Yoga is currently taking its final exam. Even though this science dates back many thousands of years, it has only recently come to the West. This is where Yoga is being empirically tested.
The Western mind demands results and evidence, if none are produced, the system does not survive. This is a valuable approach and Yoga is currently being put though the rigors of this process. So far Yoga is passing with flying colors. Don’t get me wrong, its not that the East did not expect that, its just that this approach filters out the fraudulent and frivolous methodologies, which might otherwise survive simply because of superstition and fear, and the East is just as happy that this is being done as the West. This scrutinizing process results in separating the stones from the diamonds and the diamond that is Yoga is starting to shine though bright and clear.
Over the last three to four decades a great deal of research has been done by the medical community and they now, more and more, recognize the health benefits of Yoga. Below, I will highlight the top 10 health benefits that Yoga bestows and I hope it will inspire all of you to take up this wonderful practice is some capacity and reap the rich rewards as well.
The health benefits have been divided into 3 categories. The Physical Health Benefits of Yoga, Emotional Health Benefits of Yoga and the Mental Health Benefits of Yoga. A short explanation is given along with each benefit to help you understand better the mechanisms that Yoga employs to bestow it.
Physical Health Benefits of Yoga:
1. Energy: Yoga exercises, breath control training (pranayama) and use of yoga body locks (bandhas) all work to activate and balance your energy pathways, giving you the vitality and power you need to maximize your potential.
2. Strength: By strength here we don’t just mean physical muscular strength, although that will benefit greatly as well due to the steady holding of yoga poses and the exercises that yoga incorporates, but also the strength of your internal physiological systems. Strength of your immune system, nervous system, digestive system, respiratory system, circulatory system, reproductive system, etc.
3. Healing: The power of Yoga to heal ailments and cure diseases is becoming more and more an integral part of mainstream medical practice and treatment methods. This ability of Yoga to heal also promotes longevity.
4. Flexibility: Yoga postures (asanas) are perhaps the best type of exercises you can do to improve flexibility. Flexibility is essential for avoiding injuries as well as for the health of the joints, tendons and muscles.
Emotional Health Benefits of Yoga:
5. Peace: Yoga meditations and practice methodology promotes a greater awareness and appreciation of the present moment, which calms the mind and allows the peace deep within to surface.
6. Joy: With the maturing of a Yoga practice, the beauty and depth of life become more apparent and the spontaneous joy of existence emerges.
7. Compassion: Yoga values and philosophy, along with the practice of yoga meditations, dissolves one’s ego-centric reality, thus developing other mindedness, thoughtfulness, generosity and compassion.
Mental Health Benefits of Yoga:
8. Brain Development: Yoga breathing exercises and yoga meditations develop parts of the brain that are normally dormant. Once these parts are activated the power of intuition, as well as other latent powers are unleashed. In addition as the brain develops so does your intelligence and clarity of thoughts.
9. Concentration: The requirement of many Yoga meditations to keep the mind focused on a single object or mantra (sound vibrations), helps to dramatically increase your power of concentration and focused attention.
10. Awareness: Yoga can simply be called the Science of Awareness. This is its primary purpose. To refine and increase awareness so that you can penetrate the veil of the ordinary dualistic mind and encounter your Divine Nature within.
Anmol Mehta is a Yoga Teacher & Zen Expert. His extensive site, Free Guided Meditation Practice & Chakra Kundalini Yoga Exercises, offers Free Online Kundalini Yoga Kriyas. You will also find articles & lively discussions on the Free Guided Meditation Practice, Kundalini Yoga Poses & Zen Meditation Blog.