05 September 2009

The Health Benefits of Yoga

Improved immune function. Lower blood pressure. Detoxification. These are just a few of the many health benefits yoga has on the body. It is considered by some to be the “perfect” exercise. Why? Many people who employ a regular yoga practice boast incredible results, such as increased flexibility, beautiful toning of the muscles and less stress in their daily lives to name a few.
One very well-known benefit of yoga is increased flexibility. Yoga provides equalized activity in opposing muscle groups simultaneously. Every single muscle group in the body is used with strength and balance. Not only does this activity of utilizing opposing muscle groups simultaneously increase flexibility, but it also stokes the metabolic fire. This activity is also auspicious for increasing range of motion in the joints as well as the connective tissues, such as the ligaments and tendons.
Yoga also is beneficial in lowering blood pressure and strengthening the cardiovascular system. Yoga poses, by engaging the muscles as they do, help increase the blood flow in the body, and subsequently oxygenate the blood, increasing circulation. The increased circulation lowers blood pressure and pulse rate by transporting nutrients throughout the body. Higher levels of cardiovascular endurance are also a wonderful byproduct of a consistent yoga practice.
The practice of yoga also serves as a method of “wringing” the internal organs out like a sponge. This “wringing out” of the organs expedites detoxification by releasing toxins and other unsavory substances that may be lurking within them. This release allows fresh, oxygenated blood to flow to these organs, thus enabling optimal function in warding off disease by improving immune function.
In addition to the many physiological benefits that yoga possesses, it also yields many psychological benefits. Many yoga styles emphasize long, deep breathing, which is important for slowing the mind down enough to become present in the moment. So many get caught up in the events of the day or what is coming up next that the ability to be in the “now” is forgotten. Being in the “now” allows the mind to quiet enough to allow healing of the body to happen.
As one gets settled into their body during the yoga practice, quietly breathing long and deep, many wonderful psychological things can happen as well. Areas of the body, such as the hips and shoulders are huge storage depots of residual emotional “junk”. Flowing into certain yogic poses and holding them allows those areas to open, and blocked emotions can then be released. Many have claimed that lifelong fears have evaporated and they’ve experienced clarity of mind like never before. The release of blocked emotions can also serve beneficial to the health of the body as well; it can release much uncomfortable muscular tension.

In summary, the health benefits of yoga are powerful. With healthcare costs at astronomical highs, many people are seeking more preventative measures to keep potential health issues at bay. Yoga can serve as a wonderful tool to lay the foundation for a healthy body and mind for years to come.

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