“Yoga is the journey of the self, through the self, to the self.”
Yoga is an ancient Indian philosophy that dates back thousands of year. It was designed as a path to spiritual enlightenment, but in modern times, the physical aspects of yoga have found huge popularity as a gentle form of exercise and stress management. There are many different varieities of yoga but each one essentially relies on structured poses (asanas) practiced with breath awareness.
Regular practice of yoga may produce many health benefits, including increased fitness and normalisation of blood pressure. Yoga is a renowned antidote to stress. Over time, yoga practitioners report lower levels of stress and increased feelings of happiness and wellbeing This is because concentrating on the postures and the breath acts as a form of meditation.
It brings your body and mind together and is built on three main elements – exercise, breathing and meditation.
The exercises of yoga are designed to put pressure on the glandular systems of your body, inceasig your body’s efficiency and total health. Breathing techniques increase breath control to improve the health and function of body and mind.
The two systems of exercise and breathing prepare the body and mind for meditation, with an approach to a quiet mind that allows silence and healing from everyday stress. When practiced regularly yoga can become a powerful and sophisticated discipline for achieving physical, mental and emotional wellbeing.
Health benefits of Yoga:
- The practice of Yoga asanas develops strength and flexibility while soothing your nerves and calming your mind. The asanas affect the muscles joints and skin and the whole body – glands, nerves internal organs, bones, respiration and the brain. The physical building blocks of yoga are the posture and the breath.
- Cardiovascular system (heart and arteries) – asanas are isometric, which means they rely on holding muscle tension for a short period of time. This improves cardiovascular fitness and circulation. Studies show that regular yoga practice may help normalise blood pressure.
- Digestive system – improved blood circulation and the massaging effect of surrounding muscles speeds up sluggish digestion.
- Musculoskeletal – joints are moved through their full range of motion, which encourages mobility and eases pressure. The gentle stretching releases muscle and joint tension and stiffness and also increases flexibility. Maintaining many of the asanas encourages strength and endurance.
- Nervous system – improved blood circulation, easing of muscle tension and the act of focusing the mind on the breath all combine to sooth the nervous system. Long term benefits include reduced stress, anxiety and fatigue, better concentration and energy levels and increased feelings of calm and wellbeing.