The What and Why of Yoga

The What and Why of Yoga

Yoga is now hip and modern fitness routine, but it really is an ancient mind and body practice that was developed in India more than 5,000 years ago. Its positive effects encompass our physical, mental and emotional health.

So, if you are looking to shed a few pounds or just want to alleviate stress, this meditative activity can surely benefit your health

Yoga is an ancient form of exercise that combines postures, breathing techniques and meditative practices to improve physical, mental, emotional and spiritual well-being.

Studies also suggest that yoga is good for alleviating several medical conditions.

The term “yoga” comes from the Sanskrit word “yuj,” which means to join or unite, indicating this practice’s ability to unify the mind, body and soul.

The earliest written record of yoga appeared in the yoga sutras, which are written by the Indian sage Patanjali. The yoga sutras contain the fundamental principles, practices and philosophies of yoga, which are passed down from one generation to the next and are still followed by yoga practitioners today.2

According to Patanjali, there are 8 stages of yoga.

The 1st 2, yamas and nyamas, are centered on ethical disciplines. The 3rd and 4th stages are focused on physical postures (asanas) and breathing techniques (pranayama). The remaining 4 stages are meditative practices, which include sense withdrawal (pratyahara), concentration (dharana), meditation (dhyana) and enlightenment (samadhi).3

Because it’s generally a low-impact exercise, yoga is safe for beginners and even for kids or seniors.

There are different types of yoga, so finding one that suits your needs and preferences shouldn’t be a problem.

It is no secret that yoga can improve your overall well-being in a variety of ways.

Below are some of the major physical and mental health benefits that we can get from this workout routine, as follows:

  • Increased flexibility
  • Better balance
  • Improved strength
  • Higher stamina
  • Better body alignment
  • Reduced stress levels
  • Improved mood and behavior
  • Enhanced mindfulness

The physical health benefits of yoga also make it a useful workout for athletes, like runners and swimmers, since it helps improve athletic performance and prevent injuries.

Yoga’s potential for healing has also been the subject of numerous studies over the past many years. Research shows that the right set of yoga poses may indeed help relieve several medical conditions, such as:1

  • Chronic low-back pain
  • Hypertension
  • Mental disorders, such as anxiety and depression

Keep in mind that everyone’s health condition, fitness level and health goals are different.

So, while yoga is generally beneficial to many people, you should consult a professional trainer before including it into your routine. While this form of meditative activity is generally considered safe for any age or gender, there are still situations wherein it may put your safety at risk.

If you have underlying health issues, such as a herniated disc, eye conditions, severe bone disorder, uncontrolled blood pressure or balance problems, you should consult your doctor before taking up yoga, since there may be poses or stretches that are not suitable for your condition.

Make sure that you also seek the guidance of a professional trainer if you are planning to do yoga while pregnant, since there are certain poses that you may need to avoid.

Remember that the goal of yoga is to improve your physical, mental and emotional well-being. The last thing that you want is to harm yourself just because you tried to perform it without ample knowledge or help from a professional.

Eat healthy, Be healthy, Live lively

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