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Yoga: The Key to Protecting Your Health

 Yoga: The Key to Protecting Your Health.

Yoga is a unique way of healthy living. It is one of the ancient health care practices that originated in India. Nowadays, it is extensively used all over the world since it has many health benefits. Yoga improves physical, mental, intellectual, and spiritual health.

Edumediawellness is committed to providing you the evidence-based information. In this content, you'll learn the basic concepts and the science-backed health benefits of yoga.

Protect your health with Yoga
Evidence-based health benefits of Yoga.



What is Yoga?

Yoga is the practice of physical, mental, and spiritual exercises to bring harmony among them. It is much more than bending and twisting your body in an odd shape. 

Yoga is thousands of years old complete health philosophy that emphasize harmonize your body with mind and breath.

Yoga is derived from the Sanskrit root ''Yuj'' which means ''to yoke'' or ''to unite''. So, yoga refers to unite the body, mind, and spirit. The practitioner of Yoga is called a Yogi (male)/Yogini (female practitioner).

Yoga includes the practice of body exercise, breathing exercise, meditation, and more. It is practiced to prevent various kinds of diseases as well as healing.

Around 2000 years ago, the Indian sage Patanjali integrated and organized the knowledge of yoga. That was a collection of 195 Sanskrit Sutras (aphorisms), known as The Yoga Sūtra of Patañjali. 

The Sūtra is the foundation of modern practices and is considered as the guide book of yoga.


The Yoga Sūtra of Patañjali describes 8 limbs of yoga. Those limbs are-
  1. Yamas (restraints) 
  2. Niyamas (observances) 
  3. Asana (postures) 
  4. Pranayama (breathing) 
  5. Pratyahara (withdrawal of senses) 
  6. Dharana (concentration)
  7. Dhyani (meditation)
  8. Samadhi (absorption).

According to the traditional concepts, yoga was considered as a tree (a living entity) having roots, a trunk, branches, blossoms, and fruits. 

There are 6 Branches of Yoga, namely Hatha, Raja, Karma, Bhakti, Jnana, and Tantra. Each branch has its unique features and functions.

1. Hatha yoga
Hatha derives from the two Sanskrit words ''Ha'; (Sun) and ''Tha'' (Moon). This is one of the oldest best branches and several styles come under this branch. This branch includes different types of physical poses ( asanas) and breathing exercises (pranayamas).

It emphasizes to balance two opposing forces. In other words, the focus of hatha yoga is to bring the balance between physical and mental energy. 


2. Raja yoga
Raja means King or Royal. This is the classical yoga is closely related to the 8 branches of the yoga sutra of Patanjali (mentioned earlier). This branch emphasizes meditation to control human thoughts and intellects.

3. Jnana yoga
Jnana refers to knowledge and wisdom. The focus of this branch is to know and realize the truth about yourself. To practice this branch you should have in-depth knowledge of the body, mind, and spirit.

4. Karma yoga
Karma means Action. This branch is based on the principle of cause and effect. This principle describes the present experiences as the outcome of past activities. 

This branch teaches to do work or act without expecting the self- benefits. The focus of this practice is to act for the benefit of others.

5. Bhakti yoga
Bhakti means devotion or love. The practice of this branch includes several steps to express the devotion, such as listening, singing, remembering, self-offering, etc.

6. Tantra yoga
This is the most controversial branches of yoga. You'll find several types of interpretation about the sexual connection with tantric yoga. 

About the sexual aspect, you'll find different interpretations between the classical and modern tantra. 

In the west, tantra is regarded as a kind of ritualized sexBut tantra involves several ideas and practices which are not related to sex.

According to classical explanation, Tantra means to weave. The goal of this branch is to reach spiritual enlightenment through connecting with your energies.

Tantra Yoga blends elements of other branches, such as Raja, Bhakti, Karma, and Hatha yoga.

Types of Yoga



Various types of yoga poses (asanas)
Various Yoga Poses. Image Credit- Pixabay



There are several types and styles of yoga. Each type has its unique benefits. The most common types or styles of yoga are the followings:

  • Ashtanga yoga 
Ashtanga Vinyasa or Asthanga Yoga is a modern style founded by K. Pattabhi Jois during the 20th century. This style consists of 6 series of specific poses. It emphasizes 3 places of attention (Tristhana)- asana, pranayama, and Drishti.

  • Bikram yoga
This is a hot yoga developed by Bikram Choudhury and became popular in 1970. It consists of 26 series of poses and 2 breathing exercises.

  • Iyengar yoga
This classical yoga is founded by B.K.S Iyenger. This type is popular both in the east and west. For practicing this type of yoga, high-level training is required.

Jivamukti yoga  
This is a modern hybrid type of yoga that was founded by David Life and Sharon Gannon in 1984.

Kripalu yoga
It is a gentle hatha yoga that emphasizes meditation and breathwork. The goals of this style are physical healing and spiritual awakening.

  • Kundalini yoga
Kundalini is derived from the Sanskrit word Kunda which means Circular. This style consists of chanting, singing, breathing exercises, and repetitive poses

The goal is to activate Kundalini Shakti, spiritual energy believed to be located at the base of the spine. 

The primary focus is to balance the chakras, meaning 7 types of energies in your body to attain spiritual enlightenment or awakening.

  • Power yoga
It is a faster type of yoga compared to others. It is practiced to strengthen muscle and flexibility.
 
