Yoga For Health And Wellbeing
Yoga for health and wellbeing has become very popular over the last few years. It can be used to not only help ease health problems but also as a prevention as well.
The benefits for your general wellbeing are huge and if practiced regularly can make a big difference to your life.
Yoga is an ancient form of exercise that’s been around for thousands of years. However it’s only really taken off in the West since the mid twentieth century.
Some people see it as just a way to tone their body, but yoga is so much more than that. And one of the great things is that you’re never too old to start yoga! In fact many don’t start until they’re in their 70s, and some even practice age over 100!
So what are the health benefits of yoga? Keep reading as I outline some of the main ones, as well as a few that may surprise you!
Yoga for heart health
Keeping your heart in shape is vital for good health, but how can yoga help?
Yoga helps by strengthening the cardiovascular system. The exercises focus on breathing, lowering blood pressure and increasing lung capacity. It also helps improve blood circulation, and there are even claims it can open arteries.
However always see your doctor if you suffer from any symptoms as it could save your life.
Combining yoga with meditation, aerobic exercise and a healthy diet may not only help prevent heart disease but also reverse it as well. It’s NOT a substitute for medication though, so don’t stop taking your statins or blood pressure pills.
Yoga for stress
Stress is one of the biggest causes of high blood pressure and stroke. I know this all to well having suffered a stroke 2 years ago. By just taking a few minutes of your day to practice either yoga or meditation you can make dramatic improvements to your health over time.
Just like meditation, yoga helps you focus on your breathing, making you feel calm and peaceful.
Deep breathing is both calming and energising. It sends a message to your nervous system to calm down and relax. Whole books have been written on yoga breathing. Here is a five-minute Breathing exercise that you can practice during the day
1. Sit with your spine as straight as possible.
Use a chair if necessary but don’t slump into it. Feet flat on the floor with your knees directly over the center of your feet. Use a book or cushion under your feet if they don’t rest comfortably on the floor. Place your hands on the top of your legs palms upward.
2. Gently close your eyes
3. Visualise your ribs, and as you breathe in deeply. Feel them expanding as your lungs fill up. Then feel them come back down again as you exhale. Try this for two to three minutes to start with, then you could try five to ten minutes as you get used to it.
You’ll find this very effective if you’re stressed or anxious as it will calm you down, lowering your heart rate and blood pressure.
Yoga for insomnia
Insomnia is often a side effect of stress and if left untreated can lead to health problems. Lack of sleep or poor quality sleep can lower your immune system, raise your blood pressure, and even lead to weight gain.
Recent figures show that nearly a quarter of the population regularly cannot go to, or remain asleep, and every year doctors write out more than 14 million prescriptions for sleeping tablets.
Just like meditation, yoga calms the mind and helps banish anxiety. Yoga gentle stretching exercises reduces tension in the body. Tension knots can have you tossing and turning during the night, resulting in poor quality sleep. Sometimes insomnia is caused by aches and pains, so a few gentle exercises before you get into bed may help.
Yoga for arthritis
This brings us on to yoga for arthritis. This is a very painful condition common among older people, but there are also many younger sufferers as well.
As yoga is gentle and low impact it’s ideal for working with painful joints. However, start slowly and don’t push yourself. Use yoga mats, blocks and pillows for support. Gradually you may find you’re able to stretch more and will see an improvement in flexibility.
This greatly reduces the risk of trips and falls which so often result in bad bruising or broken bones. Even if you only have arthritis in your hands it can still be very disabling, causing swollen and painful joints. Think of all the everyday tasks you need both hands for!
If you’re new to yoga, atha, Kundalini and Vinyasa yoga are all good examples of low-impact yoga that can be done safely even by complete beginners.
Yoga for mental health
One of the best things about yoga is that it can help you overcome not only stress as I previously mentioned, but also depression. It can help you develop a greater sense of self worth, and improve confidence.
The mere fact you value yourself enough to exercise will probably encourage you to eat healthily as well. The long term effects of this will be very beneficial to you. Even if you don’t suffer any mental issues it will still help you become more centered.
Mindfulness yoga combines the physical disciplines of yoga with being aware of your body and the present moment.
As you become more confident and happier within yourself your state of vibration will rise. This as we all know draws positive energy towards you. Feeling not only only healthier but happier can ultimately increase your chances of success in all areas of life.
The surprising benefits of yoga I mentioned include easing migraines, easing asthma, boosting your immune system, and improving sexual performance.
I hope this article has helped you realise just how much yoga can improve your health and wellbeing. If you’ve never tried it before and are completely new, you’ll find plenty of information online to get you started.
It may be a good idea to find a local class as having a professional teach you will ensure you’re doing the moves correctly.
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