Derived from the Sanskrit word “yuji,” meaning yoke or union, yoga is an ancient practice that brings together mind and body.
It incorporates breathing exercises, meditation and poses designed to encourage relaxation and reduce stress.
Practicing yoga is said to come with many benefits for both mental and physical health.
Here are some ways yoga can improve your health.
Yoga is known for its ability to ease stress and promote relaxation. Studies show that yoga can help ease stress and lower your levels of the stress hormone cortisol.
Relaxing yoga poses can calm both your body and your mind. Any yoga practice, even a short daily one, should be made up of three elements; poses, breathing and meditation. Studies have shown that those people who regularly practice all three elements are better able to regulate their heart-rate variability (HRV). This generally means that their heart rate is lower, giving body the ability to respond to stress in a more flexible way.
Improve flexibility, strength, and posture
Yoga practice will help stretch and tone your body muscles. Popular poses like the plank will simultaneously work on strengthening your arms, legs, shoulders and abs. You don’t have to be super flexible to practice yoga, the beauty of yoga is that it can be practiced at all levels of ability.
Daily yoga helps improve your posture, making you walk taller and sit up straighter at your desk. Aches and pains caused by incorrect body posture such as back pain can also be alleviated.
Better all-round fitness
When thinking of improving your fitness, most of us think of huffing and puffing away at the gym. But weights are not the only way to work out. Yoga gives you all that a gym can, but in a peaceful, safe and more holistic way. It combines aspects of cardio, functional and strength training all in one. The best part about this workout is that it can be done at your own pace, in your own home.
Breathing deeply and calmly is an essential part of every yoga practice. Yogic breathing techniques focus on trying to slow down the breath and on breathing fully from the pit of your stomach to the top of your lungs. These methods will make you feel more relaxed and balanced and will help you face the day with confidence and calm.
Become more mindful
When practicing yoga, you will shift your awareness to the sensations, thoughts, and emotions that accompany a given pose. That awareness will bring the mind back to the present moment – the main aim of mindfulness – where it can stay happy and focused.