8 Unexpected Benefits of Yoga : Which Type of Yoga Fits Your Personality?

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oga is a set of physical, mental and spiritual practices that originated in ancient India. It is usually believed to have originated during the pre-Vedic age. The western countries adopted yoga as a system of physical exercises in the 1980s.

Today, yoga is extensively practiced all over the world. Myriads of studies have been able to prove the efficacy of yoga in tackling a wide array of health-related problems. It has been listed as an intangible cultural history by UNESCO in 2016. Every year on 21st June, the world celebrates International Yoga Day. [1]

There are multiple forms and types of yoga practices. In order to achieve maximum benefits, one can consider practicing the form that fits their personality.


What Are The Different Types/Branches Of Yoga?

Primarily, there are 6 branches of yoga – Raja yoga, Bhakti yoga, Jnana yoga, Karma yoga, Mantra yoga, and Hatha yoga.

Out of all the branches of yoga, the one that is mostly practiced is hatha yoga. In this form, the person gets to perform asanas (postures), master pranayama (breathing techniques), kriyas (techniques for internal cleansing), bandhas (contractions and locking of muscles) and lastly mudras (seals and gestures using hands).

Hatha yoga is a holistic form of yoga that focuses on health and well-being. Practicing this form of yoga can help a person attain a balance between the nervous, digestive, circulatory and respiratory systems and also helps make these systems strong. This yoga helps in relieving tension, boosting circulation and flushing out the toxins. It can help restore your natural health.[2]

This is the form of yoga that involves performing postures. It has been cited as the most popular form that combines meditation with breathing techniques. In this form, the soul and body of the person come together to help the person become physically healthy and also aids in freeing the mind of anxiety as well as stress. [3]

There are three core components of this form of yoga. These are poses, breathing techniques and meditation. Poses help a person attain strength and flexibility in the different body parts, while breathing techniques aim at controlling and calming the mind. The last component, meditation, promotes mindfulness in the person and helps him or her become more self-aware. [4]

Here is a list of practices of Hatha yoga:

1. Ashtanga yoga

It is a Sanskrit word that means eight limbs where each limb denotes s stage. Ashtanga belongs to the hard-form category of yoga. This form involves a series of intense movements. Practicing the rigorous movements of this form can help a person boost blood circulation and raise body heat. By incorporating Ashtanga yoga in the lifestyle, one can improve their physical strength, upgrade muscle action whilst boosting body’s level of endurance. [5]

2. Bikram yoga

This is a form of yoga that involves a series of 26 asanas or postures and 2 breathing techniques. The postures are practiced in heated rooms and can benefit one’s body in a variety of ways. Incorporating this yoga form into one’s lifestyle can help fight a wide range of health-related problems like body ache, long-term injuries, pain in joints and high blood pressure. Apart from that, practicing Bikram yoga can also help different systems of the body. It enables the respiratory system to function efficiently and could help to heal respiratory problems such as bronchitis and shortness of breath. [6]

3. Power yoga

This form of yoga comprises of high-intensity postures and routines that affect various aspects of human anatomy. Practicing this form can have a dramatic impact on the entire body. The systems of power yoga target the cardiovascular and respiratory systems and also strengthen the muscles and joints. It helps the practitioners strengthen their body, detoxify the lungs and fuel their body with energy and stamina. Practicing this form of yoga also helps a person get in great shape and attain flexibility in the body. [7]


What Are The Benefits Of Practicing Yoga?

Due to its rising popularity, a wide array of studies has been conducted to determine the therapeutic value and effect of yoga. Here are some of the ways in which practicing yoga can benefit you:

1. Fights Stress, Depression and Anxiety

Yoga has been proven to be effective in managing stress and other disorders associated with stress. Review of few studies has established a strong link between yoga and obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). Also, certain studies have found that practicing yoga can have a positive impact on a depressive disorder. Practicing yoga can lead to a reduction in anxiety and stress and is known to decrease the levels of salivary cortisol and epinephrine. This helps in combating stress and a wide array of ailments related to stress such as hypertension, diabetes, coronary heart disease.

A 2008 study conducted by the University of Utah found that individuals who practiced yoga had a higher level of tolerance for pain and a lower level of brain activity related to pain. This specific study was able to establish that practicing yoga can help a person regulate pain in an effective manner and also experience less stress due to pain.

2. Fights Obesity

There is no denying the fact that people who are obese or overweight are at a higher risk of developing heart disease and other ailments like diabetes and hypertension. When it comes to managing obesity, yoga has been found to be quite helpful. Performing yoga postures and breathing techniques on a regular basis for 3 months in the morning for about an hour can lead to a reduction in body weight, waist-hip ration as well as body mass index.

3. Helps Control Blood Pressure

Individuals who suffer from hypertension could control their blood pressure level by practicing yoga for an hour on a daily basis. In fact, yoga along with other techniques like relaxation has been found to possess an antihypertensive effect. As per a study, practicing sukha pranayama can lead to a decrease in the heart rate and also lower the systolic blood pressure in individuals suffering from hypertension. This could result from an increase in the vagal modulation and improvement in the baroreflex sensitivity.

