The Physical and Mental Health Benefits of Yoga

Keep Calm and Say OM

This is a guest post by Lina Garcia, a Kundalini Yoga and Meditation Instructor. How do you perceive yoga? Do you visualize daring poses on Instagram posted by slender teenagers in colorful yoga pants? The truth is, the beginnings of Yoga are traced to over 5,000 years ago in Northern India, way before social media! At one point, Yoga only existed as a collection of texts and scriptures containing songs, mantras and rituals utilized by Vedic priests. Yoga was first introduced to the West in the 40’s but really took off in the 70’s and 80’s, due to the explosion of television, advertisements and increased information sharing, quickly gaining popularity at yoga centers and studios gaining millions of followers. And of course, today, yoga has flooded social media outlets with a landscape of mind blowing acrobatic and artistic poses almost equivalent to a Cirque du Soleil show.


Yoga Benefits

Truthfully, the many benefits of Yoga can and should be experienced and made accessible to every person. These benefits create a Mind/Body connection that can touch everyone, especially those seeking a healthy outlet, mental health support, and relief from the anxieties caused by everyday life. The multiple benefits of yoga include:
  • quality sleep
  • reduced anxiety
  • curbed substance use/abuse
  • mental clarity
  • increased flexibility
  • reduction in injuries
  • increased muscle and tone
  • improved respiration
  • better energy and vitality
  • balanced metabolism
  • weight reduction
  • cardio and circulatory health
  • improved athletic performance.
Increasingly, Yoga is being adopted by universities, hospitals and therapists as effective treatment and support for persons seeking medical and mental health support. In some instances, Yoga has been proven to lower high blood pressure, decrease blood sugar levels for diabetes patients, and aid in treating depression.

Yoga Is for Everyone

Worldwide, public agencies and services such as fire and police departments, public schools and even prisons are incorporating Yoga classes and breathing and meditation techniques to offer wellness support and healthy practices to their own employees and residents. Still need more reasons to try Yoga? Group yoga can be uplifting, fun and a bonding activity with friends and family.  With so many types of yoga now available in the U.S. including:  Prenatal, Postnatal, Ashtanga, Yin, Restorative, Kundalini, Flow, Hot and Chair Yoga, you are bound to find a style that’s right for you.  Even if you were to try all the styles available, most teachers can tailor the postures/asanas and classes to different levels and age groups.


Starting a Yoga Practice

If you’re wondering how often to practice Yoga, start with once or twice a week and work your way up to your most comfortable level and speed.  As your doctor, nutritionist or physical therapist will probably tell you, some amount of exercise is better than no exercise! I hope you feel encouraged to try it and at the very least can promise that you will notice increased flexibility and rejuvenation after attending a few classes. As with any other type of exercise, please check with your doctor before trying it, particularly if you’re nurturing a current health condition. Namaste!

About Lina Garcia:

Lina Garcia is a 200-hour Certified Kundalini Yoga and Meditation Instructor as taught by Yogi Bhajan®. She teaches in venues throughout Austin, TX and plans to continue training in various yoga styles. Her classes are bilingual (English and Spanish) and her goal is to make them accessible to all income levels, diverse backgrounds and age and flexibility levels. You can find follow her @dyalavtarkaur on her Facebook or Instagram.  
The Benefits of Yoga, American Osteopathic Association
Anna Misiak, History of Yoga in the West, Yoga International Blog
Timothy Burgin, History of Yoga, Yoga Basics