Yoga and health benefits


16-March-2012

Yoga was created out of concentrated research and practiced by sages in India who prolonged their healthy lives for over hundred years. The old system of Ashram in India was the place where yogis used to teach yoga system for keeping the body fit and flexible.

The importance of yoga has increased many folds and is being realised far beyond the frontiers of India and currently being practiced all over the World. Currently, close to 11 million Americans are enjoying its health benefits. Yoga can hardly be called a trend or system belonging to any religion but is practiced by the followers of all faiths and religion.

The prophets and proponents of different religions like Christianity, Islam, Buddhism, Jainism, Judaism and off course the originators of Hinduism realised its importance and practiced the yoga system in one form or the other. The practice was so popular even for spiritual attainments that many practiced in the solitude of the Himalayas to attain Nirvana. Though Hinduism is classed as a religion by most, when examined closely one finds it actually is ‘a way of life’.   

Most yoga classes focus on learning physical poses, which are called asana, often referred to as Hat Yoga, to keep the body flexible and fit in coordination with some form of breathing technique. These asana not only keep the body fit physically but also help in keeping the vital internal organs like liver, kidney, heart, stomach, pancreas and lungs etc. in perfect order and their efficient functioning result various essential processes viz, respiration, digestion, blood circulation (which is normal for a healthy life), improving the quality of life. Many schools in India encourage yoga and regular yoga practice is part of the curriculum. The technique of meditation keeps the person relaxed and the various stresses common in today’s busy and stressful life well managed with the result that the brain – the vital organ in living beings -- perform its functioning in the most efficient way. The practice of meditation, if followed regularly, keeps depression away. In the modern life depression is one of the most common ailments that not only make the patients suffer but also affect all those around him/her. The quality of life deteriorates, often leading to suicides. Some yoga classes are designed purely for relaxation, releasing the stress, restoring sound sleep, making us feel calm and more relaxed. Estimates indicate that over 19 million Americans live with major depression.

There are the styles of yoga that teach us how to move our body in a proper natural way. Choosing the yoga style offers the greatest health benefits by enabling us to develop our flexibility, strength, balance of mind and body.

Present day addictions – Simple behavioural addictions to shopping, sex, even e-mail trigger the same rush of feel-good dopamine to the brain as drugs and alcohol. These habits aren't normally recognised and considered abnormal in most of the societies and therefore we hardly go to the doctor for any remedy to such ‘ailments’.

Even the insurance won't cover up for such treatment. But that doesn't mean they can't harm our lives. Yoga helps us keep away from such problems.

Practicing yoga for healthy living – Yoga can be performed at any age after 12 and it is never too late to commence the practice and achieve the insurmountable benefits. For most healthy people yoga is a safe, non-aerobic form of exercise but may be realised that it is not completely risk free. According to the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons, the yoga injuries most commonly treated in emergency rooms involve overstretching and strain from repetition to the neck, shoulders, spine, legs, knees, etc. Also, certain poses can increase your risk of injury if you have conditions of severe osteoporosis, high or low blood pressure, ear problems, problems with your spine and pregnancy (including risks to your unborn child).
Here are some precautions for safe yoga:

If you are pregnant or have a pre-existing health condition: Consult your health care provider before starting a yoga programme. Your health care provider can help you know how to judge what type and level of yoga exercise is safe for you.
Don't try learning yoga on your own: Work with an experienced instructor to learn the proper way to perform the exercises and avoid injury. Once learned properly you can perform independently.

Yoga - not a substitute for medical care: Yoga offers many health benefits and may even be included as part of some treatment plans. But it's still important to work closely with your regular health care providers and get proper treatment when you need it. Many ailments can be managed well with the help of yoga. Asthma, fibrosis, arthritis, diabetes, blood pressure, thyroid problems and depression are to name but a few.

Know your limits and stay within them: Before beginning any new type of yoga, ask about its physical demands, its implications. Find out how strenuous it is. Talk with the instructor and others who do that type of yoga to be sure it's suitable for you. Everyone has his/her limitations.

Go slow: You're not in competition with anyone else in the class or society. Learn the basics, such as proper breathing and how to maintain balance, before you attempt the more ambitious asana.

Warm up properly before every session: Cold muscles increase your chances of injury. Proper blood circulation is necessary for yoga.

Wear proper clothing: Wear loose clothes for free movements of body without causing any resistance or irritation.
Ask questions: If you don't understand any exercise, ask to see it again before you attempt it yourself.

Stay hydrated: That's especially important if you are practicing strenuous yoga and doing it in a very warm and humid room. Our body contains 70% water. The effect of decrease in concentration of water in body needs hardly any explanation.

Pay attention to what your body is telling you: Yoga isn't supposed to hurt. If you feel pain, stop. If the pain persists, see your health care provider. Stop immediately if you have chest pain, feel faint or overheated, or become dizzy. Get immediate medical help if the sensation continues after you stop.

Compiled by Surya Khanna for Jeo Jyoti Foundation of I (JJ India)

(JJ India -- a charity organisation based in Seychelles -- is planning to organise regular yoga sessions from mid April to mid May in Mahe and interested persons may register and contact for further information through email ( This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .).
JJ India is aiming to create a healthy society in Seychelles, an ideal pollution free place – a real paradise in the Indian Ocean.) 

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