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“Balance is an inner state, be patient, persistent but not attached” — Paul Ebeling
Yoga is a practice that combines the body, breath, and mind to balance and energize the complete person. This practice consists of breathing exercises, physical postures as well as meditation to improve general wellbeing.
Yoga originated in ancient India, and today millions of Westerners of any age and fitness level practice yoga on a regular basis. Even though yoga is a spiritual practice to many people, most Westerners make use of yoga for exercise or to lower stress.
There are 3 major techniques used in yoga: exercise, breathing and meditation:
- In yoga, breathwork is referred to as pranayama, which reduces oxygen consumption and increases blood circulation. Breathing exercises could also boost how much air can be drawn into the lungs. Getting a lot of air into the lungs helps one feel focused and alert.
- Asanas, or postures, give a gentle to intense work out which enhances strength, balance and flexibility.
- Meditation stills the mind and leads to both emotional and physical relaxation, which will help lower blood pressure, cholesterol levels, anxiety and chronic pain.
Researchers believe that yoga increases vagal tone, the ability of the body to effectively respond to stress. The positive impact that yoga has on vagal tone helps regulate the nervous system, and helps to increase well-being and resilience to stress.
Vagal tone is the state of the the largest cranial nerve called the vagus nerve, which helps with the regulation of all the major functions of the body. A relationship has been shown with an increase in vagal tone and a reduction in allostatic load or amount of stress accumulated over time. Individuals who have high vagal tone have a healthy functioning vagus nerve, and are more stress resilient. Those who have low vagal tone are more sensitive to stress.
After yoga practice individuals were better able to process information quickly and more accurately, focus their mental resources, and also learn, keep and update bits of information better than after an aerobic exercise workout. The meditative and breathing exercises aim at keeping the body and mind calm and keep distracting thoughts away while focusing on the body, posture and breath.
Plus, researchers have shown that yoga helps relieve chronic insomnia. Study participants completed an 8-week yoga treatment which consisted of breathing, meditation and mantras in a single session before bedtime. After the 8 wks, the participants had significantly improved insomnia symptoms in comparison to before the treatment.
And there is this: It is usually very difficult to treat chronic low back pain. A study has shown that Iyengar yoga sessions twice a week for 24 wks reduced pain and improved physical function in individuals with chronic low back pain.
Have a healthy, prosperous day, Keep the Faith!