After more than a year battling the COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on physical and mental health, chances are you are in need of more than just a little rest and relaxation.
Maybe you need a mental escape from stress or perhaps you’re in need of some much-needed rejuvenation.
Wherever your needs may lie, it is highly likely that yoga is the long-awaited answer you’ve been looking for.
Yoga is an ancient physical, mental and spiritual practice that originated in India. The word ‘yoga’ derives from Sanskrit and means ‘to join or to unite, symbolising the union of body and consciousness’.
Today it is practised in various forms around the world and continues to grow in popularity.
Recognising its universal appeal, on December 11, 2014, the United Nations proclaimed June 21 as the International Day of Yoga.
The International Day of Yoga aims to raise awareness worldwide of the many benefits of practising yoga.
More than just a form of physical activity, in the words of the late B. K. S. Lyengar, “Yoga cultivates the ways of maintaining a balanced attitude in day-to-day life and endows skill in the performance of one’s actions.”
Recognising this important role of yoga, this year’s commemoration of the International Day of Yoga focuses on “Yoga for well-being” – how the practice of Yoga can promote the holistic health of every individual.
Benefits of Yoga
Yoga offers numerous physical and mental health benefits for people of all ages and health conditions. If you are currently enduring an illness, recovering from surgery or living with a chronic condition, yoga can become an integral part of your treatment and potentially hasten your healing.
In fact, the benefits of yoga often include:
- IMPROVED FLEXIBILITY– one of the first and most obvious benefits of yoga is improved flexibility. During your first class, you probably won’t be able to touch your toes, never mind do a backbend, however, if you stick with it, you’ll notice a gradual improvement of your muscular capabilities, and eventually, poses that once felt impossible will become possible.
2. BUILDS MUSCLE STRENGTH – building strong muscles do more than just look good. Thanks to them you are protected from conditions such as arthritis and back pain, not to mention when you build strength through yoga, you balance it with flexibility.
3. IMPROVES HEART HEALTH – performing yoga regularly may reduce stress levels and body-wide inflammation, contributing to healthier hearts. In addition, several of the factors contributing to heart disease, including high blood pressure and excess weight, can also be addressed through yoga.
4. RELAXES YOUR SYSTEM – yoga encourages you to relax, slow your breathing, and focus on the present. This shifts the balance from the sympathetic nervous system (or the fight-or-flight response) to the parasympathetic nervous system which focuses on relaxation and restoration.
5. IMPROVES YOUR BALANCE – regularly practising yoga increases proprioception (the ability to feel what your body is doing and where it is in space) and improves balance. People with bad posture or dysfunctional movement patterns usually have poor proprioception, which has been linked to knee problems and back pain.