  • Sivananda yoga 
It is a type of hatha yoga based on the spiritual teaching of Swami Sivananda. It consists of basic asanas, breathing exercises, and Sun Salutation. Sivananda yoga focuses on overall health and wellness.

  • Yin yoga  
It is practiced to boost circulation in the joints and improve flexibility. This is a slower type of yoga. In this style, poses are held for a few minutes. Holding poses longer benefits your body and mind.

7 Principal Chakras(Energies) 

There are 7 centers of energy in your body known as Chakras or Wheels. When these chakras are unblocked or opened, energy can flow freely. 

Free flow of energy is crucial to harmonize the body, mind, and spirit
These 7 Chakras are: 
  •     Root Chakra -Muladhara
  •     Sacral Chakra-Swadhisthana
  •    Solar Plexus/ Naval Chakra-Manipura
  •     Heart Chakra-Anahata
  •     Throat Chakra-Vishuddha
  •     Third Eye Chakra-Ajna 
  •     Crown Chakra-Sahasrara

Health Benefits of Yoga

Reduces Depression and Anxiety 

Yoga is considered effective stress management. Yoga helps reduce depression and anxiety. Various studies suggested that it can be considered as a complementary therapy in the treatment of anxiety and depression.

Establishes Peace of Mind

Meditation and breathing exercises reduce stress and enhance the efficiency of function of the inner faculty. Various research has shown that only a few minutes of meditation a day encourages positive states of mind to promote better mental health.

Reduces Pain

Yoga is effective to reduce chronic pain including the pain of osteoarthritis. A study in the USA in  2005 suggests that Iyenger yoga is effective for reducing knee pain improve the condition of disability caused by knee osteoarthritis. Several other studies indicate the practice of yoga may reduce chronic pain.

Reduces Migraines

Yoga may help stimulate the vagus nerve and thereby relieve migraines. A study in 2007 on 72 participants with symptoms of migraine suggests that practicing yoga can help reduce the frequency and intensity of headaches.

Build Muscle Strength

Different poses of yoga help promote your muscle strength. A study has shown that a 12-week Hatha yoga produced significant benefits on muscular strength and endurance.

Sound Sleep

Adequate sleep is crucial to lead a healthy life. Sleep deficiency or insomnia may cause obesity, hypertension, and many other disorders. Practicing yoga improves the quality of sleep. 

Plentiful studies indicate that asana and meditation practices can improve the quality of sleep and prevent insomnia.

Flexibility

The practice of yoga for weeks can increase flexibility and body balance. Various studies show that yoga has a significant effect on mobility and body balance.

 In 2013,  a 12-week yoga program has shown significant improvement in balance and flexibility in older communities.

A 2014 study shows after one year of practice of Hatha yoga, flexibility increased by 4 times. 

Improve Blood Circulation

As the practice of yoga includes physical movements and breathing exercises, it helps improve your blood circulation. Besides, it increases hemoglobin levels in red blood cells. Thus, practicing yoga prevent cardiovascular disorder.

Promote weight Control

Practicing yoga helps to improve muscle tone and boost metabolism. Since yoga burns fewer calories than other exercises, it does not produce satisfactory results in weight control. 
Many experts believe that this is a slow but steady strategy for weight management.

Reduce Blood Pressure

High Blood Pressure is the cause of many diseases. Regular practice of Yoga can reduce both systolic and diastolic blood pressure.

According to Reuters,  ''A research review suggests that adults who practice yoga with breathing and relaxation exercises at least three times a week may have a lower blood pressure than people who don’t''. 

Blood Sugar

The presence of excess glucose(sugar) in the bloodstream can lead to diabetes mellitus or diabetes. It is known as the silent killer.

Many people with diabetes mellitus are shifting to yoga to keep their condition under control and improve their overall quality of life. 

Practicing yoga increases glucose uptake by muscle cells, which in turn helps lower blood sugar levels and improve circulation. It helps control blood sugar by regulating cortisol and adrenaline, and other stress hormones. 

So it can help prevent diabetes. It also helps maintain your cholesterol levels by lowering LDL and increasing HDL.

Boost Immunity

Some yoga postures can boost your immunity system. Yoga can reduce stress, which causes the disfunction of an immune response. It resists the automatic changes in stress-related immunity. So it is the natural step to boost your immune system.

Improve the function of the Respiratory System 

As various styles of yoga include breathing exercises, it improves the functioning of your respiratory system. 

You can enhance oxygen intake through pranayama/ breathing exercise, which strengthens the functioning of the lungs. Thus it helps prevent asthma and other lungs disorder. 

Nowadays, excessive air pollution reduces the working capacity of our respiratory system.

 Moreover, it is responsible for various respiratory diseases such as nasal allergies, asthma, bronchitis, and even lung cancer.

Yoga has been shown to improve pulmonary parameters in several scientific studies, both in healthy and sick individuals.

Digestive System

Practicing yoga ensures healthy digestion through proper body movement. It helps efficient transportation of foods and removes the waste from your body. Yoga helps to treat gastrointestinal disorders.

Keep Learning:






Conclusion

The benefits I've discussed here is not the end. It is hardly possible to describe the benefits of yoga in a single article like this. Out of many, I've mentioned a few of the evidence-based benefits of it.

In short, yoga is essential to lead a healthy lifestyle.  It helps boost your overall health and wellness. It is the key to protect your health and live a longer life.

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