I have been looking into health and fitness for nearly half a century, and writing on the subject for the last decade.
One area of interest which I have encountered again and again is yoga.
So, I was not overly surprised recently, when, while reading an article on several things that anyone could do for good health, yoga was mentioned.
The surprising fact, not for me, but, perhaps for you, is that, after specifically discussing the value of exercise, nutrition, and managing stress, the article gave the subject of yoga its own special section.
You see, I have learned over the years that yoga has so many potential health benefits and spans so many health related subjects that it almost has to have its own discussion.
In many other cultures than that of the U.S. and Europe, and for many people, yoga is more than just a fitness routine… it is a way of living. As such, it includes both mental and physical exercise, meditation, diet, and stress reduction. Even the most shallow practitioner of yoga not only reaps the superficial health benefits of yoga, but, seems to absorb some of the other aspects through some form of psychic osmosis.
To some extent, opting to accept yoga as exercise is a bit of a buy-in to many of the other health benefits of yoga.
As a stand-alone exercise program, yoga can combine both strength and some aspects of cardio. While it lacks the heart pounding results of running, or similar forms of aerobic exercise, doing the movements properly requires proper breathing as well. The body, and the mind, learn how to bring oxygen into the body more efficiently, and distribute it effectively throughout the body.
When done properly and regularly, yoga can produce a condition similar to, or, for some, damned near the same as, meditation. Meditation, and exercise (see previous paragraph), both help to reduce stress. In case you are one of the twelve people on earth who are not aware, stress is probably the most dangerous, and most common, health risk for nearly every health issue which you might encounter.
Eating properly is also a major factor for good health. While those who really “get into” yoga go out of their way to alter their diet for the good, even those who intend to adopt it as a physical fitness regimen tend to alter their eating for better health. This is probably due to the “osmosis effect” I mentioned earlier. Also, it is not uncommon for a person adopting one aspect of a healthier lifestyle to adopt other aspects as well.
However, stress is also a factor in overeating and poor digestion. Exercise in general, and yoga specifically, helps relieve stress and encourages people to make better decisions about their diet and eating habits. A regular practice of yoga also seems to assist with the digestive process itself.
So, while opting for a healthy lifestyle by exercising regularly, relieving stress, and eating properly is a good thing to do, an easy way to get all three in one package is to practice yoga… which is easier to do than most people think.