What Are The Health Benefits of Yoga?
Health benefits of Yoga Asanas
Before we go to discuss what are the benefits of Yoga and why it is superior to traditional gym exercise it requires proper understanding of the basics of Yoga Asanas, which in broad term is called Hatha Yoga.
Hatha Yoga is a broad term that refers to any type of simple yoga exercises that teaches physical poses. When a Yoga class is put on as Hatha yoga, it generally means that you will get a light initiation to the most basic yoga asanas. According to the 'Patanjali Yoga Sutras', Yoga asana is defined as one which gives steadiness, stability and joy to the practitioner. From this definition, it is clear that unlike exercises, you cannot do asanas with stress or strain. It has to be done in a steady and calm manner and should bring on peace and sense of joy. You are not likely to sweat in Yoga classes rather you would end up leaving the Yoga class more relaxed.
The five fundamental principles of Yoga Asanas, which are proper relaxation, proper exercises, proper breathing, proper diet and positive thinking, clearly suggest that Yoga Asanas are qualitatively superior to regular gym exercises in terms of both physical and mental health benefits. Nevertheless, there are many people who intend to take up yoga exercises often like to know ‘what are the benefits of Yoga and why Yoga is considered superior to regular exercise'. The discussion that follows would reveal how health benefits of yoga score over traditional gym exercises in number of ways.
Many studies on Yoga asanas and their health benefits have revealed that, when performed in accordance with the above five basic principles, simple Yoga exercises can alleviate symptoms of several common and potentially critical illnesses like diabetes, asthma, arthritis, chronic fatigue, obesity and even AIDS. Various Hatha Yoga Asanas postures can strengthen your muscles and give flexibility to your body and also reduce fat building. It has also been conclusively established that there are many asanas and poses, which are aimed at improving your blood circulation and better functioning of specific organs of your body, can completely cure many chronic life-threatening deceases.
Why Yoga scores over gym exercises?
Many of you must have noticed that at around 50/55 years of age or even earlier we begin to experience gradual worsening aches and pains in various parts of our body from exercise and physical activities routinely carried out by us and take help of medications in an attempt to find relief from them. You should not consider such aches and pains to be typical of our aging process. Health benefits of Yoga Asanas can be clearly seen in such cases where we can easily get rid of such acute health problems through simple act of stretching our muscles, ligaments and tendons by practicing regular yogic exercise. Unlike traditional physical exercises, which is an activity that includes muscle-building workouts needing use of body energy, yoga exercises means a body position that is comfortable, calm and steady.
The following points would not only show what are the benefits of yoga and but also clearly establish how physical benefits derived from simple yoga exercises are different from regular exercises and qualitatively score over them.
- There is less requirement of oxygen from the body while practicing yoga asanas than during physical exercise;
- During physical exercise your heart works harder and its beat rate increases significantly whereas during Hatha Yoga exercises your blood pressure and heart rate noticeably decreases;
- During physical exercise your joints work too hard which may cause aches, pains and even rheumatism in the long run while Yoga for you increases the flexibility, resilience and strength of the joints and muscles and build stamina. One of the established health benefits of yoga asanas is that it is most effective in the management of chronic low back pain;
- Physical exercise tends to build up toxins in the body from incomplete metabolism due to insufficient oxygen supply while yogic exercise eliminates them completely by better liver function due to enhanced oxygen delivery to the cells from deep breathing which helps prevent toxic compounds from showing up in the bloodstream;
- Unlike yogic exercises, rapid breathing generally caused by quickness of physical exercises forces the respiratory system to work harder;
- Many of the physical exercises comprise muscle-building workouts. Larger the developed muscles more they need oxygen and nutrition from the body which deprives various organs from receiving sufficient quantity of oxygen and nutrition. On the other hand, one of the major health benefits of simple yoga exercises is that it helps all the organs to receive greater share of oxygen and nutrition;
- The persons practicing physical exercise needs more food in comparison to those who practice yoga for good health;
- During yogic exercises your body temperature drops whereas in case of physical exercise it rises;
- Another most vital health benefits of Yoga exercises is that it stimulates the source of your relaxation response i.e. the ‘parasympathetic nervous system’ of the body that helps to relax your muscles, lower blood pressure and slow down the pace of your breathing whenever any threat or stress occurs to you. It is what helps to reduce the stress levels allowing the body to heal itself the damages caused inside by such stresses or from a long stressful day at work. It also helps to decrease the levels of our mental depression, if any, significantly. While, physical exercise activates the ‘sympathetic nervous system’ which is concerned with energy output needed for working our muscles. We start feeling stressed and excited when this system is stimulated;
- It has also been observed that yoga has a significant impact on endocrine system of your body. The secretion from our different vital endocrine glands has direct effect on our health and quality of life. Malfunction of these glands can lead to various diseases and ailments. Practicing simple yogic exercises helps to stimulate functioning of these endocrine glands. Physical exercise on the other hand, has no such stimulating effect on the vital hormone producing glands of our body;
- Unlike regular exercise, yoga exercises are performed slowly with ease and leisureliness, which helps to balance emotions and grow a positive attitude to life;
From the points discussed in the foregoing paragraphs explaining 'what are the benefits of Yoga' and why yoga is much superior to all other forms of exercise in every measure of health, it would be apparent that the regular practice of Yoga Asanas at a certain level of intensity provides our body with all essential requirements what we need for all round good health even at an advanced age.The basic differences between the two forms of exercises listed above clearly show that the effect of yoga goes beyond the body. Benefits of yoga include not only strength and steadiness of the body, but also physiological and mental health.
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