Yoga is an ancient science and healing art of self-development. This 6,000 year-old system of self-improvement is complete and comprehensive in its nature, utilizing body, breath, mind and spirit as tools for transformation.
“Returning one to Wholeness”
Yoga will do more than make you flexible and strong. It is also a unique way to reduce stress, enhance immune system, relax, improve concentration, clarity and reclaim your inherent health and well-being.
Health is a balanced state of body and mind, where each part of the body functions at full potential and the mental and emotional aspects are sound too. Through practicing yoga one is able to gain control over their health, physically, mentally and emotionally.
The physical stretching and strengthening exercises in yoga are known as asana’s. They involve both psychological and physiological processes. These asana’s were used as a way of freeing the body of tension, in order to remain undisturbed in deep states of meditation for long periods of time.
Many common physical ailments including chronic disorders such as anxiety, stress, fatigue, migraines, fibromyalgia, rheumatoid arthritis, and scoliosis, just to name a few can be improved by the practice of yoga. The postures work on specific areas of the body, such as the joints, muscles, liver, kidneys, heart, endocrine and nervous system.
The movements in the postures have a profound effect on how these organs function, strengthening and toning them. The body is oxygenated and filled with healthy blood, decongested and rested. The body’s stamina, lung capacity, heart performance, nervous system, muscle tone, circulation and cardiovascular health all improve!
The asana’s take time to perfect, so it is important to work at your own pace, recognizing your present limits and honouring them. Don’t attempt postures that are too difficult for you, until you have mastered the easier ones. Always practice with compassion and respect for your body. Try dropping the ego, focusing instead on the details of the posture and on how your body feels in that particular moment. Take time between postures to rest and integrate the effects you feel.
Proper breathing in the postures is important. As a general rule, inhale into a backward bending pose and exhale into a forward bending one. If you are holding a pose for longer than one breath, breathe deeply for the duration of the posture (usually working up to 5 breaths). Don’t hold your breath.
Yoga develops the body, mind and breath in a compassionate and non-judgemental way. Through continued practice of these techniques, the student of Yoga quickly experiences the benefits of increased relaxation, normalized blood pressure, the relief of minor back problems, a steadied metabolism and relief from stress. Yoga teaches us body and breath awareness, develops strength and coordination. It can also be helpful for conditions of fatigue or recovery from illness or surgery, because of this meditative, mindful movement of the body and breath. Inviting calmness, harmony and balance into the body and mind.
A typical yoga class is 1 hour. Beginning with a brief centering, focusing on breath and relaxation, then moving into warm-ups and yoga postures (asana’s), followed by relaxation (the most important posture!) and depending on the class closing with a brief pranayama (breathing practice) and/or meditation.
Some of the benefits of yoga:
- Improves flexibility, stamina, strength, muscle tone and range of motion in the joints
- Creates healthier breathing patterns, more efficient metabolism, and healthier cardiopulmonary functioning
- Cultivates mental skills, such as concentration and focus, leading to better decision making, enhanced self-confidence and mastery in life
- Enhances skin quality, aids in metabolizing stress hormones, and balances sexual libido
- Promotes overall well-being and detoxification
- Enhances immune system
- Supports good posture, which assists with the healthy functioning of organs
- Enhances digestive function and elimination
- Helps with lymphatic drainage, which cultivates a healthy immune system
- Supports addiction recovery
- Stimulates and tones the nervous system, fostering more stable mood
Yoga also offers relief to various symptoms of:
high blood pressure
Recent studies at the Boston University School of Medicine, researchers found that just one yoga class increased levels of the neurotransmitter GABA (gamma-aminobutyric) by an astonishing 27%. Low GABA levels are associated with depression and anxiety disorders.