Yoga Types, Asanas And Health Benefits

Table of Contents

What is Yoga?

Yoga is a centuries-old system of learning and wisdom that became prominent after the 20th century. Some scholars have theorized that yoga is as old as 5,000 years; artifacts detailing yoga postures are observed in India from over 3000 B.C. The word Yoga is derived from Sanskrit, which is an ancient Indian language. The word means, yuj, which means yoking, similar to that performed by a team of oxen. In contemporary terms, it is defined as a union of body, mind, and soul (Khalsa 2007).

Yoga is an ancient and complex practice, rooted in Indian philosophy. It started as a religious practice but is becoming popular as a means of promoting physical and psychological well-being. Traditionally, yoga is a way of joining the individual self with the cosmic consciousness. Yoga masters (yogis) assert it is a highly developed science of healthy living that’s been tested and perfected for centuries.

Though classical yoga includes additional components, yoga as practiced in the west typically highlights physical postures (asanas), breathing techniques (pranayama), and meditation (Dyana). Popular yoga styles like Iyengar, Bikram, and Hatha yoga concentrate on those elements.

Yoga and two similar sister therapies of Chinese origin–tai chi and qi gong–are occasionally called “hierarchical motion” practices. All three types comprise both body and mind elements.

Physical and psychological exercises are made to help accomplish this target, also referred to as self-transcendence or enlightenment. On the physical level, yoga poses, called asanas, are designed to tone, strengthen, and align the human body. These positions are performed to produce optimal strength, resilience, flexibility, and blood circulation to all the organs and cells, keeping all of the physiological systems healthy. On the psychological level, yoga uses breathing techniques (pranayama) and meditation (Dyana) to silence, describe, and subject the mind. Yoga isn’t a faith, but a method of living together with peace and health of the mind. It is truly a holistic therapy for the well-being of a human body.

Yoga was brought to America from the late 1800s when Swami Vivekananda, an Indian teacher, and yogi, presented a lecture on meditation at Chicago. Yoga gradually started gaining followers flourished through the 1960s when there was a surge of interest in Eastern philosophy. There’s been a huge market of yoga understanding in the US, with many students going to India to research and many Indian specialists coming here to educate, leading to the organization of a huge array of schools. Yoga asanas are utilized by physical therapists and professional sports groups, and the benefits of yoga are being directed by celebrities and industry executives alike. Many prestigious schools of medicine have analyzed and introduced yoga techniques as demonstrated therapies for stress and illness.

See: Yoga Treatment For Pancreatitis Patients

What are the different types of Yoga?

Yoga is a physical, mental, and a spiritual practice that originated in India. According to Sage Patanjali, who wrote his ideas of Yoga, thousands of years ago, in 250CE, Yoga involves “chitta vrutti nirodh”. Chitta – means the conscious mind or the ego of a person, Vrutti – means an action or taking a form whereas Nirodh means – preventing or inhibiting. The whole verse can be transcribed to mean that, ‘Yoga means the inhibition of the human ego or mind to take action’.

So how many different types of Yoga are there?

Classical yoga is split into eight limbs, each part of the comprehensive system for psychological, physical, and religious well-being. Four of those limbs cope with physical and mental exercises designed to attract the brain in tune with your own body. The other four deal with various stages of meditation.

There are six major types of yoga, all with the very same aims of health and stability but with varying methods: Hatha, raja, karma, bhakti, jnana, and tantra yoga

Hatha yoga is the most frequently practiced division of yoga in the US, and it’s an extremely developed system of almost 200 physical postures, movements, and breathing techniques developed to tune the human body to its optimum wellness. The yoga philosophy considers the breath is the most significant aspect of health since the breath would be the most significant source of prana or life force, and hatha yoga uses pranayama, which literally means the science or control of breathing. Hatha yoga was initially created as a method to produce the body strong and healthy enough to empower psychological awareness and spiritual enlightenment.

There are many distinct schools of hatha yoga in the US; the most common ones are Iyengar and Ashtanga yoga.

Iyengar yoga has been set by B.K.S. Iyengar, who’s widely thought of as one of the fantastic residing innovators of yoga. Iyengar yoga places strict emphasis on shape and alignment and utilizes traditional hatha yoga techniques into fresh ways and sequences. Iyengar yoga might be useful for physical therapy since it enables the use of props such as blocks and straps to make it easier for many people to get in the yoga postures. Ashtanga yoga could be a vigorous routine, with a flowing and dance-like succession of Hatha postures to create body heat, which purifies the entire body through perspiration and deep breathing.

