Among the many fitness trends in today’s health culture, yoga is an undisputed favorite. With a rich history dating back more than five millennia and spanning multiple continents, yoga is practiced in various ways and appeals to a wide range of people who seek to improve their overall health. Yoga was first mentioned among rituals to be performed by the Brahmans, Vedic priests of the Indus-Sarasvati civilization in Northern India. Today it is practiced by people all over the world in both religious and secular ways. According to Michelle Sutherland, owner and instructor at Sutherland Yoga in Valdosta, practicing the ancient art has numerous benefits to holistic health.
Increases Strength and Flexibility
Improved strength and flexibility can improve athletic capability and enhance various physical aspects of life. Various poses focus on strengthening specific muscle groups, and most poses naturally help to improve muscle tone and balance.
Yoga Makes You Happy
A study from Boston University School of Medicine and McLean Hospital reported that subjects who did one hour of yoga raised their levels of the chemical GABA by 27%. Low GABA levels can be an indicator of depression, suggesting that yoga, when practiced regularly, can improve mental clarity and stability.
The focus on correctly breathing has tremendous effects on the respiratory system. Learning to breathe correctly and practicing regularly helps to properly oxygenate the body, resulting in improved overall health as cells are better able to repair and rebuild themselves.
Practicing yoga is a great way to relieve stress and anxiety. Routine practice has been shown to reduce adrenaline and help the body to minimize stress associated with Panic Disorder, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, sleep disorders, Generalized Anxiety Disorder, Social Anxiety Disorder, and more.
Research shows that some yoga can prevent, slow, and even reverse the onset of osteoporosis. Weight bearing activity is especially helpful in improving bone density.
Many poses focus on improving posture while maintaining correct breathing. These poses often provide the added benefit of increasing cortisol levels in the body, leading to instant increase in energy levels. Additionally, the regulation of breathing helps to regulate the body’s oxygen levels, rejuvenating the blood and internal organs.
Research suggests that three months of yoga practice significantly reduced headaches in migraine sufferers. Practice relaxes nerves, eases muscle tension, and regulates oxygen and blood flow to the brain, helping to ease and prevent common migraine symptoms.
Because oxygen is regulated through correct breathing, consistent yoga practice helps to rid the body’s internal organs of toxins, improving overall health and preventing common illness.
Improves Sleep Quality
Studies suggest that insomniacs who begin yoga regimens sleep better. This is most likely due to the regulation of adrenaline in the blood stream.
Better Body Image
Yoga can help to strengthen and tone muscle while improving balance, helping the body to naturally burn fat more easily. As a result, practicing yoga regularly can help promote weight loss and healthy weight maintenance.
It’s ability to provide numerous physical, mental, and even spiritual benefits to those who practice makes yoga a universally appealing method for healing and wellness. Classes are available in many gyms and wellness centers for yogis at beginner, intermediate, and expert levels, making opportunities to learn and progress easily accessible for almost anyone. With proper discipline and consistent practice, anyone can become an expert yogi.
Yoga, the Ancient Art
for Holistic Health
Written by: Miranda Moore