Yoga is a Sanskrit word that means ‘to join together’ or ‘to unite’. It is the union of mind, body, and soul. Yoga is an ancient practice whose purpose is to build strength, awareness, and harmony between mind, body, and soul through physical postures, breathing techniques, and meditation.
Yoga is considered to be a way of living that helps promote a balanced development of the physical, mental, and spiritual being. Many people who practice yoga believe that it removes negative blocks from their mind and toxins from their bodies. You may believe yoga is no more than a stretching activity, but regular practice helps you lose weight, build muscles, increase flexibility, and achieve mindfulness.
The journey of Yoga becoming popular in America is a long one. Swami Vivekananda was the first person to bring Yoga to America in the late 1800s. According to Yoga statistics, today, over 36 million Americans practice Yoga, and the figure doubles after every 3-4 years. Whether it’s to increase physical fitness and health, improve mental states and reduce stress, or tap into spiritual connectedness, you can be sure that these 36 million Americans are finding tremendous life benefits to their yoga practice.
Here are some powerful reasons why you should begin your Yoga practice today:
1. Decreases Stress, Depression, and Anxiety
In today’s society, people thrive on performance, perfection, and competition, which lead to an increase in stress. These days, society and the workplace put so much pressure on people to meet unreasonable or unhealthy expectations, and the consequences are numerous.
Studies have shown that Yoga decreases the secretion of cortisol, often called the stress hormone, which can reduce stress and ultimately depression. Through strategies like ‘focusing on the present moment’ and ‘finding a sense of calm,’ Yoga helps relieve the symptoms of anxiety, stress, or obsessive overthinking.
Please note that while Yoga can help decrease these symptoms, please continue to seek traditional medical care if needed. Yoga is part of a holistic health journey, finding the mind, body, and soul balance right for you.
2. Encourages Mindful Eating
Mindful eating means paying complete attention to the food you eat – as you buy, prepare, serve, and consume it. Yoga encourages people to implement mindfulness, which means focusing on the present moment, and has shown to promote healthy eating habits.
Yoga helps build awareness about how your body is feeling, by asking you to rest in poses, focus energy and breathing into certain areas of your body, and to move your body in ways that activate and connect your mind and body parts to one another. Many people find that after beginning yoga, they feel much more in-touch with their bodies, and can quickly tell if something feels “off” due to illness, injury, diet, or mood changes.
This awareness often helps induce mindful eating as you notice the taste, texture, smell, and quality of food and how it makes you feel. It can be very beneficial to people who want to improve their health and eating habits, or to have a more positive and intuitive relationship with food.
3. Increases Blood Flow
The relaxation exercises of Yoga can help your blood circulation, especially in your hands and feet. Yoga gets more oxygen to your cells, which then as a result function at a higher capacity.
Moreover, Yoga has huge benefits to your breathing system and oxygen intake. This can increase hemoglobin levels in red blood cells, thereby preventing blood clots, heart attacks, and strokes.
4. Boosts Immunity
Certain Yoga positions/postures are believed to help support and boost the immune system. Pranayama (one of the basic Yoga poses) is one of the simplest and most effective ways to boost immunity and instill positive energy into your body. Other immunity strengthening poses like fish pose detoxifies your body, opens up nasal passageways, and relieves congestion.
5. Improves Sleep
Sleep plays a critical role in improving your health. Poor sleep can put you at increased risk of many diseases like obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, and even depression. Yoga can induce physical as well as mental relaxation and helps you get better sleep, and can teach you breathing and meditation practices that can help you get to sleep faster and more deeply at night. This all means that you will be less tired, more energized, and happier in general.
6. Boosts Happiness
Feeling “happy” isn’t just an emotion — has a lot to do with chemical reactions in the human body. When you practice Yoga, you raise serotonin and oxytocin levels which will put you in a better mood.
Studies have shown that consistent Yoga practice also increases the brain’s gamma-aminobutyric (GABA) levels. GABA levels spike after just one hour of Yoga and are associated with lower levels of depression and anxiety.
7. Increases Mental Focus
Poor concentration is one of the major causes of low productivity in the workplace or low grades in school. Students, professionals, entrepreneurs, parents — you name it! — have been trying to achieve focus to improve the quality of their lives for years, as the demand for productivity has increased. However, achieving a better focus is not that difficult, when one knows where to look for help!
Yoga and Pranayama are some of the oldest, time-tested methods to help you achieve concentration in all walks of your life. By connecting mental focus with breathing, physical movement, and meditated practices, yoga can help train your mind to remove distractions and chaos and focus on what matters.
8. Improves Overall Quality of Life
Yoga develops better physical and mental health, improves self-confidence, and promotes inner peace in your daily life. These are all key to health and happiness in this mechanical and chaotic world, and they become even more important as you age.
Yoga enhances spiritual well-being, improves sleep quality, reduces stress, anxiety, and depression, strengthens the body and mind, and promotes physical health — you will certainly find that all of these benefits improve the quality of your life.
- Yoga can be practiced by anyone, anywhere, and is extremely beneficial to be done in the morning after 8 hours of sleep.
- Avoid doing any Yoga asana immediately after having food.
- It’s best to learn Yoga with the guidance of a knowledgeable and trained instructor.
- Once you have a grasp of basic yoga practices, you can find endless free yoga classes on YouTube under the guidance of a certified yoga instructor, for all levels and abilities!
- In case of any medical condition or injuries, always consult a doctor and Yoga expert.
Yoga is for everyone. The best part of Yoga is that you don’t have to be a Yogi or Yogini to experience the benefits. Yoga is for all ages, for all fitness levels, and for people of all religions and spiritual beliefs, and it has the power to calm the mind and strengthen the body. Make Yoga a regular part of your routine to reap full benefits and the success is certain!
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