Having been derived from the Sanskrit word “yuj”, the term Yoga means to integrate or unite the body with the spirit. The practice of Yoga is believed to have been developed somewhere in the fifth or sixth century BCE. The first mentions of Yoga are found in Buddhist Nikayas. In that context, Yoga refers to physical, mental and spiritual practices or disciplines which are aimed at transformation of the mind and body. However, there is great debate over the origins of Yoga. That being said, practice of Yoga or other similar disciplines such as Tai Chi immensely improves strength and flexibility. The meditation aspect involves harmonizing our inner self with the world, thereby creating an environment of peace. Yoga and meditation are thus very helpful in maintaining a balance between physical and mental well being.
General physical and mental benefits of Yoga and Meditation:
Stress and tiredness have become an active ingredient in our lives these days. With our busy and hectic lives, it is almost impossible not to take stress. However, Yoga and meditation are known to reduce stress and tiredness to a great extent. Yoga and meditation are also said to enhance physical and mental capacities, and promote long term health. As stated earlier, it enhances strength, endurance, flexibility and posture, and toning and tightening of the muscles. Yoga and meditation also take care of high blood pressure and problems associated with it, thereby effectively reducing the risk of potentially fatal events such as a heart attack or a stroke.
As a general guide, here’s a brief about the benefits of Yoga coupled with meditation:
Yoga & Meditation increase: Strength, Flexibility, Positive Attitude, Blood flow, Concentration, Social skills, Memory, Attention span, etc.
Yoga & Meditation decrease: Anxiety, Stress, Depression, Weight, Arthritis, Asthma, Tension in muscles, Cell deterioration, etc.
Apart from this, Yoga has also proven to be an effective aid to weight loss after pregnancy. Glowing skin, strong body, good mental health, peaceful mind, good general health, etc. are a few more benefits of Yoga. Flexibility is useful in preventing muscle injuries while performing daily body movements, such as turning your back. Yoga also reduces backache caused due to long periods of being seated, bending down, walking up and down a flight of stairs, etc. Yoga and meditation also provide mental peace to the practitioner. Peace of mind is basically a state of mental bliss, which helps relax the mind completely.
10 benefits of Yoga and Meditation for Stress:
- Yoga and meditation aid in weight loss:
One of the benefits of Yoga is that it assists the practitioner in weight loss. Yoga and meditation establish a good mind and body connection, which is pivotal to effective weight loss. Yoga helps in all kinds of weight loss. General weight loss, treatment of obesity disorders, recovery and weight loss after pregnancy, etc. being a few examples. Of course, it is not just Yoga which leads to weight loss. One also has to follow a good caloric deficit diet to lose weight.
Surya Namaskar, Veerabhadrasan, Utkatasan, Vrksasana, Ardhya Matsyendrasan, Badhakonasana, Balasana, Kapalabhati, etc. are just a few of the many exercises that aid in weight loss. All of these mentioned Yoga poses are proven to boost the metabolic system, burn fat, and tone the muscles of the body. Yoga and meditation have helped a lot of obese people lose a significant amount of weight. Meditation should ideally be added to one’s daily routine, as it puts you in a certain positive state of mind, which helps you have an energetic day.
- Yoga helps in boosting up the immune system:
The immune system of the body acts as a protective force. It effective defends the body against pathogens and other alien bodies. Having a strong immune system is of paramount importance if you want to lead a healthy life. Yoga boosts up the immune system of the body by improving the flow of blood cells, decreasing stress inducing hormones, and stimulating the lymphatic system. The lymphatic system is what fights against alien bodies or “toxins”. In this context, “toxin” refers to a plant or animal produced disease-causing poison. Yoga and meditation help you strengthen your immune system, thereby keeping you safe for a lot of diseases.
Adho Mukha Svanasana, Bhujangasana, Urdha Mukha Svanasana, etc. are some of the best Yoga poses for effectively boosting the immune system. These Yoga asanas or Yoga poses improve breathing, strengthen our muscles and joints, and in that process, make the immune system stronger.
- Yoga and meditation improve overall health:
It goes unsaid that Yoga and meditation help in improving overall health of the practitioner. There are quite a lot of yoga asanas out there, which target different parts of the body in different ways. The benefits of Yoga asanas are numerous. For example, Yoga helps you become and stay fit, improves sexual prowess, improves stamina, reduces stress, blood pressure, blood sugar levels, etc.
Apart from this, Yoga and meditation have also helped with other problems such as migraines, insomnia, etc. Migraine is a kind of severe headache that singularly affects one part of the head, and gives out a twitching pain. Migraines are generally followed by flashes of light, dizziness, nausea, blind spots, increased sensitivity to light, etc. Insomnia is a common sleep disorder, which makes it difficult for people to fall and stay asleep. Yoga asanas relax the entire body, releases all the stress in the muscles, making it easier for people to sleep peacefully.
- Inner Peace:
Inner peace, in this context means to achieve a certain, balanced state of mindfulness wherein there is external and internal bliss. It means to be strong during times of distress. Seeking inner peace is something that is very closely associated with religions such as Hinduism, Buddhism, etc. These religions state that bliss, contentment, and happiness are the three pillars of true inner peace.
