Yoga is the Sanskrit word for union, which refers to a combination of physical exercise, breath control, meditation and relaxation, diet control, and positive thinking. Its purpose is to develop harmony in the body, mind, and environment, which in turn helps to improve health and happiness. The practice involves low-impact physical activity postures called asanas, breathing techniques called pranayama, relaxation, and meditation.
The aim of Yoga is to benefit the body and the soul, so many people who are trying to alleviate symptoms of anxiety, depression and dissociation practice yoga. There is plenty of research that clearly indicates that the benefits of yoga for health are unrivaled and stunning.
The Usefulness of Yoga as Per the Scientific Studies
Western science provides solid evidence of how yoga works to improve health while relieving symptoms of depression and anxiety. As a leisure pursuit yoga offers many benefits and by participating in a class you will realize how a proper yoga routine can prove truly be beneficial in maintaining your energy balance. One study shows that the majority of women who are diagnosed with anxiety and participated in yoga classes twice a week found that it helped them feel relaxed and energized. Our guide The Value Of Hobbies In A Productive & Relaxing Life further explores the benefits of leisure.
Another study which was based on sixty four women with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), who had severe symptoms of anxiety after experiencing a traumatic event participated in a yoga routine. After ten weeks, the women who followed the routine once a week showed fewer symptoms of PTSD. In fact, 52% of participants no longer remained PTSD victims.
At the University of Wisconsin, Richard Davidson, Ph.D., found that meditation increased activity in the left prefrontal cortex of the brain, which is related to greater levels of happiness and improved immune function. The longer you practice, the higher the sustainability between brain and body.
Benefits of Yoga for Health
Yoga not only burns calories but also tones muscles.
It’s a total mind-body workout that consists of stretching poses with deep breathing and meditation. The benefits of yoga include physical, emotional and spiritual healing. Below, you will find a few benefits of yoga for health that can will enhance your well being.
1. Flexibility and Strength
Daily yoga practice will help stretch and tone your body muscles. Popular poses like the plank will simultaneously work on strengthening your arms, legs, shoulders, and abs. Daily yoga helps improve your posture, alleviating aches and pains caused by incorrect body posture.
2. Better All-Round Fitness
When it comes to improving our fitness, most of us think of sweating it out at the gym. But weights are not the only way to get fit. Yoga gives you all the benefits of a gym routine in a peaceful and more holistic way.
Yoga combines aspects of cardio, functional fitness, and strength training all in one. The best part about yoga is that it can be done at your own comfort, in your own home.
3. Weight Loss
You don’t need to perform intensive yoga poses for weight loss. An everyday gentle yoga practice will elevate the metabolic rate and will help burn fat. It can also help restore the hormonal balance in your body, thereby normalizing your body weight.
4. Higher Metabolic Rate
Yoga helps in reducing levels of cortisol, the hormone that is released in response to stress. Many of us indulge in binge-eating due to high levels of cortisol, but daily yoga will help release serotonin, which is highly effective in dealing with unpleasant emotions.
5. Increases Your Energy
Just a few minutes of yoga every day will boost your energy levels in our busy lives and will keep us fresh for longer. Yoga strengthens body and mind connection and boosts up your depleting energy reserves.
6. Better Sleep Quality
Studies have shown that practicing daily yoga can reduce insomnia. To deal with insomnia, practice relaxing asanas or postures, such as forward fold, uttanasana or lying on your back with your feet up the wall. It can calm both your body and mind.
7. Improved Breathing
Breathing deeply and calmly is an essential part of every yoga practice. Pranayama, is the breathing technique used to focus on trying to slow down the breath.Calmer breathing will make you feel more relaxed and balanced to face the day with confidence.
8. Happiness and Mindfulness
Practicing a few yoga poses daily can help you become more emotionally stronger and happier. Regular yoga practice and meditation results in higher serotonin levels, which is called the ‘happiness hormone’. Just 15 minutes of yoga a day can change your brain chemistry and improve your mood.
How Yoga Helped Me Overcome Depression and Anxiety
I myself have experienced yoga’s spiritual healing power very closely. After the loss of my father a couple of years ago, I was totally devastated since I had a great emotional attachment with him.
I was overwhelmed with anxiety and depression, while deeply hit by the fragility and unpredictability of life. Weeks passed by when one of my close friends, who was a yoga instructor, suggested that I start practicing yoga in order to relieve my symptoms of anxiety.
I practiced a few physical exercises, breath control, and meditation for more than a month. My symptoms of anxiety started improving, and I felt like I was coming back to life slowly and steadily. While it’s not as simple as one day I wasn’t fine the next I was, the consistent yoga practice reduced my depression over time.
