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Yoga is a term that refers to an array of traditional systems of physical exercises, as well as meditation in Hinduism. Both the exercise component and the meditative component of yoga have shown promising health benefits (Dykema 48-49). Yoga exercises help people to be aware of the interconnectedness between their physical, mental and emotional level. The benefits of yoga to the body are numerous and different i.e. physical, mental, physiological, spiritual, and psychological. For instance, the aging process, which is majorly caused by autointoxication, can be delayed by practicing yoga. Yoga enables us to maintain a flexible, clean, and well-lubricated body, which significantly decreases the catabolic process of cell deterioration. It is important that one combines the practices of pranayama, yogasanas, and meditation in order to attain the full benefits of yoga (Kumar 215-220).

Maintaining regular yoga exercises have been found to reduce diverse ailments like asthma, blood pressure, diabetes, arthritis, varicose veins, chronic fatigue, heart conditions, arteriosclerosis and digestive disorders. Studies on the effect of yoga practices on HIV are also ongoing, with promising results (Dykema 48-49). According to medical scientists, yoga exercises create a balance between the endocrine and the nervous systems, which has a direct influence on all other body systems and organs. Therefore yoga acts both as a preventive and curative therapy. The essence of yoga is to achieve mental piece, and a relaxed state of living, as well as to enhance concentration powers.

Physical Benefits

Yoga exercises increase the flexibility of various muscles, tendons, ligaments, and joints within the body, thus reducing the chances of possible injury. Yoga exercises are possibly the only exercises that massage all the body organs, both internal and external. Yoga acts wholesomely on the various body parts, stimulating and massaging them, and in turn this helps to keep away diseases (Dykema 48-49). Complete detoxification of the body is another benefit of yoga exercises. Through massage of the different body organs, and gentle stretch of joints and muscles, yoga ensures that optimum blood is supplied to various body parts. This in turn helps to flush out toxins from the body. Yoga also helps to excellently tone the muscles i.e. muscles that have become weak and flaccid, are repeatedly stimulated to shed excess flaccidity and flab (Dykema 48-49).

Physiological Benefits

Studies done by scientists and physicians have revealed numerous health benefits associated with yoga exercises for instance, it has been found that helps to relieve the signs of both common and life-threatening diseases such as AIDS, diabetes, arthritis, chronic fatigue, arteriosclerosis, and obesity (Dykema 48-49).

Asthma

Researches done at various yoga institutions in India have reported that yoga exercises remarkably improve asthma.  In addition, doctors have found out that adding yogic meditation and enhanced concentration abilities, together with pranayama, and simple postures, make asthma treatment more effective (Kumar 215-220). In addition, it has been revealed that yoga practice greatly reduces anxiety, in comparison to drug therapy. Doctors believe that yoga increases the self- awareness of patients and enables them to access their personal internal experience.

Respiration Problems

Research shows that people with respiratory problems, who practice yoga, have higher chances of controlling their breathing problems. Yogic breathing exercises enable them to control an attack of shortness of breath without seeking medical help. The benefits of yoga to patients with respiratory problems have been confirmed by various studies (Kraines and Sherman 23-25).

High Blood Pressure

The exercises and relaxation components of yoga play a major role in the prevention and treatment of high blood pressure. A combination of yogic breathing, biofeedback, and relaxation techniques help to lower blood pressure, thus reducing the costs associated with high blood pressure medication.

Back Pain

Back pain is a common and serious reason why numerous people seek medical attention. Yoga exercises have been used consistently to prevent and cure back pain by increasing muscle strength and flexibility (Kraines and Sherman 23-25).

Arthritis

The gentle pressures and the slow-motion movements during yoga are designed to penetrate deep into troubled joints and provide them with relief. Also, the deep-breathing exercises, in combination with the easy stretches, help to relieve tension in the muscles. Yoga is the perfect anti-arthritis therapy as it combines exercise and relaxation (Fishman and Saltonstall 17).

Weight Reduction

Research has revealed that regular yoga exercise help in weight management. For instance, some asanas (yoga pose) helps to stimulate slow glands, thus increasing their hormonal secretions. The thyroid gland for example, has a significant effect on the body metabolism (Kraines and Sherman 23-25). Asanas such as the fish posture, and shoulder stand, stimulate the thyroid glands. In addition, yoga also increases fat metabolism, converting fat into energy and muscle. This means that, yoga not only helps to loose fat (weight), buts also helps to strengthen the muscles. Yogic practices that help to reduce anxiety also tend to minimize anxious eating. The deep breathing during yoga helps to increase the intake of oxygen in the body cells, including fat cells. The increased oxygen intake causes the oxidation of fat cells, which consequently results in weight reduction (Kraines and Sherman 23-25).

Psychological Benefits

Regular yoga exercises help to create mental calmness and clarity, calms down the mind, increases concentration, as well as body awareness

Self-Awareness

Yoga practices help to enhance self-awareness both at physical and psychological level (Kumar 215-220). Yoga helps people to relax, and those who practice it, apply the relaxation technique whenever they are faced with any kind of pain. For instance, patients who suffer from chronic pain benefit from yoga because they are able to apply relaxation to counter their depression and helplessness.

Mental Performance

Breathing through one nostril at a time, is a common yoga technique, which studies have found to enhance the activity of the opposite side of the brain. Professionals suggest that regularly practicing breathing through a single nostril may improve communication between the left and right side of the brain. Increased activity of the brain is associated with better cognitive performance (Feuerstein and Payne 168).

Mood Change and Vitality

Though it is difficult to quantify physical energy and mental health, nearly everybody who has practiced yoga for some time has reported a positive effect on their energy levels and outlook. Yoga breathing exercises and stretching have an invigorating effect on the physical and mental energy, as well as improving ones mood (Feuerstein and Payne 168).

Spiritual Benefits

A person, who embraces the yoga spirit, finds peace with himself or herself. Yoga helps one to discover ands enjoy themselves for whom they are. In addition, yoga increases ones concentration, which is very useful in meditation during prayers.

Knowledge

The theory and practice of yoga leads to increased self-knowledge and awareness. This knowledge is not just the practical kind that relates to the techniques, but also the spiritual kind that pertains to learning something about the nature of self at rest (Feuerstein and Payne 168). The knowledge of self at peace, at rest, as a being, as opposed to just a doer or an agent, is a true kind of knowledge, which sometimes is lost, in the push of desires and rush of activities. Being able to discover, and enjoy one ’s self as it is, as opposed to as it is going to be, is certainly a value, and a  priceless kind of knowledge.

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