Yoga is an ancient practice with origins stretching back thousands of years in India. It is designed to help achieve a more positive outlook on life and a focused, permanent sense of serenity and peace.
The word ‘yoga’ itself means ‘union’ and ‘union with the divine’; however, many people have stripped away the spirituality and focus of yoga so that most think of it as a group of intensely athletic people putting their legs behind their heads and curling up into jaw-dropping positions.
People of all shapes, sizes, ages and abilities can do yoga and adapt it to suit their individual tastes and needs. Here are our 10 top reasons why you should start doing yoga as soon as you can.
Yoga reduces the physical effects of stress on the body. By encouraging relaxation, yoga helps to
lower the levels of the stress hormone cortisol. Related benefits include lowering blood pressure and heart rate,
improving digestion and boosting the immune system as well as easing symptoms of conditions such as anxiety,
depression, fatigue, asthma and insomnia.
Yoga can ease pain. Studies have demonstrated that practicing yoga asanas (postures), meditation
or a combination of the two, reduced pain for people with conditions such as cancer, multiple sclerosis, auto-immune diseases and hypertension as well as arthritis, back and neck pain, and other chronic conditions. Some practitioners report that even emotional pain can be eased through the practice of yoga.
Yoga teaches people to take slower, deeper breaths.This helps to improve lung function, trigger the body’s relaxation response and increase the amount of oxygen available to the body.
Yoga helps to improve flexibility and mobility, increasing range of movement and reducing aches
and pains. Many people can’t touch their toes during their first yoga class. Gradually they begin to use the correct
muscles. Over time, the ligaments, tendons and muscles lengthen, increasing elasticity, making more poses possible.
Yoga also helps to improve body alignment resulting in better posture and helping to relieve back, neck, joint and
Yoga asanas (postures) use every muscle in the body, helping to increase strength literally from head to toe. And, while these postures strengthen the body, they also provide an additional benefit of helping to relieve muscular tension.
Yoga (even less vigorous styles) can aid weight control efforts by reducing the cortisol levels as well as by burning excess calories and reducing stress. Yoga also encourages healthy eating habits and provides a heightened sense of well-being and self-esteem.
Yoga helps to improve circulation and, as a result of various poses, more efficiently moves oxygenated blood to the body’s cells.
Even gentle yoga practice can provide cardiovascular benefits by lowering resting heart rate, increasing endurance and improving oxygen uptake during exercise.
Focus on the Present
Yoga helps us to focus on the present, to become more aware and to help create mind body health. It opens the way to improved concentration, coordination, reaction time and memory.
The meditative aspects of yoga help many to reach a deeper, more spiritual and more satisfying place in their lives. Many who begin to practice for other reasons have reported this to be a key reason that yoga has become an essential part of their daily lives.