Yoga is an ancient practice that combines physical movement with meditation. Yoga has become popular in today’s society among a wide range of individuals from young professionals and high-powered execs to Grande Vegas casino bonuses gamers, students and millennials, housewives and others.
Today, yoga is recommended by even the most conventional of medical practitioners as a way for people to integrate the various parts of their minds and bodies for optimum health.
History of Yoga
Many yoga practitioners are young millennials and hipsters but yoga is actually an ancient practice with a long and complex history. The origins of yoga can be traced back over 5000 years ago to the Indus-Sarasvati civilization of Northern India who mentioned yoga in their Rig Veda sacred texts along with mantras, songs and rituals of the Vedic Brahman priests.
Over time, under the Brahmans, yoga evolved with mystic seers documenting the sect’s beliefs and practices in Yogic scriptures. One of the most profound teachings of this group involved the sacrifice of the ego through self-knowledge, wisdom (jnana yoga) and action (karma yoga).
Classical yoga, called “Raja Yoga” evolved with Tantra Yoga becoming popular as a way for an individual to cleanse body and mind as a way of breaking the knots that bind us to our physical existence. By the late 1800s and early 1900s Raja and Hatha Yoga were being taught in the West and Hatha Yoga enjoyed a resurgence of interest in India thanks to the works of T. Krishnamacharya.
Today many practitioners combine yoga’s spiritual development practices with an outlook that focuses on self-observation and awareness of one’s own nature. Yoga, instructors teach, is meant to cultivate awareness, higher consciousness and self-regulation.
Today most practitioners of yoga focus on Hatha yoga which is a more physical type of yoga. With Hatha yoga, the practitioner is mainly engaged in pranayamas breath-controlled exercises which are followed by yoga postures (asanas).
The final part of a Hatha yoga session involves a resting period clled savasana. All in all, this type of yoga session challenges the participant physically but doesn’t overwhelm, keeping the practitioner’s focus on his/her breath while the mind is calm.
It’s best to schedule time every day or every other day to practice yoga. By keeping to a schedule, the body and mind become accustomed to the practice which magnifies the benefits. Some of the benefits of a daily yoga practice include:
- Developing a better body image – when you practice yoga, you focus on your body’s abilities at the moment which promotes an inner awareness. You’ll develop strength of mind, awareness of your body as they relate to your breathing.
According to research, people who practice yoga are more aware of and satisfied with their bodies than others. Yoga encourages practitioners to focus their awareness inward so that they aren’t critical of their bodies. Many therapists use yoga to treat eating disorders, boost self-esteem and promote positive body image.
- Mindful eating – One of the most important aspects of healthy eating is eating mindfully – eating slowly and focusing your attention on the experience of the moment. Mindful eating involves a non-judgmental awareness of the emotional and physical sensations that are associated with eating.
Yoga practitioners are less likely to eat when they’re full, eat in response to emotional cues (overeating when sad or stressed) and eat when distracted. They are more likely to be aware of how food looks, smells and tastes.
- Boost and maintain weight loss — practicing yoga impacts positively on overweight people’s efforts to lose weight. It’s also a good tool that helps people prevent weight gain, especially in middle adulthood.
- Yoga is believed to be healthy for the heart by reducing cardiovascular risk factors by helping the body balance blood pressure and lower blood pressure among individuals who suffer from hypertension. Lipid profiles seem to be improved among yoga practitioners and among those with known coronary artery disease.
Some research has shown that non-insulin dependent diabetes sufferers are able to reduce their need for medications by practicing yoga. A number of cardiac rehabilitations programs use yoga as part of the treatment program.
- Yoga is a good way to exercise – in a study, researchers found that, within a group of people who had previously lived a sedentary lifestyle, after 9 weeks of doing yoga at least twice a week, subjects showed greater muscle strength and endurance, more cardio-respiratory fitness and greater flexibility.
- Mental and emotional health – anecdotal accounts of yoga helping people suffering from emotional and mental illnesses or stresses exist though, at presence, there’s no research to confirm this.
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