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10 Ways To: Use Yoga To Improve Your Health

Tuesday, February 09, 2016

Doing yoga is a great way to stay fit and healthy — it helps with anxiety and different kinds of body aches. Krupa Joseph tells you how you can use this form of exercise to cure your ills

Sleep Better
Practising yoga combats stress, which may be one of the reasons you find yourself tossing and turning all night. It also helps relax your nervous system. Simply meditating for a few minutes can bring about a change in your sleep pattern. If you do the uttanasana, halasana or savasana before you retire for the night, you will sleep like a baby.

Improve Brain Function
It’s true that it can take time to see the effects of yoga. However, it is one of the few workout routines that has a positive impact from day one. Just 20 minutes of Hatha yoga, an ancient form of the practice that emphasises physical postures rather than flow or sequences, can improve cognitive function. It helps boost focus and memory, while lowering stress levels. For improved memory, do the padahastasana — bend forward bringing your head to your knees.

Lower your Blood Pressure
Practise yoga for just a few months and you will notice a difference in your blood pressure levels. There aren’t any specific poses that will reduce your chances of heart disease, but if you maintain a healthy heart rate and weight, any yoga pose will do the trick.

Steady Blood Sugar Levels in People with Diabetes
According to a 2011 Diabetes Care study, adding yoga to your exercise routine can help ensure steady blood sugar levels. Reuters reported that just three months of yoga in addition to your regular diabetes care routine resulted in a decrease in body mass index, with no increase in blood sugar levels. Pranayama is helpful here.

Strengthen Your Bones
Yoga doesn’t only prevent osteoporosis, but also helps cure the condition. Of course, it won’t be easy, but if you allow your body to ease into the routine, you will be surprised at the results. The parivrtta trikonasana, salabhasana and ardha chandrasana poses will help you prevent osteoporosis.

Maintain or Lose Weight
There is a positive correlation between regularly practising yoga and weight loss. While it takes time to see results with yoga, this is one of the few workout routines that will help you lose weight even after the initial months. And, even if you are trying to maintain your weight, yoga is your best bet.

Reduce Chronic Pain
While Iyengar yoga is credited with the ability to cure chronic neck pain, practising Hatha yoga could help resolve chronic back pain. A German study published in The Journal of Pain found that four weeks of practising Iyengar yoga is effective in reducing intense neck pains.

Have Better Sex
If your sex life leaves you disappointed, give yoga a chance. Several studies have shown that regularly practising basic yoga poses can do a lot to improve your sex life. All yoga poses are inextricably linked to the act of sex, so you can literally choose any asana and you’ll be improving your health greatly.

Improve Lung Capacity
If you suffer from breathing problems such as asthma, there’s a good chance that you will find a cure with yoga. Studies have shown that practising Hatha yoga for 15 weeks could significantly increase vital lung capacity — the maximum amount of air exhaled after taking a deep breath. The cow pose, cobra pose and gate pose all boost respiratory health. Of course, don’t stop after 15 weeks — persist with any fitness routine.

Get Stronger
Yoga requires you to hold poses that strengthen your muscles, and uses only your bodyweight for resistance. The more you practise yoga, the more flexible you will be. Every yoga pose will increase your body strength if you perform them regularly, but try the plank, bakasana and different headstands if you want to focus specifically on strength.

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