Health Benefits of a Double Dose of Yoga
What is it about yoga anyway? Is it a religion? Is it an exercise? Maybe it’s a philosophy or perhaps some Far Eastern ideology. The truth is that yoga is a little of all of these. Yoga is far more than the twisting and contorting of the body; in fact, “yoga is not about the touching of the toes but it is about what’s learned on the way done.”
One of the six Hindu philosophical traditions of ancient India, yoga works with all aspects of human nature. Taken from a Sanskrit word that means unity, yoga works to bring harmony to the body, mind, and spirit. How does it do it? By training a person to live without the toxic waste that life dumps on us daily. It brings peace and order by changing not how we see things but “by transforming the person who sees.”
Helen Lee Schifter, a student of Zen Buddhism and an avid yogi, has had a fascinating life and career. A blogger who also writes about health and wellness issues, she has been quick to share her faith and the benefits of yoga. While Schifter believes that career development and professional goals are important, health and wellness, she believes, should also be allowed a place in our growth and development. Buddhism and yoga have helped her escape the chaos of the daily rat race and have enabled her through meditation to think clearly and shut out the needless noises of a busy life.
Yoga can do a lot of things. It can reduce insomnia, depression, anxiety and stress. Heart rate and blood pressure have been lowered while doing yoga, and it has helped improve fitness, strength and flexibility. How does yoga do it? First of all the slow purposeful movements and stretches and deep breathing techniques of yoga increase blood flow and warm up muscles. This ultimately can improve circulatory and cardio health and improve muscle strength and tone. Because it is an exercise, yoga, by reducing the levels of the body’s stress hormones, stimulates the production of endorphins in the brain that serve as natural painkillers and mood elevators to the body.
On a spiritual level, Helen Lee Schifter believes that yoga does even more. It helps heal the spirit and the mind. Yoga is a mental practice that helps one focus. It improves concentration and helps move a person through psychological challenges and emotional stress. A consistent yoga practice makes a person more aware of the spirit and energy without and within him. Yoga pushes self discovery and evolution. “is a mirror that lets us look at ourselves from within.” Spiritually it opens our hearts and because of that it can work alongside any faith. It helps us become more aware of who we are and what’s going on around us.
People all around the world practice yoga because of what it offers physically and spiritually. Exercise, prayer, meditation, faith practiced on a regular basis always does a body good. Yoga has all of this and more wrapped in one powerful packet.