Remember that your body has a capacity to naturally heal when you are centred, relaxed, calm and stress free. The natural state of any person is one of balance. It is only when a negative external force interferes that your body goes all awry and out of balance and you experience sickness. The practice of Yoga encourages good health by reducing stress, improving concentration, increasing your sense of comfort and well being and eventually succeeds in bringing your whole life back in balance and harmony. The postures of Hatha Yoga promotes balance by equally stretching the left, right, front and back of the body. This symmetrical approach over time corrects any imbalance in your body. Yoga helps you to strengthen your muscles and also stretch them for optimum performance. Muscles that are well stretched and flexible are less likely to be injured. But the deeper benefits of Yoga comes with the combination of concentration, stress reduction and deep relaxation. When you are focussed in the present moment and your mind is free of stress about the past or about the future and you are feeling relaxed and alert and contented your body tends to perform at optimum levels and will attain a state of perfect health. The pressures of modern life tends to abuse our bodies and stretches it beyond the limits of endurance. Yoga is the break your mind and body needs in order to avoid full scale shutdown and helps you to stay in balance and function at peak levels.
Let us elaborate briefly on the benefits of Yoga:
1. STRESS REDUCTION
With modern technology having altered our lives drastically, people’s stress levels have risen dramatically. From the time we wake up, we are in a mad rush. From rushing through our breakfast (if any) to gulping coffee and multitasking even before reaching the workplace and then getting lost in the grind of the day – traveling to work, making phone calls, checking emails, meetings etc. we are engulfed in a chain of endless challenges which taxes our minds and bodies to the limits. As our minds speed up, our bodies find it hard to cope up and become tense in response. This creates a huge amount of stress which if left unchecked can spin out of control. Most Yoga Asanas counters the flight or fight response of your body and helps you to move into the opposite direction towards a sense of contentedness and calm. Gentle stretching helps to lengthen your muscle and reduces physical tension. Yogic breathing will slow down your respiration. Inverted asanas can help lower your blood pressure by decreasing your heart rate, relaxing your arteries and reducing your stress hormone levels. Whereas resting Yoga postures helps you to let go of physical and mental efforts. Increased relaxation will reduce levels of cortisol
2. IMPROVED CIRCULATION
When blood circulation is poor and restricted your body’s cells may not receive the right amount of oxygen and nutrients that they need to function effectively. As a result, energies will dip and your mood will suffer as a result and in the end your overall health will suffer. Good blood circulation is extremely important for overall health. The practice of Yoga improves the flow of blood to and from the heart in a number of ways. Standing Yogic Postures squeeze the veins in the leg and gently pushes blood back to the heart. The effect is similar to other exercises such as walking or running. Yoga Asanas that lift the legs above the heart use the force of gravity to do a similar thing. Practising a number of yogic asanas helps you to regularly position your arms, legs, upper body and head higher as well as lower than your heart thus draining and refreshing the blood supply to each and every area of the body. This effectively ensures that oxygen is delivered to every area of your body and carbon dioxide and waste products are removed. Also when you twist and bend you also tend to compress internal organs and then release them. This pumping action squeezes the blood from the area and allows for fresh blood infusion. In the end, fatigue is reduced and every part of your body is revitalised with adequate nutrient supply.
3. INCREASED FLEXIBILITY & STRENGTH
In practically every yoga pose you end up working against gravity as you stretch and strengthen your muscles. For example when you stand and bend forward from your hips, your pelvis tilts on the top of your thigh bones and lengthens the hamstring muscles on the back of your thighs. When you come out of the standard forward bend, you lift up your body weight by contracting the same muscles you stretched on the way down. This combo of stretching and strengthening makes Yoga a terrific routine for athletes and marathon runners who have to maximize their flexibility in order to avoid injuries.
4. IMPROVED CONCENTRATION
By letting you focus on the asana at hand, Yoga helps you to concentrate and clear your mind of distracting thoughts and ideas. This is because Yoga demands your full attention. If you do not concentrate fully while performing a physical posture you are liable to hurt yourself. Even holding a single pose requires full attention and concentration. As you progress in your yoga practice, you will start paying closer attention to your sensations in each pose and clear whatever else is clouding your mind at that moment. This is in fact meditation to the extent that you are simply focusing your thoughts on your breath and your body and you are not harbouring any thoughts about your life, work or personal matters. By the time that you get to the end of your routine, your mind is alert and calm and your body is pleasantly relaxed. The powers of concentration that you derive from the regular practice of yoga has a spillover effect as it begins to permeate all aspects of your life. Regualar practitioners of Yoga will tell you that that they find it much easier to remain engrossed in their work without getting distracted for long periods of time. They also report that their intimate relationships improve because they can stay in the present moment in their interactions with their loved ones and therefore become more popular and loved.