The other sorts of yoga reveal a number of the rest of the ideas that permeate yoga.

– Raja yoga strives to bring about psychological clarity and subject via meditation, simplicity, and non-attachment to worldly matters and needs.

– Karma yoga emphasizes service, charity to others, non-aggression, and non-harming as a way to consciousness and calmness.

– Bhakti yoga is the path of loyalty and love of God or the Universal Spirit.

– Jnana yoga is the practice and development of knowledge and wisdom.

– Tantra yoga is the route of self-awareness through religious rituals, such as comprehension of sexuality as sacred and critical.

A normal hatha yoga pattern includes a succession of physical poses or asanas, and the arrangement was made to operate all areas of the human body, with specific emphasis on creating the spine supple and healthy and increasing flow. Hatha yoga asanas use three primary movements: forward bends, backward bends, and twisting moves. Each asana is known for a frequent thing it looks, such as the sun salutation, cobra, locust, plow, bow, eagle, and shrub, to mention a couple. Each pose has measures for entering and leaving it, and every position demands appropriate form and alignment. A pose is held for a while, based on its degree of difficulty and also one’s strength and endurance, and the professional is also usually conscious of when to inhale and exhale at particular points in each position, as breathing correctly is another basic feature of yoga. Breathing ought to be deep and throughout the nose. Emotional concentration in every position is also quite significant, which enhances awareness, poise, and posture. During a yoga regimen, there’s frequently a position to perform meditation, even if profound comfort is just one of the aims of the sequence.

Yoga patterns may take anywhere from 20 minutes to 2 or more hours, with an hour being a fantastic time investment to do a sequence of positions and also a meditation. Some yoga patterns, based upon the instructor and faculty, maybe as strenuous as the toughest workout, and a few patterns only extend and align the entire body while the stroke and heart rate are retained slow and stable.

Yoga achieves its best results when it’s practiced as a daily discipline, and yoga may be a lifelong exercise regimen, offering deeper and harder positions as a professional becomes more skillful. The fundamental positions can boost an individual’s strength, flexibility, and awareness of well-being almost instantly, but it might take years to perfect and deepen them which can be an exciting and appealing element of yoga for all.

Yoga is normally best learned from a yoga instructor or physical therapist, but yoga is straightforward enough that you may learn the fundamentals from great books on the topic, which can be plentiful.

See: Yoga Asanas For Healing PCOS

What are the health benefits of Yoga?

According to many people, yoga combines the awkward twisting and turning, of the body. While stretching and other forms of physical exercises are certainly involved, yoga is more about creating a balance in the body through developing strength and flexibility. An injured body that is stressed cannot have a healthy mind while a dispirited mind does not allow healing of the body.

See: Mindfullness Meditation For Sleep

Yoga improves the body’s overall well being without aggressive interference of natural functioning. Scientific studies and research indicate that mental and physical health are not just closely linked, but are essentially equivalent. Yogis have known that for centuries.

The following summarizes some of the scientifically proven benefits of Yoga:

– Help improve overall health by relieving anxiety, encouraging good health habits, and enhancing mental/emotional health, sleep, and equilibrium

– Relieve low-back pain and neck pain

– Alleviate menopause symptoms

– Help individuals handle stress or depressive symptoms associated with challenging life situations 

– Help people stop smoking

– Help individuals that are overweight or obese lose weight

– Help individuals with chronic ailments control their symptoms and enhance their wellbeing.

The most typical application for Yoga research is as a type of add-in treatment for a broad selection of ailments. These studies have tried to evaluate if yoga is helpful or not, and in some instances, possible mechanisms also have been analyzed. Other programs (for instance in adaptation to remarkably stressful environments) as well as using yoga for stress management can also be cited.

Yoga has also been used to relieve problems related to hypertension, higher cholesterol, and migraine headaches, asthma, shallow breathing, backaches, constipation, diabetes, weight loss, multiple sclerosis, varicose veins, and many chronic diseases. Additionally, it has been analyzed and accepted because of its ability to promote relaxation and reduce anxiety.

Yoga has an extra benefit of being a low-impact activity that uses only gravity as resistance, making it a superb physical therapy routine; specific yoga postures can be safely utilized to reinforce and balance all areas of the human body. Indeed, results from a 2011 study reveal that yogic practices improve muscular strength and body flexibility, encourage and improve cardiovascular and respiratory function, promote recovery from and treatment of dependence, reduce stress, anxiety, depression, and chronic pain, improve sleep patterns, and improve general well-being and quality of life.

