Practicing Yoga reduces the physical effects of stress on the body. By encouraging relaxation, yoga helps to lower the levels of the stress hormone cortisol. By reducing stress, we can:
– Lower blood pressure and heart rate
– Improve digestion, boosting the immune system
– Reduce anxiety, fatigue, insomnia, depression
Studies have shown that practicing yoga asanas (postures), meditation, or a combination of the two, reduced pain for those with conditions such as:
– Back & neck pain
– Multiple sclerosis
– Auto-immune diseases
The practice of yoga postures improves our body alignment, resulting in better posture and relief of back, neck and joint pain. Most practitioners report that even emotional pain can be eased through the practice of yoga.
Within Yoga, there is more than practicing just the postures. There are also breathing exercises that teach us to take slower, more deep breaths. With practice of yogic breathing our lung function improves and we increase the amount of oxygen available to the body.
Certain postures will also help to improve flexibility, mobility and increase our range of movement. Yoga is for any age, body type, and any physical condition. Yoga is for everybody. Almost every beginner will be unable to touch their toes during their first yoga class. Remember, we all have to start somewhere. Gradually with time and practice the ligaments, tendons and muscles lengthen. This will increase elasticity which helps to make poses doable.
Yoga asanas (postures) use every muscle in the body, even the ones that you do not know exist. Because of this, we increase strength literally from head to the toes. While these postures strengthen the body, they also provide an additional benefit of helping to relieve muscular tension. Not only are the muscles strengthened, but our confidence and awareness is also strengthened.
Yoga, even the less vigorous styles, can aid weight control efforts by reducing the cortisol levels and burning excess calories. Healthy eating habits are encouraged and a heightened sense of well being and self esteem. For example; letting go of habits such as our way of thinking, partying, over-eating, fast food diets, etc. We learn to take care of our body, inside and out.
Yoga helps to improve our circulation and moves oxygenated blood to the body’s cells more efficiently. Although yoga is not technically “aerobic” or a “cardio”, you are still lowering the risk against heart disease and high blood pressure.
Even a gentle yoga practice can provide cardio-vascular benefits – lowering the resting heart rate, increasing endurance, improving oxygen uptake during exercise and so much more.
Focus On The Present
The practice of Yoga and Meditation helps us to bring awareness to the present moment and create mind-body health. It opens the way to improved concentration, coordination, reaction time and memory. When our focus is on the present moment rather than the past or future, we become more at peace and content with ourselves including the world around us, rather than wasting this precious time and energy with worry of the unforeseen future and anxiety from reminiscing of the unchangeable past.
The meditative aspects of yoga help many to reach a deeper, more spiritual and satisfying place in their lives. Many who begin to practice for other reasons have reported this to be a key reason that yoga has become an essential part of their daily lives.