On June 21, the International Yoga Day was celebrated. Over the last few years, this very old practice has become the subject of scientific studies. Positive effects on the brain such as anti-stress and antidepressant effects have begun to be measured.
Millions of people practice yoga regularly and research began thanks to its spectacular spread. Postures (asanas) are increasingly known among different people and age groups. The reasons are mainly that we want to learn how to relax, how to get rid of several kinds of pain (back, neck, shoulders, etc.), manage stress, and maintain good physical shape.
This traditional discipline (from the Sanskrit “yuga” which means “union”) comes from India and it is more than five thousand years old.
According to this essay, the purpose is to attain a higher form of self-knowledge, which can be achieved with inner contemplation. In addition to specific physical exercises, and breathing techniques, traditional yoga also includes meditation, a vegetarian diet and an entire philosophy of life.
At the beginning of the twentieth century, a small group of Indian teachers began to start teachings in the Western world. After the explosion of fitness in the 1980s, which focused above all on the cult of the body, the spiritual part has been lost a little. Therefore, in the Western world mainly hatha yoga began to spread.
Today we know that this discipline can do more than just strengthen and tone our body.
Recent researches shows it can have a powerful effect on our health, making it a perfect remedy for several diseases, from high blood pressure to anxiety and depression.
You may already be familiar with some moves such as downward dog and mountain pose, but yoga is more than that. It’s a total body and mind workout that includes breathing practices, deep relaxation, and meditation that helps improve our health in several ways.
There are several types of yoga, the most common is hatha yoga. The effects of this type of yoga on health are improving body consciousness, plasticity and coordination, strengthening muscles, and enhancing blood circulation. Moreover, it is also good for stress management.
From experience, I can say that after a yoga session I feel relaxed and rested. The beneficial effects are immediate, probably thanks to the excellent stretching’s component (but also to the good teacher).
You surely know that physical exercise is good for your mind too. Perhaps, that’s why yoga is a fast-acting cure-all, as it associates physical exercise with meditative practice.
In fact, by associating postures (asanas) with breathing (pranayama), we act on the body by relaxing the muscles, and on our mind because the sympathetic nervous system (the nervous system that is stimulated when we rest or sleep) is activated.
Yoga allows you to find calm within yourself, and with regular practice, even some minutes a day are enough, you will sleep better, your self-confidence will increase, as well as your ability to make decisions and manage stress.
On top of that, it will help you improve your balance, flexibility, strength, and coordination, reduce the risks of heart disease, relieve migraines and fight osteoporosis.
In addition, the meditation component may even help to delay the beginning of Alzheimer’s disease and fight age-related declines in memory.
Have you tried any kind of yoga yet? If not, why don’t you venture on a class to see how it can help with your health? Don’t be scared if the postures look difficult to you. As my yoga teacher says, yoga is not a competition, but a step-by-step process.
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