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Benefits of Yoga

July 22, 2015

Developed over a thousand years ago in India, yoga has become an increasingly popular form of exercise all over the world. Yoga’s recent rise in popularity may stem from an overall increase in stress levels; yoga delivers many benefits to those who incorporate it into their everyday lives. 

“Yoga is a healing system of theory and practice. The purpose of yoga is to create strength, awareness and harmony in both the mind and body,” explains Natalie Nevins, DO, a board-certified osteopathic family physician and certified Kundalini Yoga instructor in Hollywood, California. “As an osteopathic physician, I focus a lot of my efforts on preventive medicine and practices, and in the body’s ability to heal itself. Yoga is a great tool for staying healthy because it is based on similar principles.”

A study at the Boston University School of Medicine found that any type of yoga practice may increase brain levels of the neurotransmitter gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), which is associated with relaxation and lowered anxiety. According to Nevins, there are many more benefits that yoga can provide to the human body such as:

  • Increased flexibility
  • Increased muscle strength and tone
  • Improved respiration, energy and vitality
  • The maintenance of a balanced metabolism
  • Weight reduction
  • Cardio and circulatory health
  • Improved athletic performance
  • Protection from injury

Try out the following beginner’s yoga exercise.

Start in the traditional upward dog pose (lie face down on a mat, elbows bent and hands beside chest, and press through palms and tops of feet, arching your back and lifting hips and legs a few inches off the floor); then bend your right knee to bring the toes towards the back of your head as you squeeze your right glutes.

“Bending one leg up really activates the glutes and strengthens all the muscles down the back of your leg to help lift your butt,” says Kelsey Rae Lawrence, a yoga instructor in Los Angeles.

Hold the pose for five to eight slow breaths, then switch sides and repeat for one set. Do two to five sets four days a week.

*Sources: www.Shape.com, http://www.osteopathic.org/osteopathic-health/about-your-health/health-conditions-library/general-health/Pages/yoga.aspx

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