The practice of yoga started in India about 3000 years ago and continues to grow in popularity all over the world. Yoga is a combination of challenging postures (asanas) and breathing techniques (Pranayama) seen by many of its practitioners as a way to achieve harmony between body and mind whilst improving health.
Yoga stretches are purported to exert every nerve, muscle and gland in the body, and recent research into yoga has shown that it is beneficial to those with type 2 diabetes, asthma, mental health disorders such as bipolar affective disorder, and yoga has even shown benefit on improving symptoms in patients with advanced cancer. Let’s start from the beginning to understand what yoga is, what are the health benefits to the physical and mental body, and all the types of practice.
Prentesses, the best news is: Yoga classes available for Gracie Sydney members every friday on Zoom. Stay tuned on our socials for more info @graciesydneyaus
What is yoga and what is that for?
There are many different ideas related to yoga, where it comes from, what it is, and how to practice a range of techniques. Generally, it is a system that recognizes the multi-dimensional nature of the human person and primarily relates to the nature of the mind, based on experiential practice and self-inquiry.
In yoga, body, breath and mind are seen as a union of these multi-dimensional aspects of each human being. The systems and various techniques of yoga cultivate the experience of that union, leading to greater integration of mindfulness, internal peacefulness, and clarity of the mind. It is a system that is designed to cultivate health and happiness, and a greater sense of self-awareness and higher consciousness.
Yoga cultivates health and wellbeing (physical, emotional, mental and social) through the regular practice of a range of many different techniques, including postures and movements, breath awareness and breathing exercises, relaxation and concentration, and meditation.
- Stress relief
The yoga practice helps to decrease the heartbeats, blood pressure and also the production of stress hormones such as cortisol. By maintaining control over your mind and staying connected to the present, your body significantly increases the high levels of cortisol that are related to depression, osteoporosis and abdominal weight gain.
- Mood improves
Yoga has been shown to increase the level of gamma-aminobutyric acid, or GABA, a chemical in the brain that helps to regulate nerve activity. GABA activity is reduced in people with anxiety disorders, and drugs that increase GABA activity are commonly prescribed to improve mood and decrease anxiety.
By improving circulation in the endocrine glands, consistent yoga practice also enhances the functions of hormones that play a primary role in the physiology of depression. This results in a reduction in depression and improved overall mood.
Scandinavian researchers measured brain waves before and after a 2-hour yoga class and found that alpha waves (relaxation) and theta waves (unconscious memory, dreams, emotions) increased significantly. These results indicate that the brain is deeply relaxed after yoga and that participants have a better awareness of their subconscious and emotions.
- Changing behaviours and habits
The practise of yoga promotes better functioning of the prefrontal cortex (PFC), an area with a major implication in social behaviour, making the task of self-transformation a little easier. Researchers have also found that yoga can have a rejuvenating or protective effect on the brain.
When yoga is practised with sensitivity and attention, it gradually increases awareness. It awakens your ability to feel what’s happening in your body, heart, and mind. When you become more aware of your body, more aware of your mind, more aware of your breath, you start to notice the consequences of your behaviour.
- Flexibility and balance
Yoga helps to release tense muscles and increase the range of motion. Even those who claim “inflexible” will be surprised when they discover how much more flexibility they can become through regular yoga practice. Yoga also deepens the body awareness, allowing you to improve your balance and physical posture.
- Physical strength
Yoga is one of the best strength building workouts available. It involves learning to lift your own body weight and holding it for prolonged periods of time. During a yoga sequence, you use your own bodyweight, which helps you develop strong, lean muscles all over. This includes your arms, core, legs and back.
- Increasing lung capacity
Breathing is one of the main elements of yoga as it allows you to oxygenate the brain and perform postures correctly. By breathing deeply, inhaling and exhaling through your nose, you expand your lungs.
As we always say here, at Gracie News, oxygen is our body’s fuel, so yoga will feed your lungs with air and you will feel the changes in your breathing. This activity significantly contributes to the reduction of respiratory diseases and the brain starts to react faster thanks to the oxygen that enters your body.
- Health improvement
Yoga postures improve the flow of the lymphatic system, which is responsible for fighting infections and releasing toxins from the body. Yoga breathing exercises help keep your blood pressure at normal levels. Therefore, this activity is an excellent therapy to improve your overall health.
Types of yoga practice
Over the years, different forms of yoga have emerged, and some 30 different types of practice are now being practiced. While almost all styles use the same physical postures, each one has a particular focus.
These are the the most popular practices around the world:
1. Hatha Yoga;
2. Ashtanga Yoga;
3. Vinyasa Yoga;
4. Kundalini Yoga;
5. Raja Yoga.
If you are still not convinced about yoga benefits, we give you one more good reason to hit the mat: this practice is great to improve your performance during BJJ! If you read again all the benefits are BJJ related. Yoga has so much more to offer than you ever thought.
After all this explaining about YOGA, come to the Yoga class on Fridays on Zoom with us. We are here to help you to achieve your best version!
See you soon,
Gracie Humaita Sydney.
by Fernanda Monteiro.