Yoga isn't simply a series of exercises in which you learn to twist your body into a pretzel; it's also known to have remarkable health benefits. In its original form, practiced for thousands of years in Hindu tradition, yoga was seen as an integral part of a transformative way of life.
Although it has been significantly modified in its adoption by Western culture, yoga as we know it today can still help people support their health and well-being. Yoga has the potential to not only increase your awareness of your body, but also to help you be more conscious as you move through life.
Researchers have found that yoga, like meditation, has significant effects on decreasing stress and tension. It can also promote greater vitality and increase your quality of life in the following ways:
1. Increased Flexibility
By doing yoga regularly, you can "recruit" new elastic tissue to your tendons and muscles, which in turn can allow you to move in ways that you may not have been able to move in years. This can significantly decrease your risk of getting injured while working out or having fun.
One study found that people who practiced yoga regularly for only 8 weeks had a 35 percent increase in flexibility. With improved flexibility, you may notice that chronic aches and pains subside or disappear entirely.
Remember "the knee bone is connected to the thigh bone"? Well, when you create greater overall flexibility, a pain you've been feeling in your knee may go away simply because you've loosened your lower back, buttocks and thigh muscles. Joint pains are often related to reduced flexibility, which can lead to poor structural alignment, and yoga is the perfect exercise for ironing out all those aches and pains from your body.
2. Support for Your Posture
Many yoga exercises build muscles in your core that are important when you're sitting or standing. And since yoga brings awareness to your bodily movements, it can help you "check in" with your body when you're slumping or slouching, so you can make the right corrections. When you have great posture, you feel better, you're less prone to injuries, you look better and less energy is required to hold your body in one position for long periods of time.