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April 26 2021Read more
Yoga is an ancient physical, mental and spiritual practice that originated in India. The word ‘yoga’ derives from Sanskrit and means to join or to unite, symbolising the union of body and consciousness.
The International Day of Yoga, held on Monday 21st of June, aims to raise awareness of the many benefits of practicing yoga. This year, the theme is ‘Yoga at home, and yoga with family.’ After nearly 18 months of lockdown, it’s important that we share with people the things we enjoy, and yoga is something we can all enjoy—even over Zoom...!
Proposed initially by India—where yoga has been practiced for countless generations—the idea was endorsed by 175 member states of the United Nations. That’s a record—clearly, yoga is a popular idea around the globe.
There are a huge array of benefits to practicing yoga. It’s truly for everyone—you don’t need expensive equipment (or really any equipment at all), and the enhancements to fitness and wellbeing can be felt by young and old alike.
Here are some of the ways that practicing yoga—even for just an hour every couple of days—will help you be a healthier and happier person:
Yoga is proven to lower the body’s levels of cortisol—the stress hormone. While the physical part of this is important, one of the fundamental principles of yoga—the idea that the mind and body are connected as one—will help alleviate a great deal of stress. If the body is relaxed, loose and calm, the brain will follow.
The deep breathing, muscle control and relaxation techniques that are basic parts of yoga train your body’s counter-stress response system. This is known as the parasympathetic nervous system, and when you’re aware and focused on making it work for you, stress melts away.
In much the same way that it relieves stress, yoga is proven to combat anxiety. The postures you learn as part of practicing yoga are great for relieving the tension, tightness and pain sensitivity that anxiety bring.
The mindfulness that the breathing exercises encourage helps you to let go of worry and fear. Yoga can even help with more serious problems, like PTSD (though you should discuss this with a therapist, as you shouldn’t rely on it alone to solve deeper problems.)
Over 55% of people who regularly practice yoga report getting much better sleep than they did before starting. This is partly because of the great reductions in stress, worry and anxiety, partly because of the better physical health, and partly because holding the poses, and relaxing the mind, encourages secretion of melatonin. This is the hormone that regulates your sleep—if you’re having problems drifting off at night, it’s likely that a melatonin imbalance is the problem.
Pregnant women who practice yoga sleep far better than those that don’t. It’s the same for people receiving cancer therapies, which are notorious for destroying sleep patterns. Seriously, if you’re having difficulty sleeping, try an hour of yoga a day, even just for a week.
There are more resources available online than we can count, should you want to try some of this great yoga therapy for yourself. It ranges from simple, easy to follow videos you can find for free on YouTube to complex, high-level tuition from personal trainers delivered via video chat. Yoga is truly for everyone’s growth and development.
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