Beyond Stretching Exercises – The Benefits Of Yoga
When practiced correctly, the ancient art of Yoga does remarkable things for the mind, body and spirit. Through the inexperienced eye, Yoga may at first appear to be nothing more than a form of stretching exercises; but in fact, Yoga offers practitioners a full body work-out from head to toe, and from mind to heart.
Here are just a few of the many benefits of incorporating Yoga into your life.
The unique stretching poses used in Yoga involve the total use of muscle, connective tissue and joints. These are the elements which give the human body its agility, and enable us to bend, twist, straighten and turn.
Without regular use, these areas begin to tighten up, making it difficult to fully extend the joints and muscles that keep us limber and lithe. Similar to the athlete who stretches out hamstrings before a run, Yoga addresses the need to gently expand the body’s sinew, keeping us supple and flexible; and enjoying a sense of freedom throughout life.
Because Yoga is both a body and mind experience, it addresses the ebb and flow of our thinking, which is often burdened with worry, frustration, anger and fear. Such thought patterns naturally create stress, which leads to both mental and physical health concerns. In a recent list released by the Mayo Clinic Foundation, more than 50 illnesses and symptoms have been linked directly with stress.
Yoga, however, addresses the impact of stress by taking our focus to a higher level. In fact one of the many meanings of the word Yoga in Sanskrit implies a state of being where thoughts and feelings are pushed aside, or suspended, giving our minds a sense of quiet – like taking a vacation from the pressures of the world.
Yoga tunes us into our bodies and we become sharply aware of our natural state of well-being. In turn, we come to know instinctively when we’re feeling even slightly out of kilter. Such perception is usually the first indication that something is amiss – that our bodies may have been exposed to infection or we’re experiencing the onset of illness.
Subsequently, this “heads-up,” enables us to address the disorder before it becomes acute, thus allowing us to maintain good health.
Balances Blood Sugar
High blood sugar levels increase our chances of developing diabetes. Practicing Yoga will
decrease blood sugar levels in a number of ways.
Studies show that Yoga lowers cortisol and adrenaline levels, which both contribute to a raise in blood sugar. Yoga is also an effective way to shed unnecessary weight and put a check on food-seeking behavior. All these factors combined keep blood sugar levels down.
Yoga is one of the most effective, yet least invasive methods of detoxification. By using simple breathing techniques, Yoga manages a perfectly balanced cycle of taking in vital nourishment and releasing poisonous substances.
Every breath we take brings in life generating oxygen, which is necessary for the production of cells. The more oxygen taken in, the healthier the cells become; and the better their ability to provide nutrients to the body.
As the cells circulate, they nourish the body and carry off the left-over toxins cast off by the various organs. In turn, these toxins are released through sweat, waste and exhalation.
Years of poor posture, leaning over a steering wheel, and bending near a computer screen literally reduce our breathing capacity, cutting our intake of oxygen. Yoga gets us back to breathing basics by making clear, cleansing breaths a natural habit.
SOMETHING FOR EVERYONE
The benefits we have looked at are just a few of the many positive benefits we can enjoy through the practice of Yoga. Whether a small child or a senior citizen, you can easily participate in the simple, low impact exercises of Yoga. As you progress in the art, you will find it is a powerful health tool which can be used in many ways.