What Are the Health Benefits of Yoga?
The benefits of various yoga techniques have been professed to improve body flexibility, performance, stress reduction, attainment of inner peace, and self-realization. The system has been advocated as a complementary treatment to aid healing of several ailments such as coronary heart disease, depression, anxiety disorders, asthma, and extensive rehabilitation for disorders including musculoskeletal problems and traumatic brain injury. The system has also been suggested as behavioral therapy for smoking cessation and substance abuse (including alcohol abuse).
If you practice yoga, you may receive these benefits:
Improved body flexibility and balance
Improved cardiovascular endurance (stronger heart)
Improved abdominal strength
Enhanced overall muscular strength
Relaxation of muscular strains
Increased energy levels
Enhanced immune system
Relief of stress resulting from the control of emotions
Prevention and relief from stress-related disorders
Intellectual enhancement, leading to improved decision-making skills
Life with meaning, purpose, and direction
Inner peace and tranquility
A word of caution about the incorrect practice of yoga is necessary at this point. With the many benefits may come injury for new practitioners of yoga or those doing it without proper instruction. Over 36 million Americans are reported to be practicing some form of yoga, and health care professionals are seeing injuries such as muscle and ligament sprains, neck and back pain, and cartilage tears.
According to the International Health, Racquet and Sportsclub Association, about 86% of health clubs offer yoga.
A teacher-organized group called the Yoga Alliance recommends at least 200 hours of expert training, and nearly 5,000 instructors nationwide reportedly have satisfied that standard. But since there is no licensing or official certification required, untold numbers of teachers may have done little more than complete a weekend training program or correspondence course. Before taking a yoga class, ask about the credentials and training of the instructor. You may wish to sit in on a class and observe before committing yourself to a set program.