Yoga has been in practice for a long in India. It’s magic, and you only believe it more once you observe or realize some benefits yourself. So, if you are still not into it, take up your first yoga class.
Often, we hear learned men say ‘Hamari saansein nishchit hain’ means it’s all fixed or say predecided. It’s only how we spend them that decides our life span. There’s a Sanskrit proverb – “For breath is life, and if you breathe well, you will live long on the earth”. Yoga involves deep breathing. Thus, if we are giving more time to a breath, naturally it’s gonna going to help us live longer. Besides, there are so many benefits like a relaxed state of mind, better sleep, more energy, and the list is endless… Out of the umpty benefits yoga provides, we’re just listing a few that influence longevity and support a long, healthy life.
Prevents cartilage and joint breakdown
All joints are in action once you are practicing yoga. This allows the joint cartilages to receive fresh nutrients preventing war and tear. Nevertheless, underlying bones too, remain protected.
Increases bone density and health
Initial yoga exercises like walking, running, jumping, jogging, and lifting are weight-bearing means the weight of the body is held against gravity. Thus, mild stress is put up on the bones when resisting gravity. This stress promotes new growth in the bones thus, strengthening them. Moreover, yoga improves balance and flexibility thus preventing falls and fractures.
Increases blood flow
Yoga involves lots of movements including twists, twirls, bends, and headstands. All this helps the circulatory system. Yoga helps you relax and when you are relaxed the circulation is definitely better. The breathing exercises bring more oxygen to the body. The body movements take it to the cells thus promoting better functioning. The twists allow the fresh oxygenated blood to flow to all organs. The bends, inversions, and headstands reverse the blood flow from the lower body towards the brain. Further, it increases the hemoglobin levels and cuts down the scope of blood clots, heart attacks, and strokes.
Cleanses lymph and impacts the immune system
Regular exercise is key to getting your lymphatic system pumping and detoxing your system of wastes. Yoga postures and simple walking, jumping, stretching, etc. aid in gently pressing some of the more superficial lymph nodes thus stimulating the circulation of lymphatic fluid and relieving any sort of lymphatic congestion. Furthermore, meditation beneficially affects the immune system.
Boosts the heart rate
Power yoga is potent to boost heart rate to the aerobic range. Not only does Yoga help you build stamina, but it also allows you to intake maximum oxygen while exercising. Practicing pranayama or breath control allows you more workout with little oxygen. All this lowers the risk of heart attack as well as relieves one of depression.
Regulates the adrenal glands
Excessive cortisol may be a reason for depression, osteoporosis, high blood pressure, and insulin resistance. Yoga lowers cortisol levels (the stress hormone) and also helps calm the nervous system creating harmony in the body and mind.
Helps lower the blood sugar level
Muscular cells tend to take more glucose during Yoga thus helping to lower blood sugar levels. This improves circulation and reduces the chance of diabetic complications such as heart attack, kidney failure, and blindness.
Yoga poses involve stretching your muscles. They can ease better movement and make you feel less stiff or tired. Thus, Yoga improves strength, balance, and flexibility means fewer falls and more independence in the case of elderly people.
Calms the nervous system and helps you get a sound sleep
The practice of yoga helps people trigger their parasympathetic nervous system in order to reduce stress and anxiety. This provides a calm and relaxed feeling to the mind and body restoring it to a calm and composed state and preventing it from overworking. Furthermore, a consistent bedtime yoga routine can serve you get in the right mindset and prepare your body to fall asleep and stay asleep. Once the body and mind are relaxed you tend to sleep soundly.
Gives your lungs room to breathe
Yoga poses support the respiratory system by expanding the lungs and giving them space to breathe. Breathing yoga exercises not just strengthen the lungs but also help clear mucus from the airways. Taking fewer breaths of greater volume is both calming and more efficient. Also, breathing through the nose filters, warms, and humidifies the air and all this comes from practicing yoga.
Yoga is known to reduce stress, enhance circulation, and improve gut motility. Moreover, with its rejuvenating powers, it can make your Agni (digestive fire) strong and help improve your digestion. The yogic movements promote the more speedy and effective transportation of food and waste products through the bowels. Once the digestion is healthy, proper, and smooth, it cuts down on the risk of colon cancer or any issue of the digestive tract.
Encourages self-care and a healthy lifestyle
Practicing yoga provides a balance which in turn brings confidence. This inspires caring for self and adopting healthy habits for healthy living. Over the years, life expectancy is influenced by this healthy living.
No doubt, consistently practicing yoga can help in longevity and definitely increase one’s life span.
Now, when we know enough about longevity, it’s important to work on keeping the body and mind healthy and happy. Obviously, living long in an unhealthy body and ill mind will not be in anyone’s interest. Thus, leading a healthy and long life rendering ample time to master oneself and to attain the ultimate spiritual state of oneness should be the mission.
To live healthily, we need to follow certain secrets of yoga –
Proper physical labour
To some extent, we might feel quite uncomfortable if we are to put in physical labor compared to our parents and grandparents. The reason is our daily routine. Where on one hand our elders were putting in so much effort to earn their daily living we have a very restricted schedule. Cycling or simply walking down the market to purchase groceries or other essentials was a blessing. Nowadays with facilities such as Groffers, Swiggy, Zomato, etc. as well as cars at every doorstep, we lack that need for a brisk walk. Play ways such as simple jumping, skipping and outdoor sports have been replaced by computer games. This difference in our lifestyles has also impacted our health. The daily chores were a source of exercise that kept them fit and going. Lack of exercise and physical inactivity, as we know, causes a number of illnesses. Thus, to make up all this loss thank God we still count on the benefits of Yoga (yet another ancient practice).
