The Benefits of Yoga, Meditation, and Breathing
Yoga is the oldest and most complete system of personal development in the world. Yoga is a life science that encompasses mind, body and spirit. Yoga helps encourage proper breathing, calms the mind, reduces stress and anxiety, aligns muscles and bones, increases flexibility of the spine, strengthens bones and stimulates the circulatory and immune systems. Meditation is the practice of constant observation of the mind to discover the infinite knowledge and wisdom within oneself. Proper breathing techniques set the body's mental and physical energy in motion to revitalise both body and mind.
The Benefits of Yoga
Yoga is a life science that encompasses mind, body and spirit. Yoga physical exercises, known as asanas (yoga postures or poses) have a positive effect on all parts of the body. The asanas enhance the flexibility of the joints, muscles, tendons and ligaments, and stimulate circulation. Yoga exercises have a rejuvenating effect on the whole organism and are thus incomparable to any other system. When performed slowly and with awareness, the asanas give a sense of physical well-being. At the same time, they are a mental exercise in concentration and meditation.
Yoga exercises are primarily focused on the health of the spine. The spine is the base of the central nervous system, the body’s communication system. The spine is a direct extension of the brain, so a healthy, straight spine promotes the health of the entire body. Keeping the spine strong and flexible through proper exercise stimulates blood circulation, ensures an adequate supply of nutrients and oxygen to the nerves, and maintains the ideal weight of the body.
Asanas stimulate the acupuncture zones of the body. When these points are activated, the flow of prana (life energy) increases. Performing the asanas massages the internal organs and boosts organ function. Together with the yoga exercises of deep breathing, relaxation and concentration, asanas can help us develop control over the mind. The mind – by nature restless and always following sense impressions – is directed inwards, withdrawn from the objects of the senses and gradually brought under control.
Physical Benefits of Yoga
Improves flexibility and balance
Increases muscle strength, endurance and stamina
Improves respiration, energy and vitality
Reliefs pain, including migraine headaches, neck pain, shoulder pain, and back pain
Maintains a balanced metabolism and helps with weight reduction
Regulates adrenal glands and boosts immunity
Reduces blood pressure and improves cardio and circulatory health
Relieves osteoporosis and arthritis pain
Decreases cholesterol levels and improves heart function
Improves circulation, increases blood flow and drains lymphs
Creates a healthy digestive system
Helps strengthen and protect the body from injury
Improves posture, strengthens and protects the spine
Improves athletic performance
Mental Benefits of Yoga
Reduces stress, anxiety and depression
Creates calmness of the mind
Increases body awareness
Creates mental clarity
The Benefits of Meditation
Meditation is the practice of constant observation of the mind to discover the infinite knowledge and wisdom within oneself. Positive thinking and meditation are the keys to peace of mind. Meditation is the method used to calm and focus the mind. Regular practice promotes not only mental equanimity, but physical and spiritual well-being as well. Before we can meditate, though, we need to center the mind through concentration techniques and positive thinking. A mind full of negative thoughts and feelings is hard to calm down. By controlling the movements of the mind, we can eliminate negative thought patterns and reach the meditative super-conscious state
Meditation is a state of consciousness that can only be understood through direct experience and intuition. Unlike our everyday experiences, which are limited by time, space and by the laws of causality, the state of meditation transcends all limitations. In meditation, past and future dissolve. What remains is the single consciousness of ‘I am’ in the endless, eternal Now.
Physical Benefits of Meditation
The peace of meditation is deeper than the peace of sleep. Meditation reduces stress – every part of the body, every single cell comes to rest. Meditation keeps the body youthful and prevents early ageing.
Mental Benefits of Meditation
The experiences of oneness, happiness and harmony which can be attained through meditation create new patterns of thinking. Negative tendencies are overcome and the mind becomes more stable. Meditation helps one to develop a dynamic personality, powerful speech, serenity and great mental strength.
The Benefits of Proper Breathing
Proper breathing techniques set the body's mental and physical energy in motion to revitalise both body and mind. Most people have forgotten to breathe properly. We take shallow breaths through the mouth and use our diaphragm rarely, if at all. When inhaling, either we lift the shoulders up or we pull in the abdomen. This way we only use a fraction of our lung capacity. Our bodies do not get enough oxygen. The result: we feel fatigued, sluggish, even depressed.
Proper breathing techniques (pranayama) supplies the body with sufficient oxygen and connects it to its ‘battery’, the solar plexus. An enormous amount of energy is stored in the solar plexus. By becoming aware of our breathing and taking deep breaths, we can connect to this powerful energy and incorporate it in our daily lives. The body becomes stronger and can overcome stress, anxiety, depression, fatigue and many illnesses.
Breathing Circulates Energy
Proper breathing connects the body to its battery, the solar plexus, which is an enormous reservoir of energy. The breathing techniques of pranayama set this energy in motion and revitalise both body and mind. By consciously regulating our breath, we’re able to store more prana (life energy) and draw on these energy reserves in our daily life.
Learning to Breathe
Most people use only a small portion of their lung capacity when breathing. They breathe into the upper chest with hunched shoulders, leading to a lack of oxygen and tension in the upper back and the neck. Deep and conscious abdominal breathing is an effective way to conquer stress and depression. A person with lots of prana radiates strength and vitality. By controlling prana we gain control over the mind. Many diseases can be cured simply by regulating prana.