The Goodness of Yoga

International Yoga day

Even just a few minutes of yoga a week will make you more mentally alert, happier and healthier. There are plenty of studies that demonstrate yoga’s potential for health. Oxford University in a research conducted found that people who practiced yoga were less stressed, had a normal blood pressure and better sleep at night. Yoga is proven to help with muscular, skeletal issues especially lower back pain. It can even help relieve asthma.

So why don’t more people try yoga? Some are afraid that it will be too difficult. When you see people in their pretzels read (yogic postures), you start to believe that you’ll never be flexible enough! But what you might not know is that yoga is NOT ‘one size fits all’ proposition.

There are various types of yoga like Hatha yoga, Bikram yoga, Ashtanga yoga, Vinyasa yoga and its modern form, Power yoga. While some types do encourage a hard workout, where you bend and flex, yoga can simply be used as a meditative tool and you can get the same mental health benefits.

Pranayama means to focus on deep breathing and gentle stretching. Anyone in any skill level can try pranayama. How to do pranayama in two simple steps?

Step 1: Stand comfortably and evenly on your two feet. You shouldn’t be on your heels or your toes. Center yourself and then notice your breath. Breathe deeply and try to stay away from shallow breathing. Take a few minutes just to focus on your breath.

Step 2: Now it’s time to focus on gentle stretching style: to link your breath and movement. When you breathe in raise your arms and when you breathe out lower your arms. Keep your shoulders down and relax your hands.

It is a good idea to spend about 20 minutes doing pranayama in the beginning. Pranayama can be effective for reducing our stress response, improving lung function and encouraging relaxation. It also activates the body’s parasympathetic system or relaxation response. After a few days, you could start with something which is more involved like Surya Namaskar or the Sun Salutation. One could also start with Beginners’ Yoga Sequence.  Also, spend a little time taking stock of how you feel after you have tried yoga for the first time! You are sure to find a slight elevation in your mood. Try incorporating yoga at least for 10 minutes a day of practice every day for a week. If you get a fix after you have tried it for about a week, you should be ready to join proper yoga classes.

Now that we know the basics of yoga let us have a look how yoga is beneficial for us.

Improves your flexibility and posture: Regular yoga practice stretches and tones the body muscles and also makes them strong. It also helps improve your body posture when you stand, sit, sleep or walk. This would in turn help relieve you of body pain due to incorrect posture.

Lowers blood sugar: Yoga lowers blood sugar and LDL (bad cholesterol) and boosts HDL (good cholesterol). In people with diabetes, yoga has been found to lower blood sugar in several ways, by lowering cortisol and adrenaline levels, encouraging weight loss and improving sensitivity to the effects of insulin. Get your blood sugar levels down and you decrease your risk of diabetic complications, such as heart attack, kidney failure, and blindness.

Weight Loss: Yoga for weight loss can be effective. It can help you boost your metabolism, and build stronger muscles. Two things that are essential for weight loss: if you start to eat more whole or organic foods while performing a daily yoga routine you’ll be more likely to see the pounds come off quicker.

Circulation: Yoga improves blood circulation by transporting nutrients and oxygen throughout your body. Yoga practice provides healthier organs, skin, and brain.

Mental sharpness: Regular practice of yoga has been proven to help with memory and concentration and even in recent studies it’s been shown to help prevent and treat Alzheimer’s disease.

Energy: Regular yoga practice provides consistent energy. In fact, most yogis state that when you perform your yoga correctly, yogis state that when we perform yoga correctly you will feel energized after your yoga session rather than tired.

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