Lately I have been thinking seriously about mastering yoga.
Sure, I have taken yoga classes here and there, but I don’t practice it consistently.
I have always been more of a cardio girl–walking, biking, spinning, dancing, using exercise
machines, rebounding and taking assorted fitness classes.
But the more I hear about the benefits of yoga, the more I realize that it is time to get serious
about making yoga and meditation a more important part of my healthy lifestyle.
I’ve discovered many good reasons why…
Although I love to stay healthy active, I’ve been feeling a little stiffer and less flexible than I like.
I really need to loosen up!
People aren’t meant to be stiff and rigid.
We were designed to be flexible creatures.
We may not all have the flexibility and grace of a prima ballerina, but we should all be
healthy and fit.
Yoga is one means to achieving such a goal.
Although it is considered a type of exercise, it has the potential to affect the emotional and
psychological health of the individual, not just the physical state.
Clearly, yoga is far more than just a series of stretching exercises.
Meditation is also an important part of yoga.
While the physical aspects are certainly an important part, this is not the only true purpose.
It’s also about the mental benefits.
A little background…
The word yoga gets its origins from the Sanskrit word “Yug”.
It means to bind or join. Basically it is about unity of the physical body with the mind.
It’s about “conscious living”.
Yoga first came to the Western hemisphere in 1893 at the World’s Fair in Chicago.
It was brought by Swami Vivekananda who was one of India’s most popular gurus.
Yoga isn’t a religion, but it can have spiritual effects for those who practice it.
There are no gods to worship, and it is not an organized system at all.
Any spiritual benefits are purely emotional and psychological.
Yoga doesn’t actually distinguish between the physical body and the mind.
Yoga can work to improve your physical health in many ways, not just aiding in weight
loss, but also improving tone and even reducing physical pain.
Yoga allows you to release the tension that can build up in your body.
It helps the various parts of your body become lose and limber, from your muscles and
joints to your tendons and ligaments.
It can help back pain, joint pain, muscle pain, and much more.
Benefits of Yoga
Here are some of the benefits that have been proven to exist through yoga:
Better range of motion
More fluid motion
Immune system strengthening
Reduced joint pain
Reduced muscular pain
Higher lung capacity
Better sleep quality
Reduced stress and anxiety
Yoga is beneficial in many ways.
Many other remarkable benefits have been reported to be received from yoga.
You may discover many more.
It’s not all about the physical effects, as I’ve mentioned previously.
Yoga may have its roots in the spiritual, but its foundation is based in science.
Yoga’s health benefits have been proven time and time again by many sources.
Its physical benefits can be paramount to a healthy lifestyle.
But of course there are mental and emotional benefits, as well.
Yoga helps you achieve a type of mind/body harmony through the use of:
Postures (called asana)
Breathing (called pranayama)
Meditation (which we will cover later)
All three of these are essential for obtaining the full benefit of yoga.
For example, you may believe your breathing has nothing to do with your physical shape,
but that’s not true.
Your body needs oxygen to function properly, and the more efficient your respiration is,
the better your body can perform.
Benefits of Meditation
Likewise meditation can also help you physically.
Even a few minutes of meditation each day can help you reduce stress levels significantly.
And lowering your stress levels has the additional positive effect of reducing blood pressure,
stabilizing heart and respiration rates, and boosting your immune system.
When you meditate you relieve muscle tension.
This can ease all kinds of aches and pains including back pain, joint pain, and even stress and anxiety.
There are a number of direct physical benefits that can be obtained from yoga when you use the
three principles together:
Central nervous system harmony
Decrease in heart rate
Lower blood pressure
Better efficiency of your cardiovascular system
Gastrointestinal system improvement
Improved flexibility and dexterity
Better memory and mental clarity
Depth perception improvement
There are a number of psychological benefits, too:
Can help break a smoking habit
Can help curb binge drinking
Can help you eat healthier
Can help ease insomnia
Can reduce stress and anxiety
Can decrease panic attacks
Can ease depression
Can help lethargy
Thinking of Practicing Yoga?
While yoga isn’t a cure-all and results won’t happen overnight, it can certainly help you make
some big changes to your psychological and physiological states.
Yoga is also something that is relatively easy on the body.
You can tailor a yoga workout to your own fitness level, and increase the difficulty as
There’s no reason you shouldn’t be able to perform at least some of the asana no matter what
physical condition you’re in.
As long as you have some mobility in your arms and legs, you should be able to start out with
some of the easier asana and gradually increase the intensity of your yoga workout as you progress.
Don’t overdo it.
Too much of a good thing can be bad for you.
You want to use yoga to improve your physical condition, not make it worse.
If you overdo it, you may end up injuring yourself.
This could make existing conditions worse and also set back any progress you’ve made so far.
At the very least an injury could cause you to miss several days of workouts, which could hamper
your progress, so it’s best to take it easy until you get used to it.
Want to learn more?
Take a look at the illustrative infographic below…
What are your experiences with yoga and meditation?
How has it helped you?
Share your thoughts, suggestions and comments with us.