4. Fights Diabetes

Performing and practicing yoga postures on a regular basis can also enable a person to keep type 2 diabetes in control. Studies have reported that practicing these postures and breathing techniques regularly for 3 months on a daily basis for at least an hour in the morning can lead to a reduction in the postprandial blood glucose levels. Individuals who practiced yoga regularly for 40 days were able to develop an overall sense of wellbeing and rely less on anti-diabetic drugs.

5. Help Manage Coronary Heart Disease

Few studies involving individuals with coronary heart disease found that practicing yoga for a year or so can lead to a reduction in weekly anginal episodes, improve the person’s capacity to exercise and also reduce the body weight. Similar trials and studies found that individuals suffering from this disease who incorporated yoga in their lifestyle ended up with less coronary lesions and had an improvement in myocardial perfusion. [8]

6. Improves Flexibility

One of the most amazing benefits of practicing yoga is an improvement in the flexibility of the body. By practicing yoga, a person can loosen up their muscles and the connective tissues that surround the joints and bones. Because of this ability, yoga is considered to be an effective regime for reducing pains. With the help of yoga, a person can build muscle mass and maintain the strength of the muscle. This, further, safeguards the person from a variety of health conditions such as pain in the back, arthritis, osteoporosis.

While performing yoga, a person uses his or her joint in a full range of motions that can help bring oxygen and blood flow to the cartilage in the joints. This plays a crucial role in the aversion of chronic pain and arthritis. Even individuals suffering from carpal tunnel syndrome, back pain, and arthritis can benefit from yoga, as combining yoga postures with meditation can help them get relief from the pain.

7. Helps Fight Cancer

Yoga is considered to be beneficial for individuals suffering from cancer as practicing yoga can improve a person’s mental health and increase their emotional and physical wellness. Yoga asanas combined with breathing exercises and meditation can provide them relief from stress and improve the quality of their life. Studies had shown that the growth of tumors can worsen due to stress. From improving fitness to combating fatigue, yoga can benefit cancer patients in a variety of ways. By performing the yoga poses, such individuals can release tension not just from their mind but also from the body and restore energy. Yoga helps them find a proper balance between the spirit, body, and mind. [9]

8. Promotes a Sense of Well-Being

With the help of yoga, the practitioner can achieve a sense of well-being. This holistic system can help him or she feel relaxed, more attentive, efficient and confident. It also helps a person become less irritable and develop a positive outlook on life. Yoga helps with the generation of energy that is significant for the proper functioning of the immune system. With the help of yoga, a person can keep emotions such as rage, aggression, and fear under control.Yoga boosts the pleasure centers in the median forebrain that are concerned with pleasure and bliss. [10]


How To Know Which Type Of Yoga You Should Pick?

Hatha yoga and Iyengar yoga involve slow and gentle movements. So, if you are looking for something that is gentle and not too intense, then you can go with either of these yoga types. Hatha yoga is all about breathing techniques and basic asanas (postures). Meanwhile, Iyengar yoga is the type in which you will have to use yoga accessories and props such as straps, blocks, foams, chair to help your body get into the right alignment.

However, if you are looking for something that is more physically challenging and comparatively fast, then you can either go with power yoga or Bikram yoga. As the name suggests, power yoga is the type that comprises of fast and intense movements that are capable of strengthening the muscles. Similarly, Bikram yoga involves a set of physically challenging poses that are usually performed in a heated room. [11]

Other than the ones mentioned above, you can pick either Yin, Vinyasa, Ashtanga or Forest yoga. Yin yoga belongs to the gentle yoga forms category while Vinyasa is the form in which the practitioner learns to focus on the flow of his or her breath. Meanwhile, Ashtanga yoga is hailed as the most rigorous form that targets the body’s core muscles. Even Forest yoga involves working the core muscles of the body and often includes intense standing postures.

You should pick the yoga style that best suits your needs. Whether you want to go with something that focuses on relaxation or pick a style that is physically challenging, the choice is all yours to make. [12]


Is It Good To Practice Yoga With Pre-existing Health Conditions?

Yoga is undeniably a remarkable activity that improves the connection between mind and body and helps them become flexible and strong. Even individuals with pre-existing health problems like high cholesterol, hypertension, diabetes, etc., can incorporate yoga in their lifestyle to reap the rewards. However, it is safe to consult with your health care specialist to know if there are certain yoga asanas that you should avoid doing for safety reasons. [13]


Conclusion

Yoga is a remarkable and highly beneficial system that can work wonders on the state of one’s mental and physical wellbeing. By practicing yoga and incorporating it into your lifestyle, you will be able to significantly improve your health and also keep distressing mental disorders such as anxiety and depression at bay. It can help you feel profoundly rejuvenated and relieve tension from different parts of the body. Individuals who are affected by chronic conditions like high blood pressure can benefit from yoga-based lifestyle modifications. So, in order to benefit from this age-old system involving the mind, body, and spirit, you can just start practicing the form of yoga that is best suited for your personality.