Benefits of Yoga
Those who practice yoga (Known as yogi/yogin=male yogini=female) speak of unifying the body, mind and spirit. They claim that this can be acquired through the regular practice of yoga poses (asanas), movements, and techniques...such as yoga breathing.
One of the basic tenets among those who practice this 5,000 year old discipline is the concept that the mind and body is a unified structure, which can find harmony and heal itself, when in a proper physical, emotional, and mental balance.
While many consider such ideas about the benefits of yoga to be "alternative", "new wave", or just plain crazy, recent research tends to confirm the existence of, and the health benefits possible, through what is called, among other things, the "mind body connection". Even such prestigious institutions as the Mayo Clinic recognize this usually mysterious linkage a potentially important part of the healing process...and valuable for maintaining health and preventing illness.
As a result of the fundamental principles of yoga, as well as the many apparent examples of the positive results obtained through the practice of yoga, many doctors and researchers are willing to testify that among the many benefits of yoga there have been scientifically observable, therapeutic, results, and recommend it for curing a series of illnesses, mainly those related to the nervous system. However, being, among other things, a method of exercise, yoga also offers a broad range of health benefits.
Yoga is not a new way of looking at life. It has been practiced for thousands of years! During all this time, people benefited from the great results they obtained. Furthermore, much research has been done on the benefits of yoga, to clearly establish the areas in which people can obtain health benefits, by a regular practice of yoga over time. The information obtained after conducting many investigations and studies can be grouped in three categories. It is pretty well established practicing yoga is likely to result in improvements in physiological, psychological, biochemical systems and functions.
Examining the physiological point of view, it has been found that prolonged yoga practices can help improve pulse rate problems, respiratory and blood pressure dysfunctions, and can contribute to stabilizing the nervous system. It is also effective in improving equilibrium (especially important to seniors), normalizing gastrointestinal functions and endocrine function, while increasing joint range of motion, raising endurance and energy levels. Yoga helps improve the body's natural defenses by strengthening the immune system and improving cardiovascular efficiency.
A regular practice of yoga, in addition to the benefits of yoga already mentioned can have a very strong effect on improving eye-hand coordination, reaction time, overall dexterity skills, depth perception, and better sleep.
In other words, all the mumbo-jumbo and mysticism aside, it's a pretty well proven fact that a regular practice of yoga can be one of the most valuable health choices which can be made and that the benefits of yoga are varied and lasting.
In the area of psychological benefits of yoga, it must be pointed out that yoga can contribute to increasing somatic and kinesthetic awareness, self-acceptance and self-actualization, improve social skills, create an overall sense of well-being, as well as improving concentration, memory, attention, mood, learning efficiency, symbol coding...in other words, it is proven valuable to the betterment of a wide range of psychological issues and functions.
Describing the biochemical benefits of yoga can be a little more technical, as we must talk about substantial decreases of glucose, sodium, cholesterol, total white blood cell, occurring at the same time as remarkable increases of vitamin C, total serum protein, and hemoglobin.
Just to strengthen your idea and understanding of the benefits of yoga, various recent studies have revealed that yoga postures (asanas) and movements are extremely effective when it comes to increasing the level of joint flexibility, together with the level of lubrication of joints, ligaments and tendons. Also of interest is the fact that yoga is one of the very few "exercise" techniques, which massages all the internal organs and glands, including the ones that are hardly ever stimulated during the lifetime of a person, such as the prostate gland, just for one example. This regular stimulation and massaging of the internal organs proves to be beneficial when it comes to avoiding and preventing many illnesses, including age-related conditions.
The wide range of yoga poses stretch the muscles and essentially perform a thorough massage. Due to the variation and complexity of the yoga exercises, you ensure the optimum quantity of blood supply to all parts of the body. As a consequence of improved circulation, toxins are more easily and completely eliminated from your body and certain undesired processes, such as aging, are considerably delayed.
Last of all, let me say that I began practicing yoga in the 1960's. While not wanting to pass myself off as an "expert", I do believe all the benefits of yoga presented above are in addition to the most important aspect provided by yoga practices, which is the harmony between, and the synchronization of, body and mind, as well as strengthening your ability to meditate, offering control over emotional systems, allowing you to effectively manage stress.
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