Wellness, according to the World Health Organization,” is a state of complete physical, mental, and social well-being, and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.” This is something every human being should strive for, but sadly so few seldom find. Many of us can boast of being free from disease, but are we well in both body and soul? Are you sleeping when you go to bed? According to a 2015 study, there’s an association between sleep impairment and nighttime intrusive thinking. Many people suffer from insomnia because their minds are working overtime. They find it hard to relax and even harder to fall asleep. In short, they are not well.
According to India’s Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MoHFW), rest, exercise, healthy diet, and relaxation are important components of health and wellness. The ministry states, “Yoga is the most perfect health and wellness module as it is comprehensive and holistic in nature” — the kind of activity one undertakes to develop a state of complete mental, physical, and social well-being.
How yoga can help inform wellness
I’ll be honest with you. I always thought yoga was a religion, and since I’m not into religion, I thought I’d pass. However, having learned that it is a spiritual practice, I decided to give it a try. It is also a religious practice in certain parts of India, according to Jamel West. West is a Registered Yoga Teacher (RYT) who has been practicing yoga and mindfulness for over ten years. West specializes in Restorative and Yin yoga, which are spiritual practices, not religious practices. According to West, his classes are fun, alignment informed, and energy centered, to create a sense of calm and relaxation.” This is particularly important in your quest for a healthy lifestyle.
For persons who wish to learn about his teaching style and types of yoga, you can visit his Instagram account.@modality.yoga In the meantime West wants his prospective students to know, “My intention is to create a safe space so that people are comfortable in their bodies while they’re practicing” If this resonates with you, then give him a call.
The verdict is still out as to how well I will do as a beginning student of yoga and maybe going forward, I’ll share a progress report or two. But for now, I’m going to share with you some of what I learned in my research before starting yoga. The idea is to show you how yoga can help inform wellness. Hopefully, after reading, you will be able to make informed decisions concerning your health and wellness.
A 2012 National Health Interview Survey reported that around 94% of people who practice yoga in the United States do so for wellness reasons. Let’s, therefore, look at some of the benefits:
Yoga and the brain
Did you know that yoga was good for your brain? Indeed! A 2012 study found that one session of yoga practice improved the accuracy of working memory more than a session of aerobic exercise. Another study (2017) by Dr. Kimberly Luu and Dr. Peter A. Hall showed that Hatha yoga improved the brain’s executive functions. The brain’s executive functions are our mental skills used to manage our daily lives, which include our working memory and flexible thinking.
Yoga and the body
Not only is yoga good for the brain, but not surprising, it is also good for the body. A 2017 study, linked yoga practice with pain relief in the lower back — a condition that affects 80% of adults in their lives at some point, according to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS).
Heart disease remains the leading cause of death in the U.S. research shows that Bikram yoga improves vascular health and may also decrease changes in the blood vessels that contribute to heart disease.
Yoga and the soul
And to top it all off, yoga has been found to have positive effects on your mind and emotions. A 2017 study found that practicing yoga at the beginning of the school day for 8 weeks improved the emotional health and wellbeing of elementary school students and teachers.
Studies show that practicing yoga for as little as three months lowers perceived stress levels. Researchers suggest that yoga may lower symptoms of depression by reducing the “stress hormone,” cortisol.
Yoga for beginners
As you can see, practicing yoga is very beneficial to your health and wellbeing. However, in order to start practicing yoga, you need an experienced teacher, as you could injure yourself if you decide to start on your own.
According to Julie kleinman, a yoga instructor who believes yoga is fundamentally a deeply personal practice; no one system or approach is better or worse than any other. Jamel West agrees. However, according to West, it is important to find out from your prospective teachers how long they have been teaching yoga.
In the meantime, to help you get started as a beginning student of yoga, here are a few bullet points of things to do before starting yoga, for beginners:
Visit a local studio
Pre COVID-19, most people went to a studio to practice yoga. However, most yoga classes are now offered online. This can be a little more difficult. Instructors like West have hybrid classes where they do both in-studio and online video streaming.
Research the instructor
Whether you choose to practice online or visit a physical studio, always research the teacher whose instructions you will be following. For instance, if you believe Kleinman is your kind of yoga instructor you could visit her website to learn all about her and also search the Internet to see what others are saying about her.
Research the different types of yoga
There are so many different types of yoga, that you will be able to find one or more that suits your personality. Two major ones are Restorative yoga and Yin yoga, both of which West teaches.
Research the different levels
Find out if the school you’re interested in or the teacher offers beginner classes or open level classes. Some persons offer Beginner Level one or Beginner Level two, etc While others offer open level classes.
Yoga practice, according to WebMD, is a great way to lower your stress level, makes you more relaxed, lower your blood pressure levels, and slows the heart rate.
Some types of yoga are about relaxation, a key component of health and wellness. Others employ techniques that help calm the mind. Research shows that yoga not only helps improve working memory but acts as a pain reliever, especially among persons who suffer from lower back pain.
Wellness is a state of physical, emotional, and social wellbeing. In order to be truly well, one must have completeness in all areas. Yoga is the most perfect health and wellness module as it is comprehensive and holistic in nature — according to the ministry of health in India.
What has been your experience with yoga? Are you a beginner or an experienced yogi?
Let us know in the comments below.