The Benefits of Yoga
Yoga is a profound integrative practice to heal your body, mind, and spirit. Here are just a few of the healing benefits:
Increased mind-body integration
Mind-body integration means establishing a healthy dialogue between your thoughts and your cells. While the body appears to be material, it is really a field of energy and intelligence that is inextricably connected to the mind. Your beliefs, thoughts, and emotions influence every cell in the body and therefore play a major role in your well being.
Yoga is a powerful practice for enhancing your mind-body integration. Through conscious breathing, movement, and attention to the physical postures, you cultivate a state of bodycentered restful awareness. You listen to the signals your body is sending to you in the present moment and you expand the energy in your body through your attention and intention. A body that is listened to responds with greater strength, vitality, and health.
As scientific studies have found, yoga lowers heart rates, reduces blood pressure, and decreases the production of stress hormones such as cortisol. High levels of cortisol are linked to depression, osteoporosis, and abdominal weight gain.
Greater capacity to be calm in the midst of chaos
When you practice yoga on a regular basis, the inevitable pressures of life have less of an impact on you as you respond in a more conscious manner. As you become balanced and harmonious, your interactions with people and situations become more deliberate, calm, and relaxed. You’re able to respond rather than react. You’re able to communicate consciously and bring harmony to every encounter, whether it’s a random meeting on the street, a talk with your child, or a family reunion. When your inner world begins to change, your outer world shifts to reflect your new perspective.
Enhanced immune function
Yoga’s postures improve the flow of the lymphatic system, responsible for fighting infection and releasing toxins from the body.
Increased flexibility and range of motion
When you practice regularly, yoga is an effective way to increase flexibility and the range of motion in your joints. Even those who claim to be “genetically inflexible” are surprised to find how much more limber they can become through a regular yoga practice. You can often see benefits after just a short time.
Yoga stretches your muscles as well as all of the body’s soft tissues, including the ligaments, tendons, and the fascia sheath that covers the muscles. Although research is still in the early stages, there are already quite a few studies pointing to the benefits of yoga in alleviating specific kinds of pain that limit mobility, including osteoarthritis, lower back pain, and fibromyalgia.
Increased strength and muscle mass, helping to optimize weight
Yoga is a powerful strength-building exercise for every part of the body, including the muscles of your core, back, legs, chest, and arms. This helps prevent problems such as back pain and arthritis. As you strengthen your body, you also build your inner strength, discipline, and self-confidence.
When you increase your muscle mass, the body actually burn more calories even when you’re resting. Of course, you won’t see the benefits of weight reduction if you increase your caloric intake, so if you’re trying to lose weight, it’s best to combine yoga with a healthy, balanced diet. This will become easier because yoga helps you to become more mindful and aware of what your body needs, allowing you to eat with more conscious awareness.
Yoga balances the central nervous system and endocrine system and stimulates the release of endorphins – natural mood-elevating neurochemicals. As you practice, your mind relaxes and you’re able to stop dwelling on stressful thoughts and situations.
Any reason for practicing yoga is a good reason. Enhancing mind-body balance and releasing stress are as noble a purpose for performing yoga as the awakening of spirituality. This is the great gift of yoga it serves and nourishes us at every level of our being and spontaneously contributes to greater wellbeing in all domains of life.