What is Yoga. Yoga Poses and Benefits
Yoga is an ancient and complex practice, rooted in Indian philosophy. It began as a spiritual practice but has become popular as a way of promoting physical and mental well-being.
Although classical yoga also includes other elements, yoga as practiced in the United States typically emphasizes physical postures (asanas), breathing techniques (pranayama), and meditation (dyana). Popular yoga styles such as iyengar, bikram, and hatha yoga focus on these elements.
Yoga and two practices of Chinese origin—tai chi and qi gong—are sometimes called “meditative movement” practices. All three practices include both meditative elements and physical ones.
Research suggests that yoga may:
- Help improve general wellness by relieving stress, supporting good health habits, and improving mental/emotional health, sleep, and balance
- Relieve low-back pain and neck pain
- Relieve menopause symptoms
- Help people manage anxiety or depressive symptoms associated with difficult life situations (but yoga has not been shown to help manage anxiety disorders, clinical depression, or post traumatic stress disorder [PTSD])
- Help people quit smoking
- Help people who are overweight or obese lose weight
- Help people with chronic diseases manage their symptoms and improve their quality of life.
Although there’s been a lot of research on the health effects of yoga, many studies have included only small numbers of people and haven’t been of high quality. Therefore, in most instances, we can only say that yoga has shown promise for particular health uses, not that it’s been proven to help.
Using Yoga To Reduce Pain
Research has been done on yoga for several conditions that involve pain. Studies of yoga for low-back pain and neck pain have had promising results, and yoga is among the options that the American College of Physicians recommends for first-line treatment of chronic low-back pain. Very little research has been done on yoga for headaches, arthritis, or fibromyalgia, so it’s uncertain whether it can help to relieve pain from these conditions.
Benefits of Doing Yoga:
1) Yoga is believed to reduce menopausal hot flashes.
2) Yoga improves your balance.
3) Yoga makes your moves more graceful.
4) Yoga can actually prevent you from having migraine head aches.
5) Yoga delays aging by stimulating Detoxification in the body.
6) Yoga can relieve constipation.
7) Yoga can alleviate allergy symptoms.
9) Yoga can increase your pain tolerance.
10) Yoga reduces blood pressure and pulse rate.
11) Yoga helps prevent disease by massaging,
your internal organs
12) Yoga can help improve your immune systems.
13) Yoga can heal the body and prevent injuries
14) Yoga improves your posture.
Using brain scans, scientists can now prove that yoga actually changes your brain chemistry. And that’s a good thing. Just like practicing tai chi moves, using yoga as a form of exercise and meditation can help naturally treat a range of health issues, particularly ones rooted in the brain. While natural therapies, including yoga, don’t have a ton of funding for major studies compared to the pharmaceutical and biotech industries, we are starting to see some compelling science emerge. Some of the best science to date showing how yoga changes your brain involves yoga’s impact on anxiety, depression and pain tolerance.
Did you know yoga is a natural remedy for anxiety? That’s because yoga impacts our brain’s GABA levels. GABA is short for gamma-aminobutryic acid, sometimes referred to as your body’s “chill out” neurotransmitter. GABA is crucial for suppressing neural activity. Your GABA neurotransmitters produce a calming effect similar to of drinking alcohol (without the harmful side effects). And, of course, alcohol’s calming effects are only temporary, with anxiety often rising once the buzz wears off. Yoga bumps up your brain’s natural GABA production without traditional anti-anxiety drugs designed to help your body release GABA. (Getting off benzodiazepine drugs can lead to serious withdrawal symptoms.) Yoga sounds much better than insomnia, seizures and, ironically, more anxiety linked with drug withdrawal.
Bring on the asanas! While walking to lose weight really works, it may not be your best defense against anxiety. Practicing yoga unleashes more anxiety-quelling GABA in the brain’s thalamus than walking, according to a 2010 study published in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine. Compared to pleasure reading for an hour, a 60-minute yoga session increases GABA levels by 27 percent. Because of its combination of breathing, meditation and movement, yoga could be one of the best exercises to combat anxiety.
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