Yoga – what’s it good for?
I hear many of the same questions being asked about the health benefits of yoga? For example:
- Why is yoga good for you?
- Is yoga food for you?
- Does yoga help with weight loss? and
- Does yoga tone your body?
Yoga seems to be the thing to do with more and more people doing it. But, often times though our knowledge of yoga (particularly if we’ve never done it or are starting out) is limited to what we can see e.g. stretching.
More than you think!
The health benefits of yoga are actually very extensive. And many we can’t see, but we can certainly feel and they can be profound.
To quote from the spiritual classic ‘I am that – talks with Sri Nisargadatta Majaraj’, “yoga is one of the six systems of the Hindu philosophy (from yuj, to yoke or join). Yoga teaches the means by which the individual spirit (ji-vatma) can be joined or united with the universal spirit (Paramatma).
Yoga is an holistic and mindful practice that includes physical movements (asana), breathing (pranayama), meditation (dhyana) and relaxation (savasana).
Let me expand on these a little more by getting into the health benefits of yoga. Obviously, there are many forms of yoga some of which you may have heard of e.g. karma-yoga, bhakti-yoga, raja-yoga, hatha-yoga and kundalini-yoga to name but a few.
Most western forms of yoga are based on hatha-yoga, but my aim here however is to give you a general overview of what are the benefits of doing yoga.
Health Benefits of Yoga
Fundamentally, practising yoga is believed to encourage union of mind, body and spirit and restore the whole person to balance. An holistic approach to our health is imperative. For optimum health we need to be aware of and actively care for our mind, body and spirit.
You may have read my article “Is Yoga Meditation? 4 Activities You Never Knew Were Meditation”. In that article I explained that yes, Yoga is a form of meditation but is a moving meditation or otherwise known as a movement meditation.
Why is it meditative? Yoga is a focused activity that keeps you focused inwardly on your body, the sensations within your body and brings relief from mind activity (or rather takes us beyond the mind) and into being (the present moment).
A relaxed mind encourages the concentration and serenity that allows spiritual development.
Thus, yoga is meditative. And there are a multitude of benefits related to meditation that encompass mind, body and spirit. To learn more about the benefits of meditating you may like to read my article “What are the benefits of meditating? Here’s 4 plus 1 more BIGGY”.
As yoga is meditative it stands that it is also relaxing. Relaxation is also achieved through focus on the breath and releasing tension in the body and relaxing muscles through focused stretching/poses.
- Strength, Flexibility, Tone
Practising yoga will increase your strength and flexibility (improves suppleness that helps with mobility). Though not technically deemed an aerobic form of exercise (where breathing and heart rate increases) depending on the type of yoga you practise it may be slightly aerobic if it is a more intense or fast-paced movement class.
- Improved respiration, energy and vitality
- Balanced metabolism
- Asthma symptoms may reduce
- Weight reduction
- Pain reduction
- Improves digestive function
- Cardio and circulatory health
5. Physical cleansing
This can be quite detailed and technically specific, so I will not elaborate here. It is also dependent on the type of yoga that is practised e.g. hatha-yoga. However, at a basic level, postures (asanas) are performed in a particular sequence, designed to exercise all the major muscle groups in the correct order, to encourage good circulation and to flush toxins out of the body (The Hamlyn Encyclopedia of Complementary Health, 1996). There is also some evidence that it helps with draining the sinuses.
6. Correct Breathing
Yoga breathing encourages making full use of the lungs, increasing energy, vitality and improving circulation.
7. Exercise System
Though yoga is considered a gentle exercise system it increases our fitness level and physical function through simple movements.
Yoga is suitable for young and old and for people with physical limitations. It’s also suitable for men and women.
For those men out there who are a little unsure, remember that most Yogi’s (a person proficient in yoga), well those certainly that we see and are labelled as yogi’s are men.
Don’t be put off by this Yogi’s posture. We do as little or as much as we personally can when we practise yoga.
Yoga relaxes the mind and teaches us how to control stress, destructive emotions and unhealthy habits.
A combination of all of these benefits means that we will lead and experience a much healthier and happier life.
We can’t always get to a weekly class or afford to go say 3 times a week at $15.00 a pop. That’s $45.00 a week which can be hefty at times. Or, we may be a little embarrassed when we first start out with everyone else appearing to be mini yogis and would prefer to try yoga in the comfort (and safety) of our own home first.
So, I did a little research recently and came across YogaDownload.
You can stream unlimited yoga anytime anywhere for 2 weeks for only $1.
It has a whole host of different classes, programs and clothing too.
I’m trying it out myself!
As always, I share what I believe will help to improve health and wellbeing (mind, body and spirit).
Please feel free to browse my site.
If you have any questions or comments, please drop them below or email me. I always appreciate them.
I’d also like to hear what you think of YogaDownload once you’ve tried it out.
Until next time, go forth with ease and just be!