Yoga’s Holistic Magical Treasure



Mon, 01 Feb 2016 - 12:42 GMT


Mon, 01 Feb 2016 - 12:42 GMT

Yoga has many obvious physical benefits, such as building strength and flexibility. But there are other not-so-obvious benefits that will help you stay young - and reduce your medical bill, writes Sandra Shama Kaur.

Over years of practicing yoga diligently, I noticed some pretty obvious benefits that everyone in today’s modern and urbanized world needs to survive. These benefits fall into three main categories: physical, emotional/mental and spiritual. In this column, I will go over the obvious and not-so-obvious physical benefits. On a physical level yoga offers four main benefits:

First and arguably the most important is the reduction of pain. Through the use of the breath, yoga refuels the body, especially the joints in the wrists and ankles, knees, hips, shoulders and neck. For those who work out too little or too much, pain and tension accumulate in the body as a result of blocked energy that needs to move. And in yoga, we breathe through these blockages, which makes more room for energy to flow, thereby releasing tension and pain.

Second is posture and alignment. Living a sedentary life certainly contributes to developing habits of bad posture. Think about the way you sit while watching TV, how you type away at your computer, sit in your car or even stand. A slouched back and dropping or arched neck are all unhealthy postures that we develop and that stay with us for life! What yoga does is bring you awareness in your posture so you know how to stand and sit properly, which muscles to engage and when so that the body is in proper alignment. What many people do not know is that energy flows more freely when posture is correct, and we become more productive, healthier and happier when the spine is properly aligned.

[caption id="attachment_441390" align="alignnone" width="620"]Performing such postures are great for improving your coordination and balance. Performing such postures is great for improving your coordination and balance.[/caption]

Third is strength and flexibility. We do a lot of whacky stuff in yoga like arm balancing poses, planks, warriors and so forth. These postures can be held as short as 30 seconds or as long as 11 minutes in the case of Kundalini yoga! Imagine how much strength you gain in addition to stamina and endurance just to keep up despite the challenge. What helps you keep up is always the attention to the breath. The deeper you breathe, the longer you can hold the pose. In the case of flexibility, what you will notice is the more you exhale deeply and visualize the energy flowing to the parts of the body that are tense and inflexible, the more you will be able to open up, release tension and flow into the posture with ease.

Fourth is balance and coordination of movement. If you have ever been to a yoga class, you will be familiar with various balancing poses such as tree pose, the dancer, boat pose and so on. Performing such postures are great for improving your coordination and balance. Next time you’re in a balancing pose, it is good to notice which side is easier. It is common to find that an imbalance in the body links to an imbalance in the right and left hemispheres of the brain, which may signify which is more or less dominant. Are you more creative? Or analytical?

Last is the cardio effect, also known as building heat (tapas). Holding certain poses for a long time, such as chair pose and twisting postures, increases the heat in the body, thereby boosting metabolism and detoxification. And let’s not forget the popular jump back also known as “vinyassa,” which not only improves coordination but also builds a heat in the body while linking the pose together with the breath. The benefit here is safety, because if we always move in coordination with the breath, injury is significantly reduced.

So there you have it: yoga’s holistic magical treasure. If you’re wondering why you should take up yoga, consider some of these benefits and remember that in yoga age is measured by the flexibility of your spine. To stay young and reduce your medical bill, do yoga!

Stay tuned for next month's column when I tell you about how yoga relieves stress, clears the mind, brings emotions into balance and induces a state of relaxation.

Sandra Shama Kaur is a Kundalini yoga teacher and founder of YallaYoga.



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