Why practice Yoga?
Here are some of the major health benefits of practicing this 5000 year old ancient art:
- Yoga tones muscles, tissues, ligaments and nerves.
- It maintains the function and health of our bodily systems especially the endocrine and lymphatic systems.
- It relaxes the mind and body, relieving tiredness and stress.
- Yoga focusses the mind and builds courage and strength, especially when overcoming the fear, for example, of being upside down
- Yoga helps with weight loss as asana practice warms the muscles, boosting the metabolism and detoxifying the body, eliminating waste from the body through stimulating the lymphatic system.
- Deep, slow breathing when practicing yoga leaves you in a state of complete calm and tranquility.
It's a bit like brushing your teeth. Yoga cleanses the body from the inside with each pose eradicating the toxins and sediment (think plaque on your teeth) from the spaces inside your body.
Asanas or yoga poses can be divided into various types such as standing or seated, all of which have their own specific benefits.
Types of Yoga Poses
- Standing poses like Virabhadrasana II (Warrior pose), strengthen the leg muscles and joints, increase suppleness and strength of the spine, tone the cardio-vascular system and increase the supply of blood to the heart.
- Seated poses like Baddha Konasana (Bound Angle pose) bring elasticity to the hips, knees and groin muscles, remove tension from the diaphragm, the major breathing muscle, and keep the spine steady, calming the mind.
- Forward Bends like Paschimottanasana (Intense West Stretch Forward Fold) compress the abdominal organs allowing them to relax. They cool the front of the brain, reduce the pulse and therefore blood pressure and relieve any stress on the heart as there is no straining against gravity, so the blood can circulate easier.
- Twisting postures like Ardha Matsyendrasana (Half Lord of the Fishes pose) are marvelous for increasing energy levels as the twisting improves blood flow to the spinal nerves. The pelvic and abdominal organs are also squeezed and flushed with blood, relieving any spinal, hip and groin issues.
- Backbends like Setu Bandhasana (Bridge pose) stimulate the central nervous system and its ability to bear stress. They improve function of the liver and the spleen through stretching the organs. They are strong postures which challenge the body as most of us rarely bend our spines backwards in everyday life.
- Inversions like Sirsasana (Headstand) have a drying effect on the pelvic organs while the brain, heart and lungs are flushed with blood. They are wonderful for relieving fatigue, so stand on your head for a couple of minutes every day to relieve tiredness!
- Reclining or Supine postures like Supta Baddha Konasana (Reclining Bound Angle pose) are wonderfully cooling and soothing for the body. They refresh the mind and relax the body while also strengthening the joints. They are the perfect preparation for Pranayama (controlling life-force energy through breathing techniques).