Benefits of Yoga

“Yoga invigorates the body and enriches the mind, and is endlessly customizable for a healthier, happier you.”

The Little Book of Yoga

I started my yoga practice in early 2010. I needed a way to get in shape and build a healthier body without the boring lifting of weights or the exhausting cardio.

As I followed the teacher’s instructions to bend, twist, stretch, relax, and breathe, I found myself getting lost in the practice. My worries and cares floated away while I followed the instructor’s voice and learned to ground myself, and focus on my movements and breathing.

I fell in love with yoga.

Unfortunately, I did not have the money to continue for more classes after the 12-week session offered at the university’s gym. Instead, I bought Best Health magazine’s Home Workout to continue my practice at home. I religiously performed the 15-minute “rise and shine” yoga workout in the mornings… until we moved to our new home and I shared a room with my sister. I felt so self-conscious and afraid of any criticism or jokes at my expense. I knew my family would tell me that I don’t need to work out because I’m thin. I knew they’d tell me that I look ridiculous.

But yoga isn’t just for the flexible or the strong or the ones looking to lose some weight. Yoga is much more than that. Yoga is a lifestyle that benefits your whole well-being.

A few weeks after moving to the metropolis with my bestfriend, I saw an ad for a not-for-profit organization, called Blu Matter Project, looking for volunteers in their study on the links of mood disorders and yoga. I immediately researched about the organization and its program, and soon after applied to be a participant.

I admit that I am having trouble with attending yoga classes regularly, but the instantaneous benefits of the practice are inevitable.

Listed below are benefits that I’ve experienced and read from Amy Weintraub’s Yoga for Depression Chapter 3: “Why Yoga Works”, Yoga Journal‘s “Yoga for Beginners” special edition, and Yoga Journal‘s December 2014 edition.

Yoga lifts mood and the yogi experiences a mild euphoria. Practising yoga increases brain chemicals that contribute to a feel-good response.
Yoga stimulates energy. It gets your blood flowing and gets more oxygen to your cells.
Yoga calms. It reduces production of the stress hormone cortisol, increases oxygen consumption, and reduces muscle stiffness and tension.
♥ “Yoga quells the fluctuations of the mind, according to Patanjali’s Yoga Sutra. . . . it slows down the mental loops of frustration, regret, anger, fear, and desire that can cause stress.” (Yoga for Beginners)
Practising yoga allows greater access to emotions. It keeps the yogi centered and aware of his/her feelings.
♥ “Instead of feeling the compulsion to react, the practice of Yoga enables us to slow down the impulsive reaction and more calmly respond.” (Weintraub)
♥ Yoga improves flexibility and builds strength.
♥ Yoga allows you to notice where you hold tension, enabling you to relieve some of it. “Practicing yoga with attention to breath and sensation can release what’s constricting your physical body, letting you tap into–and work through–what’s happening on an emotional level, and giving you access to your true, blissful nature.” (Yoga Journal, Dec. 2014)
♥ Yoga helps keep your spinal disks supple.
♥ Yoga practice increases bone density, especially  in the vertebrae.
♥ “When you contract and stretch muscles, move organs around, and come in and out of yoga postures, you increase the drainage of lymph (a viscous fluid rich in immune cells). This helps the lymphatic system fight infection, destroy cancerous cells, and dispose of the toxic waste products of cellular functioning.” (Yoga for Beginners)
♥ Yoga boosts the functioning of the immune system.
♥ “Yoga has been shown to improve various measures of lung function, including the maximum volume of the breath and the efficiency of the exhalation.” (Yoga for Beginners)
♥ “Yoga can help you make changes in your life. . . . Tapas, the Sanskrit word for ‘heat,’ is the fire, the discipline that fuels yoga practice and that regular practice builds. The tapas you develop can be extended to the rest of your life to overcome inertia and change dysfunctional habits.” (Yoga for Beginners)
♥ “In yoga, it’s what you do for yourself that matters. . . . You get involved in your own care; you discover that your involvement gives you the power to effect change; and seeing that you can effect change gives you hope.” (Yoga for Beginners)

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