The most important benefit of yoga is physical and mental therapy. The aging
process, which is largely an artificial condition, caused mainly by
autointoxication or self-poisoning, can be slowed down by practicing yoga. By
keeping the body clean, flexible and well lubricated, we can significantly
reduce the catabolic process of cell deterioration. To get the maximum benefits
of yoga one has to combine the practices of yogasanas, pranayama and
Regular practice of asanas, pranayama and meditation can help such diverse
ailments such as diabetes, blood pressure, digestive disorders, arthritis,
arteriosclerosis, chronic fatigue, asthma, varicose
veins and heart conditions. Laboratory tests have proved the yogi's
increased abilities of consciously controlling autonomic or involuntary
functions, such as temperature, heartbeat and blood pressure. Research into the
effects of yogic practices on HIV is currently underway with promising results.
According to medical scientists, yoga therapy is successful because of the
balance created in the nervous and endocrine systems which directly influences
all the other systems and organs of the body. Yoga acts both as a curative and
preventive therapy. The very essence of yoga lies in attaining mental peace,
improved concentration powers, a relaxed state of living and harmony in
Through the practice of yoga, we become aware of the interconnectedness between
our emotional, mental and physical levels. Gradually this awareness leads to an
understanding of the more subtle areas of existence. The ultimate goal of yoga
is to make it possible for you to be able to fuse together the gross material
(annamaya), physical (pranamaya), mental (manomaya), intellectual (vijnanamaya)
and spiritual (anandamaya) levels within your being.
Physicians and scientists are discovering brand new health benefits of yoga
everyday. Studies show it can relieve the symptoms of several common and
potentially life-threatening illnesses such as arthritis,
arteriosclerosis, chronic fatigue, diabetes, AIDS, asthma and obesity.
Studies conducted at yoga institutions in India have reported impressive
success in improving asthma. It has also been proved that asthma attacks can
usually be prevented by yoga methods without resorting to drugs.
Physicians have found that the addition of improved concentration abilities and
yogic meditation together with the practice of simple postures and pranayama
makes treatment more effective. Yoga practice also results in greater reduction
in anxiety scores than drug therapy. Doctors believe that yoga practice helps
patients by enabling them to gain access to their own internal experience and
Patients who practice yoga have a better chance of gaining the ability to
control their breathing problems. With the help of yogic breathing exercises,
it is possible to control an attack of severe shortness of breath without
having to seek medical help. Various studies have confirmed the beneficial
effects of yoga for patients with respiratory problems.
High Blood Pressure
The relaxation and exercise components of yoga have a major role to play
in the treatment and prevention of high blood pressure (hypertension). A
combination of biofeedback and yogic breathing and relaxation techniques has
been found to lower blood pressure and reduce the need for high blood pressure
medication in people suffering from it.
Yoga is believed to reduce pain by helping the brain's pain center regulate the
gate-controlling mechanism located in the spinal cord and the secretion of
natural painkillers in the body. Breathing exercises used in yoga can also
reduce pain. Because muscles tend to relax when you exhale, lengthening the
time of exhalation can help produce relaxation and reduce tension. Awareness of
breathing helps to achieve calmer, slower respiration and aid in relaxation and
Yoga's inclusion of relaxation techniques and meditation can also help reduce
pain. Part of the effectiveness of yoga in reducing pain is due to its focus on
self-awareness. This self-awareness can have a protective effect and allow for
early preventive action.
pain is the most common reason to seek medical attention. Yoga has
consistently been used to cure and prevent back pain by enhancing strength and
flexibility. Both acute and long-term stress can lead to muscle tension and
exacerbate back problems.
Yoga's gentle exercises designed to provide relief to needed joints had been
Yoga's slow-motion movements and gentle pressures reach deep into troubled
joints. In addition, the easy stretches in conjunction with deep breathing
exercises relieve the tension that binds up the muscles and further tightens
the joints. Yoga is exercise and relaxation rolled into one - the perfect
Regular yoga practice can help in weight
management. Firstly, some of the asanas stimulate sluggish glands to
increase their hormonal secretions. The thyroid gland, especially, has a big
effect on our weight because it affects body metabolism. There are several
asanas, such as the shoulder stand and the fish posture, which are specific for
the thyroid gland. Fat metabolism is also increased, so fat is converted to
muscle and energy. This means that, as well as losing fat, you will have better
muscle tone and a higher vitality level.
Yogic practices that reduce anxiety tend to reduce anxious eating. In addition,
yoga deep breathing increases the oxygen intake to the body cells, including
the fat cells. This causes increased oxidation or burning up of fat cells.
Yogic exercises induce more continuous and deeper breathing which gradually
burns, sometimes forcefully, many of the calories already ingested.
Regular yoga practice creates mental clarity and calmness, increases body
awareness, relieves chronic stress patterns, relaxes the mind, centers
attention and sharpens concentration.
Yoga strives to increase self-awareness on both a physical and psychological
level. Patients who study yoga learn to induce relaxation and then to use the
technique whenever pain appears. Practicing yoga can provide chronic pain
sufferers with useful tools to actively cope with their pain and help counter
feelings of helplessness and depression.
A common technique used in yoga is breathing through one nostril at a time.
Electroencephalogram (EEG) studies of the electrical impulses of the brain have
shown that breathing through one nostril results in increased activity on the
opposite side of the brain. Some experts suggest that the regular practice of
breathing through one nostril may help improve communication between the right
and left side of the brain. Studies have also shown that this increased brain
activity is associated with better performance and doctors even suggest that
yoga can enhance cognitive performance.
Mood Change And Vitality
Mental health and physical energy are difficult to quantify, but virtually
everyone who participates in yoga over a period of time reports a positive
effect on outlook and energy level. Yogic stretching and breathing exercises
have been seen to result in an invigorating effect on both mental and physical
energy and improved mood.
When you achieve the yogic spirit, you can begin knowing yourself at peace. The
value of discovering one's self and of enjoying one's self as is, begins a
journey into being rather than doing. Life can then be lived practicing
"yoga off the mat".
Pride, and especially anxiety about pride, is something which Hatha Yoga seeks
to diminish or eliminate. To one who has been dejected because he cannot do his
work properly when he becomes tired, irritable, or haggard, any degree of
refreshment may be accompanied by additional degrees of self-respect.
Furthermore, one who has benefited from yoga may be moved to help his friends
who are obviously in need, he may instruct others and be rewarded with
appreciation due a to teacher.
But if one succeeds in achieving skill which provides health and
self-confidence, one may justly raise his self-esteem simply by observing
himself living the improved results as an achieved fact.
Yogic theory and practice lead to increased self-knowledge. This knowledge is
not merely that of the practical kind relating to techniques, but especially of
a spiritual sort pertaining to grasping something about the nature of the self
Knowing the self at rest, at peace, as a being rather than merely as an agent
or doer, is a genuine kind of knowledge which usually gets lost in the rush of
activities and push of desires. The value of discovering one's self and of
enjoying one's self as it is, rather than as it is going to be, is indeed a
value as well as a kind of knowledge.