Today, yoga is a discipline in its own right and is therefore clearly not a fashion phenomenon. Its health benefits are indisputable and yoga offers complete relaxation and well-being. Moreover, this practice is beneficial for both physical and mental fitness. Much more than a simple sports activity, it is above all a lifestyle, which works on both body and mind and brings many benefits.
But finally, what are the real benefits and health benefits of yoga? Is this discipline, very much appreciated by the French, a miracle solution? Complete answer in this article!
Introduction: what is yoga?
A traditional Indian practice, yoga is a true philosophy of life in its country of origin. It mixes essential principles for a good and happy life, i.e. to adopt an adequate behaviour with oneself, but also with others and to have a good hygiene of life. The ultimate goal is to create harmony between body, mind and the world in which the person lives.
The idea of yoga is to practice both meditation and gentle gymnastics through specific postures and breathing. It is the quickest and most effective way to unblock your psychological and physical tensions. By accumulating in the chakras, they become disrupted and no longer function properly. The postures are called in Sanskrit the "asanas", the breathing exercises "pranayamas" and the meditation "Pratyahara". Although yoga is based on these last ones, because they are very fashionable nowadays, you should know that there is an uncountable quantity of them...
Remember that the chakras are energy centers present in the human body. They are directly linked to the vital organs, to the mind, and even to spirituality. When the 7 main chakras (root, sacred, solar plexus, heart, throat, third eye, and crown) are functioning properly, the energies flow perfectly from one point to another of the body, thus releasing benefits and offering a better general health to the practitioner.
The different types of yoga
Dating back several millennia, yoga is derived from Vedic texts. Over time, this discipline has evolved, but it is important to know that at one time, yoga was not simply a sequence of postures and movements more or less difficult to perform. All forms of yoga are not practiced in the same way and therefore, they are not intended for the same target.
For example, the practice of "classical" yoga is not recommended for pregnant women to avoid injuries. Thus, they are led to practice another type of yoga: prenatal yoga. Likewise, for the elderly, it is preferable to follow exercises adapted to their physical conditions, which is called senior yoga. Whatever happens, always seek the advice of your doctor. Here are a few examples of different practices:
Bhakti yoga or devotional yoga,
Raja yoga or the yoga of meditation,
Yoga Bikram (in a room heated to 40 °C),
Why practice yoga on a daily basis?
As for an athlete, yoga brings its share of health benefits. But that's not the only reason. Some people are simply looking for a new life path to follow and try yoga for experimental purposes. Of course, while it is common to talk about the exceptional benefits of yoga, it is not a miracle cure. In fact, don't expect immediate or very quick results! It is necessary to practice for a long time before you feel a real change in your body and mind.
It is therefore first and foremost a question of motivation, determination and perseverance! The secret of success: regular practice. No need to be very intense just one day a week! Be rather regular, at your own pace, even if it's only 15 to 30 minutes a day... Last but not least, yoga is a practice that is open to all, but above all accessible. Even if you have no flexibility, if you are not athletic at all, this discipline does not seek performance, on the contrary. Forget competitions, it doesn't exist! Everyone can benefit from it and evolve according to their own abilities. Yoga can be practiced in a group, but it is still an individual discipline.
What are the benefits of yoga for body and mind?
To briefly summarize what yoga can improve in your life, it is very helpful to feel better, in general. We sometimes hear that there are so many health benefits that it is impossible to list them all... So here are the most important benefits of practicing yoga!
Strengthen and improve its flexibility
Even though the philosophy of yoga is associated with spirituality and philosophy, the postures practiced during training sessions offer increased strength and flexibility to your muscles (especially your deep muscles). Through exercises that are challenging, but not impossible, your body regains flexibility and strength that has been lost over the years. In fact, they are very useful for working on your balance.
Unlike strength training, for example, yoga works gently and deeply to obtain concrete results over the long term. Finally, you help your muscles regain their natural elasticity. Some movements are more focused on this desire, such as the posture of the dog upside down, the board, the warrior... No matter how much some people like it, flexibility prevents and reduces everyday physical pain! You will be able to achieve postures that were previously impossible for you.
Boost your energy and tone
If you are tired, yoga is a very effective method to energize and revitalize the body. By gently awakening your muscles and joints, you create natural warmth throughout your body. This heat, once spread, reduces fatigue, and sometimes even eliminates it.
A slim and muscular silhouette, does it tempt you? To tell the truth, yoga is an important asset for your figure. Mainly with sheathing exercises and precise movements, your body will tone up and become deeply muscular in just a few sessions. Although the effects on your body may take time to reveal themselves, you will feel a real inner change. In particular, there is a stimulation of the digestive organs and glands, such as the thyroid gland. All of this promotes the elimination of toxins, and therefore, helps to visibly slim your body.
To learn more, here's an article that should interest you: The effects of yoga on the silhouette.
Learning to breathe properly
Breathing is the basis of the essence of yoga. Learning to breathe better also means becoming aware of its impact on our body, mind and health. Breath control (pranayamas) is very often associated with the different postures of yoga, as they are complementary to each other. In fact, your breath allows your blood and organs to be properly oxygenated and therefore purifies the body. When you breathe deeply, you offer your body a greater natural balance.
Let's also talk about managing stress and anxiety, which can be totally eliminated by regular exercise. You strengthen your heart and lungs in the long run. Your health and well-being increase positively, just as your body is in better shape.
