Yoga first emerged in the Indian civilization over 3000 years ago, and has since been gaining popularity around the world. The word ‘yoga’ is derived from the Sanskrit word, yuj which means ‘to join’. While your workout at the gym may focus on physical activity, weight control, or strengthening of the body, it definitely ignores the mind. It is yoga’s ability to connect the mind and the body together that helps it to positively enhance human well-being.
There are several types of yoga that can be practised by individuals to deal with specific health problems:
- Ashtanga and power yoga are best suited to those looking for an aerobic type of workout where you push yourself to flow from one pose to another.
- A bikram yoga class is practised in a room with heightened temperatures of 37°Celsius, where you posture yourself to twenty-six poses. The high temperature makes your body more flexible and increases the removal of toxins from your body.
- A more relaxed form of yoga is Iyengar yoga. This form utilizes the same postures of ashtanga yoga, where the postures are held for a longer period of time and focuses more on posture and alignment.
- Jivamukti yoga caters to spirituality with meditation, chanting and spiritual readings.
- Kundalini yoga strengthens the physical, mental and spiritual discipline. It aims to awaken the creative spirituality of a person by waking up a coil of energy at the base of the spine.
- Ananda yoga focuses on creating an inner awareness and power control.
But no matter what subset of yoga you prefer and choose to perform, they all lead to one basic fundamental truth – that your mind and body are two sides of the same coin and they must be kept healthy in a consistent manner. Its primary focus has never been weight loss, although that is a wonderful and definite outcome! Yoga aims to cleanse your breathing, your posture, your thoughts, and your diet in order to achieve a healthier life.
Today, when almost everyone is suffering from some form of ailment or the other, yoga is an effective way to deal with your problems. Yogic meditation allows the mind and body to slow down, controls the heart rate and breathing, and relaxes the mind. Balance is an important element of yoga. Yoga exercises allow you to shift weight to different organs of your body, allowing oxygenated blood to enter these organs and flush out the toxins. Yoga postures push your muscles to hold their stances, and strengthen their core. There are three systems that help in elimination of waste from the body – circulatory, digestive and lymphatic – and the stretching and breathing exercises of yoga work at all three levels. Various poses in yoga help in improving bowel movements and several yoga exercises drain the lymph nodes of toxins. Here are some diseases that yoga can help with:
If you suffer from asthma, the daily practice of yoga can help you overcome it, and prevent asthma attacks. Deep breathing as practised in yoga, pushes your lungs to take in more oxygen and, at the same time, regulates your breathing rate.
Indigestion and stomach ailments
Practice of the child pose, or the wind relieving pose is known to cure indigestion problems by helping in bowel movements.
Migraines and headaches
Migraines and headaches are common problems with far too many people these days. The primary cause of migraine attacks is the lack of oxygen to the brain. The sirsasana pose or the headstand is known to increase the flow of oxygen to the brain.
The tadasana or the tree pose aims at correct back alignment, strengthening the lower back muscles and helping to relieve any pain. Stretching the body, as in Surya namaskaras, is an effective way to deal with joint pains and arthritis.
The bhujangasana or the cobra pose, helps in stretching the chest and opening the chest area, allowing more blood flow to the heart, thus stimulating it.
The kapalbhati is a breathing exercise which is effective in dealing with cardiac disease, since it enhances the absorption of oxygen in the blood stream.
Surya namaskara, which is a twelve step yogic routine of stretching and breathing, is extremely effective in controlling diabetes, as it promotes the production of insulin from the pancreas.
Anxiety and depression
The breathing techniques from yoga are an effective method to help your mind relax, and fight against depression and hypertension. When your body and mind go into panic mode, your body is flooded with the ‘fight or flight’ hormone. Simple yogic breathing exercises lower stress hormones, relaxing the mind and enhancing the immune system. Yoga practices such as deep breathing, force the heart rate to slow down and your lungs to take in more oxygen.
Life threatening diseases
Intensive treatment for AIDS and Cancer can be terrible for patients. However, practiced with yoga, it can be used as a coping facility. Yoga helps treat the body and mind and is also a great way to overcome addictions such as alcoholism or drug abuse, helping the body reject excess doses of poison while helping the mind pull itself together.
Yoga offers healthier and more natural options than your local doctor, and the constant barrage of pill-popping. It deals with the body and mind in a combination of ways to strengthen your individual organs. As much as yoga cures many ailments, it also prevents problems from arising. It’s not for nothing that the who’s who of the world has taken to practising yoga to calm their nerves, and keep fit. Everyone from Madonna to Gwyneth Paltrow to Matthew McConaughey to Robert Downey Jr., swear by yoga and its benefits. Don’t get left out!
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