“As our life is shaped by our mind, we become what we think.”
When it comes to the regular practice of Yoga, this pearl of wisdom from an ancient spiritual text also applies to the shaping of bodies and souls. Easily capable of providing an overall fitness program, Yoga can be the catalyst for making very positive healthy life changes that impact the mind, body and soul.
Yoga bodies come in all sizes and shapes. A universal practice, which can begin at any age and continue throughout a lifetime, with which many individuals not only enjoy a healthier lifestyle but also a boost to their self-confidence as well as their level of awareness that ignites other positive results. The more we are self-aware, the easier it is to break free of our destructive habits or emotions.
B.K.S. Iyengar, a well-known yogic guru, taught that the mind is a vital link between the body and the consciousness. Yoga, derived from a Sanskrit word which means union, can provide the path toward a better life because it creates a union of body, mind and soul. Individuals who are looking to make a positive change, may want to consider putting Yoga on the top of their to-do list.
The Mind Body Connection
Not just a full body workout, Yoga has been proven to prevent trips to the doctor and chiropractor as well being confirmed to relieve stress and insomnia. It also teaches control, consciousness of being, and encourages deep breathing and “breath with purpose,” also known as pranayama, which translates as “the science of breathing.”
Benefits to Physical Health
Yoga’s benefits to good physical health are immeasurable because many postures stabilize the function of the immune system, regulate hormones, improve flexibility and strengthen muscle and bone. This in turn can help fight diseases such as diabetes, osteoporosis, arthritis and pain. Although it is rarely discussed, a regular practice may also be capable of strengthening the heart.
Mental Health Benefits
Yoga has been proven to reduce stress to the central nervous system, which can cause major or chronic health issues such as high blood pressure, elevated blood sugar and increased pain. If the body is unable to turn off the stress response for even a short period of time it can take an unhealthy toll on physical health. A regular yoga practice can help relieve stress and has been proven to reduce cortisol, norepinepherine and epinephrine, chemicals the body releases during stressful events.
Yoga can boost circulation, which improves the flow of blood and oxygen throughout the body. Although its aerobic effect is rarely considered, Yoga poses are stimulating exercises. Many inverted poses force the flow of blood through the heart, thus increasing cardiovascular function and strengthening the heart. In the January 2005 issue of the Yoga Journal, Timothy McCall, MD, writes “regular (yoga) practice can lower the heart rate, increase endurance and improve the uptake of oxygen which yields the same result as aerobic conditioning”.