Yoga is more than just a fitness craze. It is an ancient practice from India that dates back over 5,000 years, possibly as far as 10,000, depending on the research. And for many in today’s world, it is a way of life. There is an incredible number of health benefits inherent in practicing yoga, too many to list, but there are also mental aspects that can change the way you live and think.
Many practicing yogis travel the world, teaching others the art of yoga, while at the same time learning from their fellow instructors. Some record their adventures in blogs. They will upload their own photos or may use stock yoga images, for other yoga followers to see and learn different techniques, forms, and postures. Blogging about yoga is something you can start to do yourself if you choose, and from these blogs, you can see how yoga has changed the lives of others, and how it can change yours.
Physical Benefits of Yoga:
The physical aspects of yoga are being researched by science to fully understand how it affects your body. But so long as you practice safely and efficiently, you do not really need to know how you can still enjoy the benefits of yoga! And that is the important part. Just to shed some light on the specific effects, there are several ways yoga is helping you stay healthy.
1. Effects on the Spine
Your spine is designed to stay in motion. By constantly bending and flexing, nutrients flow into the spinal disks, preventing compression that can affect the nerves. Yoga also helps with posture. Even as we grow older, our spines are not supposed to be so rigid. Yoga helps people of all ages stay flexible and prevent injury later on in life.
2. Effects on Circulatory System
Yoga has been proven to reduce your blood pressure. The ancient movements and techniques slow down the heart and burn cholesterol. By opening up your arteries with the removal of LDL cholesterol, your blood can circulate better throughout your body. While not all yoga exercises are aerobic in nature, some exercises do, to get your heart pumping vigorously, which strengthens it and helps it perform better.
3. Effects on Respiratory System
There is a lot of breathing control involved in yoga exercises. This improves lung functions; not just being able to take in more air but also making use of more of the oxygen that is taken in. This is especially helpful for those who are asthmatic or have a lung disease. The effects on the respiratory system help improve circulatory functions and vice versa.
4. Effects on Bones
Yoga can help strengthen your skeletal structure. By positioning the body into the various poses, you are putting weight on the bones in that particular part of your body. Increasing the amount of weight put on those bones forces the body to strengthen them. This has long-term effects going into our older years when bone can start deteriorating and become brittle as osteoporosis starts to develop; yoga can help prevent and reduce osteoporosis.
5. Effects on Muscular System
The movement and poses of yoga force you to use muscles. By using these muscles, you are strengthening and flexing them, keeping them healthy and in shape. Blood flows more easily into muscle tissue that is not so tense. More blood flowing into the muscles means healthier muscles. Yoga also tones your muscles, but unlike how weight lifting bulges out the muscles, yoga shapes the muscles the way a naturally-used muscle should be.
The Mental Benefits of Yoga
We cannot forget the mental rewards that come from performing yoga. The mental aspects are just as important, if not more so than the physical benefits. While at times they seem very interconnected, your mindset is usually what gets you started and keeps you going (this is true of anything, not just in your yoga regimen). These are just some of the ways yoga helps with that mindset.
1. Effects on Stress
A lot of people are under a tremendous amount of stress. Everyday life in Western society can be, at times, crippling. That is why so many people decide to travel: to get away from it all; to find themselves in a world they cannot control. Yoga helps relieve that stress. Through the breathing exercises and poses you perform, you are releasing that tension and anxiety; calming your mind, forgetting about your troubles, and just focusing on you.
2. Effects on Depression
Stress can be taxing on your body, but depression can be crippling at times. Again, with yoga, you are calming your mind, but you are also releasing chemicals into your body called endorphins. These chemicals interact with your brain, giving you a sense of happiness. By getting the endorphins to flow into your system, you are reducing any depression you may be feeling.
3. Effects on World View
With changes to the amount of stress and depression you feel, your brain will begin to see the world from a different perspective. You will change the way you look at the factors stressing you out; you will change the way you handle whatever is causing you to be depressed. Yoga can cause you to look at your life and make you want to change your entire lifestyle, leading to a happier of yourself.
4. Effects on Eating
With that lifestyle change you want to make, part of it will include your eating habits. The fast food you have gotten used to over the years, the sodas you have been drinking, the junk food for snacks you have been consuming since you were a kid; they will all disappear. You will eat fewer sugars and focus more on the foods that give your body the nutrients it needs to stay healthy.
If you are already practicing yoga, you already knew the benefits of the exercises and poses. If you are someone who is interested in the lifestyle, you have just learned some of the ways yoga can help you feel better both mentally and physically. Now it is time to get with an instructor and begin your path to a better you.