Meditation was much examined and accepted for its advantages in reducing stress-related ailments. The landmark book, The Relaxation Response, by Harvard cardiologist Herbert Benson, revealed that breathing and meditation techniques for relaxation might have the contrary effect of anxiety, decreasing blood pressure, and other signs. Since that time, much research has revealed the advantages of meditation for stress reduction and basic wellness. Presently, the American Medical Association recommends meditation methods as an initial step ahead of medicine for borderline hypertension instances. Some studies suggest that yogic meditation alone is effective in reducing serum cholesterol in addition to blood pressure.

Modern psychological studies have demonstrated that even minor facial expressions may result in changes in the nervous system; yoga uses the mind/body connection. In other words, yoga training includes the fundamental ideas that bodily posture and orientation can affect a individual’s disposition and self-esteem, and that the brain may be employed to form and heal the human body. Meditation practitioners assert that the strengthening of mind/body consciousness can bring eventual developments in all aspects of a individual’s life.

Is yoga helpful for healing chronic diseases?

Yoga is very beneficial in disorders like diabetes, reproductive disorders, improves sleep, fatigue, increases energy and vitality, perfects your posture, headaches, anxiety, depression, asthma, hypertension, drains your lymph and boosts immunity, regulates your adrenal glands, joint mobility, and flexibility, prevents irritable bowel syndrome and other digestive problems, blood circulation and respiratory ailments.

There Is promising proof that yoga can help Individuals with some chronic conditions control their symptoms and enhance their wellbeing. Therefore, it might be a beneficial integrative therapy to consider healing some chronic conditions. Many leading hospitals worldwide have Yoga as an integrative medicine therapy to traditional treatments.

– Cancer: At a 2018 Analysis of 138 research on using yoga in patients with many kinds of cancer (10,660 overall participants), the majority of the studies found that yoga enhanced patients’ physical and mental symptoms and quality of life.

– Many yoga studies have concentrated on breast cancer sufferers and survivors. A 2017 evaluation of 24 studies in women with breast cancer (over 2,100 total participants) discovered moderate-quality signs that yoga helped decrease tiredness and sleep disturbances and also enhanced health quality of existence. The consequences of yoga were like those of different kinds of exercise and greater than those of instructional applications.

See: Yoga For Sleep Disorders

Multiple sclerosis. A 2014 review of seven studies (between 670 participants) found signs that yoga had short-term gains on mood and fatigue in people with multiple sclerosis, but it did not have an effect on muscle function, cognitive function, or quality of lifestyle. The effects of yoga fatigue were like those of different sorts of exercise.

Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). A 2018 Evaluation of 10 studies (502 total participants) found signs that yoga may enhance physical ability (like having the ability to walk a specified space in a specified time), lung function, and quality of life in people with COPD.

Infection: A 2016 inspection of 15 studies of yoga for asthma (between 1,048 total participants) reasoned that yoga likely contributes to modest improvements in quality of life and symptoms.

– Complementary health approaches like yoga should NOT be utilized as a substitute for a medical remedy for asthma.

Preparations for doing Yoga asanas

Yoga can be carried out by people of any age and illness, but not all poses ought to be tried by everybody. Yoga is also a very accessible form of exercise; all that’s required is a level ground surface big enough to stretch out, a mat or towel, and enough overhead space to completely raise the arms. It’s a great activity for people who aren’t able to visit gyms, who don’t like other kinds of exercise or have very hectic schedules. Yoga should be performed on an empty belly, and educators advocate waiting three or more hours after meals. Loose and comfortable clothing ought to be worn.

Important precautions for Yoga

Individuals with injuries, medical conditions, or back problems should consult a physician prior to beginning yoga. People who have medical conditions should get a yoga teacher who’s familiar with their type of difficulty and who’s prepared to give them individual attention. Pregnant women may benefit from yoga, but should always be guided by an experienced teacher. Certain yoga positions shouldn’t be performed with a fever, or during puberty.

Beginners must exercise caution and concentration when performing yoga postures, and not try to stretch too much too fast, as injury could result. Some advanced yoga postures, such as the headstand and full lotus position, may be difficult and need flexibility, strength, and slow preparation, so novices should find the support of a teacher before trying them.

