benefits of yoga
I am sure you have heard of the overall benefits of yoga by now and how it gives people well-being and happiness. As a number of studies have proven by now, when yoga is practiced on a regular basis, it brings many positive effects.
However, yoga is far more than physical exercise and should not be considered a ‚workout’ - a pretty ugly term to describe yoga, in my opinion, because yoga is neither sport nor gymnastics and shouldn’t be linked to the word ‚work‘ at all.
My yoga therapist, Dr. Günter Niessen, once said to me, if yoga is practiced as a sport, it concludes with sport injuries.
Therefore I like to point out that yoga goes hand in hand with gentleness and mindfulness. Yoga itself is meditation and practiced in a slow and kind way in respect of one's very own body, paired with self-care, injuries are far more unlikely to happen. But don’t read me wrong, injuries can hit us all, even the most skilled practitioner.
Yoga doesn’t just come with many health benefits but is just as beneficent for your brain. Above all, our body, mind and soul are a holistic, all intertwined system. None exist without the other and each human is a holistic organism, dependant on nature and our environment.
1. STRESS RELIEF
Aware and gentle breathing calms our parasympathetic nervous system and sets the conditions for deep relaxation and tension release. It invites calm and tranquility in the body and brings more quietness to the hustle and bustle in the mind and around it. A regular practice helps to release faster, deeper and off the mat whenever needed during the day. Stress relief comes through the ability to connect with one’s own breath. Therefore the essence of yoga is conscious breathing less then movement.
2. PAIN RELIEF
Yoga is a great way to undo tensions and fascial tissue knots in the body and when practiced regularly it definitely helps as a prophylactic to chronic pains. A regular and gentle practice is soothing for the joints, improves synovial fluids and the cartilage metabolism, widens and lengthens the spine, releases the intervertebral disks and therefore eases back pain, as well as other bodily aches. Yoga also regulates the glands, reduced varices, rectifies posture and enhances the fine motor skills.
3. BETTER BREATHING
With time and consistency conscious breathing widens the ribcage and increases the lung capacity which then feeds the body cells with more fresh air. Most people only breath a ⅓ of their lung’s capacity which keeps the cells of the body starving for air and the body runs on a low flame for most of the time. Pranayama provides the necessary air for the cells to function properly, detoxes the body in a natural way, cleanses the lungs and helps to reduce asthma and allergies.
4. IMPROVED FLEXIBILITY, BALANCE & STRENGTH
Yoga helps to subtle and soften the body, renders it more flexible, improves its balance and builds up muscle strength. After years of practice it even strengthens the bones and helps to control your weight because people adapt a healthier lifestyle.
5. HEALTHIER LIFESTYLE
After a while a natural change of diet initiates because a person gets more in touch with their body. Therefore healthier food choices are made, people eat less and lighter. There’s a natural desire to eat more veggies, fruits and reduce the consumption of meat, dairies, caffein, sugars, alcohol and drugs since their immediate effects on the body can be felt. Suddenly less becomes more. Growing closer to your own self will also improve and stimulate your sexual life. Moreover yoga encourages self-care and that sometimes includes saying no to things that are not good for oneself.
6. BETTER BLOOD CIRCULATION
Thanks to conscious breathing and the relaxation of the nervous system the whole body and so the heart slow down. An increased blood flow warms cold hands and feet, decreases hypertension and lowers blood sugars. It helps to decrease the risk of heart diseases, regulates blood pressure and helps to heat the intrinsic stove.
7. BETTER SLEEP
Due to all the above mentioned, better sleep follows as a consequent. Already a short evening practice of only 20 minutes will render a more peaceful sleep. And thanks to pranayama less sleep will be necessary. However the body’s urge to sleep should not be neglected as it functions as a means of stress-release, recharging and reclaiming energy.
8. BOOTS IMMUNE SYSTEM
Yoga helps the circulation of the blood which helps to move more oxygenated blood to the body cells. It also stimulates the four main physiological systems, the circulatory,digestive, nervous and endocrine systems, which are all linked to the immune system. Therefore the inner-self-healing capacities of the body grow stronger and the body becomes more resistant to colds and flues. But it doesn’t mean that we won’t ever get sick again, it just means that the immune defence strengthens and that its self-healing capacity grows stronger.
9. YOUNGER LOOKING
Deep relaxation improves and softens the skin. Meditation takes away worries and softens the whole body and the facial muscles. Looking younger is a natural side effect as the cells expand, widen and rejuvenate. Gentle breathing and the stimulation of the metabolism cleanse the body and are a natural way to detox.
10. POWER OF NOW
Not only does yoga provide instant relaxation, a feeling of inner peace and tranquility but it also sharpens the mind’s focus and concentration. It builds awareness for oneself and others, raises the awareness for transformation and impermanence of life and the body. Regular meditation renders the mind more lucid, balances emotions and helps to overcome anxieties. Also the breath can function as an anchor in stormy times and all in all one becomes more present in the here and now where life is actually taking place, instead of getting stuck in yesterdays or tomorrows.
11. EASY RECHARGE
Pranayama is so much stronger then any coffee or matcha tea and meditation can give you better highs then drugs - give it a try!
12. OH, HAPPY DAY!
… and live rejoicing every day! A regular practice, rooted in spiritual teachings, turns life into a precious gift. Yoga works well as an anti-depressant, prophylactic, makes you more self-confident and happy with yourself and life. And starting your day with a short yoga practice will not only enhance your body’s well-being and overcome its morning stiffness but also make you more peaceful to face the trials of the day. But please remember there couldn’t be happiness if not also sadness and suffering at times. This is normal. This is life. But a regular yoga practices helps the mind to encounter life challenges as part of the game and to confront them with more ease. Because yoga helps to overcome anxieties and outgrown behavioural patterns.