While Hatha Yoga addresses much more than our physical health, let’s take a look at the primary physical benefits of our practice. Yoga is a complete mind and body experience. It has the potential to calm the mind and release anxieties, while simultaneously strengthening the body. Regular Yoga practice is a positive step toward overall good health. Many people practice Yoga as a form of therapy for a number of ailments, ranging from sore backs to diseases. Others practice Yoga just to maintain the state of feeling healthy and well. When you open yourself up to the benefits Yoga provides, you feel amazing results.
You do not have to be a gymnast to practice Yoga, and you will not be asked to contort yourself into a pretzel. Yoga poses provide gentle stretches throughout the entire body, where the stretch can be adjusted to each individual’s comfort and ability levels. As the muscles, tendons, and ligaments are stretched, the body releases lactic acid. This is important because lactic acid is what builds up in the muscles to cause stiffness, pain, or fatigue. As the muscles stretch, the joints also become lubricated, resulting in greater range of motion and smoother, more effortless movement.
Although breathing is a crucial component of staying alive, many people do not breathe correctly. Deep, deliberate breathing can help center the mind and re-energize the body. The deep, slow, and mindful breathing associated with Yoga increases lung capacity, and helps blood to flow to all of the body’s organs. With regular Yoga practice, the heart begins to pump more efficiently, causing the rest of the body to work more efficiently.
Chronic stress has a negative impact on mind, which results in many physical ailments. For many people, Yoga is a quiet time of reflection, release, and centering. It allows the mind to calm and refocus. It directs negative energies out of the body, allowing new, positive energy into the body. The breathing exercises (pranayama) incorporated with the poses can be extremely beneficial in redirecting energy. Yoga makes it possible to reduce multi-tasking at will, which gives you time look inside your inner self and “just be.” This is a powerful Yogic concept, which reduces stress from all aspects of life.
Different types of Yoga provide more rigorous workouts and strength building, but even the most basic poses can increase strength and stamina. Many of the standing poses increase strength within all the muscles of the leg. Inverted poses and other floor poses often increase the strength of the arms and shoulders. Many of the Yoga postures (asanas) focus on increasing back strength. Nearly all of the asanas engage the core muscles, which is extremely important. As the center of the body, the core muscles effect how the rest of the body feels and operates.