Day and night cycle
When once sun used to be the guide of our waking and sleeping hours, we have a lot many distractions to sway us away from the natural wake/sleep cycle. Constant exposure from computers, phones, tablets, and other electronic gadgets along with the facility of electricity being available most of the day has been misused for a decline. Coffee adds to making people stay awake and work overnight. Staying up all night or till late turns to be difficult to change routine. Yoga discourages such unnatural and life-span shortening practices.
Once, eating used to be a simple and pleasurable act – an act of nourishing the body and receiving prana and energy from food but it is no longer so. Today we eat for many reasons. We eat when we feel lonely, frustrated, overwhelmed, or even when socializing. What else! we often eat when we’re extremely happy. And thus there is overeating. Eating for the wrong reasons will only lead to obesity, indigestion, acidity, and constipation further leading to more serious diseases like diabetes, high blood sugar, and cancer. Yogic advice is to eat only when you’re truly hungry. Further, follow Intuitive eating (a way of eating that teaches you to eat based on your natural hunger and fullness signals). This means less food preoccupation, lower rates of disordered and emotional eating, reduced stress, higher levels of self-esteem and contentment, and of course better body image. Besides, intuitive eaters have improved cholesterol levels and enhanced metabolism. Munching all day long or eating in bits, destroys your Agni (digestive fire) and ultimately wrecks your health.
Fasting not only detoxes your entire system but also provides rest to your digestive organs that keep working continuously even when you’re asleep. Yogic fasting prescribed for one full day at a stretch allows the digestive system to rest completely. Moreover, we can share the food we were supposed to have with those who have none. Besides, we can devote the saved time to our spiritual practices and intellectual endeavors. No doubt, fasting is the best thing you can do to your health. Intermittent fasting is yet another option for the elderly or even those who cannot afford a 24-hour break.
Ablution before sleep
Sleeping timely and following the natural cycles is no doubt wonderful but it works magic if we respect ablution (the act of washing yourself clean) before sleep. Bathing or washing certain body parts with cool water, below body temperature, just before going to bed helps relax the entire body and calm the mind. Incorporating this into your routine enables you to sleep more soundly and also undisturbed. No doubt, you wake up refreshed and rested the next morning.
Neuroscience recognizes that regular meditation can cause changes at the cellular level and can even alter DNA. Undoubtedly it has a profound healing effect. Moreover, it helps maintain homeostasis (a state wherein there is a balance concerning bodily functions, such as the proper body temperature, correct blood sugar, and fluid levels). All this has to be in equilibrium irrespective of changes that occur in the environment, such as outside temperature, diet, etc. Loss of homeostasis means the setting of diseases. Meditation activates the parasympathetic nervous system, thus the relaxation response comes into effect. Regular meditation improves physical as well as mental health and thereby has a direct association to the quality and length of our lives.
Asana practice in yoga s a completely different concept than your regular exercises. Where on the one hand exercises affect your muscles and bones, asanas impact your inner body i.e the inner organs, glands, and even the chakras. People often misunderstand asanas as yoga. To be precise, let’s understand that yoga is not all that simple. It in fact implies a complete way of life where asanas are postures producing physical comfort as well as mental peace.
The repetitive practice of asanas along with timing management affects the gland as well as the nerves. Out of the umpteen benefits, the most important one is its effect on the mind. When the endocrine glands get gently pressed during the asana practice, they secrete hormones that are related to our emotions. Thus, along with the toning of muscles, increasing flexibility, and improving posture through alignment, the balanced secretion of hormones helps restore psychic and emotional well-being. hence, the emphasis is not on the power of execution, it totally rests on the proper positioning, proper breathing, and persistent flow of movements applying pressure on the relevant glands as well as the organs.
Yoga bestows the powers to control the body and mind:
Practicing yoga not only recharges the body with cosmic energy but also helps attain perfect equilibrium and harmony as well as promotes self-healing. Besides, it removes all sorts of negative blocks from the mind and toxins from the body thus enhancing personal power. Moreover, yoga is best at helping children with focus and concentration. Furthermore, yoga activates the parasympathetic nervous system thus, reducing stress and anxiety in the physical body.
There’s a common saying- ‘Aapka ahaar aur vihaar hi aapke swaasth aur aayu par prabhav daalta hai’. This is absolutely correct. No doubt, ahaar (food) profoundly impacts the body and mind. The imbalance of vata, pitta, and kapha (the three major energies in the body) is a major cause of most health issues. Besides, what we eat for dinner and what time we eat affects sleep, thus impacting the next morning as well as the entire day. An imbalance might cause restlessness, lack of sleep, and anxiety.
Secondly, vihaar (daily routine) too impacts our health. If we follow an improper routine, the body intelligence signals that things are not right, but we have our own excuses and careless ways and tend to follow the misguiding mind at times. Thus, the body faces problems physically. If not checked or controlled it turns to be a pattern for which we might face bitter consequences in the long run.