By Craig Perkins
Yoga has been around for centuries. Embraced equally by film stars, rock stars, high powered CEOs and New Age gurus, yoga’s stress-relieving, strength-building, low impact poses appeal to a wide range of individuals and body shapes. Even beginners can see and feel a difference after just a few short weeks of practice. All arguments aside, yoga works. So why haven’t you tried it? Here are seven really good reasons why you should:
- Symptom Relief - Several scientific studies have proven that yoga practice can greatly reduce the frequency and duration of asthma attacks, as well as the amount of medication needed to control or prevent attacks. Yogic breathing, pranayama , helps to strengthen the lungs and build breath control while back-bending poses open the chest and help increase air flow. Carpal tunnel syndrome can be alleviated with certain yoga poses. The lengthening and strengthening of the tendons offered in many yoga poses aids in relieving the pain, and in restoring the grip. The slow, low-impact nature of yoga exercise lends itself perfectly to arthritis sufferers. Joint pain and swelling can be reduced from the gentle exercise and from the stress relief granted tight, tensed muscles. The stress relieving nature of yoga has been shown to reduce the severity and frequency of headaches for migraine sufferers, as well.
- Disease Prevention - The stress relief offered through yoga practice can reduce the risk of heart disease, the number one killer of women in the US and Canada. Of further interest to women is yoga’s ability to strengthen and build bone density, preventing osteoporosis. It’s believed that yoga may reduce cortisol, and thereby aid in keeping calcium in your bones. The meditative nature of yoga can help raise levels of GABA in the brain, preventing the onset of Alzheimer’s disease. Lastly, yoga has been known to stimulate the pancreas in its production of insulin, lowering blood sugar levels and helping in the treatment of Type II diabetes.
- Good Form of Exercise - Not all forms of exercise are good for all of you. Yoga is low-impact, providing a safer way to stretch and strengthen. Yoga is non-competitive, allowing you a stress-free, introspective work-out. Yoga can be practiced indoors or out, so that it fits in with all climates and lifestyles. Beneficial yoga practice can be completed in as little as 10 minutes a day, making it the ideal exercise routine for today’s busy, on-the-go world. Yoga builds balanced muscle tone, strengthens the body’s core, and improves dexterity, hand-eye coordination and reaction time. It has also been clinically proven to increase joint range of motion and flexibility.
- Improved Body Chemistry - Yoga can have drastically good effects on your body’s inner workings. The increase in movement and blood flow offered in yoga practice can lower cholesterol and triglycerides in the blood stream. It is believed that yoga actually increases the amount of red blood cells in your blood, providing better oxygenation of the body, as well as increasing energy and reducing the risks of anemia. The lymphatic and endocrine systems also get a boost from yoga. The lymphatic system boosts immunity and raises your body’s disease fighting ability, while the endocrine system regulates hormones, and through yoga, both systems help increase the overall health and balance of your body.
- The Inner You - Much has been made of yoga’s effects on the psychological and emotional health of its practitioners. Yoga reduces stress through its slow movements and controlled breathing. It elevates and regulates your mood with its mind-body consciousness, its ability to improve your health overall, and its introspective nature. The attention required in yoga causes one to focus inwardly, reducing stress and anxiety
, building a sense of calmness, alertness and even improving your memory.
- The Overall Inner You - Let’s recap a bit here. Yoga reduces stress, which lowers blood pressure. It stimulates your endocrine system, balancing hormone levels and lowering blood sugar. It helps increase the overall functioning and health of your circulatory and respiratory system. It lowers your heart rate. It raises your tolerance to pain. It relives certain chronic problems. It improves brain chemistry. Your internal organs receive a "yoga massage,” improving their functioning and disease fighting abilities. Your gastrointestinal health improves. Overall, there isn’t a body system not impacted positively by regular yoga practice.
- The Outer You - After examining all the things that yoga can do for the inside of you, let’s see what yoga can do for you that you can actually see. Yoga can reduce the signs of aging through its detoxification of the body. Increased blood flow and oxygenation can also improve skin tone and color. Yoga helps to induce better sleep, improving overall health, awareness and skin and muscle tone. Yoga poses build strength, lengthen muscles and get the body moving, all of which cause a reduction in weight, prevent cellulite from forming and improve posture. Lastly, yoga can boost your energy, and not just your everyday, running hither and thither and yon type energy. Yoga has been proven to improve your energy and performance in the bedroom, as well. You look better, you feel better, your body is more in tune with itself and you with it - all of which leads to an increased confidence that can’t be kept all to yourself.
Yoga may not be the cure of all ills, but it certainly can improve many. It’s an overall workout- inside as well as outside - that shows in your face, your eyes, the way you stand, the way you move, the way you live. What are you waiting for?
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