Yoga and Meditation: Healing the Mind, Body, and Soul
We live in a world that moves forward at an increasingly faster speed. Our ways of life and our activities have evolved to meet the demands that the new lifestyle places on us. There are many methods that we use to deal with stress and pressure – unhealthy eating, snacking and consuming junk food, smoking, excessive alcohol consumption, the use of drugs and addictive substances, unhealthy social activities, and more. The list is very extensive. Very often we continue with our unhealthy activities because of the short-term peace and relaxation they provide, even though we know they are not good for us. We know that in the long term we will pay a price, physical, mental and spiritual for these short-term fixes we indulge in. We may want to give them up, but the question arises of what happens then? There cannot be a gaping void in our lives where the unhealthy activities used to be. What are the healthy options?
Healthy Healing through Yoga
Replacing the unhealthy influence on our lives with a healthy one is something we know we should do. However, when the word healthy is mentioned, the thoughts that come to mind are strenuous activities, abstinence from what we enjoy and the denial of pleasures. These presume sacrifices are often enough to make us stay on the unhealthy path that we already walk. But what if there is another option – one that gives us good health, inner peace, relaxation and provides us with the strength to perform better in all aspects of our lives? Best of all, it involves no sacrifices or giving up the enjoyment of life. That is what the healing power of yoga offers.
Benefits of Yoga
1. Helps improve chronic low-back pain
If you work at a desk (or couch) all day, you may be experiencing some low back, shoulder, and neck pain due to poor posture. Yoga improves posture, which can prevent low-back pain, as well as shoulder and neck pain.
2. Builds body awareness
When you ground your body to hold all the poses, you recruit a bunch of both big and small muscles. Yoga also focuses on proper form—you need to activate the right muscles—which creates a better understanding of how your muscles, joints, and tissues work together. This can help ensure you move safely.
3. Fights fatigue
When you move—like by doing some yoga stretches during the day—your heart pumps more oxygen-rich blood to the muscles and organs in your body. This can help reduce fatigue and tiredness,
4. Promotes balance
Balancing yoga poses help challenge your stability, since removing a base of support (say, by standing on one leg) requires you to activate certain stabilizing muscles. This helps improve your balance, which is particularly important as you get older.
5. Eases you into regular exercise
If you’re new to exercise—or are easing back into a workout routine after a break—vigorous exercise may not seem to be the most appealing. That’s why many people looking to get started exercising turn to yoga: It’s a low-impact workout that’s easy on the joints, is accessible for most fitness levels, and requires no special equipment.
6. Reinforces better breathing
Follow a yoga flow for as little as five minutes, and you’ll realize just hbow calming and relaxing it can be to sync movement and breath. As you deepen the stretch in each pose, you’ll rely on your breath to hold them with proper form.
7. Helps your heart health
Yoga has show some promising benefits for improving cardiovascular disease risk, by lowering heart rate, blood pressure, and even cholesterol. It's likely due to both the physical aspects of yoga as well as the focus on breathe.
8. Builds strength
While yoga isn’t exactly known for building strength the same way that weight lifting is, moving through poses will essentially give you the same benefits of doing bodyweight exercises.
9. Enhances flexibility
Yoga helps improve your flexibility by helping your muscles relax through gentle stretching.With more flexibility, you can boost your overall fitness performance.
10. Improves sleep
With better breathing and relaxation, yoga can help you get more quality snooze time at night. practicing yoga is linked to higher scores on measures of sleep quality. And the more time spent on yoga, the more robust the benefits were.
11. Improves your mood
Of course, no type of exercise can “cure” mental health conditions like anxiety and depression—and it can be annoying to be told to “just work out” if you’re dealing with them. But the combination of gentle movement and focused breathing may have some mental health benefits, meaning yoga may play a role in how you feel if you experience those conditions.
12. Helps your mind relax
Yoga turns on your relaxation response. By focusing on your breathing and releasing tension in your muscles and joints through the poses, you’ll usher in a sense of calm. It is a movement modality that helps to quiet your mind. In yoga, you might focus your attention on moving with precision or timing your movement with your breath in order to keep your mind focused on what is happening now. It is a great way to get out of your head and into your body.
13. Improves focus
Holding a yoga pose correctly takes a combination of concentration and endurance: You need focus to move your body into the pose, and stamina to keep it there for that set amount of time. This combination not only helps your yoga performance, but it can also help you sharpen your mental focus on other stressful situations in your everyday life.