For centuries now, yoga has been practiced all over the globe and is renowned for its spiritual and physical benefits. In fact, it is believed that Yoga originated in India more than 5000 years ago, and the fact that it is still hugely popular to this day speaks volumes in itself. Yoga in itself, translates roughly into ‘union’ as it is a practice designed to connect the spirit, mind, and body. The great thing about Yoga is the fact that it can be performed by people of all abilities, from all walks of life. Whether you’re one of the fittest people in the world, or a complete newbie to fitness, yoga can be as strenuous, or as relaxing, as you like. No matter which version of yoga appeals to you, the great thing about it is the fact that you will see and feel the benefits from your head, to your toes. With breathing exercises, meditation, and poses all proving to be common techniques in yoga, there is something that will appeal to virtually everybody. Here’s a look at some of the primary spiritual and physical benefits of yoga.
Yoga increases muscle tone and strength
When we think of building up our strength and muscle tone, we think of hitting the gym and pumping iron by lifting heavy weights. As it turns out however, yoga is actually very beneficial when it comes to muscle tone and strength. Various yoga poses, which are known as ‘Asanas’ by the way, are designed to tone and strengthen virtually every muscle in your body as different poses target different muscle groups. By practicing yoga on a regular basis, you will find that your muscle tone and strength levels gradually begin to improve with each passing session. So, if you thought you needed to lift heavy weights and train like a bodybuilding to increase your muscle tone and strength, hopefully now, things are a little clearer.
Yoga promotes flexibility
Being flexible provides a wide range of benefits for the human body, yet how many of you can honestly say you’re as flexible as you like? Generally speaking, a yoga practitioner in their 70s with years of experience behind them, will almost certainly be more nimble and flexible than a regular person in their 40s with no experience of yoga. Because of the nature of the stretching required to perform various yoga asanas, as time goes by you’ll find your joints and muscles feeling more flexible than ever before. This will not only improve your quality of life, it will also help you out in a practical sense, and will help ease joint pain and discomfort.
Yoga improves your posture
Another great advantage of regular yoga practice is the fact that Yoga helps to improve your posture. Poor posture can lead to pain and discomfort and can also leave you looking shorter than you are and more susceptible to back injuries. Now, if your head is balanced as it should be, above an erect spine, your back muscles and your neck muscles won’t have to work as hard to support it, so you’ll experience less pain. If you hunch your shoulders, you’ll find your head leaning forwards and gradually muscle pain and soreness will set in. As yoga requires you to engage your core and straighten your spine, you’ll find that your posture gradually improves. This means you’ll experience less fatigue, your upper-body muscles will feel less tense and stiff, and you’ll be able to stand up straight without experiencing pain and discomfort.
Yoga promotes spiritual awareness
Many yoga practitioners, or yogis, as they are known, set out to achieve spiritual awareness. Spiritual awareness is being physically and mentally aware of your inner and outer energy. This is a higher consciousness responsible for your motivation, your essence, and the driving force behind every action you take and every decision you make. With Yoga, you perform a series of deep breathing exercises and meditative exercises to help you become aware of your spirit and your inner-self. This in turn promotes self-awareness which can influence every aspect of your life, ranging from how you live your life to how you treat others around you.
Yoga quiets your mind
Daily life can be pretty hectic and stressful, to some more than others, but even so, we all experience stress at some point, on some level. Stress can lead to impaired cognitive function and can set your mind racing. This in turn means that you’ll struggle to relax, sleep, think clearly, and lead a happy and productive life. Numerous studies have found that yoga is one of the most effective stress-busters out there and that it can provide a number of psychological benefits and advantages to people of all ages and genders, no matter which circumstances they find themselves under. When you perform yoga, you focus your breathing and perform it under the most relaxing of conditions. There is no loud pumping music, no banging of weights, no grunting or screaming, it’s all very relaxed and controlled. This in turn helps you to quiet your mind and rid it of stressful thoughts so you can focus your breathing and on the asanas that you find yourself working on.
Yoga improves circulation
Another very important benefit associated with yoga is the fact that it has been proven to improve circulation. Yoga is a great form of physical exercise that helps to get your blood flowing to the extremities. This in turn means that more oxygen and nutrients can be carried around the body and delivered to your cells. This in turn means the everything from your muscles to your internal organs function as effectively as they can – promoting overall health and well-being. What’s more, yoga helps to make platelets less sticky so it helps to thin the blood, making you less susceptible to blood clots, hypertension, and more besides. Basically, in terms of cardiovascular and circulatory health and well-being, yoga takes some beating.