Yoga is a union of the organ systems in the body with the consciousness in the mind. It is an ancient system of physical and mental practices that originated during the Indus Valley civilization in South Asia. Philosophically, yoga produces a union of body, mind, and energy (or soul or spirit) to bring about a state of equanimity (calmness). The fundamental purpose of yoga is to foster harmony in the body, mind, and environment. Yoga consists of low-impact physical activity, postures (called asanas), breathing techniques (pranayama), relaxation, and meditation.
Physical benefits of yoga include:
- improved body flexibility and balance, leading to the development of core strength
- increases the range of motion in joints
- increases lubrication in the joints
- improves cardiovascular endurance (stronger heart)
- improves digestion
- improves abdominal strength
- enhances overall muscular strength
- aids in weight control
- increases energy levels
- enhances the immune system
Mental benefits of yoga:
- relief of stress resulting from the control of emotions
- prevention and relief from stress-related disorders
- intellectual enhancement, leading to improved decision-making skills
Also there are spiritual benefits of yoga:
- life with meaning, purpose, and direction
- inner peace and tranquility
Recently, researchers have begun exploring the effects of yoga on depression, a benefit that may result from yoga's boosting oxygen levels to the brain.Yoga has long been known to lower blood pressure and slow the heart rate. A slower heart rate can benefit people with hypertension, heart disease, and stroke. Some studies have suggested that yoga may have a positive effect on learning and memory. Yoga may help people with arthritis deal with pain and stiffness, improve their range of motion, and increase strength for daily activities. Certain forms of yoga may help reduce fatigue in people with multiple sclerosis. Yoga can be used as a treatment for chronic low-back pain, insomnia, and other conditions.
To start, you will want to find a teacher and style that suit your needs, abilities, limitations, current physical condition, and class schedule. Make sure the teacher knows about any limited health conditions and your level of fitness. And remember don’t force any movements or poses!
(American Family Physician, Emedicine, AAFP, & Secrets of Self-Healing)