Top ten benefits of Yoga
A study shows that a significant number of people say they learn yoga to improve their health. Encouraged by their doctors, they sign up to bend and stretch their way to a stronger, more flexible body and to breathe into a calmer, more attentive mind. All good things to do, and apparently the reasons most people turn to yoga. According to Yoga Alliance (a standards-setting organization that supports the yoga world), the following is the list of benefits of yoga starting from Rank 1.
- Managing stress
- Pain relief
- Better breathing techniques
- Weight loss
- Increased blood circulation
- Cardiovascular conditioning
Other lists include emotional heavyweights such as depression, anxiety, fatigue, and insomnia.
Benefits of Yoga and Meditation
Can yoga really do all that? Taught properly and done correctly, yoga asanas and meditation do provide measurable physical, mental and emotional benefits – and there are studies to prove it. One shows enhanced cognitive function and memory after just 20 minutes of hatha yoga; another suggests that meditation lessens pain better than morphine; and still, another that a few months of practice can bring blood pressure and blood sugar levels under control, improve your mood and your balance.
Of course, the operative phrase here is “taught properly, done correctly.” Yoga practiced as traditionally intended means paying attention not only to the alignment of your muscles and bones but also to the rhythm of your breathing and the quality of your mind – and the interplay of all three. The power of yoga to lower blood pressure and stress levels, as well as enhance your memory, arises when yoga brings together the mind, body, and the heart – through the agency of breath.
Of course, we can’t spend all our time on our yoga mats or meditation cushions. Living the “yoga vida” means committing to take care of ourselves on every level, which would include mindful eating practices, judicious use of herbs and supplements, and learning the fine art of self-massage. Yoga by itself can’t ensure that we’ll live a long, stress-free life. But woven into more conscious and holistic choices, it can help us create a healthier and a more connected, joyous life.
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