What is yoga? Yoga, means “union” in Sanskrit, is a scientific system of physical and mental practices originated in India many thousand of years ago. Through various physical poses, breathing techniques and meditation, the yoga practitioner will be able to experience improved overall well-being. Different people practices yoga for different reasons such as relaxation and improved physical health. In this stressful world, yoga can also aid the practitioner in achieving greater mental resiliency. There are many benefits of yoga and here are some of the more common ones.
Reduce Stress and Anxiety
One of the overlooked benefits of yoga is its ability to reduce stress and anxiety. Some yoga styles utilize meditation techniques to quiet down the incessant chatter of the mind. As the mind becomes less distracted and become more focused, a sense of calm and relaxation result. Through deep and controlled breathing while performing yoga postures, relaxation often ensues. Certain postures, such as cobra mudra, can also help the functioning of the adrenaline gland, thus reducing stress and anxiety.
Improvement in Mood
The practice of yoga has a calming effect. Often, the yoga practitioner will be able to experience a greater sense of pure happiness and feel more contented from the practice. A study has also shown the positive effect that yoga has on some of the mental disorders, including depression and Obsessive Compulsive Disorder.
Through various poses or asanas in Sanskrit, the practitioner is able to stretch certain muscles of his body. Stretching releases lactic acid that build up with muscle use and results in stiffness, pain and tension. Besides muscle, yoga practice also stretches soft tissues including ligaments and tendon surrounding the muscle. All in all, regular exercise of yoga helps the practitioner to experience greater flexibility throughout the body.
Yoga helps to increase the strength and endurance of the body. For example, the standing pose helps to increase strength in your hamstrings, quadriceps and abdominal muscles.
Benefits to the Heart
Another benefit of yoga is in its ability to lower blood pressure and to slow down the heart rate. A slower heart rate will be advantageous to people with high blood pressure as well as stroke. One study points to the anti-oxidant effect of yoga, which leads to the above-mentioned benefit.