msn health & fitness
The world celebrated the first International Day of Yoga on June 21, click through to know why yoga has become such a rage and how can it benefit a practitioner—physically, emotionally and spiritually.
Yoga is not just about doing a few joint, muscle or stretching exercises every day. It is a combination of three things: different postures, breathing patterns and meditation.
A few minutes of yoga during the day can be a great way to relax the body and mind. It releases the tension accumulated in the muscles and pacifies the mind.
Yoga exercises not only keep the joints healthy, but also bring relief to people suffering from arthritis. Keep in mind that exercises recommended vary from person to person according to physical.
There are eight energy centers or “chakras” in the body through which humans absorb cosmic energy. Yoga can purify these and keep the positive life energy flowing. From the base of the spine up to the crown, these chakras are named mooladhara, svadhisthana, manipura, anahata, vishuddha, anja, bindu, and sahasrara, respectively.
According to a Norwegian study, yoga boosts the immune system on a genetic level.
Regular practice of yoga can reduce craving for food and subsequently, the habit of overeating. A University of Washington study claims that this happens because yoga increases the awareness of physical and emotional sensations associated with eating.
Practicing yoga has proved to improve relationships. A relaxed, happy and contented mind is better equipped to deal with relationships of every kind—official or personal.
Yoga improves cardiovascular health, which reduces the risk of heart diseases. People suffering from heart ailments, however, should be careful about the type of exercises they take up, and these should be performed under the supervision of a yoga instructor.
Started in New York in 2002, it is a type of yoga by which people establish harmony with their pet dogs. The pets are either used as props for their owners or they can do light stretching exercises themselves.
LOSE THE FLAB
Yoga is an ideal and risk-free way for losing those extra pounds. Sun salutations (surya namaskar) and kapalbhati pranayama are especially effective to this end.
A 2013 study claims that yoga therapy could benefit people living with depression, schizophrenia and other psychiatric conditions. Other research has demonstrated the efficacy of yoga as an add-on therapy to improve withdrawal symptoms and social cognition.
HELPFUL IN OCD
A study at the Institute for Nonlinear Science, University of California, has shown that people suffering from obsessive compulsive disorder saw a significant reduction in symptoms if they practiced Kundalini yoga regularly.
Regular yoga is a good antidote to sleep disorders. A Harvard Medical School study found that eight weeks of daily yoga practice improved the quality of sleep in many people suffering from insomnia.
As yoga exercises involve controlling muscle movements and stretching the body, the postures rush more blood to different organs. This results in improved sexual performance and confidence in both men and women.
RELIEF FROM MIGRAINE
Yoga can bring relief to people suffering from migraine. A book, “The Migraine Solution,” co-authored by Dr. Paul B. Rizzoli and published by Harvard Health Publications, claims that affected people had fewer and less painful migraines after three months of practicing yoga.
NO MORE PAIN
In a study published in the “Journal of Research in Health Science” in 2006, Iranian researchers found that three specific yoga postures—cobra, cat and fish—can reduce menstruation cramps.
Yoga exercises stimulate regular secretion of hormones from the endocrine glands, thus promoting overall physical and emotional health.
As yoga’s effect in de-stressing the body and improving endocrine activity of ovaries and testes are proven, many doctors recommend the exercises to couples who are trying for a baby.
By strengthening the core, toning the muscles, improving cardiovascular functioning, helping in secretion of hormones and flushing out toxins from the body, regular yoga practice has immense anti-aging benefits.
Beat that hangover from last night’s drinking binge with yoga. Certain postures, like fish, shoulder stand and plow, work on the thyroid gland and helps get rid of the hangover faster.
According to Hindu mythology, Lord Shiva is considered to be the Adi Guru or the first teacher of yoga.
INDUS VALLEY CIVILIZATION
Several seals discovered at Indus Valley Civilization sites depict figures in positions resembling a common yoga or meditation pose—giving rise to speculation that the practice might have started during those early times. (Pictured) A photograph of the remains of the Indus Valley Civilization taken in 1960.
HENRY DAVID THOREAU
Author and naturalist Henry David Thoreau was one of the early known practitioners of yoga in the West. His interest in yoga sparked after coming across a Hindu text known as “Manusmirti.” In a letter written to a friend in 1849, Thoreau called himself a “yogi.”