I first came across yoga when I was 25.
Coping with the stress of attending university was really taking its toll, and I felt it’s time to make some changes.
Being a lesser fan of aerobics, gym, and other similar sports activities, I opted for yoga.
I was not aware of its benefits back then – I simply wanted to try something new.
The result was phenomenal! My yoga instructor was so calm and patient like she was from another planet.
I was hypnotized.
Even though it was hard at the beginning, I gradually improved my flexibility and managed to do most of the asanas properly.
I felt great.
Not to mention, I was more relaxed, concentrated, and staying at the moment.
Not thinking about the past or future – I was living in the present, here and now.
Eventually, some deep, and unconscious enemies started to emerge on the surface, like suppressed anger and emotions.
But, I was fine with that. Yoga helped me to deal with them and connect with myself again.
So, as you can see from the introduction I’m all for yoga. Now I would like to present you with the benefits of it in more detail.
Yoga can help people with depression.
Let’s face it – it’s not easy to live in today’s world. We work a lot, trying to provide for our families. We are constantly bombarded with bad news.
All this can really affect our mental state – of course, if we let it.
Depression and anxiety are the two biggest issues we are coping with today.
But yoga can be our ally and help us return to our core self and don’t let bad things influence us so much.
Speaking in more scientific ways, recent studies have suggested that yoga can reduce stress, help with depression and anxiety, improve energy and help people to relax.
Yoga represents a unity of physical exercises, breathing techniques, and meditation.
So, practicing it can help with depression and lower the symptoms such as loss of energy or difficulty concentrating.
After a while, people claim that they successfully manage to cope with mental and emotional problems, disorders such as chronic low back pain, and to improve overall health and state of well-being.
In more detail, the combination of physical movement and meditation relieves depression.
Meditation helps people to stay in the present moment and clear their mind, and focused movements strengthen the mind-body connection.
Deep, controlled breathing helps people to relax and with that reduces symptoms of depression.
Yoga improves your mood
Yoga is a natural way to increase the happy hormone – serotonin.
This hormone plays a crucial role in the treatments of depression. Depressed people have lower serotonin levels.
But, the production of serotonin is boosted when people exercise yoga, and eventually, they become happy.
Choose the most suitable style of yoga
There are different styles of yoga, depending on speed and approach. You can explore which style suits you the best.
Here are some styles and descriptions.
Hatha – it’s suitable for beginners, it includes slow and gentle movement
Vinyasa – connects breathing and movement, first, it starts slowly and gradually becomes faster.
Bikram – this kind of yoga is exercised in a hot room, it includes a series of movements that helps blood flow.
Ashtanga – it concentrates on quick movements and it is more physically challenging.
Kundalini – it combines repetitive movements and with intense breathing and it is also physically challenging.
Yin – it focuses on restoring the elasticity of the muscles with seated and back poses.
When we talk about yoga poses or asanas there are different kinds of them depending on which part of your body you are focusing on while exercising.
Generally, asanas reduce some symptoms of back pain especially poses like the bridge, the dolphin, or extended puppy pose.
The trick is that slow movements and deep breathing boost your blood flow and warm up your muscles, and holding the pose builds your strength.
Try some of the following asanas:
Naukasana (boat pose)
This pose activates your abdominal muscles, improves your digestive system, and reduces belly fat. Your abdominal organs also get stronger as well as your legs.
First, you lie on your back with your legs put together. You keep your hands on your tights or on the floor. Then you inhale and lift your head, arms and legs in a straight line at a 30-degree angle from the floor.
Paschimottanasana (head to toe)
This asana stretches your calf and hamstring muscles and improves your circulation. Your spine elongates and stretches. Also, you drive vital energy to your nervous system and provide good circulation to your abdominal organs.
First, you sit with your stretched legs and flexed toes. Then you inhale and raise your arms. You should stretch your spine forward from your hips. Next, you hold the toes with your hands and lower your torso on your knees. You focus on the abdominal breathing while you stay in this pose.
Dhanurasana (bow pose)
This pose helps with weight loss, improves your digestive system and appetite, and improves circulation. Also, it makes your back more flexible.
First, you lie on your stomach. Then you arch your hands backward and hold your feet. Then you try to pull yourself backward. This way, while you stay in this pose your arms, stomach and legs get stretched.
Bitilasana (cat-cow pose)
This asana warms your body and it is perfect for doing in the morning. It stretches the back and neck and makes your abdominal organs stronger.
First, you go down on all fours and keep your hands and knees in a tabletop position. Your head should be centered in a neutral position. Then you inhale and lift your chest to the ceiling and your belly sinks to the floor. You lift your head and look straight in front of you. Then you exhale and go back to the tabletop pose.
The pose in which you completely relax flat on your back (savasana) can help you deal with sleeping problems.
How does yoga help us become whole again?
Let’ talk about what happens to your body when you are holding a pose, like for example a dolphin pose.
How does it relax you neurobiologically and also strengthen your body and mind?
When you practice yoga, you change the patterns of the nerves that are under fire, and also you change the chemical arrangement of your body fluids and blood gases that trigger a relaxation response.
The key is focusing on carrying out the body posture and alignment of the pose while breathing deeply. Slowly, the body starts to change from biochemical arousal and tension to a state of calmness.
Also, when you relax in a yoga pose you lower the brain’s response to threat. Your body stops pumping adrenaline.
Slowly, you lower the rate of firing nerves, you relax your brain, heart, and muscles. While you are in a deep state of relaxation, your body gets more oxygen and you reduce blood pressure, heart rate, and motor activity.
All in all, yoga helps restore all systems in your body. You strengthen your muscles but also strengthen your glands, internal organs, and spinal nerves. It helps your digestive system and lymphatic system which eliminates toxins from your body.
Without a doubt, yoga improves the overall quality of life.
When we practice yoga, we can notice the difference between a tense and relaxed body process and react if we feel tense.
But, also mastering yoga can have spiritual and psychological benefits.
Yoga means the union of body and mind. We are not just the one or the other, but we find ourselves at the ends of both.
We are both ego and spirit, pain and ease, love and hate.
When you become aware that these two opposites are only two different words of the same thing, you start living in a more integrated way. You start questioning what is actually good for your well-being. And when you start being aware of the problems you have, the whole of you lets you solve the problems and continue to grow.
Now is the right time to take up yoga. Namaste