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Yoga

Yoga is a mind and body practice with a 5,000-year history in ancient Indian philosophy. Various styles of yoga combine physical postures, breathing techniques, and meditation or relaxation.
In more recent years, it has become popular as a form of physical exercise based upon poses that promote improved control of the mind and body and enhance well-being.
There are several different types of yoga and many disciplines within the practice. This article explores the history, philosophy, and various branches of yoga.

What is yoga?

In the modern world, the South Asian art of yoga has expanded to all corners of the globe. While it is now a popular form of exercise and meditation, this has not always been the case.

Benefits

Maintaining a regular yoga practice can provide physical and mental health benefits

Physical benefits

“The relaxation techniques incorporated in yoga can lessen chronic pain, such as lower back pain, arthritis, headaches and carpal tunnel syndrome,” explains Dr. Nevins. “Yoga can also lower blood pressure and reduce insomnia.”

Other physical benefits of yoga include:

  • increased flexibility
  • increased muscle strength and tone
  • improved respiration, energy and vitality
  • maintaining a balanced metabolism
  • weight reduction
  • cardio and circulatory health
  • improved athletic performance
  • protection from injury

Mental benefits

Aside from the physical benefits, one of the best benefits of yoga is how it helps a person manage stress, which is known to have devastating effects on the body and mind. “Stress can reveal itself in many ways, including back or neck pain, sleeping problems, headaches, drug abuse, and an inability to concentrate,”. "Yoga can be very effective in developing coping skills and reaching a more positive outlook on life."
Yoga’s incorporation of meditation and breathing can help improve a person’s mental well-being. "Regular yoga practice creates mental clarity and calmness; increases body awareness; relieves chronic stress patterns; relaxes the mind; centers attention; and sharpens concentration," Body- and self-awareness are particularly beneficial, "because they can help with early detection of physical problems and allow for early preventive action."