Yoga comes from the root word “yuj,” which means “to yoke” or “unite.” It is a practice built on breath and body awareness for holistic well-being. The ultimate objective is to seek oneness with the universe and lead a harmonious life. Yoga originated in India thousands of years ago. It is used to build strength and flexibility in the body and improve overall health. Yoga has also been shown to have positive effects on stress, anxiety, and depression—even combatting post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and chronic pain.
Elements of yoga have been adopted in other cultures, especially in the mindfulness practices of Buddhism. Yoga is versatile and modern research has shown its positive impact on physical and mental health.
Six Health Benefits of Doing Yoga Every Day
Yoga is a gentle exercise that aims to improve flexibility through stretching. It uses breathing and awareness to generate the effects on the body parts.
1. Improves Lower Back Pain
If you work at a desk all day, you might suffer from pain in the lower back, shoulders, and neck due to poor posture. Yoga corrects your posture and prevents spinal deformation, inflammation, and pain.
Yoga relieves low-back pain in two ways: First, the asanas help build core strength and stability, which amply improves posture. Second, the meditation techniques encourage relaxation from the physical discomfort through focused breathing.
2. Increases Body Awareness
Yoga uses body awareness while performing the asanas. As the various muscles are massaged, the self-monitoring leads to correct alignment and proper breathing. When you feel centered while holding the poses or focus on the breath, the appropriate organs are gently activated. This is why after a yoga session, one always feel fresh and raring to go.
For instance, when you do the Tree pose, which involves balancing on one leg, your inner thighs, quads, and core are all active. This helps you stand upright and avoid falling over. It also makes you more aware of the placement of your ankle, hips, and shoulder joints.
3. Fights Fatigue
Performing yoga stretches pumps up your heart rate, which helps in carrying more oxygen to the cells of your body. By correcting the shallow breathing habit, your vital capacity increases. Thus, you get more energy and do not feel tiredness after a hectic day. Yoga is effective against hypothyroidism, which is a common syndrome that manifests as chronic fatigue.
Inversions—where your head is lower than your heart—can be energizing. Poses like Forward Fold and Downward Facing Dog can help boost your ceativity.
4. Promotes Balance
Yoga poses that require balance, such as Warrior III and Chair and Eagle, help improve your stability by challenging your ability to stand on one leg. This is important as you get older because it helps prevent falls.
When you have balance, you have greater control over your body. It means you’re able to fire up the right muscles to maintain stability, so you can move more efficiently. By performing yoga asanas, you work on associated muscle groups that improve your agility.
5. Builds Strength
Yoga does not build muscle in the same way that weightlifting does, but it imparts strength and range of motion. For example, holding Chair pose is like doing a squat; moving through chaturanga involves performing a Plank and push-up.
The poses we practice may look easy, but holding them for longer periods of time can be quite challenging. In more active practices like ashtanga or vinyasa, you may experience the strength-building benefits very quickly.
6. Enhances Flexibility
Flexibility is the ability of your muscles to extend or lengthen. The gentle stretching associated with yoga increases flexibility by helping your muscles relax.
If you want to perform at your best, you need flexibility. Flexibility training allows muscles to lengthen and contract fully, which makes them work more effectively. If your range of motion is limited due to stiffness or injury, you need to start with a modified pose or use adequate support before attempting the full pose.
Yoga is an essential component of the morning routine of many, and its benefits are numerous. In the long run, yoga has benefits that impact all aspects of your life. Including yoga in your routine gives you a chance to feel invigorated, centered, and ready to beat everyday stressors.
It’s true that yoga can be as effective for your mental health as it is for your physical health. But whether it’s more effective depends on you and the way you approach yoga. Everyone has a different experience in yoga—the best way to use the practice to improve your mental health is to commit yourself to the process, not the outcome. Once that happens, you’ll see how powerfully the practice of yoga can benefit you on all levels.
Q. Do you think everyone should do yoga?