The eighth edition of the International Day of Yoga will be celebrated globally on 21 June 2022. The United Nations General Assembly gave recognition to this day at the initiative of Hon’ble Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi in the year 2014 through a unanimous vote.
The theme for the International Day of Yoga 2022 is Yoga for Humanity.
Yoga is a 5,000-year-old tradition from India that combines physical, mental and spiritual pursuits to achieve harmony of the body and mind. The core purpose of celebrating this day is to create awareness regarding the health benefits of Yoga for one and all. Over the years, it has become a mass movement for health, observed and commemorated globally.
Benefits of Yoga
A consistent practice offers a plethora of mental and physical health benefits. Some, like improved flexibility, are clearly evident. Others, including mental clarity and stress reduction, can be more subtle but are just as powerful. When put together, these benefits of yoga contribute to increased feelings of well-being, which helps explain why so many people find yoga so addictive.
Here are key benefits of yoga;
Moving body and stretching in new ways helps in becoming more flexible, bringing a greater range of motion to tight areas. Over time, one can expect to gain flexibility in the hamstrings, back, shoulders, and hips.
As one gets older, flexibility of the body usually decreases, especially if a lot of time is spent sitting, which leads to pain and immobility. Yoga can help reverse this process. The practice also increases cardiorespiratory and muscular endurance as well as physical strength.
Many yoga poses require bearing the body weight in new and often challenging ways, including balancing on one leg or supporting self with only arms. Holding these poses over the course of several breaths helps build muscular strength and endurance.
As a by-product of getting stronger, one can expect to see increased muscle tone. Yoga helps shaping long, lean muscles in the legs, arms, back, and abdomen.
Training to balance is important at any age. Athletes find it can make them more powerful and those who are active find that it can boost their workouts and level of fitness. Balance training improves posture and functionality to help in moving more efficiently through everyday life.
Exercises that strengthen and stabilize the core can promote agility and prevent accidents from stumbling or falling. Improved balance is one of the most important benefits of yoga, especially as age advances. Poses that require standing on one leg, and, for more advanced practitioners, turning upside-down in an inversion, can be a great way to build the core strength to hold oneself upright.
Supports Joint Health
The movements necessary for yoga are low-impact, allowing to use the joints without injuring them. Yoga also helps strengthen the muscles around the joints, lessening their load. People with arthritis often see a marked improvement in their pain and mobility with regular gentle practice of yoga.
Eases and Prevents Back Pain
Increased flexibility and strength can help prevent the causes of some types of back pain. Many people who have back pain spend a lot of time sitting at a computer or driving a car, which causes tightness throughout the body and spinal compression. Yoga counteracts these conditions.
Teaches Better Breathing
Most of us take shallow breaths and don’t give much thought to how we breathe. Yoga breathing exercises, called pranayama, focuses the practitioners’ attention on breathing and teaches how to take deeper breaths, which benefits the entire body. Breathwork in yoga can have physical and mental benefits both on and off the mat.
Fosters Mental Calmness
Yoga practice is intensely physical. Concentrating on what a body is doing has the effect of bringing calmness to the mind. Yoga also introduces to meditation techniques, such as how to focus on breath and disengage from one’s thoughts.
In addition, yoga practice benefits people with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Yoga can help traumatized individuals tolerate any physical and sensory experiences that are associated with fear and helplessness by increasing emotional awareness.
These skills can prove to be very valuable in intense situations off the mat, like childbirth, a bout of insomnia, or when having an anxiety attack.
Physical activity is good for relieving stress, and this is particularly true of yoga. Because of the concentration required, everyday problems, both large and small, can seem to melt away during the time on the mat. This provides a much-needed break from the stressors, as well as helping to put problems into perspective.
The emphasis yoga places on being in the present moment can also help as one learns not to dwell on past events or anticipate the future. One leaves a yoga session feeling less stressed since yoga reduces cortisol levels.
Doing yoga improves the mind-body connection, giving a better awareness of one’s own body. During yoga, one learns to make small, subtle movements to improve an alignment, putting oneself in better touch with own physical body. One also learns to accept own body as it is without judgment. Over time, this leads to feeling more comfortable in own body, boosting self-confidence.
Boosts Heart Health
Heart disease is the leading cause of death worldwide and research shows that yoga can potentially help to prevent it.
Yoga is good for heart because it increases circulation and blood flow. For instance, a study showed that a year of yoga improved cardiovascular risk factors like obesity and high blood pressure among older adults with metabolic syndrome.
Many people who practice yoga report that it helps them to sleep better and a large body of scientific evidence supports this claim. In fact, a review of 49 studies involving more than 4,500 participants determined that mind-body practices like meditation or yoga can be beneficial to those with insomnia and other sleep disorders.
Additionally, a 2020 review of 19 studies involving more than 1,800 women determined that those who practiced yoga had fewer sleep disturbances than those who did not. The researchers noted that the more yoga the subjects practiced, the more benefits they experienced.
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