Yoga isn’t a competitive sport; it doesn’t matter how a person does in comparison with others, but how conscious and disciplined one becomes one’s own body and limits. Appropriate form and alignment should always be preserved during a stretch or posture, and the stretch or posture ought to be stopped if there’s pain, dizziness, or tiredness. The mental part of yoga is at least as important as the physical postures. Concentration and awareness of breath shouldn’t be neglected. Yoga should be done with an open, gentle, and non-critical head; if one stretches to a yoga posture, it can be considered as accepting and working on the limits. Impatience, self-criticism, and comparing oneself to others won’t assist in this process of self-knowledge. While doing the yoga of breathing (pranayama) and meditation (Dyana), it’s ideal to have an experienced instructor, since these powerful techniques can lead to dizziness and discomfort when done improperly.

Practice yoga on an empty stomach. The last meal should be 4-5 years before your yoga regime. Remember to wear, loose clothing made of natural fibers, while doing yoga. Perform yoga asanas in a relaxed and stable state of mind, and execute them only under the proper guidance of a trained teacher.

See: Yoga For Ulcerative Colitis

Side effects and dangers of Yoga

If Yoga asanas are not performed properly, they can harm you. Yoga should be avoided in case of chronic spine disorders, very high blood pressure, or after some strenuous physical activity. You could injure yourself when overstretching in Yoga.

Yoga is generally regarded as a secure form of physical activity for healthy individuals when done correctly, under the guidance of a professional instructor. However, as with other kinds of physical activity, injuries can happen. The most common injuries are sprains and strains. Severe injuries are rare. The risk of injury associated with yoga is lower than that for greater impact physical activities.

Older people may need to be especially careful when practicing yoga. The speed of yoga-related injuries treated in emergency departments is greater in people age 65 and older than in younger adults.

To reduce your likelihood of getting hurt while performing yoga:

– Practice yoga under the advice of a professional instructor.

– If you are new to Yoga, avoid intense practices such as headstands, shoulder stands, the lotus position, and forceful breathing.

– Be aware that Bikram yoga (“hot yoga”) has particular risks associated with overheating and dehydration.

– Pregnant women, older adults, and people with health conditions should talk to their medical care providers and the yoga teacher about their unique needs. They might have to avoid or alter some yoga poses and practices.

Some people have reported accidents by doing yoga postures without appropriate form or concentration, or by trying difficult positions without working up to them slowly or having proper supervision. Beginners sometimes report muscle soreness and fatigue after doing yoga, but these side effects diminish with practice.

See: Yoga & Meditation For Natural Stress Relief

Science & Research on benefits of Yoga

According to a study by Ross and Thomas, yoga asanas have a better effect than regular forms of exercise (Ross and Thomas, 2010).

Moreover, yoga plays a very big role in helping patients suffering from cancer and their secondary symptoms (McCall et al., 2015). Though Yoga cannot reverse life-threatening disorders like HIV/AIDS, it can help these people to embrace positive beliefs and take an active part in anti-retroviral therapies (Syed et al., 2015).

Scientific studies have suggested possible advantages of yoga for many areas of wellness, including anxiety management, mental/emotional health, promoting healthy eating/activity habits, sleep, and equilibrium. (NIH)

Stress management. Of 17 studies (between 1,070 total participants) of yoga for stress control contained in a recent review, 12 showed improvements in psychological or physical measures associated with stress.

Mental/emotional health. In a recent review of 14 studies (between 1,084 total participants) that evaluated the effects of yoga on positive aspects of mental health, 10 studies found evidence of benefits, like improvements in resilience or overall mental well-being.

Promoting healthy eating/activity customs. A 2018 survey of young adults (between 1,820 participants) showed that practicing yoga frequently was correlated with better eating and physical activity habits. In interviews, people who took the poll said they believed yoga encouraged healthier habits through higher mindfulness, motivation to take part in other kinds of activity and eat healthily, and the effect of a health-minded yoga area.

Sleep. Yoga has been proven to be helpful for sleep in many studies of cancer patients and elderly adults and in-person studies in other population groups, including individuals with arthritis, pregnant women, and women with menopause symptoms.

Balance. Of the 15 research studies (688 total participants) looking at the effect of yoga on balance in healthy men and women, 11 showed improvements in at least 1 outcome associated with balance.

Though yoga originated in a culture quite different from the contemporary world we live in today, it has been approved and its practice has spread relatively quickly. Many yogis are astonished at how fast yoga’s popularity has spread across the world, believing the legend which it had been passed down by handfuls of followers for many centuries.

Ongoing research in top medical schools is demonstrating yoga’s effectiveness for overall health and for certain problems, which makes it an increasingly acceptable health practice.


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