The Surprising Benefits of Yoga
March 7, 2020
Yoga has been around for ages, so much so that tracing it back to its starting point is difficult to do. Some researchers say that it has been around for 5,000 years, while others claim twice that. However, people still practice yoga today, and it is an activity that anyone at any age can do. The fact that anyone can do it is what makes it popular since it is more about mindful breathing and meditation than bulking up.
While it may have started 5,000 to 10,000 (maybe even 15,000) years ago, it has gone through a lot of different phrases, leading to what is practiced today. The phrases are:
- Pre-Classical Yoga. Indus-Sarasvati civilization created this yoga in Northern India, as mentioned in the ancient texts of the Rig Veda. This yoga focuses on the idea of self-knowledge.
- Classical Yoga. Probably originates from the second century with Patanjali’s Yoga-Sûtras. This period also influenced a lot of modern yoga practices nowadays.
- Post-Classical Yoga. Centuries after the introduction of Classical Yoga, many yoga masters chose to steer the practice more in the direction towards improving the body, therefore, prolonging life as a way of reaching enlightenment. This idea is the basis of Hatha Yoga, one of the most popular forms of yoga today.
The popularity of yoga has skyrocketed in recent years. It has developed to allow more people to join yoga classes without any pressure. However, one of the main reasons why yoga is popular is because it could be a way for people to handle their stress, anxiety, and depression. It is not a cure-all, but it can be helpful due to the methods of inhaling and exhaling and meditation as paths to wellbeing as well as knowing yourself.
Types of Yoga
There are a lot of different types of yoga. We have narrowed down the list to three. There is Vinyasa Yoga, which is a type of meditation program where the yoga poses and movements are linked to your breath. The breath is how you move from one pose to another.
Another type of yoga is Iyengar Yoga. This type of the practice focuses more on body alignment and precise movements. It is about holding poses for longer and can work well with people recovering from various injuries.
We have mentioned the final type of yoga before in this article, and it is the most popular one. It is Hatha Yoga. It is popular because it can combine different types of yoga into one class. Plus, there are many other styles of Hatha Yoga, which is great for beginners finding their preferred way of practicing yoga. It is all about breathing, and it has a slower pace compared to other types of yoga. Due to the slower pace, one can easily incorporate meditation into their practice.
Yoga is often linked to love, kindness, and meditation. While many people know this, what they may not know is that it can make you feel more grounded while also increasing your creativity. Feeling grounded can keep you in the moment when you are focusing on the movements of your body as well as how it may react to certain poses. For example, Child’s Pose can make you feel rejuvenated. This is because it has a positive effect on your adrenal glands. The adrenal glands are in charge of several hormones, such as the ones associated with stress.
Every type of yoga can have a certain goal in place. However, every type is also a form of meditation where the main goal is to attempt to stop the mind from wandering. Different types of meditation and yoga want to help people look within themselves and clear their heads.
Speaking of wandering minds, yoga can improve your attention too. This is because, during every class, yoga teachers advise you to focus on your breath. Breath is a point of focus that you can concentrate on. Doing so can heighten your level of concentration, making it easier to do other tasks. So better focus is a true benefit of meditation.
Mindful Eating and Weight Loss
One of the most surprising things about yoga is that it can be linked to mindful eating, which can result in weight loss. Many people can have bad eating habits, which are difficult to overcome. They could have developed them due to stress eating and stuffing when they are not hungry or are full. However, it is more easily possible to create mindful eating habits when one does yoga. It is because yoga teaches mindfulness, makes you aware of your body and what it needs.
A study conducted at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center has concluded that people who practice yoga are more likely to develop mindful eating habits, regardless of their dietary needs and patterns as well as physical activities. Yoga teaches mindfulness, which can help with creating better eating habits.
Mindful eating is the process where one person eats until they are full and not more. They are also more aware of what they eat. In doing so, they are more likely to achieve weight loss, maybe even without knowing it since it can be viewed as a more natural process.
Improved Health and Fitness
While yoga is all about mediation, mindfulness, and breathing, there are also countless physical benefits to it that can improve your health. While many people don’t consider yoga an exercise routine, it can definitely increase your fitness. Many asanas (yogic postures) are quite challenging and can tone your body before you even notice it. It can also lower your stress, which always helps with the physical side of your body.
Plus, yoga can decrease chronic pain, such as carpal tunnel syndrome, arthritis, and lower back pain. It could also be great for people who have high blood pressure. Not only can it lower blood pressure, but it can also decrease your blood cholesterol, glucose levels, and heart rate. This should help with cardiovascular problems. Not to mention that yoga can help those who suffer from insomnia.
There are also other physical benefits to practicing yoga, such as:
- Improving or increasing flexibility
- Helping with cardio and circulation
- Creating a balanced metabolism system (this can be linked to mindful eating as well as spiritual alignment through mindfulness)
- Toning muscles and increasing strength
- Improving breathing
- Helping with some physical injury (however, we would suggest that you speak to your doctor first before doing yoga, just to be on the safe side)
As you can see, yoga has countless benefits, which many who are just starting to practice it will find surprising. Even some of the people who have done it for a while will experience changes in their bodies and minds that may catch them off guard.
So no matter your age, fitness level, and habits, yoga is a great choice for keeping yourself in check both physically and mentally. The effects of meditation on the mind and various asanas on the body will help you be a calmer, fitter, and more loving person.