Some people still think that yoga is a kind of esoteric relaxation method. This is probably because we yogis breathed deeply and relaxed even in the most demanding postures and are in a good mood and full of energy after yoga lessons. But that doesn’t mean that yoga doesn’t make you incredibly fit and strong! But why does this comparatively gentle type of movement have such an intense effect on our body? And where do the numerous positive effects on mental and physical health come from? At the same time, a yoga class lets you arrive in your midst and become more self-confident. Only yoga has so many positive effects on the body and mind …
1. Yoga makes you fit: Strengthening the muscles
Bodybuilders lift heavy weights; marathon runners cover long distances. And what do we yogis do? We stand, sit and lie around on a rubber mat. In comparison, of course, that doesn’t seem impressive.
However, everyone who practices yoga regularly knows that yoga can be quite exhausting. There are dynamic, challenging styles such as Ashtanga Yoga or Jivamukti Yoga and classical styles such as Hatha Yoga and Sivananda Yoga. The sun salutation alone is pretty hearty if it is performed several times in harmony with deep breathing! On special occasions, some yogis even practice the sun salutation 108 times – if you persevere, you will never again claim that yoga is “just relaxation” …
Also, many yoga postures (asanas) use the own weight of the body – anyone who has ever spent a while in Krieger III, or stretched their arms out to the side for a few minutes, knows how heavy their own body parts can be …
Besides, practically all muscle parts in the body are activated and trained during a 90-minute yoga session. This happens almost automatically because classically structured yoga lessons follow a certain exercise pattern, i.e., all parts of the body and all directions of movement of the spine are worked through, and several muscles work simultaneously in all yoga exercises. When jogging or tennis, it looks completely different – rather isolated areas of the body are addressed, preprogrammed excessive and incorrect stress.
2. Yoga stretches muscles and mobilizes the spine – and can thus help against pain
As science knows today, almost all of our physical systems are connected via fascia. Fasciae are connective tissue membranes that enclose our organs, muscles, bones, even our brain, and spinal cord. However, these fasciae stick together when they are either stressed on one side or moved too little. And when that happens, it has unpleasant effects: from tension and circulatory problems to reduced wound healing, performance, mobility, and chronic pain, e.g., B. in the back.
So if you don’t take care of your fascia, you neglect a crucial factor for your own health. And what is the most effective way to take care of the fascia? Clearly: yoga. In yoga, the entire body is stretched more thoroughly, variedly, and carefully than in any other sport – yoga is the perfect fascia training. Even special fascia yoga has an even stronger and immediately noticeable effect on the fascia. Oh, and by the way: The stretching in yoga ensures that yogis build long, lean muscles, which effectively shape the silhouette and the body and make them appear beautifully taut!
At the same time, we move our spine in a well-structured yoga class in all eight possible directions. This is an immense factor, for example, in combating back pain: If the spine is not flexible enough, it can trigger blockages and tension. Pain can radiate from the spine down into the legs or up the neck, or even up to the head. A flexible spine is therefore important for back health and can actively help against pain caused by tension!
This could also be of interest to you : Yoga And Physical Therapy For Back Pain
3. Detox effect: Yoga detoxifies
Not entirely unimportant: Yoga has a detoxifying effect. Because of stress, environmental influences, and industrially manufactured food, most of us remove so many toxins that they have a massive impact on our well-being and fitness.
So if you really want to get fit, you have to get rid of toxic contaminants first. Because if your body continuously struggles with old toxins, not only is your overall energy level lower than it could be, you are also more prone to infections; you may also appear bloated and store more acids in the tissue (hello, cellulite!). Also, there are wrinkles because a sluggish stomach can draw less valuable nutrients from food. Flatulence, depression, hair loss, brittle nails, and constant headaches can also occur when too much acid and waste products have accumulated in our bodies. And in the long run, over-acidification can be the breeding ground for diseases such as rheumatism, osteoarthritis, and osteoporosis.
But don’t worry: if you practice yoga regularly, you will quickly reduce harmful legacies. On the one hand, in yoga through deep, calm breathing during the entire hours, on the other hand, through specific pranayama exercises such as Kapalabhati, Exhaled toxins. Also, the rotating postures such as Ardha Matsyendrasana (the rotating seat) have a detoxifying effect – they activate the bowel movements and thus improve digestion (which means that food residues are excreted more quickly, so there is less time to form fermentation and other toxic substances). The intestine’s health effect is even more important than scientists long thought – because the intestine and the bacteria it contains are responsible for a considerable part of our immune system. Yoga also indirectly strengthens our immune defenses!
The twisting postures wring out the detoxification organs, kidneys, and liver, supplying them with new blood and thus new nutrients to work better. Those who practice sweaty yoga styles also excrete toxins through the skin.
4. Psychological effects of yoga: Relaxed, happy, and self-confident
Yoga also affects your life outside of the mat. If you are repeatedly instructed in class to really perceive your body and its needs, to respect your current constitution without judging, this attitude will at some point also change positively for the rest of your life. Many people report that somehow everything looks nicer after yoga, that afterward, they feel optimistic and full of energy. This mood-enhancing effect of yoga can probably be attributed to the joy of movement, the accepting contact with one’s own body, the stress reduction, and the positive mood in yoga.
And that not only relaxes you and lets you develop a more loving view of yourself – it also has very tangible effects on your behavior: Because you perceive what you really need at the moment, you eat healthier (and thus no longer take in as many toxins, so), you take breaks when you need them, you don’t stress so much anymore. And that definitely makes you happier – and of course stronger and fitter too. So with yoga, you will automatically get a crisper body – but you may not even notice that because you see yourself (and of course others) with much more loving eyes, you get a stronger self-confidence.
We are only as strong as we allow ourselves to be. If I keep telling myself that I am far too weak for the handstand – then I will definitely never learn this asana. But if I trust myself to new asanas and face challenges courageously and optimistically (of course at my own pace and with appropriate mindfulness), I will be able to experience my own strength again and again, both physical and mental – and thus always stronger and more self-confident will. And there is nothing that makes you as strong and fit as the certainty: “Whatever challenge I have to face – I can do it!”
5. Healthy through yoga: more energy and less stress
Yoga has countless effects on our health: on the one hand, asanas, meditation, and pranayama work against stress. During the practice, the parasympathetic nervous system, the part of the brain responsible for relaxation, is stimulated. This inhibits the release of the stress hormone cortisol so that you can relax and your body can regenerate. This also helps combat the symptoms of diseases such as diabetes or high blood pressure. Yoga also has a preventive effect on stress: Those who practice regularly are familiar with conscious breathing – an important tool for active relaxation in acutely stressful situations. So nothing upsets you so easily.
Many asanas harmonize the hormonal glands and thus regulate the hormonal balance. Yoga, for example, supports the thyroid in its work – and it can protect our body even better from toxins. Yoga can prevent malfunctions of the organ, such as severe nervousness or insomnia.
At the same time, yoga strengthens the heart, stimulates blood circulation, and increases our ability to concentrate. This has to do with breathing, which plays an important role in practice: through conscious breathing, more blood is pumped into the circulation and thus more oxygen, which can, for example, increase our brain performance. Your mind will feel clearer and fitter, and you will have more energy overall.