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The Benefits of a Hatha Yoga Practice

Updated on January 18, 2017

For Thousands of Years...

Yoga has long been used by ancient cultures in the East as a healing therapy for the mind, body and spirit. It has been widely accepted in the West over the past few decades as a method of relaxation and to treat certain health conditions. Western doctors are even advising their patients to take yoga classes to treat arthritis, heart disease, post traumatic stress, neuropathy and other conditions. Because it is low impact yet employs the use of all the muscle groups while utilizing meditation, yoga is the perfect exercise and a viable therapy for treating emotional and mental conditions, physical maladies and spiritual discord.

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What is Yoga?

The Sanskrit word for "union," yoga originated in ancient India. The practice of yoga is generally considered to unite the mind, body and spirit. However, the Sanskrit word "asana" is a more accurate description of what is commonly referred to as yoga in terms of the poses and physical postures.

While yoga is generally considered a physical exercise, it is actually an exercise in the mind, body and spirit and the uniting of the three. It is not about transforming the body, but about transforming the spirit and stretching the mind while stretching the body. When you practice genuine yoga, yoga that combines mind, body and spirit through the use of physical movements and intense meditation, your life will be transformed. You will find the your body, health, mind, breathing patterns, outlook, habits and attitudes will be changed and you will become more conscious of your body and mind.

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Ashtanga Yoga Demonstration

Yoga Techniques

Yoga techniques are comprised of a series of postures, or asanas. Each posture is synchronized with your breathing and is held for a period of time. A typical yoga session will begin with asanas that are more gentle and mild. As the session progresses, the asanas become more challenging and vigorous. A complete session of yoga should incorporate the following four factors:

* Exercise every part of the body

* Pranayama (breath control practices)

* Relaxation

* Meditation

Yoga employs seven postures. These postures include the four factors to create an experience that brings mind, body and spirit together.

* Lying Postures

* Sitting Postures

* Standing Postures

* Forward Bends

* Twisting Postures

* Back Bending Postures

* Inverted or Upside Down Postures

Yoga can be performed in a group setting or alone. However, even in a group yoga session, there is no competition. Each person works at their own pace, only doing what they are able to do. It is very personal.

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Yoga For Beginners

What are the Physical Health Benefits of Yoga?

Yoga has many health benefits. Doctors are also recognizing its beneficial properties and advising their patients to try yoga to treat various health conditions such as:

* Asthma

* Respiration Problems

* Back Pain

* Bronchitis

* Arthritis

* Diabetes

* Emphysema

* High Blood Pressure

Yoga also increases flexibility through stretching and it encourages a greater range of motion for joints and muscles. Also, because the various postures and poses require that you support your own body weight in different ways, strength, muscle tone and balance are also increased. This, combined with its pain prevention benefits make it a favorite for treating sports injuries. It has also been shown to help with obesity.

Another great physical benefit of yoga is that it encourages better breathing. Most people do not breathe properly. They tend to breathe very shallowly, usually failing to take adequate oxygen into the lungs. Pranayama, yoga breathing exercises, teach you how to use your lungs better. It focuses your attention on your breathing. This type of breathing benefit's the entire body. There are even certain types of breathing that help to clear the nasal passages and can even calm the central nervous system. This can prove to be beneficial both physically and mentally.

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What are the Mental Health Benefits of Yoga?

Yoga with meditation provides great mental health benefits. Many psychiatrists, psychologists and counselors are advising their patients to use yoga to work through a wide variety of mental health issues.

* Improve Body Image

* Mental Performance

* Memory

* Stress

* Mood Changes

* Depression

* Self Awareness

* Vitality

* Anxiety

* Post Traumatic Stress Disorder

* Bi Polar Disorder

When practicing yoga, you are concentrating so intently on the movements of your body that your daily problems and worries melt away. This brings about mental calm. This also helps with stress reduction. Because your mind is directed to the movements of your body, everything else subsides. Additionally, exercise encourages the release of endorphins which raise your mood. Another great mental health benefit of yoga is that it increases body awareness. You become more in tune with your body because you are required to make subtle movements and adjustments when performing the postures. You will be rewarded with a better body image, an increased level of comfort with your body, improved posture and greater self confidence.

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Meditation For the Love Of It

Meditation for the Love of It: Enjoying Your Own Deepest Experience
Meditation for the Love of It: Enjoying Your Own Deepest Experience

This book is a "Must Read" for anyone interested in Meditation!!!

 

Yoga and Meditation

Meditation in and of itself is very beneficial, but when combined with yoga it can have health advantages that encompass the entire being. As one of the five principles of yoga, it requires focus and encourages a constant observation of the mind. It makes you still your mind, quiet the chatter, so that you can perceive the "self." Yoga and meditation brings together the physical challenge of posturing the body with the mental challenge of posturing the mind.

Through meditation and yoga, you can achieve a greater strength of will and sense of purpose. It helps you to clear your mind and improve your concentration and memory. What is more, you become more in touch with yourself, your spirit and your body, finding the tranquility and wisdom that resides within you. As you stretch your body and find balance with your body, you will also stretch your mind, finding balance there as well.

Hatha Yoga Demonstration

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Incorporating Yoga in your Life

There are many ways that you can incorporate yoga and meditation into your life. You can join a yoga class, purchase a DVD and do yoga at home and even do yoga at your desk at work. Check out some yoga books and do an internet search to find the best way that you can include yoga in your daily life. Once it become a regular part of your daily routine, you will find that the health benefits of yoga and profound and extensive. You will find that your mental and physical health will be improved as you unite your mind, body and spirit.

Yoga Feedback

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    • Lamarena profile image

      Lamarena 8 years ago

      Another great lens! 5* and favorited for sure! All of your lenses are so interesting and useful. Thanks for sharing.

    • religions7 profile image

      religions7 9 years ago

      Great lens. You may like my lens on yoga and its history as well.

    • profile image

      Herbal_Health 9 years ago

      Very thorough information about Yoga. I will try to do it more often in my life. Thanks!

    • profile image

      Zapz 9 years ago

      I started doing yoga awhile back and I agree, it is wonderful for both the mind and body. Great info, thanks

    • profile image

      poodleagility 9 years ago

      Good Yoga info. I am trying to do yoga a lot more often. I feel tons better when I do. Thanks!