The word “YOGA” gets derived from the Sanskrit word Yuj, meaning “union”. It is a group of physical, mental and spiritual practices or disciplines. The origin of yoga goes back to ancient India. It dates back to pre-Vedic Indian tradition. Its traces can be found in the record of the Indus Valley Civilization around 3000 BCE. The first mention of the word “yoga” was seen in the Katha Upanishads.
Yoga is an ancient practice that brings together the mind and the soul. Yoga consists of breathing exercises, meditation and poses designed to relax and reduce stress.
According to the traditional approach of yoga, its ultimate goal is to achieve “moksha” (liberation). The first Hindu teacher of yoga who actively advocated yoga in the western world was Swami Vivekanand. He travelled to Europe and the United States and encouraged people to learn about the benefits of yoga and practice it.
Yoga largely consists of asanas connected by flowing sequences known as vinyasas, accompanied by breathing exercises of pranayama. It usually ends with a period of relaxation and meditation.
Yoga has proven to be very beneficial for the entire body. People who practice yoga daily have noticed an immense change in their body and their lifestyle. It also helps in delaying ageing if the body parts, keeps you healthy and keeps unnecessary diseases away
Some of the benefits of yoga are:
- Helps relax:
Yoga relaxes your body and decreases stress. Studies have shown that it decreases the secretion of cortisol, the hormone responsible for stress. A three-month yoga program can lower the levels of stress, anxiety and depression. It helps you slow down breathing and focus your shift on the present. Yoga shifts your balance from the sympathetic nervous system to parasympathetic nervous system. The parasympathetic nervous system is calming and restorative.
2. Improves flexibility:
Most people practice yoga to improve their flexibility and balance. If you practice yoga regularly, you will notice an increase in your flexibility. You’ll be able to bend your body more easily. You’ll also notice that the pains and aches in joints start to disappear. Your body becomes muscles become loose. This enhances your flexibility, balance and posture
3. Improves heart health:
Yoga helps lower blood pressure. High blood pressure is the main reason behind heart attacks and stroke. It also helps slow the progression of heart diseases. Yoga lowers the resting heart rate, increases endurance and improve oxygen intake.
4. Improves sleep:
Practising yoga helps improve sleep quality. It relieves you from the hustle and chaos of life and sleeps soundly. You’ll be less tired, less stressed and less likely to have accidents. Studies have shown that yoga increases the secretion of melatonin. It is a hormone that regulates sleep and wakefulness.
5. Promotes a healthy lifestyle:
It is advisable to move more and eat less. Yoga helps you do both. It helps you burn calories and the spiritual dimension helps you focus and become a conscious eater. It helps induce mindfulness which further helps in encouraging healthy eating behaviours.
6. Gives peace of mind:
With today’s lifestyle, many people suffer from stress. Stress can also cause many other health problems. Like migraines, insomnia, high blood pressure and heart attack. Yoga helps you quiet your mind. It will reduce your stress and also keep you safe from all the other diseases related to stress.
There are several other benefits of yoga. It has both mental and physical benefits. Some of the benefits are scientifically proven but some are.
Some other benefits of yoga are:
Improves immune system
Builds awareness for transformation.
Inculcating the habit of practising yoga for one hour daily can significantly change the way you live. You’ll be happier, less stressed and peaceful.
But don’t do more than your body can accept. You’ll improve slowly but don’t rush into learning everything in one go. It can be risky and cause injury. Your body will learn and adapt with time.