Yoga is an ancient method of connecting the mind with the body. The term yoga has been derived from a Sanskrit word Yuji which means union. Yoga is an amalgamation of physical posture with meditation and breathing exercise. There are loads of physical, mental and psychological benefits of yoga if you can practice it regularly.
Do you know that yoga has the power to maintain proper blood circulation in the body? Yes, it is very similar to cardiovascular exercises and a great way to keep your body healthy. It is just one of the plenty of benefits that we have added here. Also, yoga is widely accepted and practiced as a form of exercise for people of all age groups. If you are looking forward to a healthier life, yoga can be the best way to start your journey.
Why is yoga good for your health?
We often rely on weight training exercises, cardiovascular exercises, Zumba and other forms of exercises but seldom do we think about yoga. Digging deep into history, it has been discovered that yoga was a way of life rather than a form of exercise. It has its own medication techniques and postures which people used to practice throughout their life in ancient East Asian cultures. Now, it has grown popularity in the western world as well.
People who took up yoga as their lifestyle has a different eating habit, working process, and social interaction. Yoga helps people keep their body in good health, mind in control and live a peaceful life. According to a study, approximately 15 million people across the globe practice yoga.
The postures of yoga, also called asana to help you to maintain good body posture. It keeps your bones, muscles, and joints healthy. Further, if you practice yoga daily, you have lesser chances of getting affected by arthritis, heart disease, and many other diseases. It is also an effective method of relieving stress, improving digestion, maintain blood circulation, and so on. Apart from this, there are plenty of benefits of yoga which you can explore through this article.
What are the different forms of yoga?
Following the tradition techniques, there are nearly 100 forms of yoga. Among these 100 forms, some of them are intense yoga which can make you sweat, some are fast-paced while others are relaxing and gentle. The benefits of yoga vary with each of these forms. Here are some of the widely practiced forms of yoga:
- Iyengar – In this form of yoga, you need to use some props. These props are mostly straps, chairs, blocks, and more. This helps your body get into proper alignment.
- Hatha – It is the basic form of yoga which involves breathing exercise with some common movement and postures.
- Bikram – This form of yoga is also known as hot yoga. It involves 26 different and challenging postures which are performed in a room with high temperature.
- Vinyasa – another basic form of yoga with a series of simple postures connected with each other.
- Ashtanga – It is one of the most interesting yoga styles which involve special breathing techniques along with physical postures.
- Power – this is the most high-intensity yoga form which can help you build muscles.
How is yoga better than gym?
You might think how can yoga be better than the gym? Well, that is an obvious question for every person who is concerned with their fitness. When you workout at the gym you train your body muscles. On the contrary, yoga also does the same to your body but in a different manner.
As mentioned earlier, yoga is the combination of meditation, postures and breathing exercise. First of all, the postures help you stretch your body in various ways which in turn, makes the muscles expand and contract too. Secondly, the breathing exercise helps keep the blood circulation balanced. Thirdly, the meditation process helps you gain focus and concentration. Here is a list of reasons why yoga is better than a gym:
- It helps you focus on your body, both internally and externally
- Yoga helps you stay fit and flexible
- To perform yoga, you need not go to the gym
- It helps release stress and physical pain
- It is a soothing and kinder form of exercise
- Yoga can be practiced by everyone
- It helps you keep your lungs and heart healthier
- Practicing yoga regularly increases your concentration power
Top 10 Benefits of Yoga
Know about the top benefits of yoga that will make you want to practice it more often:
1. Yoga Reduces Stress
Yoga is often called as a stress-relieving therapy as it can effectively reduce stress. A series of studies conducted on yoga have shown that it reduces the cortisol secretion. Cortisol is the stress hormone produced in our body. In the recent past, some women who were emotionally distressed were asked to practice yoga for a couple of days.
After a week’s practice, they were much better than before. Similarly, in a 3 months yoga session, women who were stressed due to various reasons showed a lower level of cortisol secretion. It is also a great way to fight fatigue and depression too. Yoga is also effective in improving mental health as well.
2. Anxiety Relief Therapy
Many doctors prescribe yoga as a therapy to cure anxiety disorders. People who go through a hard time dealing with anxiety should practice yoga on a daily basis. You will eventually see changes in your behavior and it will help reduce anxiety. People who practice yoga have little chances of getting affected by anxiety, depression, stress, and fatigue.
In a study, women suffering from PTSD or post-traumatic stress disorder were recommended to practice yoga. They were kept under observation for a period of 10 weeks. By the end of 10 weeks, almost 55% of women had no signs of PTSD while 30% had very little symptoms of PTSD. The remaining women got rid of PTSD in another 2 weeks.
