Why Yoga is SO Powerful When It Comes to Health

yogaReason 1. It has lasted over 3,000 years. I think that definitely rules it out of the ‘fad’ category. How can something survive 3,000 years? My guess is because it is a ‘difference maker’. It works – on so many levels.

When I talk Optimum Health (physical and mental) I talk about the 6 essential pillars: physical activity, nutrition, detoxification, rest, mindfulness and wholeheartedness. I also talk about choosing activities or habits which have the biggest ROI (return on investment). It turns out that a single yoga session ticks 5 out of 6 optimum health boxes – which makes it a SUPERFOOD for the mind and body.

In 1999 I started doing yoga. It was an important part of the biggest course correction in my life. It was – LIFE CHANGING.


Physical Activity

If you have ever done a yoga class you know it is a great workout. You actually ending up sweating your butt off – because it is hard ‘physical’ work.

The other benefit from a physical perspective is that it stretches tight muscles, it incorporates strength work, it builds up core muscles, it increases the stabilizer muscles for balance, and it works lots of smaller muscles that are usually missed by other exercise systems.

It really is a complete body workout. Also I originally got into yoga for pain management of my neck and back and it was highly effective because it helped deal with the physical and mental aspects of the pain.

Important note: Yoga is not about how far you can bend. It is about how well you breathe. Don’t be put off because you think you lack flexibility. Start where you are. Also known as: ‘acceptance’. The flexibility will come. 😉

 

Nutrition

I was going to aim for a long shot here and talk about at the yoga studio I go to in Bali (Desa Seni) where they offer ginger tea after the session – which is definitely great for the immune system.

Yoga principles stress the importance of good nutrition – especially eating plenty of live foods (plant-based whole-foods) – as an integral part of their practice. Also moderation and consciousness in making food choices.

Detoxification

Over the 3,000 years of its evolution, the yogi’s developed a very good understanding of how the body functioned at an optimum level. Also how different organs worked and their importance to the systems within the body. Therefore they developed postures in yoga that activate, stimulate and support these organs, to detoxify the body – especially the liver and kidneys, but also things like the endocrine system and lymphatic system.

Added to that is the sweating thing. So a single yoga session is extremely beneficial when it comes to detoxifying your body and enhancing the functioning of the immune system.

 

Rest

Ever heard of the ‘corpse’ pose in yoga? If that is not deep resting I don’t know what is. It is also called Savasana. It happens at the end of most yoga classes and is deeply relaxing. It is also the best way to finish a physical activity. Deeply resting the body starts the repair and rejuvenation phase.

As well as doing some restful corpse time, often there is meditation at the end of a session, which again deeply rests the body and mind.

 

Mindfulness

Yoga is actually more about being mindful of your breath then it is about turning yourself into a pretzel (though you can do that if that’s your thing). It is more about going inside to use your breath to enhance the effectiveness of the postures. When you mindfully go inwards to observe your body and breath, you stop the monkey chatter about the past and the future. You come into present time consciousness. This is deeply relaxing for the mind.

And again the meditation which is a big part of a good yoga class enhances your mindfulness and perspective. You wind down the stress response, and cool the mind.

 

Wholeheartedness

Yoga is so much more than a physical practice. There are postures that are specifically designed to ‘open up the heart’ – not only physically, but emotionally because the two are intimately conencted. Yoga creates the space to go inwards. To connect with the deeper you. The bigger you.

You also have the chance to feel connected. Whether it is to your breath, the other people in the class, or the bigger unknown. This sense of connection is essential for health and happiness. Disconnection on the other hand equals stress for the body and mind.

 

The final word

The choices we make determine our results in life. So I am always about finding the things that have the biggest impact on our health and happiness. Yoga is one of them. It is good on so many levels. That is why I strongly encourage you to do at least 1 yoga session a week.

Find a good instructor, who teaches not only the physical but the philosophy of yoga and you will be adding not only vitality but years to your life. You will look younger and have more energy. You will boost your immune system. You will better manage stress and increase the flexibility of your body (and mind).

 

In The Guidebook to Optimum Health one of my favourite yoga teachers – Octavio Salvado – talks about 5 powerful benefits of yoga from his perspective. If you ever get to Bali check out a class with him. He is AWESOME!!

 

As always, you know the dealio. If you want a hand (or some perspective), you know how to get in touch with me. If you have any comments or insights you would like to share, head over to the Blog, or jump on my Facebook page to continue the dialogue (and pick my mind). Also check out The Happiness Class on iTunes for some FREE weekly Coaching.   

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