Many people love yoga because it is a great way to get stronger and more flexible. Some people also love yoga because it makes them feel more peaceful and connected to themselves, which helps them relax. A lot of people have fallen in love with yoga because of something called the “mind-body connection.” Whatever it is, yoga is clearly becoming crucial to more and more people worldwide.
What Is Yoga?
Yoga is a Hindu discipline that includes a wide range of spiritual practises and exercises, such as meditation, chanting, mantras, prayers, breathing exercises, rituals, and selfless service. The word yoga itself comes from the Sanskrit root word yuj or yukta, which means to yoke or to join. The word itself has numerous meanings related to joining; for example, in modern western astrology, the conjunction of two planets is called a yoga.
Read on to learn more about what makes practising yoga particularly advantageous.
Yoga Helps With Inflammation
Chronic inflammation is a common precursor to many illnesses. Some of the many conditions linked to prolonged inflammation are: arthritis, Crohn’s disease, diabetes and heart disease. One review examined 15 research studies and found a common result: Yoga — of various styles, intensities, and durations — reduced the biochemical markers of inflammation across several chronic conditions. The research is still evolving, but some studies have found a distinct link between practicing yoga (especially consistently) and better immune system functioning.
Yoga Helps With Stress Relief
The fact that stress relief is one of the top reasons people do yoga should not come as a surprise. Thankfully, scientific research backs yoga as an ideal means for stress management and reduction. Auditory rituals (including chanting and sound baths), breath work and meditation are as beneficial as the physical asana and all have been shown to significantly lessen tension and relieve stress. As a mind-body practice, yoga activates areas of the brain responsible for motivation, executive functioning, attention, and neuroplasticity.
Yoga Helps With Flexibility
Two of yoga’s leading organisations—Yoga Journal and Yoga Alliance—conducted a global survey of the practice in 2016. They wanted to know more about yoga’s increasing popularity and its benefits. The most popular reason people reported doing yoga was to increase their flexibility. Flexibility is an important component of physical health, and even the lowest intensity styles of yoga have been found to increase flexibility. And the benefits don’t end there, yoga has also been shown to improve balance and strength alongside flexibility.
Yoga Helps With Mental Health
A 2017 meta-analysis of 23 interventions looking at the effects of yoga-based treatments on depressive symptoms overwhelmingly concluded that yoga can now be considered an effective alternative treatment for depression. Both asana and pranayama practices have been shown to significantly improve depressive symptoms. This is in part because yoga helps people become more in tune with, and more likely to listen to, their body’s signals. Several recent studies also show positive results when using yoga for improving self-esteem and body image.
Yoga Helps With Posture
Yoga can promote better posture and body awareness which is much needed as we seem to be spending more and more time sitting hunched over devices. But one recent review of 34 research studies found an emerging pattern: Yoga improved brain functioning in the centres responsible for interoception (recognising the sensations within your body) and posture. Additionally, yoga’s focus on mobility and flexibility can contribute to better alignment and improving the mobility of the spine.
Yoga Helps With Cardiovascular Health
Pranayama, often referred to as “yogic breathing,” is an important and beneficial aspect of yoga. The Journal of Ayurveda and Integrative Medicine published a review of 1,400 studies looking at the overall effects of pranayama. It was found that yogic breathing can improve the functioning of several systems in the body – and the cardiovascular system in particular benefits from controlling the pace of breathing. This research indicates that yogic breathing may actually influence the brain’s cardiorespiratory center to improve functioning.
Yoga is a practise that has grown in popularity worldwide due to its many health benefits. It can be based in movement or done through certain methods of breathing. Practising yoga is advantageous because it will make a person stronger, helps with flexibility and reduces inflammation.
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