In Buddhism, inner peace is described as something that helps you know your own inner self through Yoga and meditation. Meditation makes the practitioner concentrate on their breathing patterns. Now, because the person is relaxed, their breathing is also relaxed. Relaxed breathing is known to alter the consciousness and bring about peace.
- Yoga particularly improves heart health:
Yoga asanas have been known to successfully strengthen the cardiovascular system. Cardiovascular diseases refer to those diseases which are caused due to impaired blood flow to the heart, such as chest pain, heart attacks, strokes, etc. Yoga plays a crucial role in the prevention of certain diseases of the heart.
As stated previously, Yoga poses help in reducing blood pressure, and improve overall blood circulation in the body. Yogasanas and meditation help regulate breathing in the most effective manner. This means that the body gets adequate oxygen, which is circulated efficiently without any wastages and delays. Reduced breathing rate translates to a more relaxed nervous system, too.
- Flexibility and posture:
Yoga helps in strengthening and toning of the body muscles. There are a lot of yoga poses which help in toning of the muscles, thereby relieving them of pain. Yoga also assists one with a good, suitable posture while standing, sitting, sleeping, etc. Posture is of paramount importance for general wellbeing, because a bad posture can lead to neckache, lower backache, etc. Stronger muscles translate to lesser muscle and joint injuries caused due to exertion and external injuries. Strong and toned muscles help you move better and feel less tired. All in all, yoga and meditation make a person active.
Statistics show that people improved their flexibility by 35% on an average. This is a very good number. Flexibility and strong muscles will automatically correct your posture. If you are experiencing any kind of pain which is caused due to body use imbalance, such imbalances can be singled out and corrected at the grassroots.
- Aids in treatment of chronic lower back pain:
It has been stated time and again that Yoga helps in relieving back pain in practitioners. Lower back pain is generally caused due to bad posture or an injury. Through Yoga and meditation, the point of origin of the pain is determined and then treated effectively through yoga poses.
Chronic back pain is persistent for at least three months. Some people also have depression as a cause for chronic backache. Yoga stretches, if done correctly along with the correct breathing patterns can work wonders for people suffering from chronic people due to depression. Other than this, Yoga asanas in general regulate the breathing patterns of the body, thus optimizing blood circulation. Increased blood flow to the problematic areas helps in relieving backache. The Sphinx, The Pigeon, the two-knee twist, etc. are some of the best yoga poses you should consider for treatment of chronic back pain.
- Yoga helps in relieving asthma:
Asthma can be linked with the contraction of the windpipe due to various reasons, such as presence of allergens, excessive coughing, bronchitis, etc. Studies have shown that individuals with Asthma who tried Yoga experienced a change within the first 8 weeks. Yoga and meditation control asthma by improving the efficiency of the lungs. Most of the yoga asanas ask you to follow a certain pattern of breathing. Regulated breathing leads to much uniform flow of air to the lungs, thereby allowing them to expand and contract on time.
Deep and regulated breathing can control, and at times even cure asthma. Other yoga postures ensure that every part of the body gets adequate oxygen, as and when required.
- Controlling diabetes:
Diabetes refers to a medical condition wherein glucose is inefficiently synthesized by the body, and the glucose content in the blood is higher than normal. Diabetes, though simple in its origins, is pretty damaging to the eyes, kidneys, teeth, nerves, heart, etc. and can cause heart attacks, strokes, etc. Complications occurring due to diabetes such as foot infection is generally deal with, using amputation techniques. This shows how truly dangerous this disease is.
If you start following a strict Yoga regime and get yourself into schedule, your body will start reacting to insulin, which helps in reducing blood sugar levels. Pranayama, Setubandhasana, Paschimotasana, Chakrasana, Halasana, etc. are just a few of the many Yoga poses that help in controlling diabetes.
- Relieving depression:
Depression, in its simplest form, can be described as a state of perpetual sadness and anxiety. Depression has lasting effects on the mind, as well as the body. It also changes one’s behaviour. Other effects of depression might include headache, chest pain, nausea, restlessness, anxiety, insomnia, etc.
Practicing simple Yogasanas such as Anulom Vilom, Dog pose, the warrior pose, bridge pose, supported corpse pose, etc. are a few of the many yogasanas which help in relieving depression. The main thing about depression is that it can be beaten only through continued activity. Yoga and meditation provide you with that continued activity, thereby keeping you engaged for at least some time. One of the characteristics of depression is a lack of interest in anything. If you can adjust yourself to a schedule, you should definitely include a few of the above-mentioned asanas to relieve yourself of depression, albeit temporarily.
Yoga is one of the most thorough sciences out there. It was developed way back in around 5th or 6th century BCE. It has gone through periods of continuous evolution, and come to us the way it is today. Yoga practically has a solution for everything. It is difficult to imagine that diseases such as depression can be controlled and even cured to an extent using just yoga poses and meditation.
Just like that, yoga can also cure a lot of other ailments as well. It can very well be called as the most versatile practice, as it includes cures for hundreds, nay thousands of diseases. Every part of the body can be communicated with, using yoga.
In order to use Yoga to improve your life, the first thing you will have to do is fix a schedule, and actually follow it. The practice of Yoga has to be continuous, and that requires dedication. It generally takes about two months to start observing results. 2 months of uninterrupted practice will result in fruition of your efforts.