Yoga is an ancient healing technique that is so much more than just stretching and touching your toes. According to Dr. Timothy McCall, Western science is starting to provide some concrete clues as to how yoga works to improve health, heal aches and pains, and keep sickness at bay. Yoga promotes whole body wellness physically, psychologically, and spiritually, and once understood, it will be more motivation for you to get on your mat.
1) Yoga helps to release muscle tension. Who doesn’t want to release tension? Yoga helps your body relax and move with more ease and fluidity, and less pain. As our muscles lengthen, flexibility increases. Inflexibility in muscles and connective tissue, such as fascia and ligaments, can cause poor posture.
2) Yoga energizes the body by stimulating our energy pathways while helping to release energy blockages so we can improve our physical and emotional health. These energy pathways affect every organ and every physiological system: immune, nervous, endocrine, circulatory, respiratory, digestive, skeletal, muscular, and lymphatic. When we have energy blockages in the body, our health and particular systems become compromised. When energy is flowing freely, prana (life force energy) increases in the body to improve overall health.
3) Yoga calms the mind and reduces stress. Yoga decreases stress hormones such as cortisol, while it also increases endorphins. Endorphins are the body’s natural feel good chemicals, and when they are released, your mood is boosted naturally. Yoga also helps to center the mind so you make empowered, rational choices and decisions in your day to day life. Training your mind is just like training your body. It takes time and consistency. When you learn to focus your mind and stay in the present moment, you bring that focus to your life so you can achieve more by doing less. When we are in the present moment, clarity, inspiration, intuition, and gratitude increase. Yoga helps us to connect to all of these things, enhancing the quality and flow of our lives.
4) Breathe better to feel better. Breathing properly is integral to a peaceful, healthy life. Proper breathing strengthens the heart and lungs, trains the diaphragm, increases circulation and detoxification, and minimizes lactic acid build-up. Optimal oxygen intake and optimal carbon dioxide removal help to energize and detoxify your body. The practices of yoga are derived from observing our breathing. The quality of our breath reflects how we are feeling. Our mind affects our breathing and our breathing affects our mind. Use the breath to calm the mind and increase peace.
5) Yoga improves eating and digestion. A regular yoga practice may reduce your appetite and will encourage better food choices that nourish you. Yoga helps to balance and cleanse the body by increasing circulation and metabolism, stimulating waste elimination, boosting the immune system, and reducing cravings.
6) Yoga helps to detoxify internal organs. Stretching, twisting, and compressing the internal organs from yoga stretches, combined with proper breathing, facilitates faster toxin removal in the body. Steady toxin removal means a good working metabolism and a top-notch body. The better you feel, the better you will move through your life.
7) Yoga strengthens primary and secondary stabilizing muscles. When your secondary muscles become stronger, your entire body becomes more balanced. This means better body awareness as you move through your life. Yoga also strengthens the core and spine which improves posture. When you increase strength combined with flexibility, your body becomes more powerful.
8) Yoga helps you sleep better by helping your body and mind relax. Yoga, combined with proper sleep, helps to reduce cortisol, stress, and inflammation that affect all levels of health.
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