Though Asana yoga is thousands of years old, it is only in the past couple hundred years that it spread to the western world. Today, yoga is well-known all over the globe. People use it as a form of exercise, a kind of meditation, and for many other reasons to promote health and wellness in their lives. Whether you are new to yoga or interested in elevating your practice, asana in yoga is an excellent way to improve your physical body as well as take advantage of other yoga benefits in your life.
Asana is a term that refers to the physical practice of the poses used in yoga. Yogis use it to refer to all physical aspects of yoga as well as an individual posture. It is one of the eight “limbs” of yoga practice. The other limbs are:
- pranayama (breathing)
- dhyana (meditation)
- yamas (social conduct)
- niyamas (self-observance)
- pratyahara (sensory withdrawal)
- dharana (concentration)
- samadhi (bliss)
Asana yoga is one of the most beautiful ways to effect a positive change in your life. Paying attention to the way you move your body and the yoga benefits that come from your practice give you a foundation to build the remaining limbs of yoga in your life. This discipline can help you achieve your health and wellness goals.
Yoga benefits are well-known. Asana yoga focuses on the postures and poses of the body in yoga practice for it to be productive and healthy for the body. These are just fifteen of the many, many benefits of the asana of yoga.
15 Benefits of Asana Yoga
1. Improved flexibility
One of the primary yoga benefits is improved flexibility. Yoga practice is designed to move the body and improve flexibility through gentle movements and held poses. The more you practice asana in yoga, the easier the poses will become. Like any exercise regimen, a regular yoga practice will condition your body to the poses and movements, making them easier for your physical body. This reason explains why yoga can be so effective for those with limited mobility.
2. Improved muscle strength
Asana yoga uses your body weight in your exercise to achieve tangible results. Regular yoga practice improves your muscle strength in the same way it improves your flexibility. The more you do yoga, the more your body is conditioned to the movements and poses in your practice. Also, once you begin to gain strength and the yoga poses begin to get easier, you can move to more advanced poses to continue challenging yourself.
3. Improves spine health and posture
Your spine is a vital part of your physical health, but it’s also a part that many people neglect or overlook frequently. From sitting improperly at desks to using the wrong pillow at night, we can cause our spine a lot of stress. A focus on asana in yoga places a strong emphasis on the posture of your yoga poses, which typically require good posture, creating a straight line from your head all the way through your body. As you focus on straightening your spine in your yoga practice, you’ll find yourself keeping the same posture throughout your day, as well.
Yoga has a meditative quality to it. Unlike other exercise regimens, yoga uses slow movements and held poses, aligned with conscious breathing, to achieve the desired results. Yoga practice allows you to focus on your breath and your body’s movements. This benefit is why yoga is effective as a form of meditation. Furthermore, it proves time and time again to be effective in fighting symptoms of depression and anxiety.
5. Increases blood flow
There are lots of exercise programs that are used to get the blood flowing. In fact, almost any form of exercise is effective for increasing blood flow. The poses in yoga do the same, and they do it gently so as not to overtax your system. In addition, yoga helps get oxygen to your cells better, which also helps improve your blood flow and circulation health.
6. Improves emotional health
When you feel better physically, you typically feel better emotionally, as well. As a low-impact exercise, yoga allows you to breathe consciously, align your breath and movements, and to concentrate on the moment you are in. This mindfulness helps improve your emotional health, making you generally feel more at peace, happier, and less emotionally distressed.
7. Facilitates a healthier eating lifestyle
For many people, a regular yoga practice opens up additional changes in their lives. One thing that often changes is a healthier eating lifestyle. What you eat can have an impact on your yoga practice. Yoga teachers may recommend a yogic diet to improve your practice, which may include fewer red meats and more whole foods like fresh fruits and vegetables. When you start eating healthier, you’ll not only improve your health, but you’ll feel better and improve your yoga practice, as well.
8. Improves mental focus
Mindfulness is a way to focus your mind on the present and prioritize your thinking patterns to what is truly relevant and important in your life. As a result, you develop a mental clarity that can greatly improve your overall mental focus. Being able to focus like this can help you in your career as well as in your personal life.
9. Improves physical balance
Many yoga poses require some balance. Not all poses are as complex as headstands or balancing the body on one foot, but they do require you to be able to be balanced. As you build a regular yoga practice, your balance will improve, and you’ll find even more complex poses easier to manage. The balance you learn through yoga will help improve your balance throughout the day, as well.
10. Facilitates physical relaxation
Since yoga uses slow movements and held poses, it is more relaxing than other forms of exercise. While other exercise regimens get your heart going and push your muscles to extremes, yoga uses your body’s muscles more gently, which helps you relax your physical body instead of tensing up. This can help reduce the chance of getting muscle aches and knots from your exercise regimen.
11. Facilitates mental relaxation
Along with physical relaxation, yoga facilitates mental relaxation, as well. The focus on breathing and slow movements calms the mind and turns your thoughts to the present. For that moment, you are not worrying about the future or dwelling on the past. For the duration of your practice, you can let go of the mental stresses of your life.
12. Allows increased oxygen intake
When you move from pose to pose in your yoga practice, you inhale or exhale based on the movement and the pose you are moving to. This technique aligns your breath with your movements. Your yoga instructor may also advise you to take a few slow breaths while holding a pose. Whether moving or holding a pose, the slow, deep breathing of yoga increases the oxygen brought into the body. This improvement in breathing can help your cells do their jobs better to keep your body healthy.
Both acute and chronic pain can be debilitating, keeping you from living your life the way you want. Fortunately, your yoga practice can ease your physical pain. The movements and poses move your muscles, which can reduce the tension that leads to knots or strains. The movement can also reduce inflammation, which can cause chronic pain, such as arthritis and fibromyalgia. Even if an injury causes your pain, yoga moves your body gently, which helps your body heal more effectively, which can reduce the pain of the injury.
In recent years, there has been a big push for self-care practices, which means engaging in practices that promote your mind, body, and spirit health. Integrating asana in your yoga practice is a way to engage in self-care. Yoga has physical, mental, and emotional benefits to your health. That means you take care of yourself when you practice yoga.
15. Facilitates positive change in your life
Most people come to yoga because they want to experience the numerous benefits it carries. Whether you are seeking benefit in body, mind, or spirit, a regular yoga practice can help you make positive changes in your life through increased physical health, improved mental health, and greater emotional awareness.
Final Thought on Embracing Asana Yoga as Part of Your Daily Life
No matter the reason you have come to a practice, asana yoga benefits can be impactful in every area of your life. Implementing asanas in your yoga practice, which means an emphasis on the poses and movements, can maximize these yoga benefits to achieve your health and wellness goals. You don’t have to be an expert yogi to implement asanas into your practice. Instead, all it takes is a desire to make improvements in your life through the practice of yoga.