Editors note: This is part II of a 4-part weekly series on yoga providing you with information on the benefits of yoga and provide you with practices that you can start in your home.
Yoga is a commonly used practice to invite strength and flexibility, and there are many healing benefits of a regular yoga practice. The Department of Health and Human Services designated September as National Yoga Month as a way to build awareness to the many health benefits of yoga. Here are just some of the benefits:
- Stress Relief
Research has found that yoga reduces the stress hormones that are found in our bodies, such as cortisol. Yoga is a practice that can invite presence and relaxation, therefore reducing the stress found within our bodies. In many yoga practices, breathing practices or meditation practices are utilized as additional means to invite greater self awareness.
- Pain Relief
Yoga has been prescribed to many as a means to stay active and reduce aches and pains. Through frequent stretching and strengthening, many people have reported a decrease in overall pain when yoga has been practiced regularly.
While it is commonly thought that you need to be flexible to practice yoga, this is not true. Just like strength, flexibility is something that can be built. Yoga can support people to build a greater range of motion through stretching all of the muscles, ligaments, and tendons in the body. Practices such as yin yoga allow for deep stretching to occur of fascia, releasing tension and tightness throughout the body.
Throughout life it is common to forget to breathe, or how to breathe properly. Yoga practice encourages movement with breath, encouraging people to breathe deeply. This type of breathing, when practiced regularly, invites in greater lung functioning and triggers the body’s relaxation response.
- Cardiovascular Conditioning
Yoga is known to increase the amount of oxygen in the bloodstream. Oftentimes we have developed breathing patterns where we take shallow breaths, leading to high levels of anxiety and lower levels of oxygen. A gentle yoga practice can help to lower your resting heart rate and increase your overall endurance.
A great resource to find out more information on how yoga practices can improve health is the book, Yoga As Medicine by Dr.McCall. http://www.drmccall.com/books.html