Yoga for health
According to Yoga Alliance (a standards-setting organization that supports the yoga world), managing stress ranks #1, with pain relief, better breathing techniques, flexibility, strength, weight loss, increased circulation, cardiovascular conditioning, alignment, and focus completing the top ten (Sparrowe, Yoga International 4/16). Other lists include emotional challenges such as depression, anxiety, fatigue, and insomnia.
An increasing number of studies show that yoga asanas and meditation, when taught properly and done correctly, provide measurable physical, mental, and emotional benefits. For example, one study shows enhanced cognitive function and memory after just 20 minutes of hatha yoga; another suggests that meditation lessens pain better then morphine; and still another that a few months of practice can bring blood pressure and blood sugar levels under control, improve your mood, your sex life, and your balance.
The effectiveness of yoga in helping us take care of our physical and emotional health is contingent on the integrity of its teaching and on its correct practice. “Yoga practiced as traditionally intended means paying attention not only to the alignment of your muscles and bones but also to the rhythm of your breathing and the quality of your mind – and the interplay of all three. The power of yoga to lower blood pressure and stress levels, as well as enhance your memory, arises when yoga brings together the mind, body, and the heart – through the agency of the breath.” Sparrowe, Yoga International 4/16