What is Yoga?
Yoga is an ancient practice and meditation. It has become increasingly popular in today’s busy society. For many people, yoga provides a retreat from their chaotic and busy lives. The practice of Yoga provides many mental and physical benefits. Some of these are discussed later in this article.
Derived from the Sanskrit word “yuj” which means to unite or integrate, yoga has been practiced on the Indian subcontinent for more than 5000 years. It is now an integral part of traditional Indian medicine, Ayurvedic medicine. Yoga poses, movements and meditations are a means of improving body, mind, and spirit, bringing them into union with one another for better overall health and wellness.
Yoga is all about harmonizing the body with the mind and breath through the means of various breathing techniques (pranayama), yoga postures (asanas), and meditation. In some cases, there might also be hand gestures (mudras) and chanting (mantras).
For example, most people who know anything about yoga know gyan mudra, forming a circle with the index fingers and thumbs of each hand, with the first joint of the index finger underneath the thumb. They also know the mantra OM. Both gyan mudra and OM help focus the mind and improve concentration during yoga practice.
Certain types of yoga emphasize perfect asanas, while others focus on moving the energy in your body so you can access it like tapping into an inner battery to achieve what you wish in life. Still, others are physically demanding in order to lose weight or get as fit as possible as quickly as possible.
6 Health Benefits of Yoga
Yoga is a spiritual practice, but it also delivers physical benefits. This versatile and physical form of spiritualism can improve the health of the young and the elderly, men and women, and people of all levels of physical fitness. Take up a yoga practice today for the following 10 health benefits.
1 - Improved flexibility – This probably comes as no surprise. There is a lot of bending, stretching, and holding poses in yoga. This makes you more flexible and supple.
2 - More muscle – Yoga builds muscle strength. This means you look better and feel stronger, and greater muscle mass reduces your risk of conditions like back pain and arthritis.
3 - A healthy heart rate – Your heart may be under-or overworked. Studies have shown that yoga, even non-aerobic forms, improves the cardiovascular condition and regulates a healthy heartbeat.
4 - Lowers high blood pressure –
One hypertension study published in the UK medical journey The Lancet was rather revealing. Patients with high blood pressure dropped their systolic (top number) by 26 points, and their diastolic (the bottom number) blood pressure by 15 points. This was accomplished simply using the Savasana (Corpse Pose).
5 - Regulates healthy blood sugar level –
Yoga lowers your LDL (bad cholesterol) and raises your HDL (good cholesterol) levels. It does this by lowering cortisol and adrenaline levels.
6 - Improved balance – Yoga practitioners of all ages mention excellent balance as a benefit. This leads to fewer knee problems, less back pain, and a lowered risk for falling or stumbling.
6 Mental Benefits of Yoga
Some look at yoga as a physical exercise. This is simply one important part of this mystical and spiritual practice. Yoga also provides the following 6 mental benefits, among many others.
1 – Less stress –
A yoga practice leads to lower levels of cortisol. Nicknamed the “stress hormone”, cortisol causes anxiety, depression, and stress when your levels are too high.
2 – You feel happier –
Consistent yoga practitioners mentioned that their lives are happier than before they took up this spiritual practice. This is backed up scientifically. University of Wisconsin researchers found heightened levels of activity in the left prefrontal cortex for people who practiced yoga. This promotes higher levels of happiness, and even better immune system functionality.
3 – Improved ability to focus –
Yoga teaches you to live in the present moment. This focus on the “now” has resulted in higher IQ scores, memory, coordination, and reaction time in several studies because yoga improves your ability to focus.
4 – A higher level of self-esteem –
Yoga can make you feel better about yourself. Yoga teaches that you are part of the divine. When you awaken your yoga spirituality, you see yourself as part of something bigger. This gives you a positive attitude about who you are.
5 – Boosted inner strength –
After just a few yoga sessions, you experience a mental fortitude. After extended yoga practice, it allows you to take the actions necessary for positive change in all aspects of your life.
6 – Improved self-awareness –Yoga teaches you to be honest about who you are. This honest self-awareness forces you to look at your life without blinders on. You can only make true change happen in your life when you are honest with yourself.
Yoga for Better Balance and Seniors
The ancient spiritual discipline of yoga is extremely versatile. Whether you are 18, 48 or 80, yoga can improve your life. Baby boomers and senior citizens can improve their balance while reducing stress and developing a healthy mental outlook, all through some simple yoga poses.
Unfortunately, some seniors eager to earn the many benefits of yoga just head down to the local YMCA or health club and join the first yoga class they see. This often results in pain in their lower back, joints, and limbs. The key is to focus on yoga poses, sessions, and classes that are catered specifically to seniors.
Yoga improves balance and agility. One of the major health concerns for seniors is falling. According to reported injuries, 1 in 3 adults over 65 years of age fall at least one time every year. When you consider that many seniors suffering falls don’t report them due to frustration, embarrassment, and fear of a loss of independence, the incidence rate is probably a lot higher than that.
This is why more seniors should consider taking up yoga. The Tree, Chair, Half Moon, Standing Extended Big Toe, and Extended Triangle are all poses that help baby boomers, seniors and the elderly improve balance and mobility while promoting a sense of independence.