The Benefits of Yoga for Health and Fitness

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Yoga is a complex group of body-mind/spiritual disciplines or practices that originated in India, aiming at unifying and balancing the body, mind, and spirit, and acknowledging the non-attached ‘worthy’ witness-awareness without being attached to it. Yoga aims to produce psychological and physiological well-being, by uniting the body, mind, and spirit into a unified whole. The term “yoga” first appears in the Hindu scripture Katha Upanishad, where it describes an eight-limbed practice, beginning with “ganjali”, which means “to join” or join together. This tradition was taken up by the yogis of India in the early age of H. M. Gandhi and continues to be preserved today by various tantra and yoga institutes. It is used as a subject matter in the treatment of mental disorders in various postures, but was taken up for exercise as a means of self-realization by the westerners.

Yoga has several concepts: unity (anarchy), which teach us that we are one; power (puja), which calls us to concentrate on our inner passions (prana), meditation (dhyana), which help in focusing on the inner Self, concentration (data), which calms and clears the mind; and ethical disciplines (dharana-veda), which calls for a devotion to the ethical principles (dharma), and physical exercises (asana). Yoga philosophy says that man must follow the path of Karma Yoga if he would attain liberation from the cycle of birth and rebirth. Karma Yoga teaches the doctrines of right and wrong, right living (pratyahara), and vegetarianism. In fact, most Yoga schools are vegetarian.

Yoga is also associated with mental balance and health. Through meditation, a Yogi can purify his mind, bring about inner harmony (tamas), and prepare his soul (rasala). This mental harmony leads to a healthy body (moksha). Regular yoga practice not only brings physical benefits, it also refreshes and energizes the nervous system, as it is composed mainly of tissues (sporulae).

The nervous system controls the major organs of the body, including the circulatory and digestive systems. Yoga, through its practices of dhyana, pranayama, asana, mantra, mudra, nadis, and meditation, enables yogis to maintain a perfect balance of the nervous system. Through the yogic philosophy of life force or prana, the blood circulates easily and blood pressure is decreased.

Many people are familiar with the asana or meditation techniques of Hatha Yoga. A large number of people, however, do not realize that Hatha Yoga incorporates a number of breathing exercises, which facilitate physical as well as mental healing. A significant component of Hatha Yoga is the breathing exercises called pranayama. Practicing pranayama regularly is believed to assist the practitioner in combating stress, depression, anxiety, pain, insomnia, obesity, digestive disorders, respiratory disorders, and many other diseases and ailments. As a result, millions of people throughout the world have been practicing yoga for several centuries.

There are many types of yoga, which include restorative asana, power yoga, poses to ease chronic pain, poses to enhance fertility and increase energy, gentle yoga, postures to help fight stress, deep breathing exercises, ashtanga yoga, kundalini yoga, ashtanga, power yoga, and many more. Most poses are suitable for beginners. For example, the easiest poses to learn are the sun salutation, balancing and twisting, balancing and back bending, mountain pose, balancing and straightening, balancing and twisting, back bend, trunk pose, cobra pose, child’s pose, and child’s pose with twist. Restorative asana has been practiced for thousands of years. Its main purpose is to increase flexibility; however, it can also help individuals maintain a healthy body, reduce stress, enhance circulation, calm nerves, and more.

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