Believed to have originated in India, yoga is considered an ancient form of active meditation in the Hindu and Buddhist traditions. This ancient practice links the mind, body, and spirit through a combination of postures, breathing, and conscious relaxation and meditation. Yoga provides an integrative, healthy way to connect mind, body, and spirit, resulting in improved physical, mental, and emotional health.
Yoga encompasses 3 main techniques: breathing, postures, and meditation. Breathing techniques are based on the concept that breath is the source of life in the body. Yoga postures are designed to apply pressure on the body's glandular systems, which increases the body's efficiency, and total health. The posture and breathing techniques prepare the body and mind for meditation. Regular, consistent practice of all three yoga techniques helps to reduce stress and enhance the health of the body, mind, and spirit.
During yoga stretches, lactic acid is actually reduced. Yoga also helps increase range of motion and joint lubrication. Practicing yoga not only stretches the muscles but also lengthens the soft tissues of the body (ligaments, tendons, and the fascia sheaths, which surround muscles).
Several yoga styles, both vigorous and less vigorous, provide strength and endurance benefits. Standing poses strengthen the lower back and stabilize hamstrings, quadriceps, and abdominal muscles to increase stability, reduce back pain, in addition to preventing falls.
Consistent yoga practice reduces cortisol levels, and symptoms associated with anxiety and depression, as well as improve sleep quality and muscle relaxation.