Why Should You Do Yoga?

Updated on July 26, 2019

In short, Yoga makes you feel better. Practising the postures (or asanas), breathing exercises and meditation makes you healthier in body, mind and spirit. Also, Yoga lets you tune in, chill out, shape up – all at the same time. For many people, that’s enough of an answer to the question that we posed in the title. But there’s more if you’re interested.

What is Yoga?

The term ‘yoga’ refers to a combination of physical, mental, and spiritual practices or disciplines. These were given birth to in early India. 

Yoga is one of the six official schools that are present in Hindu philosophical traditions. There is a wide number of yoga schools, practices, and goals. These are present in the religions of Hinduism, Buddhism, and Jainism. The term “yoga” in – the Western world – often indicates a modern form of Hatha Yoga. This consists mainly of the postures. These are called asanas.

The origins of Yoga have been thought to date back to pre-Vedic Indian traditions. It is mentioned in the Rigveda. However, it most likely developed around the sixth and fifth centuries BCE in ancient India’s ascetic and śramaṇa movements.

The chronology of the earliest texts describing yoga-practices is not precise. They are varyingly attributed to Upanishads. The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali date as far back as the beginning half of the 1st millennium CE. However, they only gained renown in the West in the 20th century. Hatha yoga texts appeared sometime between the 9th and 11th century. They have their roots in tantra.

Yoga gurus from India Yoga to the West

This followed the success of Swami Vivekananda in the late 19th and early 20th century with his adaptation of yoga tradition. In countries outside India, Yoga has developed into a posture-based physical fitness, stress-relief and relaxation technique. 

However, Yoga in Indian traditions is more than just physical exercise. It has a meditative and spiritual core. One of the six primary conventional schools of Hinduism, which is also called Yoga, hasits own epistemology – in other words, study of the nature of knowledge, justification, and the rationality of belief and metaphysics. It is closely related to Hindu Samkhya philosophy.

The impact of postural Yoga on physical and mental health has been a topic of systematic studies. There is evidence that regular yoga practice yields benefits for lower back pain and stress. On 1 December  2016, Yoga was listed by UNESCO as an intangible cultural heritage.

What are the benefits of Yoga?

The relaxation techniques which are incorporated in Yoga can reduce chronic pain. For example, lower back pain, arthritis, headaches and carpal tunnel syndrome. Also, Yoga can lower blood pressure and reduce insomnia.

Other physical benefits of Yoga include:

  • Increased flexibility
  • Increased muscle strength and tone
  • Improved respiration, energy and vitality
  • Maintaining a balanced metabolism
  • Weight reduction
  • Cardio and circulatory health
  • Enhanced athletic performance
  • Protection from injury.

Yoga may help to reduce inflammation

As well as improving your mental health, some studies suggest that practising Yoga may reduce inflammation as well.

Inflammation is a healthy immune response. However, chronic inflammation can add to the development of pro-inflammatory diseases, such as heart disease, diabetes and cancer.

A 2015 study split 218 participants into two groups: those who practised Yoga on a regular basis as well as those who weren’t avid Yogis. Both collections then performed modest and strenuous exercises. The purpose was to cause stress.

At the end of the research study, the individuals who practised Yoga had reduced levels of inflammatory markers as opposed to those who didn’t.

Thus, a small 2014 study showed that 12 weeks of Yoga decreased inflammatory markers in breast cancer survivors who suffered from persistent fatigue.

More research is required in order to confirm the advantageous results of Yoga in terms of inflammation. However, these conclusions indicate that it may help protect against certain diseases caused by chronic inflammation.

Yoga could help to overcome chronic pain

Chronic pain is a tenacious problem that affects millions of people. It has a range of possible causes such as injuries and arthritis.

There is a developing collection of research that demonstrates that practising Yoga could help defeat many types of chronic pain.

In a study, 42 people with carpal tunnel syndrome either received a wrist splint or did Yoga for eight weeks. At the conclusion of the investigation, Yoga was found to be more effective in reducing pain and improving grip strength as opposed to wrist splinting.

Another examination in 2005 demonstrated that Yoga could help to decrease pain and improve physical function in participants with osteoarthritis that afflicted the knees.

Even though more research is needed, incorporating Yoga into your daily fitnessroutine may be beneficial for those who suffer from chronic pain.

So, what are you waiting for? Get out your yoga mat and start practising today!

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