Health and Wellness: Yoga


On an earlier blog we looked briefly at the benefits of exercise. On today’s blog, we’ll focus on yoga. More so than in other blogs, due to the vastness of this topic, instead of giving a lot of information in the blog, our effort is to point the reader to different resources which allow for further exploration and then most importantly inspire the reader to begin his/her own journey of Yoga Practice.


Yoga is derived from the Sanskrit word Yuj, which means to “yoke” or unite. One form of union in the yogic context is the union of body, mind and spirit. From a historical perspective, Patanjali is regarded as the author of the text, Yoga Sutras, which serves as the basis of all modern schools of yoga.


This text describes yoga as having 8 limbs, often likened to a flower with 8 petals. These 8 petals in order are Yama, Niyama, Asana, Pranayama, Pratyahara, Dharana, Dhyana, and Samadhi. Most of us are familiar with only two of the limbs, Pranayama(breath regulation) and Asana(practice of postures).


There has been extensive research on the health benefits of yoga. Yoga has shown to improve overall fitness, not just aerobic but also muscle strength and flexibility. In addition individuals who practiced yoga regularly had lower weight and were more mindful of eating, and were better attuned to hunger signals from their body.


Relaxation, byproduct of practicing yoga can reduce chronic low back pain, headaches and insomnia. Moreover, it increases body awareness, reduces stress and increases attention and focus. Best of all it can be practiced by people of all ages and fitness levels.


Here is an article in the Huffington Post, which contains not only a nice summary of the various benefits of yoga, but contains numerous links to various publications and research.


Other sources that the reader may find helpful:

-Books by B.K.S. Iyengar, particularly Light on Yoga, and Path to Holistic Health.

-Sivananda Yoga books: Yoga Mind and Body, Sivananda’s Beginner Guide to Yoga

-DVDs by Alan Finger of Yoga Zone. 3 volume set Conditioning and Stress Release, Flexibility and Tone, and Flexibility and Stress Release is especially good for beginner to intermediate practice.

It’s always good to educate yourself, especially, if it’s a new topic, but like Bernie Roth says, our bias should be on doing. So, start your practice at  home or at a yoga studio and reap the amazing physical, mental and spiritual benefits of yoga.

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