Yoga is an ancient philosophy originating from ancient Indian practices which focus primarily on harnessing one’s body and mind towards attaining a goal. The word ‘yoga’ also stems from the Sanskrit word ‘yuj’ which can be interpreted as ‘joining’ or ‘harnessing’. The ancient yoga practices in Hindu and Buddhist practices are of both physical and spiritual nature and was listed as an intangible cultural heritage in 2016. Modern western yoga is a variant of the ancient version and focuses on posture based physical fitness and relaxation techniques.
Meditation is also associated closely with yoga in Hindu and Buddhist religions as a method of training awareness, clearing one’s mind and achieving peace of mind. Today meditation is used in non-spiritual contexts as well due to its effectiveness in relieving stress, anxiety and relaxing the mind.
A combination of yoga and meditation has been shown to improve general health and well-being. Some of the benefits of engaging in these ancient practices are listed below.
Longer hours at work have resulted in many people developing bad posture, and poor exercise habits. Engaging in Yoga can help improve strength, balance, energy levels, flexibility and fitness which also promotes better blood circulation, reduced blood pressure and can reduce risks of diseases.
Mental and Emotional well being
With more and more being demanded from employees in the workplace, anxiety, stress and depression are commonplace for many people. Yoga and meditation can help to take the mind away from problems to gain a fresh perspective and relieve stress and anxiety. A study by the International Journal of Yoga found that people who practice yoga are more likely to be happy, calm and positive.
Improve Quality of Life
Through practicing yoga, the range of exercises can help improve joint and cartilage performance as well as improve bone health. In addition to this immune system response can also be boosted, resulting in improved health. Meditation can help maintain your nervous system allowing people to sleep easier and resulting in an overall better quality of life.
Yoga and Meditation in Medicine
Ayurvedic treatments have historically used yoga and meditation to help patients overcome illnesses and diseases, along with traditional treatments. These two activities are seen as natural steps to overcome difficulties a patient may be having, or to improve the response of patients to ayurvedic medicine.
Research in the West has now also has extended support to this belief and has shown that engaging in these ancient practices has many tangible benefits.