Many people report miraculous improvements in health as a result of doing yoga. It’s common to have stories of weight reduction, better emotional health, improved sleep, and overall improvement in quality of life. How does all this come about as a result of yoga?
The key to understand this is that yoga sets in motion many virtuous cycles. These virtuous cycles are self-reinforcing and can spiral us upwards into a vastly improved health:
1. Yoga and Sleep
Yoga causes reduction in overall stress levels. This sets in motion a virtuous cycle where reduced stress leads to improved sleep and improved sleep leads to reduced stress:
2. Yoga and Emotional health
3. Yoga and Weight loss
Weight loss is a common result of doing yoga. This happens because yoga causes stress levels to come down which in turn causes pounds to be shed. In addition when we lose weight in a healthy manner there is further reduction in stress:
4. Additive cycles
All these different virtuous cycles not only reinforce themselves but also reinforce each other. Reduced weight helps improving sleep due to reduction in snoring. It leads to better emotional health because of better self-image. Improved sleep allows our mind-body system to get fully rested and improves hormone balance. Harmful hormones are depleted and useful hormones are replenished. This leads to both a reduction in weight and improved emotional health. And finally when we look at the impact of improved emotional health we see that this causes reduction in binge eating and better self-control. This leads to reduction in weight. In addition there is improvement in sleep quality due to reduction in stress.
We have taken up just three virtuous cycles as examples that are set in motion due to yoga. We have also shown how these virtuous cycles reinforce each other. It is for this reason yoga can stop the downward spiral into illness and bring about an overall improvement of both health and well-being. Physical and emotional health is the first step for a spiritual awakening. When this happens we realize the truth in the words of Herman Hess when he said:
“We are not going in circles, we are going upwards. The path is a spiral; we have already climbed many steps.”
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