Yoga was first introduced to the modern world after Swami Vivekananda traveled and spoke at the Parliament of World Religions which was held in Chicago in 1893. Not only did it introduce Yoga to the west, it also led to re-invigoration of the practice of Yoga in India. Since then numerous Indian and Western health experts have come forward talking about the benefits of Yoga. Recently the International Day of Yoga’ was celebrated across the world with participants from very diverse countries like Tunisia, Venezuela and New Zealand.
Yoga predates the Vedic period and makes its first appearance in the Rig Veda. Historically the earliest records of yoga were found in the 5th and 6th century BCE. Some records of Yoga were also found in the Katha Upanishad.
Greek historians travelling with Alexander the great have recorded encounters with Yogins, who had developed a sense of aloofness and were seen in various postures, some sitting and some standing and they refused to meet the Greek visitors. Yoga has references in the Buddhist Pali Canons and the Bhagwat Gita.
The practice of Yoga developed across the ages, imparting physical, mental and spiritual health to its practitioners. These are some key benefits that have helped me-
- Circulatory system improvement- Yoga has known to have remarkable benefits to ling time users to the musculoskeletal system. Practicing Yoga leads to the increase in the GABA levels that helps control moods and reduce anxiety. The breathing exercises as part of yoga lead to improved cardiac rehabilitation improves asthma, and in some cases known to lower the blood pressure. When I was having some breathing issues mostly due to allergy, a 20 minute Yoga session went a long in improving the circulation and breathing.
- Lower back rehabilitation- Most of us with sedentary work lifestyle have suffered from back pain at some point in our lives. It is not uncommon to see 20 year old with back problems. Yoga has an effect on the skeletal system and in known to relieve the stress in the lower back. Research done by the Boston University school of medicine shows that Yoga combines with rehabilitation for lower back led to reduction of pain for 1/3 rd of the volunteer group, as opposed to only 5 % of the control group that did not combine Yoga with their post-operative care. The percentage drop for those taking pain medication also reduced by almost 80% for the volunteer group (Source -Wikipedia). I have used Yoga to reduce any stress on the back and to reduce back pain. In an earlier piece I wrote about how you can improve your health while in office. I can easily add a few Yogic exercises to it and the benefits would double.
- For Sports- Yoga has been effective in reducing sports injuries and helping sportsmen recover and gain overall fitness. It has prolonged the playing career of many sportsmen including Ryan Giggs who played for Manchester United and Wales beyond 40. Yoga gives internal strength to the muscles and the skeletal system. If has helps increase the blood supply to the muscles. During professional sports or during training the tightening of muscles reduces the blood supply and this increases the chances of injury
So these are some of the key benefits of Yoga and by no way are they comprehensive. Everyday new benefits of Yoga are discovered and they are then empirically proven in research. In 2014 the UN passed a resolution to celebrate June 21st as the International Day for Yoga or IDY.
But what are your experiences with Yoga? Has it helped you to recover from an injury or improve your health. Do write in the comments section or post your comments on the Facebook page.