When it comes to exercising, it’s hard to find something that helps both your body and your spirit. Hard exercise, like working out at the gym or running, is great for you, but often times the regular routines don’t take into account flexibility and the soundness of mind and spirit.
Yoga is an exercise that comes with many mental and physical benefits, and descends from traditions that emphasize the importance of spirituality in health. If you need a routine that will improve the health of your entire body, yoga could be the exercise for you!
Benefits of Yoga for the Body
Yoga is a quiet, slow exercise that helps your body in so many ways. If you have bad posture, yoga can help improve how you position your neck and spine in a way that will prevent the degenerative effects of bad posture: arthritis, fatigue, and muscle and joint problems. It also strengthens the muscles and disks in your spine needed to maintain great posture, while at the same time sustaining the joints and cartilage that keep everything attached.
While it also helps the bones and has been proven to stave off osteoporosis, yoga does so much more for your body. It increases flexibility, strengthens muscles that you might not know you have, and increases your blood flow. Practicing yoga improves your whole body, and does not focus on just one area.
Benefits of Yoga for the Mind
Yoga’s slow, methodic style not only benefits the body; it helps calm the mind and bring balance to your inner self. Some yoga traditions can even help you align with the greater movements of the cosmos and find spiritual enlightenment. It helps that it was a core part of many Eastern religious traditions.
Hinduism, Buddhism, and Jainism all have their own traditions, but yoga goes all the way back to the Indus Valley civilization, whose roots begin around 3,000 BCE. It has changed and evolved through the years, but all the traditions are rooted in the balancing and strengthening of body and mind – “yoga” is a Vedic Sanskrit word that means “to unite” or “to connect.”
The measured movements and poses of yoga help calm the mind and bring back focus you may lose in your day-to-day life. Because so many people are asked to multi-task in their jobs and routines, most of us lose focus on spiritual and mental health matters, putting these things on the back burner as we move from moment to moment. Yoga can help bring us back to the larger picture, and help practitioners see what really matters.
Using yoga to improve your spiritual state improves your mental state. It can increase self-esteem and help you deal with particularly difficult life situations. It calms and soothes the worried mind, and can help bring back focus.
Yoga is more than simple downward dog and sun salutation poses. It’s a discipline that requires commitment. The benefits of regular yoga practice are worth the time, though, and if you’re feeling distracted and fatigued by your daily routine, definitely think about carving some for yoga! You’ll be glad you did.