What is yoga good for?
Discover all the physical, mental and spiritual health benefits of regularly practising this ancient discipline.
If one of your New Year’s resolutions is to open up a space for self-care where you can work on your physical, mental and spiritual levels at the same time, yoga is undoubtedly the best option. With origins that can be traced back to India, this ancient practice is both a philosophy of life, an excellent physical therapy for staying flexible and fit at any age, and a natural and healthy way to achieve inner peace and the right mind-body balance. As Rachel Rose, Mind & Body expert at SHA Wellness Clinic, says, “In the West, most people start practising yoga to reduce pain or as a way to relax to combat stress and improve sleep. From there, and little by little, they discover that yoga is much more than just adopting specific postures and breathing in a certain way”.
Yoga provides a multitude of benefits for the body, mind and spirit. Rachel explains that “physically, as well as reducing body aches and pains, it helps to loosen up joints, stretch muscles and develop balanced muscular structure. The latter is very important because many sporting activities work one side more than the other, such as tennis, which leads to muscle imbalance. However, yoga has that part of symmetry that develops a very balanced body because all the muscles are worked, even the smallest ones. And this has a significant anti-ageing benefit, since it allows us to be flexible and balanced at any age. Yoga also improves proprioception, which is the ability to feel the exact position of all parts of the body at all times, something very useful when it comes to preventing falls, something that can have disastrous consequences at certain ages”.
The physical improvement can be noticed from the first session, but with continued practice, you will notice many other mental and spiritual benefits. Rachel lists some of the most important ones: “Breathing, called pranayama, is the bridge between the mind and the body. Yoga synchronises breathing with movement, which leads to a meditative state that allows you to focus your attention on what you’re doing. In other words, being aware of the here and now. In addition, meditation and breathing change the brain’s electrochemistry, calming brain waves, improving concentration and helping us to focus on the present moment, which enriches the experience of life. Walking in a beautiful park while you’re thinking about your problems or what you have to do the next day isn’t the same as if you are focused on the moment and enjoying nature. And when we unite body and mind, it is easier to understand what our path is, why we are here and for what purpose. Yoga provides some clarity on these issues because they often give the feeling that life is deprived of meaning. In Sanskrit it is called saddharma, the true path, and it helps us to find our purpose”.