How can saluting the sun, standing like a tree, or posing like a cow prolong your life? You’d be surprised. Each of these are yoga poses that help to activate different energy points in your body and improve your sense of overall well being.
Yoga is among the oldest known systems of health practiced in the world today. Beginner students can use it to get more in touch with their bodies and increase strength and vitality. While intermediate and more advanced students use yoga as a workout that can be even more demanding than an extreme cross-fit session.
I knew I had to try yoga when I saw a photo of a 100 year old woman who had her left leg stretched at a 90 degree angle BEHIND her back while her right leg was pointed straight in front of her. If that wasn’t enough, her 102 year old sister had her left leg stretched ACROSS her body at a 45 degree angle, while her torso and right leg were twisted in the opposite direction. These amazingly flexible ladies started doing yoga when they were in their 60’s !! I’m speaking of world renown centenarians,The Delany Sisters, authors of Having Our Say: The Delany Sisters’ First 100 Years.
This was a powerful visual for me to put aside my excuses and get into a yoga class. I also learned that not only does yoga keep you flexible and more in-tuned with your body, there are some benefits that can actually prolong and improve the quality of your life. The top 5 benefits that resonated with me are:
- STRESS RELIEF – When you’re in the middle of a stressful situation, probably the LAST thing on your mind is yoga. However, there are a number of poses and breathing techniques that can help you calm and re-center yourself. Focusing on your breathing while doing even one of the more basic yoga poses like a simple standing or sitting stretch can stimulate your body’s production of serotonin (the ‘feel good’ hormone). It’s a well-known fact that more happiness and less stress adds years to your life.
- INCREASES BLOOD FLOW & IMPROVES CIRCULATION – The various movements and poses of yoga bring more oxygen to your cells which helps them function better. Being in a relaxed state helps to improve your blood circulation and twisting your body brings freshly oxygenated blood to your organs. Yoga has also been known to increase hemoglobin levels in red blood cells, helping to prevent blood clots, heart attacks, and strokes.
- LOWERS BLOOD SUGAR & “BAD” CHOLESTEROL – Studies show that in addition to lowering LDL (“bad”) cholesterol, yoga helps to boost HDL (“good”) cholesterol. Also, diabetics have found that practicing yoga lowers their cortisol and adrenaline levels which encourages weight loss. It also decreases their risk of diabetic complications such as kidney failure, blindness and heart attack.
- CLEANSES LYMPH AND IMMUNE SYSTEMS – Many of the yoga movements aid in draining lymph (a colorless fluid containing white blood cells, that bathes the tissues and drains through the lymphatic system into the bloodstream); which allows the system to better fight infection, destroy diseased cells, and rid toxic waste in the body. Also, meditation and the meditative poses of yoga appear to have a beneficial effect on the functioning of the immune system, boosting it when needed and lowering it when needed.
- INSPIRES SELF-CARE & A HEALTHIER LIFESTYLE – One of the most important advantages that I’ve experienced by doing yoga is it puts me in a certain mindset to WANT to live healthier. I feel more empowered about prolonging and improving the quality of my life when I consciously make better choices about my health and fitness. Yoga is more than stretches and breathing. I see it as a catalyst to consistently take very good care of my physical temple.
If you are looking for a comfortable, inviting, and calming retreat, The Yoga Hive Healing Arts Studio is a great place to explore all that yoga can do for you. It’s located just minutes from downtown Atlanta and offers classes for all fitness levels.
Since 2006, it has been the mission of Mechelle Davis, ERYT, RYT, founder of The Yoga Hive and experienced Yoga and Meditation Instructor to share the numerous benefits of yoga, meditation, and other healing modalities. Michelle and her team aim to promote and offer “practical” practices for healthy living. They help to cultivate a healthy connection with your mind, body, and spirit by sticking to the basics and meeting you right where you are.
The Yoga Hive studio is a peaceful and welcoming environment that nurtures the philosophy of “Improving Health through Community Relationships”. If you are new to yoga or it’s been a while since you’ve connected with your practice, and want to know more about classes and events at the Yoga Hive, call 404-668-2169 or visit http://yogahive.org/home.html. Much Love and Life Harmony, Linda