The meaning of the word yoga is “union”: the integration of physical, mental and spiritual energies that enhance health and well being. Yoga teaches a basic principle of mind/body unity. If the mind is chronically restless and agitated, the health of the body will be compromised and if the body is in poor health, mental strength and clarity will be adversely affected. The practices of yoga can counter these ill effects, restoring mental and physical health.
The potential benefits of yoga – health, vitality and peace of mind – are limited only by one’s commitment to its practice. Since the early 1970s, there have been more than a thousand well-designed studies of meditation and yoga, demonstrating their effectiveness in stress and anxiety alleviation, blood pressure and heart rate reduction, improved motor skills, relief from addictions, heightened visual and auditory perceptions and enhanced metabolic and respiratory functions. (Nespor, K. “Pain Management and Yoga.” International Journal of Psychosomatics 38, 1991.)
Respiratory functions have been among the most frequently measured variables in scientific evaluations of yoga, largely because of the emphasis it puts on the breathing system, especially in pranayama (breathing) practices.
An aspect of yoga that distinguishes it from other forms of physical culture (i.e., exercise, sports) is attention to the well-being of the endocrine and nervous systems. These systems are toned and stimulated by hatha yoga practices in at least two different ways. First, local increases in circulation are brought about in the endocrine glands and nerve plexus (network of nerves) through a variety of postures. During shoulder stand, gravitational effects tend to increase circulation in the thyroid gland and the cobra posture contracts the lumbo-sacral musculature, increasing circulation to the plexus of the lower back region. A second way is during the breathing exercises, the manipulation of the breathing system which has a highly beneficial effect on the nervous system.
In the West, more and more physicians/health care providers are recommending/suggesting yoga classes, and “yoga therapy” is a growing field in North American health care. Locally, Tatamagouche Yoga has a face book page, listing classes offered year round and for all levels of experience. See you on the mat or the chair.
Live well…Age well
Here’s a short list of 15 reasons to do yoga:
- it helps you live in the present
- helps with stress relief
- you will sleep better
- it can help relieve chronic pain
- it will make you stronger
- gain flexibility & mobility
- helps the body detoxify and aids in organ functions
- reminds you to breathe
- improve your posture
- helps with concentration
- cultivate an attitude of gratitude
- cathartic and help unlock stuck emotions
- reduce inflammation with the deep breathing
- steamier sex
- grow your community