Once practised only by ancient yogis of India and then taken up by the hippies of the Western world, Yoga has become mainstream and it’s easy to see why when you look at the endless benefits it provides, both physically and mentally.
The premise of yoga is to unite the mind, body and spirit. It is an inner journey to reconnect with our awareness and intention, with the goal of quieting the mind and moving away from the ego.
So let’s look exactly at how those downward dogs, controlled breathing and ommmms are working for you…
Increases flexibility, muscle strength and tone – yoga positions stretch muscles, tendons and connective tissues close to their maximum capacity. Repeating these movements strengthens your core and limbs, improve flexibility and balance, protecting you from injury.
- Improves respiration, cardio and circulatory health – During practice, your lungs
- expand the breathing techniques which also benefits your heart.
Balances hormones – The adrenal glands ease back on production of the stress hormone cortisol, which has been linked to cravings for fatty foods. Post-yoga, it may be easier to resist snacking.
Boosts immunity – the triple action of breathing, focus and movement ignite the vagus nerve, one of your body’s neural highways, carries that chill-out message to all your internal organs. This nerve also alerts your immune system, which releases a stash of immunity-enhancing cells.
In addition to this plethora of physical benefits, it’s proven that yoga’s incorporation of meditation and breathing help improve mental well-being and manage stress, depression and anxiety through increased endorphin secretion.
Regular yoga practice creates mental clarity and calmness; increases body awareness; relieves chronic stress patterns; relaxes the mind; centres attention; and sharpens concentration. It improves sleep, stabilises the mood and increases feelings of well-being and self-image.
Bringing together the mind, body and spirit, it’s easy to see why 5,000 years on, yoga is practised the world over.