Health

The Health Benefits of Yoga

Yoga has been around for centuries, but it is so popular nowadays, one would think it were a recent invention. Millions of people engage in yoga not only as an enjoyable activity but one that has a host of health benefits. Yoga promotes general health through breathing exercises and movements that keep the muscles supple and the body nimble. It feels good to stretch your arms, legs, and midriff as well as breathing with full concentration. You may feel healthier, less stressed and more rested after performing yoga, but you may not be aware of ways in which it is helping you in the long and short-term.

Yoga breathing exercises or Pranayamas, are conducive to meditation and spirituality as well as respiratory health. Taking in air gradually for a certain number of counts and exhaling gets the lungs accustomed to filling up fully with air. Many people associate aerobic exercise with cardiovascular health, but the breathing exercises practiced in yoga and meditation can keep you lungs functioning effectively. With rapid Kundalini pranayamas, you may even be able to clear out your sinuses with vigorous nostril breathing.

Try this breathing alternative nostril breathing exercise. Close your right nostril with your thumb. Inhale through your left nostril and place your fingers over your left nostril to close it. Exhale through your right nostril. Do repeated cycles of breathing in through the right nostril and exhaling through the left, covering the nostrils with your thumb and then your fingers.

If you have chronic pain, it may be hard to imagine how to concentrate on yoga and meditation. However, yoga is a time-honored method of dealing with various kinds of pain, whether it is back pain or takes the form of regular migraines. Yoga keeps the body flexible, warm and supple enough to prevent pain from starting. In many cases, pain is associated with stiffness in the body, so movements that encourage flexibility can keep pain at bay.

Ideal moves for lower back pain are the cow and the cat poses. Even if you have mastered only basic yoga techniques, you most likely are familiar with these poses. The cow involves putting your knees on the floor with your arms forward in table top position. Inhale and move your chest and behind up towards the ceiling while allowing your midriff to drop in the center. The cat is the opposite of the cow pose and involves curving your back and moving your stomach back. Repeat these poses 5 to 10 times while breathing slowly.

 

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Migraine suffers may notice a reduction or cessation of their symptoms after several weeks or months of daily yoga. Not only do poses and mindful breathing help relieve stress, but they help the body to align itself properly. The reason many people suffer migraines after spending too much time at the office may not be the pressure of the work itself, but that sitting at a desk or typing can create alignment problem that can lead to migraines. Yoga helps you reorient your body and prevent migraines, which can make work and play difficult.

To prevent migraines and improve your body’s alignment, try the bridge pose. Start on your back with bent knees and feet on the floor. Bring your hips upward while moving down with your legs and bringing the hips upward. Make sure your shoulders are aligned well with the base of your neck. Bring your chest close to your chin and move your chin back.

A study from Norway has shown that yoga can improve immunity by aiding the expression of certain genes. Yoga seemed to cause a greater expression of these genes that fight off illness than a number of other activities. Proper breathing improves circulation, organ function and general health, which also boosts immunity.

If you feel tired and have trouble getting to sleep at night,  breathing and poses can help quiet an overactive mind so you can go to sleep. Yoga has been shown to ease insomnia and help those with severe illnesses get to sleep at night. Doing a series of stretches and movements followed with deep breathing can be a good place to start. Try a Savasana pose which is often done at the end of a yoga session. Lie down on your back with your legs somewhat apart and put your hands on your stomach. Let your stomach rise and fall underneath your hands as you breathe. This pose will relax you thoroughly and can be done to conclude the yoga session or is an exercise to help you relax before retiring.

 

Yoga involves slowing down and being mindful of your movements and breathing. This mindfulness helps you connect with your thoughts and feelings and can enable you to manage cravings. If you eat with intention, you can avoid unhealthy foods. In addition to your yoga routine and breathing exercises that help you focus, try slowing down when you eat, paying attention to the flavor of the food and chewing each bite thoroughly. Avoid doing other things while you are eating so you can fully appreciate the process of eating. Not only will eating more slowly help you get full more quickly, but it is better for your stomach and digestive system to chew food thoroughly.

Whatever reason you do yoga, you are bound to enjoy significant health benefits such as improved circulation, immunity, and more refreshing sleep. Yoga can keep your muscles smooth and flexible and help relieve stiffness, aches, and pains. There are many psychological and spiritual benefits of yoga that can translate into reduced stress and an improved sense of well-being. Try several types of yoga, such as Hatha, that focuses on gentle movement and slow breathing. Ashtanga yoga involves more vigorous movements than Hatha with coordinated breath, and it is a good choice if you want to work up a sweat. Kundalini yoga is ideal for those who want to pursue the spiritual dimensions of yoga. Whatever type of yoga you choose, keep in mind its health benefits for the body, mind, and spirit.

 

 

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