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Yoga for Longevity

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Updated February 20, 2007

Yoga Overview:

In India, the practice of yoga is based on a comprehensive philosophy of man striving for harmony with himself and the world and encompasses breathing, meditation, and exercise. In the US and other Western countries, yoga has become primarily associated with the practice of asanas (postures) of Hatha Yoga. Yoga is adaptable for all skill levels and age levels, and has several benefits for everyone, including:

Increased Flexibility:

Yoga practice usually consist of a series of poses that are held for varying amounts of time. Many of these poses are challenging and require stretching. After just a couple of sessions, people will notice that they can stretch farther. They will notice that they also find movement in daily life much easier and more fluid and that they are less stiff.

Detoxification of the Body :

Yoga is said to aid in detoxification of the body as many of the poses stimulate blood flow to the different organs, flushing out toxins. It also emphasizes breathing techniques which increase oxygenation of the body. Some of the poses also stimulate the digestive tract, improving digestion.

Weight Reduction:

Yoga can aid in weight reduction in several ways:

  • It helps people be more aware of their bodies and the need to take care of themselves, including eating in a healthy way.
  • It can help people gain a sense of control over their bodies and their food choices, as well as reducing the anxiety that often leads to overeating.
  • It is said that many of the asanas (poses) stimulate glands, such as the thyroid gland, which can help increase metabolism.

Toning Muscles:

Yoga makes us stronger through sustained holding of poses. It also engages muscles that are not used on a daily basis, adding to overall tone and strength.

Self-Awareness:

Yoga helps make people aware of their bodies and moods, but more importantly, gives them tools to help address problems. For instance, people experiencing pain can find poses that target and relieve the pain, as well as overcome feelings of helplessness.

Stress Reduction and Relaxation:

Yoga teaches us to be in the moment and to focus on ourselves and our breathing. It is said to give people a sense of control over situations, and to let go of those things that cannot be controlled. It improves quality of sleep.

Cautions:

While yoga has benefits for almost all people, those with the following conditions should consult their physician before beginning a yoga practice:

  • High blood pressure that's difficult to control
  • A risk of blood clots
  • Eye conditions, including glaucoma
  • Osteoporosis
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