Practicing yoga is one of the best physical and emotional healers available. Anyone can practice yoga and benefit from it and there are some very basic reasons why. Besides the obvious physical benefits of a yoga workout, you also reap many positive emotional rewards. Stress is a leading cause of physical problems, such as cardio-vascular diseases, arthritis, reproductive problems, depression, anxiety and autoimmune diseases. Yoga has such a powerful effect on our stress levels that our general physical health improves.
Yogic exercises improve breathing and blood circulation. Your muscles gently stretch and relax. You gain physical strength, which helps your body stay healthy and heal. Strong bodies will help us be resilient and bounce back from stress-related illness.
Yoga helps us relax by using proper breathing techniques and gentle, but strong poses. These poses act on our parasympathetic nervous system, which often needs help processing the damage that constant stress can cause. A sudden increase in heart rate, blood pressure, shallow breathing, muscle tensing and excessive sweating are signs that a natural stress reaction is in full-swing! Our bodies, through our nervous system, can handle some of the stress easily and naturally, but many of us (most of us) are on overload - we can be under so much stress that we have forgotten what “normal" feels like. That’s when our natural coping mechanism begins to become overwhelmed and sickness occurs. Yoga helps with that stress; it helps us return to a healthy balance.
Continuous stress increases levels of cortisol in our body, which in turn suppresses the immune system resulting in serious health problems like those mentioned above and other symptoms like sleep disturbances, loss of sex drive and loss of appetite. Stress can cause wear and tear on organs as well, a symptom that might not be immediately apparent, but takes its toll in the long run.
Practicing yoga regularly lowers your respiration and heart rates, and your blood pressure. It stimulates and aids in digestion and helps regulate blood flow to all of your important organs and systems: digestive, reproductive, glandular, circulatory and immune! Yoga boosts our well-being and keeps us healthy.
Yoga’s asanas (physical poses) enhance blood and fluid circulation. Breathing exercises strengthen the lungs and help us regain peace of mind. Often people who regularly practice yoga reduce their dependence on medicines or other therapies.
However, do not simply toss your medication as soon as you begin practicing yoga. You do not become unwell overnight and you will likely not heal overnight, but positive effects will come. By decreasing cortisol and reducing stress levels in the body, yoga will physically make you feel better than you ever have. Its strengthening postures will give you strength and endurance that you may not have before experienced. Yoga will also help you put worldly problems into perspective, which will bring you a great sense of peace.
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