Yoga is supposed to have great benefits. But what exactly are they? This article provides a quick summary:
1. Great hamstring stretch
I spend more than 90% of my waking hours seated in various chairs. Apparently this is the norm for increasing number of people. However the downside of this luxury is that the seated posture causes our hamstrings to tighten. Eventually this can cause pelvic misalignment that can then cascade to lower back and knee issues. This can also make us prone to injuries and lead to development of a poor posture. One great way to counter this is to practice Yoga regularly. Yoga has great postures that allow us to stretch our hamstring muscles.
2. Back strengthener
Most of us have notoriously weak backs. This is the result of doing much less physical labor than our forefathers. This makes us prone to back injuries and also leads to chronic back pain. A healthy back and spine are key to a productive life and millions are deprived of this. Yoga is one of the best known ways to strengthen your back and spine and it is known to help people with chronic back pain.
3. Improved posture
Posture is a great predictor for both longevity and success. Working most of the day in front of monitors gets us all hunched up and our posture suffers. If we are not careful about how we sit, this too causes a slow but sure degeneration in our posture. Unfortunately posture correction is notoriously difficult to achieve by conventional means. One great way to do it is by practicing yoga regularly. It may take time but yoga counteracts the slow downward spiral of our posture and eventually it can cause noticeable improvements in it.
4. Antidepressant and mood improver
More than 14 million people suffer from depression in the US. Millions more suffer from mood disorders, anxiety disorders, and problems relating to substance abuse. Yoga is no silver bullet, but those who practice yoga regularly report that it is very effective in alleviating symptoms relating to mood disorders and depression. You can find some such stories recorded in the stories section of MyLifeYoga.com.
5. Emotions unblocked
One aspect of the healing process initiated by yoga relates to emotions. As we de-stress, “a fog” lifts and we are able to disentangle thoughts and emotions. Some yoga postures, such as hip openers can result in a “release” of emotions so powerful that some yoga practitioners burst into tears. In most cases however the emotions locked in tight muscles are slowly released and yoga practitioners report improved mood and better emotional health as a result.
6. Improved fitness
It is no secret that maintaining an active life style is the key to health and wellness. But why is it that we find it difficult to stick to a regimen of regular exercise? Most gyms report that only a tiny fraction of enrollees are regulars. But for yoga the experience is usually different. You begin to feel the benefits immediately as you progress in your practice. This allows you to continue with yoga on a long term basis more easily than a cardio and exercise routine. If you are able to stick with a yoga practice the benefits in terms of fitness are huge: Improved strength, better balance, and improved flexibility.
7. Stress relief
Chronic stress has a direct bearing on our health and wellbeing. CDC estimates that chronic stress accounts for 75% of all doctor visits. 80-90% of industrial accidents are due to inability to handle stress. As we grow older stress within our system accumulates and eventually results in mental and physical disorder. Sadly nothing in our education or training shows us how to cope with stress. Yoga changes all this. Yoga is a proven and systematic way of reducing stress in our lives. It lifts the “cloud of stress” over our lives. It allows the process of self-healing, regeneration, and recovery to resume once chronic stress is reduced in our lives.
8. Improved sleep
Sleep disorders are widely reported to have reached epidemic proportions. An astounding 50-70 million US adults have sleep or wakefulness disorders. Unintentionally falling asleep, nodding while driving, and having difficulty performing daily tasks are some aspects of this. Sleep and stress are deeply interrelated. High stress levels cause us to get poor sleep and poor sleep results in high stress levels. Yoga allows us to break this cycle. Regular practice de-stresses our mind body enough to allow for improved sleep. Relaxed muscles and reduced anxiety also aide in better sleep. If you are having sleep related issues you should explore doing yoga regularly.
9. Weight loss agent
There are millions who are caught in a vicious “yo-yo” weight loss cycle. This refers to strict dieting and weight loss followed by an eventual bounce back to same weight or worse from where you started. Most weight loss diets are very effective in getting short-term results. But unfortunately there is very little help when it comes to long-term weight loss. One way to turn your short-term weight loss into permanent results is to incorporate yoga with your diet regimen. Yoga allows better sleep, reduces stress, improves mood, and allows better self-control. All these are critical for long-term weight loss.
10. Open hidden doors
Where do improved emotional, physical, and mental health due to yoga lead us? Improved relationships and career success for sure. But these are not the only doors that yoga opens for us. The yoga of postures is only one aspect of the yoga system, which when practiced fully leads us to become increasingly established in our deeper conscious self. This leads us to a fuller conscious experience and a happier life. It makes our life worth living.
This by no means is an exhaustive list of benefits. And yoga by no means is restricted to the well person. Patients suffering from all kinds of ailments from Cancer to PTSD have reported great benefits from doing yoga. So if you have been wondering what all the hoopla about yoga is, this provides you a quick overview. Maybe it is time to jump in with both feet and join the millions who are reporting great benefits from practicing yoga.
“When this body has been so magnificently and artistically created by God, it is only fitting that we should maintain it in good health and harmony by the most excellent and artistic science of Yoga.” – Geeta Iyengar