one. Also, if you are a beginner check that the yoga DVD workout you buy is appropriate for your level.
It can be very tempting to buy a set from a famous instructor, but if you are starting out, you’ll probably be better off with the most basic and simpler moves. Once you control these, and have build the strength to extend your yoga sessions you’re ready to explore the more advanced yoga trainings.
At TheBioBody.com we are all about natural health and fitness, and yoga is one of the best activities you can do that will help you improve on so many levels that will only be obvious to you once you’ve started and got some momentum with yoga. That’s why we have created a separate category for yoga practice as we want to guide you with practical tips and steps to follow from beginner yoga to a more advanced yoga level.
We will also post videos with the main yoga poses, so you can practice with us from the comfort of your home. So, stay tuned…;)