Unlike most forms of exercise, yoga represents a commitment not only to a healthier, fitter body, but also to a calmer, more aware, and relaxed mind.
The lessons learned in a yoga class tend to wash over into everyday life, helping you to lead a more rewarding, healthier, and fulfilling life. For maximum benefits, yoga should become a regular part of daily routines, not just an occasional practice.
The ways in which yoga can provide benefits are nearly endless, but here are eight of the most important:
- Stress is one of the banes of modern life. It can cause numerous serious health problems such as high blood pressure, anxiety, and depression. Stress hormones, such as cortisol, are released when we feel pressured and harried, and these hormones are responsible for these problems. Yoga helps to calm the mind and spirit, lowering cortisol and adrenaline levels and raising the levels of serotonin and endorphins.
- Many people suffer from muscular pains caused by stress, injury, or incautious exercising. Yoga assists in loosening tight, cramped muscles and lengthens muscles while strengthening them without undue strain. Yoga provides exercises that can strengthen and develop all muscle groups.
- Obesity has become a problem in most Western countries, and much of the overeating can be ascribed to stress. Everyone has become familiar with the phrase ‘comfort food’ as a means to mitigate an uncomfortable situation. Yoga is valuable in treating obesity not only because it reduces stress, but because it helps to provide exercise exercise conducive to weight loss. As practitioners learn to strengthen the bond between the body and the mind, they gain more control over themselves and how they react to the world around them. Regular yoga practice also lessens food cravings.
- Arthritis often becomes significant as people age. Wear and tear on the joints or obesity can cause the joints to become painful and swollen. In some extreme cases, arthritis can be crippling. Yoga can help to improve the flexibility of the joints to assist in restoring movement. Increased blood flow can assist with healing damaged tissue and the release of endorphins can reduce pain. This is an excellent way for those who are suffering from the effects of arthritis to regain some degree of movement and comfort.
- Women who have undergone menopause often experience the loss of bone tissue called osteoporosis. Older men can also suffer from this condition which can lead to bone fractures and disability. Exercises such as yoga can help to slow down or halt osteoporosis. There is evidence that yoga can even reverse some of the bone loss. Younger women and men who practice yoga regularly can help to prevent this serious condition altogether.
- Anyone who has experienced a migraine headache certainly wants to avoid one of these skull-splitters in the future. These debilitating headaches can last for days and often cause the sufferer to retreat into a darkened room for relief. Yoga has been found to diminish the pain of migraines and helps to prevent their recurrence. Keep in mind that one or two sessions will do nothing; it will take several months for the benefits of yoga to kick in and suppress migraines.
- Falls cause thousands of injuries to older people every year, and some end up in surgery for broken limbs or hips. Yoga is excellent at keeping the body toned and strong, and helps to improve both balance and posture.
- Asthma is a serious breathing condition that affects millions of children and adults. Breathing becomes difficult or impossible as swollen and narrowed airways also become clogged with excess mucus. Asthma is characterized by wheezing and coughing and is responsible for thousands of deaths every year. Studies have shown that a regular practice of yoga can help to reduce the incidence of asthma attacks and lessen their severity.
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