Not very long ago in the Unites States, it seemed the only people who practiced yoga were sun worshipers and flower children. Many Americans didn’t really understand the discipline and associated it with women sitting in the lotus position trying to use it to relax. And most of those people probably questioned whether it was even good for relaxation.
However, today more and more people have come to appreciate yoga for what it is: an all encompassing regiment that offers many health benefits. Men and women alike are filling classes to achieve improved mental and physical well being.
Let us take a look at some of these health benefits. First of all, yoga actually is effective as a form of relaxation. In fact, many classes focus entirely on this aspect. This approach not only aids in reducing anxiety and stress, but can also spill over into other areas. When a person is more relaxed, they will likely see a lower blood pressure and slower resting heart rate.
With lower heart rates and blood pressure, the risk of stroke and heart disease are reduced. Increased heart health has actually ignited a series of studies to explore the linkage between yoga and reduced cholesterol levels and improvements to the immune system.
Another benefit is flexibility. A lot of the exercises are designed to increase flexibility in one’s muscles. A person with more limber muscles can build muscle more easily. Tighter muscles are like magnets for stress as well as toxins in the body. The stretching exercises help release those impurities and stress. Stretching also improves blood circulation.
Better blood flow is beneficial in many ways. One of the main positive results is increased oxygen flow to all body parts and organs, including the brain. With more oxygen reaching the brain, a person will experience better concentration skills and better memory. Overall mood will also be affected for the better and the chances of depression diminish. This is probably why those who practice yoga claim to be happier and to think more clearly.
One of the main focuses is on breathing. Much attention is paid to proper breathing including deep breaths and full utilization of all the air taken in with each inhalation. By the way, this also contributes to the better blood circulation and reduced stress mentioned earlier. Additionally, by taking control of breathing, one is able to actually put themselves into an aerobic state. This is when stored fat is burned by the body. So, weight loss can be achieved too.
In addition to aerobic “workouts” there are strength building exercises too. The many positions each target different muscles and build strength and endurance. There are standing, seated and lying poses. Some are geared toward upper body while others target legs and lower body. Just about any pose, when done correctly, will strengthen the abdominal muscles. And do not forget that firmer, stronger abs is pivotal to better posture and the reduction of back and neck pain.
And you thought yoga was just for relaxing? Think again. It is actually a well balanced complete health routine.