Yoga brings happiness

2. September 2019

…and benefits the body and mind!

Yoga, which stems from Indian-based philosophical teachings, is now widespread and has become a real health trend. These days, every city and town has a yoga studio. An increasing number of people are now flocking to these studios.

The fitness, health and wellness boom has reinforced this trend. Yoga fashion, yoga festivals, yoga trips and yoga gatherings have also sprung up.

According to a recent study by the Professional Association of Yoga Teachers in Germany (BDY), 16 percent of the German population already have some yoga experience. This is more than 11.3 million people. Five percent (approx. 3.4 million) even practice yoga regularly.

These figures are also impressive: 86 percent of practitioners noticed a change in themselves as a result of their yoga practice. 49 percent of yoga enthusiasts found themselves to be more relaxed and 46 percent felt physically fitter according to the survey. It can often read about how yoga can change your life. We take a closer look.

The various yoga methods

There is a wide range of physical and spiritual exercises. Methods range from Kryas, Niyama, Pranayama, Yama, Pratyahara to Asanas. Hatha yoga, Mantra yoga, Laya yoga, Power yoga, Yin yoga and Kundalini yoga are just some of those available to choose from. In the 1990s, other variations such as Luna and Yabluga yoga came along as part of the women’s movement. Hatha yoga is one of the most popular forms of yoga because it combines yoga poses with breathing and concentration exercises.

Yoga teaching has been around since 500 B.C. The roots of yoga philosophy lie partly in Hinduism and partly in Buddhism. A male master of yoga is called a Yogī while a female master is called a Yoginī. However, only sattvika yoga masters are true masters of yoga. They are either already enlightened or are in the process of achieving this, as Sukadev Bretz writes in the Yoga Vidya Journal.

The Pilates method came along later, founded by the German, Joseph Hubertus Pilates. Pilates is designed to achieve a good posture. The exercises developed by Joseph Hubertus Pilates comprise strength exercises similar to yoga, stretching and conscious breathing.

Stress management with yoga

The word yoga can be interpreted as follows: union, connection, method, technique, meditation and asceticism. Yoga, the Asian body art, is now used to combat stress which is the main trigger of health-related issues.

In fact, many disease patterns can be traced back to stress. These include diabetes, colds, allergies and, in severe cases, cancer. Heart attacks, severe depression and burnout can also be caused by symptoms of stress.

When speaking with people who regularly practice yoga, it is striking that almost all of them say that yoga relieves stress and that they feel more resilient and able to withstand stress after a yoga session. It seems like a switch is flipped in their head.

But what might be the cause of this? When we become stressed, the body produces more of the stress hormone, ‘cortisol’. Cortisol is a natural human hormone which supports a number of metabolic processes. When stressed, our bodies produce more of the hormone, Apotheken Umschau writes.

More energy, less stress

It has been proven that the levels of the stress hormone cortisol are lower in people who regularly practice yoga. This is also confirmed by a study carried out by the Institute for Integrative Medicine.

Another study shows that 87 percent of people in Germany are stressed and half of them feel at risk of burnout. Signs of burnout include back pain, ongoing fatigue, inner tension, listlessness or sleep disorders. These are the results of a recent survey by pronova BKK (a combination of health insurance providers for well-known global companies such as Ford, Bayer, BASF and Continental)

An important detail is that many health insurance companies cover yoga costs as part of preventative measures. It’s therefore worth enquiring with your local health insurance provider to see if they will cover these costs.

Yoga provides balance

Working with vital energy gently gets the body and circulation moving, promotes wellbeing and strengthens the immune system. Yoga exercises help bring the body, mind and spirit into alignment. The gentle nature of yoga movement is intensive and has a beneficial effect on our bodies.

The combination of postures, stretches and breathing exercises regulate breathing, blood pressure and heart rate as deep breaths in and out are harmoniously combined with the movements.

When practising yoga exercises such as asanas, various areas of the body are worked: balance, circulation, muscles and the nervous system. Yoga is not an esoteric method of relaxation as some believe but instead makes you incredibly fit and strong.

It is undisputable that yoga strengthens the heart, boosts blood circulation and improves concentration skills due to breathing techniques. By breathing correctly, more blood is transported through the circulatory system resulting in more oxygen which in turn improves brain performance. Yoga also stretches the muscles and mobilises the spine. A nice side effect of yoga is a more toned physique.

Yoga stretches the fasciae and prevents tightening

Fasciae are connective tissue that attach almost all of the bodily systems, enclosing the organs, bones, muscles brain and spinal cord. Yoga keeps the fasciae supple. Recent research has proven this. Relieving postures, stress and lack of exercise bind, harden and shorten our fasciae. No other sport stretches the body as well as yoga. When fasciae tighten, this leads to tension and chronic pain; and not only in the back.

A well-structured yoga session has the benefit of exercising all eight possible directions of the spine. If the spine is not exercised, tension and blockages can occur which causes pain as far down as the legs, as high up as the neck and even as far as the head.

Madhavi Guemoes writes about this in yogaeasy: “The elastin in the fasciae is increasingly replaced by the virtually inelastic collagen which leads to the fasciae losing their ability to slide and significantly reduces the range of movement of our muscles.

Fasciae training is now in fashion and the great thing is that it can be done both at home or in the gym. Regular exercises with a Fascia roller can prevent the fascia from tightening. But be warned, use of this massage device is not pain-free and should be used under guidance.

The medisana team wishes you lots of fun on the mat!