Yoga is an ancient art and discipline that originated over 3 000 years ago. Picture: Pixabay

Improve the state of your mind and body with the bountiful benefits of yoga.

Hunched, heavy shoulders carrying the weight of your stress, stiff joints and energy levels that are at an all-time low - for most people, going through the motions of everyday life, this is their reality. But, it doesn’t have to be.

Yoga is an ancient art and discipline that originated over 3 000 years ago. By practising it, you can reconnect with your body, according to Prathishka Naidu, a certified Yoga Instructor and founder of Hot Yoga Durban, who shared the benefits of pacticing yoga. 

Naidu’s guide to the benefits of yoga:

Increased flexibility

Yoga poses called "asana" safely stretch sore muscles, helping to release the lactic acid, in turn, this improves not only the quality of your day to day life but also reduces your risk of injury.

Better breathing

Promotes more controlled breathing. Yogic breathing is through the nose, which maximises lung capacity, opens up your chest, soothes respiratory disorders such as asthma and bronchitis, which has a calming effect on your nervous system.

Improve your balance

Improved balance enhances the co-ordination between your brain and your muscles, increasing your core stability, and an improved gait and posture. 

Better posture and improved muscle tone and strength

The controlled movements of yoga promote proper spinal alignment, thereby helping you permanently strengthen and straighten your back, protecting you from common spine injuries.

Improve blood circulation

It takes control for one's body to move in and out of a pose, doing so feeds oxygen-rich blood to your tendons and ligaments, which in turn results in more efficiency in joint mobility and flexibility. 

An effective way to burn calories resulting in weight loss

Depending on which style of yoga you choose, you can burn up to 600 calories per hour.

As for the mind, Nomzamo Mji, a yoga teacher and owner of The Toolbox studio that she founded with her sister, said, “The word yoga means unity. It is a practice and lifestyle that recognises that humans are multifaceted and multidimensional beings. We are much more than just a physical body. Through the practice of physical postures, breath work, meditation, chanting and diet, yoga facilitates harmony between the body, the mind and the soul. As you create space and flexibility in the body, so too can you create space and flexibility in the mind.”

Mji explains how yoga benefits the mind:

Mindfulness

The practice of yoga is about cultivating awareness through learning how to be present. Many of us suffer because we are worrying about the future or the past. When you learn to be aware of your breath and present in the moment, this greatly reduces stress and induces a sense of calm.  

Think more clearly

Through meditation, one learns how to focus, think more clearly and become less reactive. As you gain awareness of the impact of your actions on your life, you are more likely to refine your choices. This means that you do not act out of compulsion but rather out of choice. 

Calming

Meditation slows down the rapid mental traffic, creating space between thoughts and actions. If you can control your mind, you are in the driving seat of your life