When I went to my doc and explained some of my ills (chronic body aches as well as life stressors), do you know what she recommended? That’s right: yoga. Not pills. Not a workout routine. Not a special diet. Yoga. Check out today’s article by guest blogger, Emma, for reasons to try this ancient practice.
When many think of yoga, they imagine the positive effects of yoga poses on muscles and joints. The health benefits of longevity yoga go beyond muscle strength and flexibility, however. Here are other ways yoga brings you to better health:
Natural, clean eating, usually vegetarian, is part of the longevity yoga lifestyle. Revitalizing foods, free of artificial preservatives, are believed by some practitioners to help “purify” the blood. This is based on a belief that, as toxins disappear from the body and cells receive the oxygen and food they crave, health and well-being are restored.
Slows Heart Rate
Through breathing methods and right posture, the heart rate is slowed in yoga. With regular yoga practice, including breathing, poses and clean eating, the day-to-day heart rate will be slow and healthy, reducing strain on the heart muscle. The purportedly blood-purifying diet also strengthens the heart by reducing inflammation, which can lead to arterial damage.
Relaxes the Nervous System
The slow, measured and deep breathing in longevity breathing reduces stress partly because it assists in engaging the parasympathetic nervous system, which is responsible for balancing the effects of the sympathetic nervous system. The latter is responsible for the stress response called fight or flight.
In traditional yoga practice, the breathing techniques used also revitalize the entire body as the yogi draws in life force, also called Qi, and not just oxygen. With each breath, Qi is supposedly pulled into the lungs and distributed throughout the body. The effect is energizing and relaxing at the same time. The philosophical and spiritual force of Qi is an important element in other practices, most notably Tai Qi and Qigong.
Restores the Endocrine System
The endocrine system is the collection of glands that releases hormones throughout the body. Hormones help regulate many important bodily functions, including the sleep cycle, metabolism and heart rhythm. Yoga poses are believed by practitioners to stimulate internal organs and rejuvenate glands by increasing blood flow. Controlled, deep breathing techniques in yoga that oxygenate the blood also reduce stress, thereby taking a load off the busy nervous systems and endocrine system. Stress is a contributing factor to many diseases, such as heart disease and cancer. By restoring hormonal balance and reducing overall stress in the body, potential harmful effects are diminished before they have time to cause disease.
As balance is restored to the body, all organs and functions experience rejuvenation, and the body is thought by practitioners to be able to direct energy away from struggling to perform normal functions, back to repairing and healing. Longevity yoga is believed by many to increase both quality of life and lifespan due to the marked effects on heart rate, blood pressure, the nervous and endocrine systems and the blood.
A specialist from San Francisco City Lights says yoga can easily be practiced at home, making it one of the most convenient exercise options. Unlike many other fitness programs or lifestyles, such as jogging or weight lifting, yoga has no common harmful side effects. Start slow, and work towards your health and strength goals at your own pace!
About the Author
Emma is a freelance writer living in Boston, MA. She writes most often on health and education. Say hi on Twitter @EmmaSturgis2
What are your thoughts on yoga?