1. Turns down the volume knob on our emotions
Yoga helps reduce the overall level of stress in our system. When stress levels go down the volume level of our emotions also comes down. Our emotional reaction to events reduces and we gain more control of our lives. When we have exaggerated emotional outbursts our stress levels go up, and this sets the stage for a higher emotional reaction, and the cycle continues and gets worse. For some this may lead to emotional breakdown or other mental or psychological problems. Yoga breaks this cycle by reducing stress levels. It also allows emotions to come out in a healthy way without increasing stress levels. This allows emotional healing to take place.
2. Reduces stress for physical healing
The stress response is a “fight-or-flight” response. This puts our mind-body system in an emergency mode that postpones repairs and healing. This allows the body to conserve energy that may be required to respond to a “fight-or-flee” situation. This is why chronic stress is the leading cause of ill health and visits to the doctor. Because yoga is the best known antidote for stress it allows our body to restore itself back to health.
“The autonomic nervous system is divided into the sympathetic system, which is often identified with the fight-or-flight response, and the parasympathetic, which is identified with what’s been called the relaxation response. When you do yoga — the deep breathing, the stretching, the movements that release muscle tension, the relaxed focus on being present in your body — you initiate a process that turns the fight-or-flight system off and the relaxation response on. That has a dramatic effect on the body. The heartbeat slows, respiration decreases, blood pressure decreases. The body seizes this chance to turn on the healing mechanisms.”
3. Allows cartilages to heal
Cartilages get their blood supply not through blood vessels but indirectly through diffusion and pumping action of nearby tissue. Non-impact physical activity is therefore necessary to keep our cartilages healthy as we age. If this is absent cartilages ossify leading to problems. Since yoga postures bend, twist, and stretch muscles and cartilages they are perfect for restoring blood supply and health to cartilages.
4. Improves postures relieving pressure on internal organs
It is well known that yoga helps improve posture as most yoga postures strengthen the back and spinal cord. A bad posture puts a lot of pressure on internal organs as it cramps them into smaller space. Yoga opens up our posture allowing our organs to function normally and heal themselves.
5. Counteract gravity
The constant pressure of gravity causes our body to constantly work hard to counteract its effects. A healthy body prevents blood from pooling in our legs and sagging of our internal organs. Yoga has many postures that counteract these effects. Many yoga postures are to be done while engaging the core. This counteracts some of the effects of sagging. In addition, inversions done in many yoga postures counteracts the effects of gravity allowing for healing and restoration.
6. Counteract genetic influences
Even though we may have inherited bad genes, it is not necessary for these genes to manifest their harmful effects. Most genes have environmental triggers. This means unless they are activated they remain dormant. One of the strongest environmental triggers for bad genes is stress. (Another big trigger is unhealthy eating habits.) When we keep stress levels low by yoga we may be able to keep at bay the effects of any bad genes we may have inherited. Here yoga heals by not allowing diseases from manifesting in the first place.
It is important to realize that the healing process of yoga is gradual and requires that we practice regularly. Yoga is not a magic bullet. Those who find themselves with chronic conditions may have to practice a gentle/restorative form of yoga seven days a week. This allows the full force of restorative effects of yoga to counteract the chronic condition.
The biggest healing that yoga allows has not yet even been mentioned, though this is the most important healing that yoga does. This is spiritual healing. When our mind-body systems are healed we are better positioned to go from the un-real to the real. This is the real purpose of yoga: it allows us to open our lives to its true purpose and meaning.
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