Is Yoga a Perfect Exercise?
Let’s create a list of what our perfect type of exercise would do. First of all, it would be simple enough that anyone might do it but have sufficient variations and different methods that it would maintain the attention of someone who had been training it for years. It might need to be easy to learn so that individuals could pick up the basics easily and stat seeing the advantages as soon as possible. To be a perfect form of physical exercise it would need to be capable of keeping our body in good shape all by itself. It would help with bodyweight loss, circulation and increasing the strength of the muscles. It would stimulate the lymphatic system as well as the blood flow and assist the body to dispose of waste products, improving the overall immune response system. It would certainly also have advantages that went beyond health – the sharpening of the mind and an improved sense of well being and contentment. Ideally, it would be a workout form that required no expensive equipment and that could be practiced practically anyplace, alone or in a group.
This is quite a challenging set of specifications for a ideal form of exercise. Let’s see if Yoga measures up to these standards.
Yoga is a discipline that has it’s routes in India. The files that modern Yoga is based on are hundreds of years old, and the concepts behind these files were practiced long before that. It is a low impact form of exercise that has been tweaked and tailored by literally thousands of different teachers and enthusiasts. The are several resulting ‘styles’ of Yoga, but they all have the exact same core background and beliefs. What we refer to as Yoga in the West is usually the physical aspect of an entire life philosophy that has it’s own beliefs and code of ethics built in.
The physical target of Yoga is on poses and slow actions that are low impact and usually use nothing more than our own body. Sometimes props and supports are used to support the body in achieving and holding a specific pose. The poses can vary significantly in their degree of difficulty and even the same pose can have many various stages or levels. The best example is an easy forward stretch. One person may be able to stretch out past their knees, another may be able to reach their ankles and somebody else may be able to touch the floor. This level of progression enables us to see an actual physical difference in our flexibility level as we practice Yoga much more regularly. And because Yoga does not need any special equipment we are not refined to set class times and can practice Yoga at any place and any time the fancy takes us. We can actually do breathing exercises to clear the mind while sitting at a work desk.
Yoga has some amazing health benefits which stem from controlled breathing and improved blood flow. Our bodies organs basically do not operate at peak efficiency unless they are getting the oxygen and nutrients that they need. The waste products from our muscles and organs are taken away by the lymphatic system. Both techniques can develop chokepoints and blockages that different Yoga poses will address and correct. The outcome is a better more regular blood pressure, a more effective immunity system, and an optimal digestive process.
Because Yoga movements are slower and simple, the focus on correct breathing has a pronounced psychological effect on the body. It gives us an enhanced ability to focus, and un-clutter our thoughts. This is a useful edge in modern life and its value should not be underestimated.
Finally, many normal Yoga enthusiasts will tell you that there is a spiritual side to Yoga, how far this impacts an individual will probably depend on their beliefs before they begin practicing Yoga, but it can perhaps be thought of most precisely with a greater comfort and connection with your own body. The increased acceptance of yourself and comfort and ease with your own being results directly in more happy people.
So, it looks like Yoga does really check all the boxes and can be believed of as a perfect exercise form.