Yoga includes a group of physical, mental, and spiritual exercises which originated in ancient India. Yoga involves breathing exercises, meditation, and particular body positions which are generally practiced for health and relaxation.
Yoga has various health benefits – it increases flexibility, can improve posture, and certain yoga techniques can even be used to burn fat (although yoga in itself is not an exercise routine to lose weight). Yoga can be practiced by all shapes and sizes, and of all abilities. Naturally, don’t go straight to the expert poses, and it’s always advisable to find a teacher who has been formally trained, who can help you to achieve the desired poses in a manner which will not cramp your muscles or affect your health.
Apart from the physical benefits of yoga, there are also the psychological ones. Various studies have shown that yoga can be used to improve one’s mental health. A study conducted in secondary schools has shown that at this age, yoga decreased the students’ feelings of tiredness, and increased their focus. The study also concluded that yoga could be used to help students maintain a good mental health, which is of extreme importance when considering the stress that is present within this age group.
On a final note, regardless if you are spiritual or not, yoga can help you feel more connected with yourself. Some may call this a spiritual connection, others may view it as a way to increase self-confidence. Either way, by feeling more in tune with oneself, we are protecting our mental well being even more, and it’s a reminder to focus on ourselves – even if it’s just for one hour in a week. Let’s face it, we all need to take a breath sometimes in our hectic lives!
Khalsa, S. B. S., Hickey-Schultz, L., Cohen, D., Steiner, N., & Cope, S. (2012). Evaluation of the mental health benefits of yoga in a secondary school: a preliminary randomized controlled trial. The journal of behavioral health services & research, 39(1), 80-90.
Mel McElhatton holds a degree in Social Work from the University of Malta. With Willingness, Mel does life coaching and is one of the facilitators in the IRL – In Real Life team. They are also the producer of the radio show Niddiskutu s-Sess. They can be contacted on firstname.lastname@example.org.