When you think of yoga, what comes to mind is a self-disciplinary, deeply contemplative and spiritual practice tied to meditation, chanting, mantra, prayer, breath work, and rituals.
It may all sound a tad overwhelming to a novice but don't let that put you off taking your first baby step towards trying out yoga.
When it’s boiled down, the word yoga means ‘unity’ and ‘connection’ to the mind, body, and soul.
In a paradoxal way, it's all about getting your body moving while keeping still, which sounds kind of confusing.
Many believe the practice of yoga not only brings a sense of balance in all three areas of life, but also delivers innumerable health benefits.
A few of these perks include -
Yoga improves strength, balance and flexibility
Slow movements and deep breathing increase blood flow and warm up muscles, while holding a pose can build strength.
Yoga benefits heart health
Regular yoga practice may reduce levels of stress and body-wide inflammation, contributing to healthier hearts. Several of the factors contributing to heart disease, including high blood pressure and excess weight, can also be lessened through yoga.
Yoga may boost immunity
Chronic stress negatively effects your immune system (21Trusted Source).
When your immunity is compromised, you’re more susceptible to illness.
The research is still evolving, but some studies have found a distinct link between practicing yoga (especially consistently over the long term) and better immune system functioning. This is due in part to yoga’s ability to fight inflammation and in part to the enhancement of cell-mediated immunity.
Yoga helps with anxiety and depression and helps manage stress
You may feel increased mental and physical energy, a boost in alertness and enthusiasm, and fewer negative feelings after getting into a routine of practicing yoga. According to the National Institutes of Health, scientific evidence shows that yoga supports stress management, mental health, mindfulness, healthy eating, weight loss and quality sleep.
Yoga may help improve sleep
Yoga has been shown to improve both how quickly people fall asleep and how deeply they stay asleep. This is partly due to the aftereffects of exercise and the mental calming and stress relief provided by yoga specifically.
In addition to improving anxiety (or perhaps because of it), numerous studies show yoga nidra to be particularly helpful at improving sleep.
Yoga helps improve self-esteem
There has been promising evidence that yoga could help with the accompanying symptoms of obsession, anxiety, and depression.
Body image and self-esteem are often particularly challenging for adolescents and young adults. The good news is that several recent studies show positive results when using yoga for improving self-esteem and perceived body image.
Yoga may improve bone health
Many postures in yoga are isometric contractions, meaning the length of the muscles holding the pose doesn’t change, though they are fully engaged.
For example, in Plank Pose, which is an upper pushup position, the arms, trunk, and legs are all engaged, without shortening or lengthening as they would if you were moving through a pushup.
In Warrior II, you hold a position with the lead leg bent at both the hip and knee. Isometric exercises — especially when performed with the joints in flexion — have been found to increase bone density.
Yoga asana may also reverse the bone loss associated with osteopenia and osteoporosis. One study showed that just 12 minutes of yoga per day can significantly improve bone health.
Begin your Yoga Journey with Baby Steps
The best way to start practicing yoga is with a few basic moves.
It doesn't have to be complicated, it's as simple as downloading a beginners You Tube video. Just grab a matt, be gentle and pace yourself
Check out a few easy positions below to get you started.
Mountain pose improves postures, strengthens legs, tightens abs and glutes.
Stretches spine, stimulates digestion, energises and cleanses to help squeeze toxins out of the kidney and liver, encourages blood flow.
Flexes your spine, stimulates organs, kidneys colon and digestive tract. Boosts circulations relieves stress and stimulates energy.
Tones thighs and legs, stimulates abdominal organs, promotes cleansing.
Aids digestions, circulation, stimulates kidney, activates thyroid, balances metabolism and revitalises.
Relives menstruation symptoms, opens spine, chest and heart.
Increases blood flow, encourages circulation, calms central nervous system, removes mucus and congestion.