By: Lauren Berryman
Yoga originated in India around 3000 B.C. and is practiced globally today. The word “yoga” is derived from the Sanskrit term yujir meaning “to unite.” 1 More specifically, yoga unites one’s mind, body, and spirit as the exercise promotes both mental and physical health.
Yoga is a type of neuromotor exercise aimed to improve one’s ability to perform daily activities. Neuromotor exercises help improve motor skills, such as balance, coordination, flexibility, and range of motion. It is especially important with age as it reduces the risk of falling. In addition, it helps prevent injury in well-trained individuals and improves overall wellbeing in all participants.
It has been discovered that “physical systems activated through yoga practice include musculoskeletal, cardiopulmonary, autonomic nervous system and endocrine functioning,” and “psychological benefits include enhanced coping, self-efficacy and positive mood.” 2
Asana, breath, and meditation are three key elements of yoga that differentiate it from other exercises. Asana refers to the practice of different poses, aiding flexibility and stability. Regulating one’s breathing reduces stress, and meditation helps clear one’s mind.
The various yoga poses stretch muscles helping to prevent stiffness in joints as well as helping to build muscle strength. Some of the positions include the lotus, the downward-facing dog and the cobra. It is recommended to learn yoga from an instructor and advance gradually to more complex poses.
Yoga helps prevent arthritis among other conditions. Additionally, it improves posture alleviating back pain and preventing osteoporosis. It also improves blood flow, increasing oxygen delivery to tissues and, therefore, supplying more energy to the body.
Research shows that 60-80 percent of doctor visits are linked to stress-related health issues, and yoga has become a popular prescription to relieve stress. 3
Along with reducing stress, yoga provides many other mental health benefits. The focus on breathing aids relaxation and improves sleep. And, achieving harmony by learning to unite one’s mind and body encourages self-care, which improves wellness and overall happiness.
It is recommended to practice yoga, or other neuromotor exercises, for 20-30 minutes for 2-3 days per week. At Heuser Health, we offer yoga classes on Sundays at 10:15 a.m.
So, roll out your yoga mat (or use one of ours), get your sweat on, and prosper in the health benefits of yoga. See you at the gym!
- Joshi, K. S. “On the Meaning of Yoga.” Philosophy East and West, vol. 15, no. 1, 1965, pp. 53–64. JSTOR, www.jstor.org/stable/1397408.
- Evans, Subhadra, et al. “Using the Biopsychosocial Model to Understand the Health Benefits of Yoga.” Journal of Complementary & Integrative Medicine, vol. 6, no. 1, Jan. 2009, pp. 1–22. EBSCOhost, search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=sph&AN=38899522&site=ehost-live.
- Nerurkar, Aditi et al. “When physicians counsel about stress: results of a national study.” JAMA internal medicine 173,1 (2013): 76-7. doi:10.1001/2013.jamainternmed.480