Optimizing Health Through Yoga

Posted on November 29, 2014 Under article
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Over the years of dedicated yoga practice, I have experienced my health go through a variety of fluctuations. This eventually took me into a more sensitive understanding of how to increase, maintain and manipulate all aspects of my overall health condition. I would have to admit that I feel healthier, stronger and more resilient at 46 years old than I was at 26! I have compiled this post from a variety of sources to highlight some of the more consistent information that explains why the practices of pranayama and meditation in particular can be beneficial to all aspects of health at any time in life.

Some Background

Yoga is an accumulation of ancient philosophical viewpoints considered to have originated in India sometime between 4000 BC and 1000AD (still somewhat ambiguous). Modern medicine and sports physiology look more and more at the effects of yoga practices to address conditions such as obesity, hypertension, coronary artery diseases, diabetes, among a series of other conditions as well.  These conditions are considered to arise up through fluctuations in lifestyle and psychologically rooted stress.

Pranayama

Breath can be seen as a dynamic bridge between the body and mind. Science has proven that the conditions above, both physical and psychological, can distort breathing patterns. Pranayama can be utilized to optimize physical and mental health by reshaping breathing habits.

Pranayama practices stretch the lung tissue that produce changes in the autonomic nervous system. This also promotes parasympathetic (right brain) dominance resulting in increased immune system function and improved relaxation.

To sum up, different methods of pranayama produce different physiological responses. In varying studies, the practice of pranayama has shown significant decrease and or increase of pulse rate. The effects of controlled breathing can also directly effect the efficiency of all aspects of learning, the quality and sensitivity of bio mechanics (movement physiology) and essentially all aspects of neurological function. This directly relates to improved cognitive brain function, improved digestion and nutrient assimilation leading to an all around more robust constitution.

Meditation

Meditation is a process of allowing the mind to settle to its basal states. This leads to varying physiological responses relating to muscular relaxation, development and improved blood supply to muscles.

The medial prefrontal and posterior cingulate cortices have been found to be relatively deactivated during meditation. With the removal or minimization of cognitive stimuli (busy mind) meditation can influence both the quality (accuracy) and quantity (detection) of perception.

The Combination

Systematic breathing and other sensory withdrawal or meditation based exercises sharpen all aspects of concentration.

Once our concentration ability increases, we tend toward less analysis and the “flow” state can arise. It is here whereby the practitioner can start to best understand the “no mind” analogy and reap the benefits of resetting, rebooting or refreshing all aspects of health.

Essentially, when all this stuff is is put into place, we are healthier, attain great balance from all perspectives and become more content with life despite any challenges that arise.

* * *

Below is a list of benefits that come up through regular and consistent practice:

Physiological benefits:

  • Lowers oxygen consumption
  • Decreases respiratory rate
  • Increases blood flow and slows the heart rate
  • Increases exercise tolerance
  • Leads to a deeper level of physical relaxation
  • Reduces anxiety
  • Decreases muscle tension
  • Enhances the immune system
  • Reduces activity of viruses and emotional distress
  • Enhances energy, strength and vigor
  • Helps with weight loss
  • Improved flow of air to the lungs resulting in easier breathing Decreases the aging process
  • Cure headaches & migraines
  • More inclined to sports, activities
  • Improved performance in athletic events
  • Normalizes to your ideal weight
  • Harmonizes our endocrine system
  • Produce lasting beneficial changes in brain electrical activity

Psychological benefits:

  • Builds self-confidence
  • Increases serotonin level, influences mood and behavior Resolve phobias & fears
  • Helps with focus & concentration
  • Increase creativity
  • Improved learning ability and memory
  • Increased emotional stability
  • Improved relationships
  • Mind ages at slower rate
  • Develops intuition
  • Increased Productivity
  • Able to see the larger picture in a given situation Increased ability to solve complex problems
  • Increases one’s perceptual ability and motor performance Higher intelligence growth rate
  • Increase in the capacity for intimate contact with loved ones Increases sense of personal responsibility
  • Decrease in restless thinking
  • Decreased tendency to worry
  • Increases listening skills and empathy
  • Helps make more accurate judgements
  • Greater tolerance
  • Gives composure to act in considered & constructive ways

Psycho/Spiritual benefits:

  • Helps keep things in perspective Increased self-actualization Increased compassion Increased acceptance of oneself
  • Helps learn forgiveness
  • Greater inner-directedness
  • Creates a widening, deepening capacity for unconditional love Experience an inner sense of “Assurance or Knowingness”
  • Increases the synchronicity in your life

Resources:

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Research_on_meditation


About the Author

Patrick Oancia

YogaJaya Founder | BASEWORKS Founder | ERYT500 | YACEP

Creator or the BASEWORKS Practice Movement System and founder of YogaJaya...