The term “Yoga” is derived from a Sanskrit word “Yuj”. “Yuj” which means “to join”. Yoga is a way of life which achieves harmony and union between our psychological, physical and spiritual selves. It unites our body, soul and mind. The ultimate aim of yoga practice is to unite our individual consciousness with that of Universal consciousness.
Yoga helps in developing our personality in a manner which is holistic and integrated. Yoga is a mind-body coordination technique involving meditation, relaxation, and physical exercises performed in synchronisation with regular breathing
Let’s learn today about the Yoga connections to our body!!
Yoga asanas like “shavasana” and svitri pranayam lead to decrease in oxygen consumption by the heart, decrease in blood pressure and heart rate. Shavasana alone has the ability to decrease high blood pressure. Heart activity is stabilised by regular and deep breathing techniques, a core part of yoga practices in the form of “pranayama”. It also causes decrease in pulse rate and limits the deterioration occurring with age in heart.
Yoga increases the maximum expiratory and inspiratory pressure. It also increases the breath holding time after inspiration as well as expiration. The lung functions get improved. The respiratory rate is decreased and stabilised. It also increases the strength in the inspiratory and expiratory muscles. While practicing yoga, one consciously and consistently over rides the impulses from the respiratory centres in brain hence able to acquire control over their own respiration. Hence people practicing yoga can swim under water for a long duration without losing their breath.
Meditations works on the principal of focusing on an outer or inner (in mind) object. It brings clarity of thoughts, increases mental awareness and reduces mental distractions. It in turn leads to increase in the concentration span and some other cognitive function improvements. Alpha waves on Electroencephalogram mainly denote an awake, alert and relaxed state of brain of an individual. The alpha waves are increased in Yoga practitioners.
It also increases the quality of the sleep. People doing “pranayama” sleep better and are fresh and in a “feeling good” mood after waking up in the morning. Yoga also decreases the levels of anxiety and stress. Yoga primarily helps in promoting increased activity of parasympathetic system in body which leads to relaxed state and less pressure on the nervous system.
Yoga fine tunes neuro-endocrinal axis. Long term practice of yoga increases insulin sensitivity. It means that pancreas have to secrete less insulin in order to utilise more amount of glucose. The yoga asanas reduce the level of cortisol hormone which is a stress inducing hormone. It also decreases levels of adrenaline, nor adrenaline, dopamine and aldosterone. Melatonin is a hormone which boosts may systems leading to feel a sense of well being. This hormone is found to be raised in yoga practitioners.
Yoga is found to be very beneficial for pregnant females. It improves the health of not only the mother but also of the baby present in her womb. Pregnant women practicing yoga in their second trimester reported decreased labour pains. It also results in lower chances of preterm labour and restricted intra uterine growth of the baby. It also increases the birth weight of the baby. It also increases the chances of natural delivery.
Yoga improves muscle coordination, increases the strength of the muscles. The “suryanamaskaram” involves stretching muscles which are synergistic and antagonistic alternatively. It increases stamina, strength, steadiness, endurance, flexibility, anaerobic power and better neuro-muscular coordination. The “pranayama” also increases the power of hand muscles and the strength of a hand grip. As yoga is an isometric exercise of the muscles. There is no excessive lactic acid generation. It also stabilises the gait and results in decrease in percentage of osteoporosis in old age group.