Yoga is an ancient lifestyle that incorporates exercises or postures (asanas), breathing awareness (pranayama) and meditation to achieve a balance of life energy. Yoga asanas give the fullest fitness with the least amount of stress on the body. Meditation gives the mental fortitude to perform the postures. When combined, the postures, meditation and breathing, creates positive balance.
Yoga is a non competitive exercise which can be enjoyed by anyone, regardless of age, body type or fitness level. It has been practiced for centuries, in a variety of forms but has become increasingly popular in the west due to its many health benefits.
Yoga has a positive effect on many of the body’s systems due to the nature of the exercises. Each yoga session should exercise the whole body through a range of asanas and meditations. Holding postures for a period of time while synchronising breathing, helps to calm, strengthen and stretch.
Meditation helps to achieve the harmony between mind and body. It restores emotional balance and is a stress release. Long term mental benefits include reduced stress and anxiety levels, and increased feelings of calm and wellbeing. Yoga creates a remarkable calmness and a positive outlook, which leads to tremendous benefits on the physical health of the body.
There are also benefits for the muscular-skeletal system. Stretching helps to release muscle tension and increases flexibility. Yoga postures tone and strengthen muscles and may be helpful in preventing osteoporosis. There can be long term benefits for reduced back pain and posture.
It improves blood circulation which has flow on effects for nervous, digestive and cardiovascular system and helps to cleanse the body of toxins. The cardiovascular system benefits from holding of yoga postures due to improved fitness and normalised blood pressure. Digestive systems are massaged by the movements, even organs and glands which usually receive no external stimulation can be helped by yoga.
Individuals who are over 40, out of shape, have a pre-existing medical condition or pregnant you should check with your doctor before starting any regular exercise routine. While some exercises may be unsuitable for people with these conditions Yoga can still help due to its gentle nature. Be sure to inform your yoga teacher of your condition or if you feel any pain during the class so they can modify the postures for you.
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