3. Reduces Inflammation
Among the innumerable benefits of yoga, this one is one of the core benefits. Just as yoga helps in balancing your mental health, it also helps in relieving inflammation caused due to various reasons. Generally, inflammation is caused due to normal immunity response. This becomes a chronic condition when inflammation continues for a long time. It can aggravate to severe health conditions such as diabetes, heart problems and in some cases cancer.
A team of researchers conducted a study a few years back in the US. Two groups of people were asked to perform stressful work on a daily basis. One group of people was asked to practice yoga every day while others followed a normal routine. By the end of the study, the people who practiced yoga had fewer signs of inflammation.
Another study was conducted on breast cancer survivors for 3 months. They were also asked to practice yoga on a daily basis. At the end of the 3rd month, the survivors had little inflammatory markers with reduced stress levels and fatigue.
4. Improves Heart Health
Yoga is a great benefit to the heart. It can effectively regulate the blood circulation process and keep your heart healthy. As the heart is an essential organ of the body, you need to take proper care of it. There are lots of reasons why you should practice yoga but this is the reason which draws most of the attention. Your healthy heart is the source of your life. You need to take care of it but how?
The amount of pollution and other chemical components we deal with every day won’t allow you to keep your heart healthy. For this purpose, you must practice yoga. The heart’s health deteriorates as you grow older, so you must start taking care of it from an early age. One of the major causes of heart problems is high blood pressure. It needs to be under control and to do so, you must practice yoga. Yoga helps in relaxing your body which reduces the blood pressure. It eliminates the chances of suffering from heart attacks, strokes, and more.
5. Changes Life
Yoga can help you change your way of living. As it is becoming very popular all across the world, you can use it as a medium to balance your life. Yoga has effectively improved the lives of many individuals. It improves your physical endurance, stamina, and resistance. This, in turn, helps you live a longer and healthier life than others. In a study conducted on cancer patients, yoga was helpful enough to reduce their depression and give them a new approach to life.
A group of breast cancer patients who were going through chemotherapy was asked to practice yoga. As a result of this, the effects of chemotherapy on their health were quite less than any other breast cancer patient. It was evident that yoga increases the immunity power in a person. The after-effects of chemotherapy, such as vomiting and nausea were almost invalid in the cases of these women. Also, these women experienced less pain from chemotherapy than other patients. Apart from this, yoga also helps in improving the quality of sleep in a person.
6. Increases Flexibility
Yoga is effective enough to increase your physical flexibility. As you perform the postures of yoga, the muscles in your body expand and contracts accordingly. It also encourages you to practice postures you have never tried before. This, in turn, allows you to stretch your muscles which increase the flexibility. A two-month yoga session can enhance your flexibility by 35%.
7. Strengthens Your Body
There are yoga forms which can help you grow muscle and increase your physical strength. It is just not about soothing and relaxing your body but also building it. Power yoga, Astanga yoga, and Bikram yoga are some of the high-intensity yoga forms which help build muscles. Further, the Hatha and Iyengar are the two other types of yoga which are less vigorous than the high-intensity ones.
For building upper body, you need to perform the plank pose yoga, upward dog and downward dog postures. If you wish to build strong abs and quadriceps then try the standing postures. The chair posture helps strengthen the lower back of your body. Almost all yoga postures help in strengthening the abdomen area of your body.
8. Develops Breathing Pattern
One of the core benefits of yoga is developing a breathing pattern. It helps you keep your lung clean and healthy. Yoga can also help reduce the effects of asthma and other diseases. In some types of yoga, you need to develop some specific breathing technique.
9. Reduces the possibilities of injury
As yoga increases flexibility and strengthens your body, it effectively reduces the chances of injury as well. This is another reason why yoga is better than the gym as it has zero possibilities of injury. The risk of injury lies throughout life and increases as you grow old. If you practice yoga regularly then this possibility reduces a lot. Strenuous exercises performed at the gym such as dead-lifts, and bench presses, have chances of causing injury. In the case of yoga, all the postures you take while meditating are pretty much balanced and safe.
10. Helps in Weight Management
As mentioned above, yoga is for everyone which includes people who are overweight or old. Obesity is a sign of imbalance in your day to day schedule which can be rectified with yoga. When you practice yoga, muscle movement nurtures your body. This is both relaxing and de-stressing. As a result, it also helps in reducing the weight too.
How to Practice Yoga at Home?
The best part of yoga is that you can practice it anytime and anywhere. All you need is a yoga mat and you can practice it at home too. It is not at all as challenging as going to the gym and lifting weights. Even if you are a busy person, still you can practice yoga. All you need is to take out some time which can be as less as 20 to 30 minutes.
In this short time period too, you can avail all the benefits of yoga for a healthy life. Try practicing at home. For this purpose, at first, you need some open space. Next, you need to create the perfect ambiance so that you can breathe in some fresh air. Finally, you need to choose the form f yoga you wish to practice.