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Yoga: A Path To Exercise, Healing, And Enlightenment

What images come to mind when you think about yoga? Do you think of people performing unbelievable poses that seem to defy the limits of flexibility? Sure that is yoga, but itís so much more than just postures. The full idea of yoga is seemingly lost outside of India. Yoga is a true mind and body workout.

Yoga: History And Beliefs

Yoga is not new. It has been around for over 5,000 years. Yoga originated in India and there it is considered a path to spiritual growth. Unlike western theology which views man's primary problem as sin, Yogis take the view that man's primary problem is ignorance. Man fails to understand that since God is in everything, man, by definition, is a component part of God. To achieve union with God, man must put forth effort to rise above ignorance and reach an enlightened state.

Types of Yoga

I became interested in yoga several years ago. At the time, I was under the impression that it was all the same. Imagine my surprise when I learned there were numerous styles of yoga. There are also some major differences between these styles. If you are interested in studying yoga, you are bound to find one style that suits your preferences. Iíve listed some of the most popular below.

Popular Styles Of Yoga
  1. Ashtanga Yoga
  2. Bikram Yoga
  3. Hatha Yoga
  4. Iyengar Yoga
  5. Jivamukti Yoga
  6. Kundalini Yoga
  7. Power Yoga
  8. Tantric Yoga
Can Yoga Enhance Your Health? Iíve always been fascinated with the mind-body connection, and, naturally, I was happy when I discovered yoga. Itís an exercise that uses both. As a child, I tapped into the powers of the mind through meditation, although, at the time, I did not know that was what I was doing. I just knew that, in controlling my thoughts, I was able to accomplish more than I ordinarily could. I received an early dose of how powerful our minds truly are. Perhaps that is why yoga has such a powerful effect on our health. Not only are we exercising our bodies, we are also giving our minds a workout.

Iíve listed a few benefits of yoga below, and, as youíll learn, incorporating yoga into your lifestyle has numerous benefits, both physical and emotional. Yoga strengthens our immune system. It also stimulates the flow of lymph. Lymph moves when we are physically active so, naturally, exercise such as yoga keeps our lymph system moving. Recently, scientists have been studying the impact that yoga has on a variety of medical conditions. Iíve listed a few below.

Breast Cancer

Breast cancer kills more than 40,000 women in the United States alone every year. Incorporating yoga into your lifestyle may potentially reduce your risk for breast cancer and it can also help you during your recovery. There was a study conducted at Duke University that showed that women who practiced yoga before and after their treatment did not experience as much stress. They also had less discomfort and were more energetic.


Preliminary studies conducted at the Boston University School of Medicine and the Harvard McLean psychiatric Hospital lead researchers to believe that yoga has a positive impact on depression. Many people who suffer from depression also have low levels of GABA, a neurotransmitter. There are a few ways that show GABA can be boosted; SSRIs (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors) and electroconstructive therapy are two ways of doing this. However, the study showed that those who participated in yoga for one hour had a 27 percent increase in GABA compared to those who just sat and read for an hour.

Heart Disease

Along with following the whole foods diet approach numerous trials have found that yoga can actually slow down the rate of heart disease. Any type of exercise can do potentially do this, but many researchers speculate that the meditative component of yoga might provide extra benefits for the endothelium, a thin layer of cells that is essentially the lining of the interior surface of blood vessels. When blood vessels are irritated, they contribute to cardiovascular disease. This lining reacts to stress, so meditation can help by lowering the levels of stress hormones. In this way, incorporating yoga into your lifestyle can keep your heart healthy.

Enhance Your Life With Yoga

As you can see, yoga can impact us in a positive way, and, in some cases, can decrease our risk for medical conditions. In some cases, it can also improve our recovery time from medical treatment, reduce our stress levels, and improve our mental health. Whether you go to a yoga studio or practice from the comforts of your own home, by engaging in the art of Yoga you will be improving both your mind and body.

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