Although far from being a new discipline, yoga only recently experienced an explosion of popularity in Western countries. It seems that many people are practicing some type of yoga and talking about the health benefits. This article by coach and guest author, Alisa Weaver, explores her experience on discovering the health benefits of yoga with you.
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Discover Health Yoga with Coach Alisa
In recent years, the ancient art of yoga seems to have become very trendy. Or, at least, it was like that in my circle. It seemed that everyone I knew was practicing yoga. They were joining classes, buying DVDs watching YouTube videos, and talking all the time about how yoga has done miracles for their health.
But, the idea of the meditation and special breathing techniques just didn’t seem like my thing. I had nothing against yoga, I just felt it was not for me. Back then, I believed that the best way to get in shape, mentally and physically, was to engage in vigorous exercises. So this is what I focused on.
But I did try a health yoga class. At first, I thought that the slow and seemingly easy postures could not create the effect that I was getting from harder cardio and strength classes. Or at least that’s what I thought at that time. Running 6 miles every morning, combined with weight training, did just fine for me then.
But a year ago there were some changes in my life. Work became more stressful. I had more work and much less free time. I found it hard to find time for exercise. The stress quickly started taking its toll. I was continually tired, both mentally and physically.
Time to Seriously Consider Yoga
One day a friend said, “Now seems to be a good time to reconsider the idea of practicing yoga”.
At first, I was frustrated that she was insisting that I do yoga, yet again. I was simply not attracted to this type of exercise and practice. But, I knew I needed to do something. And, by the next morning, I became super curious about it. So I started looking at videos to learn more.
When I finally became more serious about practicing yoga and repeating the moves, I was totally shocked at how quickly I began to feel better. It made me more curious, so I investigated deeper into it to understand what I was experiencing. There are definite beneficial effects of yoga on health.
The result is that I have been practicing yoga regularly for six months now. Considering all the health benefits of yoga, my only regret is that I did not start sooner.
7 Health Benefits of Yoga
So, let me tell you about the health benefits of yoga that I learned about. Most of these I experienced myself. I don’t know why I was so resistant to it before. Also, yoga complements my harder workouts, like running and resistance training.
Yoga is truly for everyone. I encourage you to try it too.
1. Yoga Improves Mental Health
At first, I really didn’t understand the link between yoga and mental health. But then it hit me and I knew it could help ease my stress and heal my mind. The philosophy of yoga is that the mind and body work as a whole.
In this busy and crazy world, the body and mind can disconnect and work against each other. As a result, we become more stressed, anxious, depressed, and our mental health suffers.
Practicing yoga, on the other hand, helps you to get connected and centered again. By combining gentle physical exercises with special breathing techniques and meditation, you allow your body to reconnect with your mind. And as your mind relaxes and opens, your body also unwinds. As a result, you can take back control of your emotions, ease anxiety, and sleep better. And, you become better at handling the stress in your life.
2. Yoga Builds Strength
Perhaps, like me, you think that building strength requires you to hit the gym and engage in weightlifting. If someone proposed yoga, you’d chortle, thinking, “I’ll pass!”, right? Well, you’d be wrong, just like I was. While yoga will not turn you into Arnold Schwarzenegger, it can significantly improve your strength.
3. Yoga Increases Flexibility
Yoga does even more for your body. It also improves your flexibility and balance. So if you combine it with a bit of weightlifting, you can get closer to being something like Bruce Lee. Wouldn’t that be splendid?
Another great thing about yoga is that it will enable you to be much fitter and firmer.
4. Yoga Improves Digestion
Are you feeling bloated after each meal regardless of what you eat? Have you tried some remedies, but nothing worked? Perhaps consider trying yoga for digestive health.
There are postures (asanas) that stimulate the stomach, intestines, and liver. Yoga can create harmony between these digestive organs. The movements can help stimulate your stomach and intestines. In this way, yoga can help improve digestion. Yoga can help relieve bloating, cramping, indigestion, and constipation.
5. Yoga Relieves Back Pain
Besides, yoga also teaches you to listen to your body. That means that you can feel when a position puts a strain on your back. You can then change or modify the pose. However, you have to make sure to do the asanas correctly, especially if you already have a bad back.
6. Yoga Lessens Chronic Pain
Yoga is also known to be very efficient for relieving pain. People with arthritis, fibromyalgia, migraine, and other chronic pain syndromes can all benefit from doing breath control, meditation and asanas. Yoga helps people with chronic pain improve their daily lives, mood and overall well-being.
7. Yoga Reduces Inflammation
Chronic inflammation can lead to a weakened immune system, heart disease, diabetes and even cancer. Yoga may reduce the level of inflammation in your body. Right after a yoga session, your immune system is stronger and inflammation is lower.
Yoga simply makes you healthier.
Yoga for Women
There are many benefits of yoga for women’s health. First, it helps women have a much better idea of their body and develop a greater sense of general well being. Also, yoga helps you to regulate blood sugar, maintain a healthy weight, and improves hormonal balance. All these are necessary to reduce the risk of breast and ovarian cancer.
Yoga for Men
Men are probably the most reluctant group of people when it comes to practicing yoga. They tend to think it is something old people and women do. Of course, not all men think this, but a lot do. And it is a misconception.
There are numerous benefits of men’s health yoga. I hope those who don’t believe this, at least try it for a while. Men who include yoga in their training improve the range of motion necessary for other exercises. As yoga improves flexibility and balance, doing some of the postures will contribute significantly to injury prevention. Besides, men who practice yoga have a much better sex life.
Yoga for Cancer
For those diagnosed with cancer, yoga can be a powerful tool in helping you regain strength after treatments. It can also help with flexibility after surgery. And during treatments, yoga can also help minimize side effects. This includes one of the most common side effects, fatigue. Yoga has proven beneficial in those suffering from cancer related fatigue.
The most important thing that I want to say about yoga is that it raises your awareness. It allows you to focus on your mental and physical abilities in a specific moment of time. It strengthens both your body and your mind. Yoga makes you healthier and stabilizes your emotions. When I realized this, I stopped being surprised at why it became so popular. For many of us, health yoga provides shelter from our stressful lives.
If you still think yoga is not for you, consider that there are many different types of yoga. Try to get as much information as possible about each of them. I am sure you will probably find a type of yoga that attracts you.
What are your thoughts about yoga? Will you try it and discover the health benefits for yourself?