Yoga has become popular the last couple of years. I have been practicing yoga since I was 15, and I do it simply because it makes me feel good. But what are the benefits of yoga? And are the internet stories about life-changing yoga true?
Yoga according to ancient Indian practice
Nobody knows exactly how long humans have been practicing yoga, but many scientists believe the first people started about 5000 years ago. It’s most likely, when you practice yoga, you practice hatha yoga. This is the most common form of yoga in the western world. In the late 1800s, yogi travelled from India to the west. There, they taught their practices. They told the western people that yoga is “a vast collection of spiritual techniques and practices aimed at integrating mind, body, and spirit to achieve a state of enlightenment or oneness with the universe.”
About the benefits of yoga
Yoga is a practice for the body and the mind. So, the benefits affect both. The different asanas (yoga poses) strengthen the body and will make you more flexible. Breath is an important aspect of practicing yoga. That is the part where you train your mind to focus and concentrate to make it quiet in our head during our busy life. These are the main benefits, but science caught on yoga as well, and research proves there is more than just muscles and peace of mind because of yoga.
The healthy yoga lifestyle
Yoga is for the body and the mind. It trains the mind to meditate and be mindful. Being mindful is what helps make healthier life choices and better eating habits. According to research, yoga makes you a more mindful eater. Yoga practice makes you more aware of your body and how it feels. That makes it easier to stop eating when you’re full. It also makes it easier to recognize what your body needs, for example, to eat more when you’ve just done a hard yoga class or eat less when you’ve been a couch potato all day. That helps to maintain a healthy weight.
Can yoga cure an illness?
I love to do yoga when I have sat behind a computer the whole day. Yoga stretches your muscles and is a good way to get rid of sore muscles or pain in the neck or back. But can yoga cure a real illness? Studies show that yoga can help with depression and anxiety, but it can’t cure mental illness. Miracle stories tell of people who were able to walk again after practicing yoga for years.
I could find no research to prove it, but yoga can help cure a lot of body issues. For me, it helps with back and neck pain and even a headache can go away by doing a relaxing yoga class. It helps to make life better, and I feel more relaxed and at ease. But I don’t think yoga is a cure.
Still flexible when you’re 90 years old
There are a lot of pictures from old yogis in India that give the impression that yoga can give you a longer and healthier life, especially with this lady as an example. “For breath is life, and if you breathe well, you will live long on earth.” This is a Sanskrit Proverb. Since yoga is all about breathing, this might make sense. Also, by moving and challenging your body into different asanas, you keep your body fit. And a fit body lives longer most of the time. But there is another secret these old Indian yogis have: They eat less than we do. They lower their calorie intake by 20-30% and still provide essential nutrients. Studies have shown that eating less makes different species live longer.
Just for peace of mind
I love food! So, I won’t be a hundred-year-old lady doing yoga. But I like to think that I will still do yoga when I’m 80. Why? Because I could! Yoga is for everyone who wants peace of mind and a stronger and more flexible body.
What are your experiences with Yoga? Let me know in the comment box below!
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