Those in western civilization had little contact with the benefits of yoga prior to the beginning of the 21st Century. As our awareness of the ancient Hindu art increases, our overall understanding of its benefits for overall, natural health and wellness increases as well. Though there are many benefits of yoga, we’re going to examine some of the top benefits that can help get you moving again, especially if you’ve been a little less than motivated.
What Is Yoga?
In short, without adding any deeper, spiritual aspects to it, yoga is a means of listening to, understanding and communicating with your body. Most advanced level athletes have learned to practice those assets in order to target weaknesses, recognize injuries and to strengthen their performance. More and more athletes are turning to yoga to enhance communication with their bodies. Even if you’re not an athlete, the benefits of yoga can help to improve your overall health.
History of Yoga
The roots of yoga are in Northern India and are more than 5,000 years old. The Vedas of Vedic priests, their writings and sacrifices were internalized in about 500 B.C. in collections of the ancient writings known as the Upanishads. The first systematic presentations of yoga’s concepts did not become well known until the 2nd Century A.D. by Patanjali, who is considered the father of yoga. The form that we encounter today, however, came three centuries after Patanjali when yoga masters began to embrace the physical body as the means to enlightenment and has steadily increased in popularity since the mid 20th Century.
Types of Yoga
According to Self Realization Fellowship, there are six types or systems of yoga:
- Hatha Yoga — a system of physical postures, or asanas, which help to purify the body and make its systems function more effectively.
- Karma Yoga — selfless service to others as part of one’s greater self.
- Mantra Yoga — centering the consciousness within through japa, or the repetition of certain universal root-word sounds representing a particular aspect of Spirit.
- Bhakti Yoga — all-surrendering devotion through which one strives to see and love the divinity in every creature and in everything.
- Jnana (Gyana) Yoga — emphasizes the application of discriminative intelligence to achieve spiritual liberation.
- Raja Yoga — the royal or highest path of Yoga, which combines the essence of all of the other paths.
For this article, we are going to be focusing on the first system from the above list, Hatha yoga, and its benefits for physical health. Yoga is not a quick cure all. The benefits of yoga come from a lifestyle commitment and practice that should be entered into with an eye on understanding your whole body and how to communicate with it.
Top 17 Benefits of Yoga to Get You Moving
Preventing muscle sprains and strains by making your muscles more supple and flexible is one of the most common benefits of yoga.
2. Muscle Strength
Yoga can be just as effective as weight training for strengthening muscles.
3. Improves Posture
Poor posture plays a significant role in a number of health issues. One of the benefits of yoga is that it helps to improve your posture.
4. Protects Your Spine
One of the best ways to prevent spinal injuries or to recover from them is through strengthening your core. One of the benefits of yoga is that it is all about core strength.
5. Improves Bone and Joint Health
Another of the benefits of yoga, according to a Harvard Health study, shows that a dozen asanas practiced daily can help maintain bone density.
6. Improves Circulation
Increasing blood circulation to your spine, organs and glands is another of the benefits of yoga on your overall health.
7. Improved Lymphatic Function
Your lymphatic system is what helps your body fight off invasions by foreign bodies like, fungus, bacteria and viruses. Improved lymphatic function is another of the benefits of yoga.
8. Lowers Blood Pressure
Studies indicate that another of the benefits of yoga is that it lowers blood pressure.
9. Regulate Adrenal Glands
Recently, adrenal fatigue has been cited as a major contributor to a number of chronic illnesses. Another of the benefits of yoga is how it helps regulate adrenal glands.
10. Eases Stress
Stress is an issue that pops up more and more in chronic conditions as well. According to the Mayo Clinic, one of the benefits of yoga is that it can help ease your stress.
11. Improves Sleep
Preventing insomnia and helping you sleep better is also one of the benefits of yoga.
12. Helps With Digestive Issues
Getting rid of the discomfort and distress of digestive issues is another of the benefits of yoga.
13. Pain Reduction
Another of the benefits of yoga, according to Harvard Health, is a reduction of arthritis, fibromyalgia, migraine, low back pain, and many other types of chronic pain conditions.
14. Reduced Dependence on Drugs
A number of the prescription and non-prescription treatments that we use have lasting side effects, which can lead to other health issues. One of the benefits of yoga is that it reduces your dependence on drugs for treatment.
15. Corrects Sinus Issues
Those who suffer from sinus issues will be happy to know that one of the benefits of yoga is that it can correct their problem.
16. Immunity Boost
Improved lymphatic function, as we mentioned earlier, helps boost immunity and is another of the benefits of yoga.
17. Supports Connective Tissues
We cannot underestimate the value of connective tissue as it relates to the smooth function of our joints. Another of the many benefits of yoga is the way that it supports connective tissue.
A Note of Caution
Most of the side effects that come from yoga come from not working through its simpler routines, which warm up the body for more difficult poses, in a rush to get to the maximum benefits. Without proper a proper warm up, the following side effects can present:
- Gastric issues;
- Muscle strains;
- Ligament strains;
Side effects can be avoided by having a complete understanding of yoga and its systems. That understanding is best achieved through direct instruction by a certified yoga trainer who is able to give you better one on one direction and advise you when it is proper to move on to new poses.
Wrapping It Up
For the individuals in the proper mindset, who are willing to take things slow and learn how their body responds to the different poses of yoga, the benefits of yoga are numerous. To avoid the potential side effects, it is best to have personal instruction in the beginning. If you are willing to make a lifestyle commitment, then the benefits of yoga will go well beyond what have been listed here.
Image sources: depositphotos.com.