Yoga is a physical, mental, and spiritual exercise developed in the 6th century BCE. Yoga means Union; to yoke, or unite.
The intention of Yoga is to unite the body and the mind, the physical and the mental, creating a powerful synergy for awareness and healing.
By yoking mindfulness with therapeutic movement and postures, yoga acts as a catalyst to release tension, anxiety, pain, Myofascial restrictions, and emotional stress from the body.
In this effective and gentle practice we are invited to quiet the mind, open the heart, and center our attention on the body and the breath.
This practice of presence is the foundation for authentic health and vitality and an opportunity to transform the patterns that bind us into nourishing and life-giving habits.
Emotional Health Boost
All exercise has been shown to help people with depression feel better, and yoga is no exception. In fact, a study from Duke University Medical Center suggested that yoga could benefit those living with depression, schizophrenia, other psychiatric conditions, and sleep problems.
"Practicing in a group setting, such as a yoga class, stimulates the production of oxytocin, the love and bonding hormone," McGrath says. "Practicing mindfulness through yoga and meditation also results in higher serotonin levels (the happiness hormone), and long-term practitioners have shown more mass in the areas of the brain associated with contentment."
Back Pain Treatment
Multiple studies have found yoga to be a more effective treatment for chronic back pain than usual care. In a study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine, people living with chronic lower back pain reported better back function, though similar levels of pain, after a few months of practicing yoga.
In another study of 80 individuals with chronic lower back pain, the group that participated in just one week of yoga showed less disability and greater flexibility than patients who completed other physical exercises. Even if you don't have chronic pain, yoga's stretching exercises can improve your spinal flexibility.
In recent years, couples have increasingly turned to yoga as a means of decreasing stress and increasing their chances of conceiving a child. And though there are few studies that indicate that yoga benefits include enhancing fertility, it has been shown to reduce stress and could indeed play a role.
Heart Disease Helper
In a study of 19 patients with heart failure, adding eight weeks of yoga to the treatment of nine of the patients increased their capacity for exercise, improved their heart health, and enhanced their overall quality of life. Yoga plays a huge role in reducing your risk of heart disease. The cardiovascular benefits of yoga also help reduce arterial plaque.
In a study of 57 adults with mild to moderate asthma, adding an eight-week yoga session to their conventional care dramatically improved asthma symptoms. Breathing practice, known as pranayama, is an essential part of yoga, and such exercises have been shown to help ease the symptoms of asthma.
Benefits of Yoga
Meditation is a practice of self-reflection and mindfulness.
In meditation, we focus our attention on our breath—and sensations in our body—to promote stillness and calmness of mind, in an effort to create the best conditions for the development of insight and awareness.
Regular meditation practice has been shown to decrease stress, alleviate depression, increase feelings of self-worth, and develop a positive outlook on life.