Oxygen is the source of life for every cell in the body. It heals our wounds, kills germs and bacteria, and ensures the strength and vitality of all living tissues. Blood is what carries oxygen throughout the body, and physical activities like yoga raise the heart rate and increase the circulation of oxygen-rich blood.
What makes yoga particularly beneficial is that it also boosts blood circulation to often-neglected areas of the body like joints, connective tissues, and internal organs. Deep stretches, twists, backbends, and muscular contractions signal the body to send blood to those specific areas.
Toxins are all around us - in the air, in our food, and in the water - but fortunately, our bodies are designed to naturally eliminate these poisons through the skin, the breath, the blood, and the organs of elimination. So how does this relate to yoga?
In almost every yoga class, you sweat, you breathe deeply, your heart rate rises (increased circulation), and you massage and stimulate the organs of elimination through twisting and bending postures. For detoxification, a regular yoga practice is extremely effective.
Strength and Flexibility
Many people think that in order to change their body they need to use the latest exercise machine or hire a personal trainer. While some people find results with those methods, more people find results through yoga because of its natural, holistic approach.
Yoga postures strengthen and lengthen the body's connective tissues through physical postures that have been practised for thousands of years. It doesn't matter if you are flexible or stiff, weak or strong, yoga can transform your body and mind and improve your overall health.
The stress and pressure of our daily lives can lead to serious illness and disease if left unchecked. A regular yoga practice calms the body and mind, boosts the immune system, and eliminates the toxins that stress creates - so many students see yoga as the perfect "cure" for a hard day at work.
Self-confidence and Self-esteem
Yoga makes you feel healthy, strong, and limber which will immediately boost your self-image and self-confidence. Learning yoga postures creates an enormous sense of pride that will improve the way you feel about yourself both inside the studio as well as out in your daily life.
The quality of our breath is directly related to our mental state. When we are upset, the breath tends to be fast and shallow. When we are at ease, the breath is usually slow and deep. We don't have to think to breathe, but when we learn to consciously control the breath, it helps us to control the body and mind as well.
Often referred to as "moving meditation," an advanced yoga practice is one where students are able to maintain deep, consistent breath throughout their entire practice, regardless of the physical posture they are performing. In this manner, yoga teaches us to control our state of mind, regardless of the daily stresses we encounter.
Many students report that after practising yoga regularly, they feel less hungry and make better choices when eating. As part of an overall healthy lifestyle, yoga is a great way to cleanse the body, increase metabolism, stimulate waste elimination, and reduce food cravings.
Is Yoga Aerobic?
Aerobic exercise occurs when an elevated heart rate is sustained for twenty minutes or more. Aerobic activities are particularly helpful to strengthen the heart, burn excess fat, and boost the body's metabolism.
Yoga can be a great aerobic workout, but it depends on the student and on the class they are taking. In order to sustain an elevated heart rate during practice, students should try their best to actively participate in all postures and take classes that they find challenging.
Many physical activities that are good for your health also create serious imbalances in the body. Runners are prone to knee and back problems, tennis players often develop arthritis in their wrists and elbows, and weight lifters’ connective tissues soon become tight and rigid.
Yoga is one of the few physical activities that promotes whole body wellness - both physically and psychologically - without creating the imbalances that lead to injuries and complications later on in life.