Yoga which means union, is a 5000-old practice that promotes balance, energy, deep breathing and relaxation. It refers to the union between mind and body in which it’s practise aims to unite and harmonise the two as a way of life.
There are many benefits to be gained in the practise of yoga. It is a means of developing a healthy and holistic lifestyle and helps to develop strength, flexibility and stamina. Through yoga, with the stretching and strengthening of the skeletal and muscular systems of the body, we also improve our posture in every day life.
Indirectly, the practise of yoga helps alleviate stress and anxiety and helps to calm and discipline the mind. The need to focus on each asana or pose, one at a time, while remaining completely present and focussed on what your body can do, helps to improve concentration, reduce tension and encourages relaxation.
There has been striking scientific proof of the authenticity of the claim that Yoga-type meditation can act as an effective antidote to stress. Laboratory studies by Dr Herbert Benson at Harvard Medical School show that Yogic meditation produces what Dr Benson calls the ‘relaxation response’.
– Extract from “Teach Yourself Yoga” by James Hewitt
In physiological terms the Relaxation Response shows as a marked decrease in the breathing rate and in oxygen consumption (to levels below that in deep sleep), a lowering of the heart rate (on average by about 3 beats per minute), a decrease in blood pressure in meditators whose levels had been higher than normal, a fall in lactate in the blood (lactate is linked with attacks of anxiety), and the production during meditation of Alpha waves in the brain which are associated with mental relaxation.”
People who practise yoga consistently have also found that it helps to improve digestion, reduces backache and sciatica and helps to reduce high blood pressure. It also assists in the management of asthma and eases insomnia. Overall, the practise of yoga leads to an increase in energy levels, teaches balance and works on internal organs and the endocrine system while regulating metabolism.
Numerous research has shown that yoga contributes most positively in many areas of illnesses, not necessarily through the direct treatment of symptoms, but often as a consequence of reducing stress, achieving inner peace, calm and well-being.
The following research papers detail benefits of yoga:
Association of yoga practice and serum cortisol levels in chronic periodontitis patients with stress-related anxiety and depression. Appaiah Chowdary Bollepalli et al. J Int Soc Prev Community Dent. 2016 Jan-Feb; 6(1): 7–14.