Yoga – An Old Way of Getting a New Body
The ancient practice of yoga can help you lose weight – without losing your mind. While yoga doesn’t claim to be a cure-all, a regular yoga practice enhances well-being (both physically and emotionally) by relieving tension and restoring energy flow and balance. Health benefits include stress relief, strengthening and toning, increased range of motion, and improved functioning of internal organs. Yoga is accessible to everyone and it is also great fun!
Yoga as Preventative Medicine:
We live in a pharmacological age and as a society are dependent upon pills for relief of our ailments. Often this means we are treating symptoms rather than the actual illness and in the end become more dependent on medications to help us feel better. Yoga provides a natural way to enhance your body’s own ability to fight disease, infection, and fend off invaders as well and helps reconnect your mind and body to become more in tune with what’s going on.
Yoga is not just great exercise, it’s a way of life that helps you live longer and live stronger. The practice of yoga is a combination of extensive stretching and of your muscles and joints along with controlled deep breathing. It facilitates greater self-awareness and practitioners achieve a sense of harmony and balance and learn to make time for introspective thought. An inward focus and greater self-awareness will help you recognize signs of illness earlier and take steps to fend off illness from its onset.
Physical stimulation of your endocrine glands boosts your immune system making you better able to fight off that annoying cold or flu. Your body will become more efficient in fending off these diseases so you’ll be sick for a shorter time, and less often. Yoga also helps relieve stress which is one of the prime influencers of sickness: a body that’s been overworked, a mind with too much to think about. Soon enough you’re drained of energy and off to bed with the sniffles.
Yoga postures massage and relieve compression on your digestive system, helping you more easily digest foods and get more of the food’s nutrients. Yoga is thought to lessen the severity of episodes of constipation, diarrhea, and Irritable Bowel Syndrome.
Flexibility and Posture:
Yoga can help with conditions where range of motion is limited whether due to disease, such as arthritis or from injury. By gently exercising your joints and ligaments in a controlled, low-impact fashion, yoga movement distributes synovial fluid (the body’s natural joint lubricant), making movement less painful and less harmful to joint structure in the long run. Continued practice of yoga poses will actually “train” your body to sit or stand in the proper position and good posture decreases strain on the joints.
Yoga for Fitness and Weight Loss:
Any form of physical exercise will certainly improve your fitness level. While we typically think that you need to run, sweat, or exert yourself, this “no pain, no gain mentality” is shifting in favor of a more holistic approach that emphasizes understanding our own bodies and their natural limitations. In yoga, the concept of finding your edge means finding that place where you are comfortable and then gradually increasing the boundary, for example holding a pose longer and longer.
Yoga poses tone, strengthen and elongate muscle throughout the body which can give the appearance of a more sculpted body. Certain vigorous types of yoga, such as vinyasa-style, may be more beneficial for anyone whose primary intention it is to lose weight as these types of practice can burn many calories.
Yoga classes provide a safe and positive environment for anyone just getting back into shape. This can help boost self image and confidence and encourages healthy choices in other areas of our lives. Yoga also encourages awareness. Many people are not sure why they overeat and may just do so out of habit.
The Importance of Breathing Well:
Yogic exercise is extremely beneficial to your heart. Studies suggest yoga combined with a healthy diet will lower levels of triglycerides, bad cholesterol, and blood pressure; all of which are risk factors for heart disease. Physiologically, yoga stretching and deep breathing actually decreases your blood pressure, slows your breathing, and releases endorphins into your bloodstream giving you a pleasant, relaxed feeling. The effects of these actions on the mind and body are likened to sitting in a dark, quiet room. The time you spend in yogic meditation allows you to calm your thoughts, and relax your body.
Yogic breathing is an excellent way to de-stress and focus your mind, but it is also an amazing way to combat chronic lung diseases such as asthma, bronchitis and emphysema. For example, people with asthma tend to over breathe (breathe too quickly) which causes the body to become starved for oxygen. Controlled deep breathing helps them slow it down and breathe well. Given time and regular practice, yogic breathing will strengthen your lungs and may actually decrease your dependence on rescue inhalers and other pharmaceuticals.
There are so many different variations of yoga available, you can easily find one that fits your lifestyle and brings you the health benefits you seek. Whether child, senior, or somewhere in between, anyone can choose a yoga class that fits their skill level, works within their physical limitations, and helps them live a healthier life.
Charlotte Bradley is the publisher of YogaFlavoredLife.com and an avid yoga practitioner. She was a student of karate for many years and took up yoga only tentatively after the birth of her sons and a knee injury left her looking for a less high-impact form of exercise. It was love at first pose as Charlotte saw how quickly yoga sped her rehabilitation along. She also found that yogic relaxation techniques lent her proper focus, bringing balance into her life as well as a greater appreciation for how blessed she truly is. She lives in Ottawa, Ontario with her husband and twin boys, Charlie and Patty, who keep her on her feet and on the go. Her golden retriever supervises Charlotte’s yoga workouts from a spare mat, with his eyes closed.
Check out all of Charlotte Bradley’s Healthy Lifestyles.
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