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The Wonders Of Yoga

 “Yoga is not only for any individual but for the entire humanity. This is the reason that the theme of International Yoga Day is ‘Yoga for humanity’. This whole universe starts from our own body and soul,” said PM Modi

by Kolkata Today

“Yoga is not only for any individual but for the entire humanity. This is the reason that the theme of International Yoga Day is ‘Yoga for humanity’. This whole universe starts from our own body and soul,” said PM Modi in his speech for International Yoga Day this year.
Yoga is an ancient practice that originated in India and has now become increasingly popular in today’s busy society. For many, it provides a reprieve from their chaotic everyday lives. While some regard yoga as simply another prevailing fashion associated with the new age mysticism, others vouch for the astonishing difference that it has made in their lives. From children to young adults to the elderly, the regular practice of yoga has many benefits, which have also been backed up numerous times by science.
The word “yoga” comes from the root word yuj, which means to yoke or to bind. The word itself has numerous meanings, from an astrological conjunction to matrimony with the underlying theme being connection. While other forms of exercise, such as aerobics, only ensure our physical wellbeing and have little to do with the improvement of the spiritual or astral body, the practice of yoga aims to develop and maintain a balance among the physical, mental, and spiritual aspects of a human being.
Many schools of yoga have been found over the decades. The founder of Yoga Patanjali developed what is known as “Sthiram Sukham asanam”, which implies that a posture that appears to be firm and agreeable is your asana. Hatha yoga, which is a combination of many types of yoga, is one of the most popular schools of yoga. It focuses more on the body rather than on the mind, as in the case of a still, meditative form of yoga. Most yoga practices follow the same pattern, beginning with the practice of pranayamas (breath-controlled exercises), which are followed by a series of asanas, finally ending with savasana (resting period). The most popular and well-known group of asanas in yoga is Suryanamaskar, also known as the Sun Salutation. Through 12 different postures, it is used to express gratitude to the sun, which is the source of all life on earth. The practice of Suryanamaskar improves blood circulation; strengthens the heart; tones the digestive tract; and stimulates the abdominal muscles, respiratory system, spinal nerves, and other internal organs.
The goal during yoga practice is to challenge oneself physically without feeling overwhelmed. The focus is on the breath while the mind accepts the calm. Yoga is not simply about physical appearance. Instead, it focuses on developing the breath and strength of the mind and body. Time and again, medical professionals and celebrities have also recommended practicing yoga. “On a physical level, yoga helps improve flexibility, strength, balance, and endurance,” says Linda Schlamadinger McGrath, who is the founder of Yoga Source Los Gratos, situated in Los Gratos, California, and who has been certified by the Yoga Alliance, the world’s largest nonprofit yoga association that certifies teachers and schools. “And on a psychological level, yoga can help you cultivate mindfulness as you shift your awareness to the sensations, thoughts, and emotions that accompany a given pose of exercise,” she further adds. “Focusing on body postures can shift attention away from negative thinking,” attests Dr. Kogan.
Yoga helps maintain bone strength, joint mobility, and joint stability, thus reducing the risk of injury and fracture. It also improves posture, muscle strength, coordination, and confidence. As it is generally conducted slowly, requiring one to be aware of the postures, it may be safer than many other sport activities; but some postures, such as the headstand, shoulder stand, and lotus position, have been reported as causes of injury. As posture is the most important aspect of yoga, an incorrect posture can harm the body and may wrongly affect the body and mind. This is the reason that yoga should always be performed under the guidance of a well-trained and certified instructor. Yoga is considered as a scientifically backed alternative treatment for stress. It has become an integral part in the treatment of eating disorders and programs that promote self-esteem and a positive image of the body. Yoga is also directly used as therapy, especially for psychological conditions, such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), however, the evidence for its effectiveness on these conditions remains weak. Nevertheless, the research is still evolving.
Many scientific studies have shown that a regular yoga practice may benefit people suffering from a host of chronic health conditions, including asthma and heart disease. Yoga comprises not just movement, but dynamic movements tied to breath. The early 20th century pioneers, Yogendra and Kuvalayananda, set up institutes to study yoga systematically, including the investigation of oxygen consumption during yoga practice at Kalvalyadhama Health and Yoga Research Center in Lonavala. Specific practices, such as meditation, breath work, and chanting, have been shown to significantly lessen tension and relieve stress. For decades, researchers have viewed the quality of life (QOL), defined by the World Health Organisation (WHO), to be an important predictor of one’s longevity and a patient’s likelihood of improvement when treated for a chronic illness or injury. In this regard, a 2019 meta-analysis showed the promising potential of yoga for the improvement of QOL in people with chronic pain. Yoga has been shown to improve the balance and overall performance of athletes. Adaptive yoga or chair yoga can be especially helpful for the elderly, for people with injuries who are less mobile, or for whom balance is a concern. Research has also indicated that yogic breathing may actually influence the brain’s cardiorespiratory center to improve functioning. Numerous studies have shown yoga nidra to be particularly helpful for improving sleep.
There has also been evidence that yoga could help with the accompanying symptoms of obsession, anxiety, and depression in patients suffering from anorexia nervosa. Yoga’s focus on mobility and flexibility can contribute to better alignment by releasing muscles that are often tight, such as the hamstrings, and improving the mobility of the spine. Studies suggest that yoga may help people become more in tune with their bodies, thus making them more likely to listen to their body’s signals. This heightened awareness of one’s body can carry over to mealtimes as one savours each bite or sip, noticing how the food smells, tastes, and feels in their mouth. People who practice yoga regularly are generally mindful eaters and may be more sensitive to hunger cues and feelings of fullness.
While research on yoga is still young, it is clear that the practice of yoga is truly beneficial for our overall health. The wonders of this efficient, ancient exercise are unparalleled. Yoga is a form of therapy—an ancient philosophy that creates strength, harmony, and awareness within the body. Investing in a daily yoga practice is investing in you!

-Swaroopa Mitra

This news article is prepared or accomplished by Swaroopa Mitra, in her personal capacity. The opinions expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not reflect the view of kolkatatoday.com

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