Benefits of yoga
The early form of Yoga is believed to have originated in India thousands of years ago. Many benefits of yoga incorporate into people’s everyday lives.
“Yoga is a healing system of theory and practice. The purpose of yoga is to create strength, awareness and harmony in both the mind and body,” explains Natalie Nevins, DO, a board-certified osteopathic family physician and certified Kundalini Yoga instructor in Hollywood, California.
While there are more than one hundred different types, or schools, of yoga, most sessions are typically comprised of breathing exercises, meditation, and assuming postures(sometimes called asana or poses) that stretch and flex various muscle groups.
“The relaxation techniques incorporated in yoga can lessen chronic pain, such as lower back pain, arthritis, headaches and carpal tunnel syndrome,” explains Dr. Nevins. “Yoga can also lower blood pressure and reduce insomnia.”
According to Dr. Nevins, other physical benefits include:
Increased muscle strength and tone
Improved respiration, energy and vitality
The maintenance of a balanced metabolism
Cardio and circulatory health
Improved athletic performance
Protection from injury
Aside from the array of physical benefits, one of the best benefits of yoga is how it helps a person manage stress, which has been known to have devastating effects on the body and mind. “Stress can reveal itself in many ways, including back or neck pain, sleeping problems, headaches, drug abuse, and an inability to concentrate,” says Dr. Nevins. “Yoga can be very effective in developing coping skills and reaching a more positive outlook on life.”
Unlike more traditional forms of exercise, yoga’s incorporation of meditation and breathing help a person improve his/her mental well-being. Because there are so many different kinds of yoga practices, it is possible for anyone to start. “The idea is to explore your limits, not strive for some pretzel-like perfection.”
Yoga can be practiced to enhance overall health, to improve balance, to heal and prevent injuries, to strengthen muscles and to open the body for meditation. “It is a great way to get in tune with your body and your inner self,” says Dr. Nevins. If you’ve never done yoga before, give it a try and see what it can do for you.