Yoga has been popularly believed as one of the best fitness and weight loss regimes as vouched by celebrities all over the world.
But, it’s not just physical exercise. Did you know the word yoga is derived from the Sanskrit word “Yuj” which essentially means “to unite” or “to bind” wherein body, mind, and soul are in harmony with the environment or universe?
Classification of YogaYoga is broadly classified into 4 types
Table 1: Classification of Yoga
Amongst the various types of Yoga, there are 8 major elements of Yoga that help pave the way to reaching a state of deep meditation and achieving a supreme level of perception and harmony.
1. Yama consists of codes of conduct that abstain from doing things that involve immorality. Restraints include non-violence, truthfulness, Non- stealing, celibacy, and non-coveting.
2. Niyama (Observances) are ethical practices to improve on self, which include purification, contentment, asceticism, self-study, and dedication to God.
3. Asana (Posture) keeps the body flexible, agile, and young. It means to sit in an easy/comfortable posture and is one step toward Yoga. There are various types of asanas
- Corrective asanas
- Relaxative asanas
- Meditative asanas
4. Pranayama (Breath Control): “Prana” means vital energy and “Ayama” means exercise. Pranayama is all about breathing techniques that control the cyclic regulation of inhalation, exhalation, and retention of breaths. This is the way one connects with the present moment where the mind and body turn the focus inwards. It is extremely beneficial in the regulation of metabolic activities, improving heart functions, and promoting overall well being
5. Pratyahara (Withdrawal of the Senses) is “Mindfulness” where one can control over mind and senses in such a way that there is no external distraction
6. Dharana (Concentration) is the concentration of all attention or mind on a single focal point such as the navel or forehead
7. Dhyana (Meditation) is a complete concentration of the mind without any distraction on one object, to clear the mind of all thoughts
8. Samadhi (Pure Contemplation) is a state when one merges with their object of meditation with the destruction of all the impulses of the mind.
Yoga is a dynamic amalgamation of physical exercises combined with deep breathing, meditation, and mindfulness. Mankind has witnessed countless physical health benefits of Yoga for ages such as:
- Improved posture, Increased flexibility, and better muscle strength: Slow movements, deep breathing, and holding the pose improve blood circulation and strengthens muscles. Stretching helps ease pain and improves range of motion, flexibility, and mobility in older adults, and helps relieve back pain.
- Reduced inflammatory markers in chronic conditions such as heart disease, cancer, and arthritis.
- Yoga enhances athletic performance and improves balance and coordination.
- Boosts metabolism and enhances immunity.
- Various yoga poses help improve insulin sensitivity, lowers blood sugar, and reduce the risks of complications in diabetics
- It also helps lowering cholesterol and blood pressure.
- Studies have reported that yoga is good for heart health and lung functions
- Yoga reduces stress and may improve sleep
Impact of YOGA on Mental Health
The healing power of Yoga has also left an impression on brain health. Studies have shown that deep breathing and meditation practices produce calmness in the body, reduce stress, improve mood, and induce positive emotions over time. It should be practiced regularly preferably at dawn or dusk to reap benefits, however, the results are visible only after 6-12 weeks of constant practice.
- Low-impact exercise such as Yoga has been shown to lower stress hormones in the body while simultaneously increasing beneficial brain chemicals like endorphins, dopamine, and serotonin which help improve mood and fight negative emotions like depression, anxiety, and anger.
- Mindfulness aspects of yoga make you feel good about yourself and motivate you to appreciate everything around you.
- Better Cognitive skills: Regular and daily practices have been found to have positive effects on brain chemistry such as better learning, memory, improved attention, and help your brain work better and stay sharper.
- Better Social life and positive outlook on life
- Improved self-esteem and yoga make you learn the art of spending quality time with everyone.
This is the reason, yoga and meditation can help speed up the healing process of psychotherapy for various mental health disorders like anxiety, depression, PTSD, etc
DOS and DON’TS of Yoga
|Asanas should be practiced on an empty stomach in a clean and calm environment
|Don’t perform yoga if you are too tired, have a fever, sustained sprains, or have other acute illnesses
|Perform stretching exercises in the beginning, Start slowly, and gradually move on to advanced poses to avoid injuries
|Women should refrain from yoga poses during their menses, however, pranayama can be done.
|Eat a healthy diet and stay hydrated
|Don’t perform yoga immediately after meals. Or wait for 2 to 3 hours after food.
|Be aware of breathing while performing yoga.
|Don’t shower/drink water/eat food for 30 minutes after doing yoga.
|Perform the practices as per your capacity.
|Don’t do heavy exercises after yoga
|Perform the practices as per your capacity. Don’t push yourself too much
|Don’t practice yoga in hot or humid or extremely cold weather conditions
Gain the most out of yoga, strengthen your body and brain… Make it part of your daily routine to lead a healthy life.