I am certainly a proponent of natural healing. And while I often prescribe homeopathic remedies, supplements, and other non-chemical treatments, there is a way to use your body to heal your body. Yoga is a Sanskrit word meaning “union”, and yoga is the union of the body, mind, and spirit. Yoga is more than just the familiar warrior and up and down dog positions. It also consists of focus and meditation to sync the body with the mind and the spirit. Practitioners report that yoga leads to profound changes, including greater relaxation, better health, better sleep, and a greater ability to deal with life’s stresses.
At the physical level, yoga and its cleansing practices have proven to be extremely effective for various disorders. Listed below are 7 benefits of yoga:
- Stress is a natural physical and mental reaction to life experiences. Everyone experiences stress from time to time. Indeed, stress symptoms can affect your body, your thoughts and feelings, and your behavior. Chronic stress, or a constant stress experienced over a prolonged period of time, can contribute to long-term problems for heart and blood vessels. The consistent and ongoing increase in heart rate, and the elevated levels of stress hormones and of blood pressure, can take a toll on the body. Yoga may help reduce stress, lower blood pressure and lower your heart rate. And almost anyone can do it.
- Yoga is known to increase flexibility. Yoga poses stretch your muscles and increase your range of motion. With regular practice, they’ll improve your flexibility. Yoga has postures that trigger the different joints of the body including those joints that are not acted upon with regular exercises routines.
- Yoga also increases the lubrication of joints, ligaments and tendons. Yoga is a low impact sport which makes it a good option to consider for those who experience occasional joint stiffness. The well-researched yoga positions exercise the different tendons and ligaments of the body. Yoga regimens focus on all the joints of the body, including knees, hips, and ankles. Because yoga exercises ligaments and tendons, it causes your joints to be more effectively lubricated. Yoga lubricates the joints by moving all the fluids – including synovial fluid – in your body around. Synovial fluid is a thick liquid that lubricates your joints and allows for ease of movement. In joint diseases like arthritis, the synovium of the joint is the main place where inflammation occurs.
- Yoga also massages the organs of the body. Yoga utilizes twisting poses that compress and massage the internal organs of the body, squeezing out the blood and toxins. When the twist is released, fresh blood is allowed to flow back in. As a result, the internal organs are provided with a fresh supply of blood, improving their functions. Certain poses will stimulate your pancreas, which can help with insulin secretion. Twisting poses massage your stomach, aiding in digestion. This stimulation and massage of the organs keeps away disease and provides a forewarning at the first possible instance of a likely onset of disease or disorder allowing the practitioner to take pre-emptive or corrective action.
- Practicing yoga has many benefits in preventing disease. Yoga is now known to have numerous health benefits, and can protect us from various diseases, including headache, fever, flu, and asthma. Studies show that all forms of yoga increase levels of good (HDL) cholesterol, while lowering bad (LDL) cholesterol and triglyceride levels. In fact, the Mayo Clinic considers yoga an effective way to manage chronic health conditions like heart disease and high blood pressure.
- Yoga is also an excellent way to tone your muscles. Yoga is a physical activity that focuses on strength, control, and balance, which means that every muscle in your body is engaged at all times. By using your own body weight, you’ll be able to build muscle and increase strength overall. Muscles which have been flaccid and weak are stimulated repeatedly to shed excess fat and flabbiness.
- Yoga is said to be good for the lungs. References of improvements in the capacity and elasticity of the lungs have become a hallmark to yogic breathing instruction. Yoga postures and breathing have improved lung capacity in healthy adults averaging 90 minutes per day over a 10-week period as reported by a review published in the March, 2013 issue of the “Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine.” Lung capacity, which is reduced in asthmatics, has been shown to improve significantly with 8 weeks of yoga postures and breathing practiced 5 days per week as shown by a study published in the July, 2009 issue of “BMC Pulmonary Medicine.”
Given the myriad benefits of yoga, it’s no wonder that yoga studios are springing up all over the place. If you are suffering from stress, painful joints, or are just spending too long sitting behind a desk, you need to do something about it before it’s too late. Give yoga a try. I’m sure you won’t regret it. Namaste!