Highly Beneficial Yoga Poses
Here is a breakdown of yoga poses I practiced that energized my body and relieved the symptoms of anxiety. They not only helped me strengthen my muscles but I also developed a great connection between my thoughts and emotions, improved my focus and invigorated the whole nervous system.
Asana is the most popular form of yoga which emphasizes that poses should be steady and comfortable, helping you to become more aware of your body, mind, and environment. The basic asana sequence comprises 12 stretching postures. They open multiple energy channels of the body while increasing flexibility of the spine, strengthening the bones, and stimulating the circulatory and immune systems.
Asanas include 12 given poses which I practiced gradually but consistently. These poses helped me attain the desired vigor and stress-relief.
Sirsasana – Headstand
Sirsa means ‘head’ so it is āsana in which you balance on your elbows, arms and head. It is known as the “King of asanas” because of the multiple benefits of yoga for health. In the words of Swami Sivananda, “Head-stand is a panacea, a cure-all, a sovereign specific for all diseases.”
Being upside down in this asana helps the brain to draw abundant oxygen-rich blood from the heart. It is beneficial for memory and concentration, thereby helping with meditation practice. This posture facilitates better energy flow to the head area.
Sarvangasana – Shoulderstand
Shoulderstand is an inverted pose, with the body resting on the shoulders. Considered to be the “Queen of āsanas”, Sarvangāsana strengthens the entire body. In this posture, the chin is pressed against the throat which regulates the thyroid gland and balances all other glands in the body, assuring healthy functioning of all the body systems and organs.
Halasana – Plough
The name is derived from the Sankrit word ‘hala’ meaning plough. Halasana stimulates the spine and corrects exaggerated lower back curvature. It not only relieves problems like indigestion and constipation but also removes energy blocks from the neck and back area.
Matsyasana – Fish
Matsya means ‘fish’ and it is performed while resting on the arms, arching the back and expanding the chest. This posture promotes lung capacity, easier breathing and removes stiffness from the cervical, thoracic and lumbar regions, bringing an increased blood supply to these parts.
Paschimottanasana – Sitting forward bend
‘Paścima’ means west (the back of body), which means stretching the spine forward. This simple looking posture is one of the most powerful and important of all the postures. Its regular practice energizes the back and the nervous system. It also helps in preventing diabetes by giving a natural massage to the pancreas.
Bhujangasana – Cobra
Bhujanga means cobra which is arching the upper body and expanding the chest. The arching of the spine in this posture improves flexibility, rejuvenates spinal nerves, and brings oxygen-rich blood supply to the spine. It strengthens the neck and upper back and pelvic organs in women.
Salabhasana – Locust
Salabha is locust which means lying on the front with lifted legs. This pose is helpful in improving willpower and reducing stress. It facilitates intestinal function and strengthens the abdominal walls. The backward bending of the spine improves flexibility of the cervical region and relieves lower back pain and sciatica.
Dhanurasana – Bow
Dhanur means bow, which is performed while balancing on the abdomen in the shape of a bow. Dhanurasana combines and enhances the benefits of yoga for health. It stretches the entire spine bringing flexibility to the cervical, thoracic, lumbar and sacral regions. It energizes the whole body.
Ardha Matsyendrasana – Half Spinal Twist
It is a twist for the entire spine. This āsana is named after the great yogi Matsyendranath. Half Spinal Twist mobilizes the vertebrae by rotating them in both directions, enhancing the mobility of the spine. It relieves digestive problems and provides fresh blood supply to the roots of the spinal nerves and the sympathetic nervous system.
Kakasana – Crow
‘Kaka’ is crow and it means balancing in a squatting position. Crow is very beneficial for strengthening the arm, wrists, shoulders and stretching the hips. It increases the power of concentration and improves mental and physical balance.
Padahastasans – Standing Forward Bend
Padahastasana promotes mobility in the joints of the body and stretches the spine making it more elastic. It increases the blood supply to the brain and vitalizes the nervous system.
Trikonasana – Triangle
‘Trikoṇa’ means triangle. A lateral bend resembling a triangle. The lateral stretch in Trikonasana keeps the spine elastic and promotes hip and leg flexibility. General circulation is charged, the liver and spleen are massaged and the body becomes lighter.
To sum up, we can assert that Yoga has plenty of long-lasting physical and psychological benefits that will make you feel calm and relaxed. Adding a few yoga poses to your daily routine will make you feel more energized, enthusiastic and self-confident. So, don’t wait and start doing yoga for a better and rejuvenated life. Try three of the yoga poses outlined and note how your body feels while doing the pose and note how your body feels the next day.