When you see photos or videos of people doing yoga, it may not be obvious that yoga has been practiced for thousands of years. Yoga first began in India. It has changed over time, and a wide range of styles of yoga now exists. It can be hard to know where to start. The good thing about the many styles is that most people can find something that works well for them. The word “yoga” comes from the ancient language of Sanskrit. “Yoga” literally means “union” or “integration.” The purpose of yoga is to unite the body, mind, and spirit. This leads to harmony, balance, and peace within oneself and with others. The word “yoga” also refers to the practices that help you get to this state of greater calm and peace.
What is yoga therapy?
Yoga has been used as part of traditional medicine in India for hundreds of years. Doctors have traditionally prescribed yoga to aid in healing. Yoga therapy, also called therapeutic yoga, is a fairly new field in the United States and it continues to evolve. Yoga therapy is geared toward healing. It often adapts traditional yoga for people who may have a variety of health conditions or needs.
How can yoga benefit my health?
The various parts of yoga, including the postures, meditation, and breathing, offer a wide range of benefits related to the Circle of Health.
Moving the Body
The physical part of yoga—the postures—gets the most attention in the news and in research. Like other forms of exercise, doing the postures is helpful. Yoga helps improve flexibility, strength, and balance. When you do yoga, you pay attention to your body’s position and your breathing. This increases your self-awareness. Research shows that yoga is helpful for low back pain. Research on yoga for other conditions is just getting started. So far, research shows that yoga is helpful for the following:
Decrease pain in osteoarthritis
Improve balance in older adults
Control blood sugar in type 2 diabetes
Improve risk factors for heart disease, including blood pressure
Decrease fatigue in patients with cancer and cancer survivors