“Yoga is a light, which once lit will never dim..
The better your practice, the brighter your flame.”
Well from the above quote you all must have guessed what the article is all about. Yoga is something that is very close to my heart. It has helped me a lot with my physical health and now consistent practice has shown results for my mental health too. In this article I am going to share various benefits of practicing yoga.
The beginning of yoga was developed by the Indus- Sarasvati civilization in northern India over 5,000 years ago. The word yoga was first mentioned in the Rig Veda. The word yoga means ‘to join’, ‘to yoke’, or ‘to unite’. It focuses on bringing the harmony between the mind and the body.
This ancient practice has become increasingly popular in today’s society due to its physical and mental benefits.Yoga has many dimensions from asanas (postures) to pranayama (mindful breathing), meditations, chanting, sutras (yoga philosophy by the sage Patanjali), kriya (internal cleansing movements), and ethical principles related to kindness, selflessness, non-materialism, and nonviolence. Regardless of what type of yoga you are practicing, if you are regularly doing it, you can feel the benefits. You may be sleeping better, fewer aches, flexibility or may be just feeling more relaxed or calm.
As the popularity of yoga is growing day by day, western science is working towards providing research based information on how practicing yoga improves physical, mental health and keeping sickness at bay. Let’s look at some of the benefits of yoga.
- Yoga effects brain health: Studies have shown that people who regularly practice yoga show a positive effect on structure and function of hippocampus, amygdala, prefrontal cortex, cingulate cortex and brain networks including the default mode network (DMN). These areas of the brain have shown age-related atrophy. Studies have shown evidence that yoga helps in controlling age-related neurodegenerative decline.
- Cardiovascular health: One of the important parts of yoga is bringing awareness to the breath. Studies have shown that slow breathing in yoga involving contracting of glottis muscles of the throat helps improve the heart capacity to efficiently regulate blood pressure and also reduces blood pressure.
- Yoga and Happiness: One study examined the grey matter which naturally declines with age. It was found that people who practice yoga had less decline in grey matter in regions of the cortex. This region is involved with positive emotions like joy and happiness. It also increases activities in the anterior cingulate cortex and medial prefrontal cortex. These areas of the brain are associated with the feeling of kindness, gratitude and empathy.
- Yoga and Physical Health: Practicing yoga consistently helps improve flexibility and strengthen muscles. Slow movement and deep breathing increases the blood flow and warms up muscles improving strength, balance and flexibility. In fact yoga is also included in the osteoporosis treatment plan. Practicing daily can help ease symptoms and improve bone health. It may also help in increasing bone density after menopause.
- Yoga and Stress Management: Chronic stress effects our memory and cognition. It is associated with inflammation in the body and central nervous system that is linked to Alzheimers and other disorders related to aging. Yoga not only improves our physical health but has psychological benefits too. It helps in stress reduction and increases the feeling of well-being. It helps in reducing the stress by focussing on positive affect, by allowing to increase mindfulness and by increasing self-compassion. Regular practice of yoga helps reduce stress hormones and inflammatory factors.
With the new year, let’s focus towards new beginnings. Beginnings that will help us become a better healthier version of ourselves. Let’s take a pledge of including yoga in our daily routine. In this time of uncertainty it can help us keep grounded, help us manage our stress and keep us fit physically and mentally.
So let’s roll out that mat and spend some time practicing the yoga poses and thank our body for taking us so far.