Historically yoga was more than just a method of teaching; it was a way of life. You dedicated yourself to a lifestyle and culture that surpassed meditation techniques and included healthy eating habits, bathing habits, social interaction and work. Its philosophy is rooted in a physical culture of health and well-being that is still emphasised today at yoga sessions and explains why over 15 million people in the world now practise this ancient tradition.
Every yoga asana (pose) has a different name and includes standing postures, seated twists, backbends, arm balances, inversions and core holds. The downward facing dog for example, is in itself said to calm the brain, energise the body, improve digestion, strengthen arms and legs and be therapeutic for high blood pressure. Whilst these benefits come as a given with most postures, the practise of yoga as a whole provides many more benefits than you might think :
- Increased Flexibility – One of the best physical benefits of yoga is that it improved your flexibility. This not only improves the quality of your day to day life but also reduces your risk of injury when you exercise. So if your find that your body constantly feels stiff and inflexible, practising yoga on a daily basis could be the answer.
- Improved Mental Fitness – Unlike many forms of exercise, yoga benefits your body and your mind equally. You’ll find that when you practice yoga, any stress that you’re experiencing melts away and as a result you feel much calmer and more relaxed. With regular practice, this state of calmness and relaxation will become natural and you’ll find that you become a much happier person as a result.
- Healthier Blood – Studies have shown that practising yoga regularly relaxes your blood vessels and enhances circulation. This not only helps lower your blood pressure but it also ensures all your muscles and vital organs have a constant supply of oxygen.
- Better Posture – Another great thing about yoga is that it boosts your posture. The slow, controlled movements of yoga promote proper spinal alignment and help to permanently strengthen and straighten your back. This improved posture reduces back pain, improves your breathing and circulation, protects against injury and much more.
- Reduced Risk of Chronic Disease – Yoga helps fight chronic disease such as cancer, diabetes and heart disease in a number of ways. First, many chronic diseases are directly linked to stress and by practising yoga regularly, you naturally lower your stress levels. Second, yoga improves your physical health and research has shown that high levels of physical health can be directly correlated with lower levels of chronic disease. Finally, the enhanced blood flow that comes as a result of practising yoga improves your overall internal health.