From ancient India to New York, yoga has become a worldwide phenomenon as a workout for the body and soul. In this modern age, people flock to yoga studios aspiring to gain a lean, strong physique. However, yoga is not just a physical workout, it is actually a discipline that involves physical, mental and spiritual aspects.
Health Benefits of Yoga
Practicing yoga asanas or postures can provide many health benefits. Here are some health benefits of yoga and some simple postures to help you get started.
The Health Benefits of Yoga include:
Yoga helps control Hypertension
Hypertension is a condition in which the blood pressure in the arteries is constantly elevated. If high blood pressure is not controlled, it can damage the heart and cause cardiovascular conditions.
Yoga is known for its relaxing effects on the practitioner. Yoga postures like adho mukha shvanasana, uttanasana and pashchimottanasana help lower blood pressure levels by calming the body and releasing tension.
One of the easiest postures that you can try is the uttanasana or standing forward bend. Stand straight with legs shoulder width apart. Gently lower down to a fold, keeping your head parallel to the ground and looking at your knees. Breathe slowly as you bend over and then hold for 3 breaths. You can hold your legs for support or touch the ground if itsmore comfortable for you. To release, slowly inhale as you come up and put your hands on your hips.
Yoga for a Healthier heart
Because of the unhealthy and sedentary lifestyle that we lead nowadays, many people are at risk of developing cardiovascular diseases. Practicing yoga can help improve heart health and reduce the risk of developing coronary artery diseases.
Janu Sisasana, which is a head to knee forward bend pose, is an effective asana that benefits the heart. Sit with legs extended forward and bend the right knee so the right foot touches the left thigh. Slowly bend forward extending your arms forward to reach the shin. Hold this pose for 3-5 breaths.
Yoga can help lower blood sugar levels
High blood sugar levels can lead to diabetes. Diabetes is a lifelong condition which cn lead to death. According to studies, yoga helps lower stress levels as well as flush out toxins in the body by sweating which leads to lower blood sugar levels.
A simple asana you can try is the bhujanga or cobra pose. Lie face down on the floor and stretch out the legs. Place your hands beside your shoulders and keep your elbows close to your body. Inhale and lift the chest from the ground, using your arms to push yourself upward. Look straight forwards and relax as you breath in and out. Gently lower yourself back to release.
Yoga can help relieve back pain
Yoga is also known to be beneficial for individuals suffering from lower back pain. There are certain yoga postures such as the mountain pose, pigeon pose, wall plank pose, back traction, and even the child’s posture, which can help provide relief from any lower back pain.
The cow face arms pose is a simple asana that can help relieve tension in the back muscles. Simply sit down, with your legs crossed. As you inhale, lift your right arm up and bend your arm to touch your shoulder blades. Take your left arm back and reach for your right hand. Join your hands behind your back and gently inhale and straighten your posture. Be careful not to overstretch, and maintain a straight spine. Take 5-10 breaths and slowly release.
Yoga aids in stomach discomfort
Did you know that certain gastric conditions can be relieved just by the regular practice of yoga? Yes, there are specific asanas, or yoga postures such as pavanamuktasana, padahastasana, and padangusthasana that can help to manage certain gastric conditions. These poses tone abdominal muscles and improve digestion.
Seated forward bend or Paschimottanasana is an easy pose you can do at home. It also relieves stress while helping you with stomach discomfort. Sit on the floor with your legs in front of you. Slowly bend over to reach your toes, but keep in mind not to overstretch the spine. Do not bend your legs as you reach for your toes. You may not be able to reach your toes if you’re just beginning to practice this asana and that’s fine. As you practice more, your flexibility will improve.
Yoga can relieve Osteoarthritis
Did you know that yoga is can relieve musculoskeletal pain as well, in particular osteoarthritis? Yoga is effective for osteoarthritis and a study conducted on individuals who are suffering from osteoarthritis of the hands showed improvements in flexibility and pain relief.
If you’re more flexible, you can try a full sun salutation or Surya Namaskara. It is a 10-step gentle asana flow that you should do every day.
Yoga helps improve asthma
There are specific Pranayama, or breathing exercises, that have been proven effective for individuals who are suffering from asthma. Additionally, there are also certain yoga postures such as the half-spinal twist, wind-relieving posture, and even corpse posture, together with alternating nostril breathing technique that can effectively provide relief from asthma and bronchitis.
Be cautious when practicing yoga if you have respiratory issues. It is best to consult your doctor before practising any intense form of exercise.
Yoga is effective for weight loss
A specific yoga flow, Surya Namaskara, is known to be effective for losing weight. Other yoga postures such as Pada hasthasana and even trikonasana can also be helpful in weight loss.
Surya Namaskara or sun salutation is a series of poses which involve standing and inverted poses like downward dog. It is a full body workout which can be challenging for the arms too. Since it is normally repeated a few times, it can also serve as a low impact cardio.
Yoga can relieve Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
What is carpal tunnel syndrome? Carpal tunnel syndrome is a condition that is described as the feeling of pressure on the nerves of the wrist. These nerves are the ones that supply the feeling and the movement of the hand. Carpal tunnel syndrome can eventually cause s weakness, numbness, and tingling. If not properly managed, carpal tunnel syndrome can also eventually result in muscle damage of the hand or fingers. It has been proven that doing yoga can help decrease the effects of carpal tunnel syndrome dramatically.
Yoga can help increase your Flexibility
Certain yoga postures can positively affect different joints and stress points of our body. It is believed that yoga increases lubrication of these specific joints, ligaments, and tendons.
Yoga focuses on slow, controlled movements which benefit people who have joint problems. Over time, people who practice yoga have more flexibility, but this also depends on a person’s age. If you started yoga in your 20’s and continue to your 40’s or 50’s you’re more likely to reap more benefits. If you started older, you will still benefit from what yoga has to offer, but be sure to start slow and have a certified yoga teacher to guide you.
Yoga can help in Detoxing
Yoga can help provide a gentle stretching of muscles and joints, which also affects our internal organs as well as improving blood circulation. A healthy blood flow helps flush out harmful toxins.
A good 45-hour yoga routine can make you sweat and feel energized. What’s great about yoga is that it is low impact, it burns calories, your body gets detoxed but you won’t feel as tired as after other cardio workouts.
Yoga is good during Pregnancy
Yoga has been proven to be beneficial during pregnancy. According to researchers in the UK, practicing yoga during pregnancy showed a decrease in the chance of developing depression or anxiety in pregnant women.
Yoga is very easy to Practice
Yoga is relatively simple, and it is recommended for any age group because it involves only slow and static movements. Yoga has a low to minimal risk of causing muscle injury and is an activity which requires a low-calorie consumption because the main point of this activity includes the breathing techniques.
Things that you should Remember
- Yoga must be done and learned under the guidance of an expert yoga instructor. Yoga can be done by everyone, regardless of their age or sex, but it is still advisable to seek your physician’s expert opinion especially if you are suffering from a heart condition or any acute or chronic medical condition that demands activity precaution.
- Always keep in mind that you should not practice yoga after consuming hard alcohol, mind-altering drug or illicit drugs.
- Please be aware that practicing yoga in direct sunlight is not advisable. Carefully select a comfortable place for doing yoga wither outdoors or indoors.
- Always do your best to focus and concentrate on every posture. Do not get distracted by others in the room or in your surroundings.
- Always remember to go slowly and steadily by following the instructions precisely.
- Remember not overstrain yourself and take short breaks between each practice session.