The Simple Secret to Staying Healthy
There is one little secret to staying healthy all life long. It was a secret known to the ancient yogis of India, and it is the secret behind the amazing health benefits of yoga and yoga therapy. It is this simple truth: Your body is meant to move.
Your body needs movement in the same way it needs food, water, and air. Virtually all body systems depend on movement for their functioning. This is the case not only for the cardiovascular and muskulo-skeletal systems, it is equally true for the lymphatic system, the endocrine, digestive, and respiratory systems.
The many diverse postures of yoga offer different types of movement. This is how, and why, yoga and yoga therapy stimulate the functions of the bodily systems. This is also why the list of ailments that can be eliminated or reduced with yoga therapy is, if not endless, at least very long.
Yoga, and particularly yoga used therapeutically, can lower cholesterol, eliminate hypertension, prevent or alleviate diabetes, ease arthritis, improve back pain, and relieve asthma. Yoga as therapy also improves your mood, reduces depression and anxiety, and benefits you mentally and spiritually.
In this way, yoga offers effects similar to that of exercise in general. It is a simple equation: regular physical activity improves your health; lack of activity undermines it. It is well known that engaging regularly in some type of physical activity is one of the most significant thing you can do for your health.
Since I happen to love yoga, I’ll venture to postulate that yoga takes this one step further. Yoga offers a more holistic, comprehensive, and wholesome form of exercise. Pumping iron will make your muscles big and bulky, but bulk without intelligence is often little more than brawn. Yoga requires an intelligent attunement and because of this, it builds intelligence. The fine details of alignment in yoga, the attunement to the sensations of the body, the many subtle refinements that have to be kept in mind to do a pose correctly, all challenge and stimulate the mind-building intelligence, not just bulk.
Yoga is growth, and yoga therapy has the most to offer when it helps us grow through the challenges we’re facing. This happens through yoga postures that stimulate and strengthen the body. It happens through breathing techniques that clears the pathway for vital energy, prana, to flow more freely in the body. It happens through the way yoga and yoga therapy gradually forge a deeper connection between mind and body. It happens through the quieting of the mind in a yoga session as we softly open to something deeper, richer, more full. And it happens in a yoga therapy setting when we move beyond the pressures of what is at hand and connect with that vast dimension of Spirit that lies beyond and pervades our every moment on earth.