Lose weight gently
You may have noticed it, but yogis are generally quite slender and sculpted. Yoga is much more than just a physical exercise to lose weight, it has a special effect on all the aspects that lead to weight gain. Thanks to its many applications, it allows the practitioner to focus on his or her goals. Another interesting point, meditation is beneficial to reduce your food impulses and helps digestion. Finally, of course, yoga works on specific areas of the stomach and deep muscles. This combination allows you to lose weight and to slim down durably.
To learn more, do not hesitate to read our complete article on the subject: Yoga for slimming and weight loss.
Reduce back pain
If you are prone to back pain, regular yoga practice can help you say goodbye to it. Indeed, the different postures that are performed during a yoga class soften and stretch the spine naturally, and help to "relax" the vertebrae. Thus, your body remains properly aligned. In the longer term, once your pain is gone, continuing yoga helps you prevent future pain.
In fact, it is not only the back that is affected by this practice, but also the neck, neck and shoulders... Say stop to muscular, lumbar or back tensions! Also note the beneficial effects on your balance.
Develop your concentration
The secret to a successful yoga posture is concentration. Here is finally a moment of calm, just enjoy yourself and the moment and stay focused on the exercises, especially when it comes to balance postures, such as the tree, which requires being completely present. You will need to learn to channel your energy to use it to your advantage. Make the most of it.
Concentration is inevitably associated with breathing, as we saw earlier. The harmony between the two must be total. According to some studies, yoga also has significant benefits on memory and visualization. Everything is good to take!
Manage your stress on a daily basis
The subject has already been touched on a bit: stress and anxiety, for those who suffer from it, can be controlled through yoga. This Zen practice helps to effectively evacuate the stress accumulated over the course of a day, following a professional or personal unexpected event. This is the time to learn to let go and live your life now. The idea is to suppress parasitic thoughts and clear your mind. It is also an interesting gateway to start meditation! It is also closely related to breathing.
Your vision of life can change after some time of practice, which will bring you a certain serenity, which you did not have before.
Increase your self-confidence more easily
Self-confidence is sometimes very difficult to acquire... Yet, yoga is a very good discipline to boost it. As the postures are not very restful, succeeding in doing the movements correctly offers a feeling of satisfaction that is not negligible. As soon as you practice regularly, the results will intensify. Join a virtuous circle: the more confident you are, the more assertive you will be! Your comfort level will be better and the difficulties will fade with time.
Of course, at the beginning, you will have to be persevering, because it won't be a piece of cake, but you are capable of it, trust yourself!
Getting back to quality sleep
If you can't sleep properly or if the quality of your sleep is not ideal, know that a specific yoga exists: Nidra yoga! Contrary to "classic" yoga, you do not perform any movement: perfect for removing all physical and mental tensions or annoyances. This yoga completely relaxes the body to allow its practitioner to find a peaceful and recuperating night. Halfway between the trance state (phase between waking and sleeping) and meditation, you learn to relax deeply. This mainly helps to fall asleep more easily.
An original practice: the yoga of laughter
Today, it is present in nearly 106 countries around the world and has even led to the creation of laughter therapy in France and many European countries.
How does it work?
Quite simply, you learn to laugh, sometimes to the point of laughter. Alone or in a group, since it is contagious, sharing will be easier. In fact, it is a natural remedy to prevent many diseases, work the abdominal muscles, reduce stress and bring oxygen to the body. Might as well enjoy it and have a good time!
There are no restrictions, Laughter Yoga is accessible to everyone and for all ages. The effects are immediate. It is the endorphins released in your body that gradually boost your energy and your mood. Don't hesitate to try it at home, in the car, at the office or in a group class, it's very enjoyable.
How long does it take to feel the effects of yoga?
For this discipline to be effective, it requires regular practice, even if it is only 10 to 15 minutes a day. At first, you won't feel the difference, but little by little, the changes will reveal themselves on your body. This is, as a rough guide, the time needed to visualize the first positive effects. Of course, each person is different and this duration may vary from one individual to another. Don't focus on the results, but rather on the present moment. Only then will you see a real difference!
1. After a few yoga classes, you will see :
- An improvement in brain functions (memorization, attention...),
- Less daily stress and more serenity,
- Greater resistance to discomfort (aches and pains, muscle fatigue, etc.),
- Significantly improved flexibility...
2. After a few months of practice, the positive effects will be much better:
- A drop in blood pressure,
- Better breathing and breathing more easily,
- An increase in libido,
- A reduction in chronic pain (mainly back and neck pain),
- Very thorough anxiety and stress relief,
- A better general balance of the body (and mind)...
3. Finally, after a few years of practice, when you are an experienced yogi :
- Your bones will be stronger,
- Weight loss and maintenance over time,
- A reduction in cardiovascular disease,
- An unfailing physical and mental fitness...
Yoga: the secret of longevity
This Indian discipline, several millennia old, never ceases to surprise us. Every day, we discover new benefits for the body. Its virtues are even scientifically proven, with studies in support. The body is less solicited, but above all, chronic pain disappears one after the other... By the way, did you know that yoga had made its appearance in the hospital? Yes, from now on, it is possible to relieve the side effects of drug treatments, especially those against cancer. If there was only one benefit to the body, it would undoubtedly be an improvement in quality of life. From classical Hatha yoga to meditative yoga, including dynamic and acrobatic yoga, there is a wide range of choices for everyone.
If you are not totally convinced, don't hesitate to practice some postures at home, using YouTube videos, for example. You'll quickly get hooked! What's your favorite yoga?