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Benefits of Yoga for Holistic Health

Yoga or the form of exercises advocated by ancient Indian practitioners promotes good holistic health, both physical and mental.

While exercise is known to be beneficial for good health, the benefits of the ancient art of yoga are only now coming to the fore. To many, it is an esoteric form of exercise practiced by Hindu “rishis” or holy men. However, the experts from emphasize that yoga is not a complex or obscure practice and leads to many health benefits, both physical and mental.

Importance of Exercise for Good Health

The World Health Organization defines health as not just the absence of disease, but a state of complete social, mental, spiritual, and physical well-being One of the factors that contribute to holistic health is exercise in some form, and the easiest and best forms of exercise are woven into our daily lives when the body moves naturally in performing regular activities. However, some muscles and joints may be inadvertently neglected, and not function at the optimum level. Therefore, it is necessary to make a conscious effort to work every part of the body through basic exercises.

Yoga as Exercise for Holistic Health

Though all forms of exercise contribute to good health, yoga serves a more specific purpose. It is not just a form of exercise, but a way of life, based on ancient Indian philosophy. According to the latter, the mind and body need to be in harmony to achieve holistic good health, and a healthy mind in a healthy body can lead to self-enlightenment. This theory led to the propagation of yoga in ancient India and has seen a revival in recent times.

The steps and method of yoga were first documented in the second century BC by Sanskrit scholars. The traditional Patanjali school of yoga is named after the sage Patanjali who wrote the “yoga sutras”. There are different forms of yoga, but they all aim at holistic health. Each of the five basic parts or techniques contributes to this: movements of the joints, specific postures, deep breathing, relaxation, and meditation.

Physical Benefits of Yoga

According to renowned yoga practitioner Sri Ananda, yoga exercises “ensure agility, balance, endurance, great vitality and defense against illness”. Though joint movements have not been mentioned in the ancient yoga texts, they are used to warm up, and also have health benefits.

Sets of yoga exercises are called “asanas”. They are slow and deliberate poses, which help the practitioner to become attuned to his/her body and focus on it. A cycle or set of asanas tones up every part of the body, including stretching the muscles and improving the flexibility of the joints. Yoga boosts the supply of blood to all parts of the body and helps to rid it of toxins.

Yoga is used as therapy, so a therapist will guide the individual through specific exercises which aim at improving not only the working of all the systems and organs of the body but also dealing with specific health problems. According to yoga therapy consultant Dr. Nagarathna, yoga can serve as a complement to modern medicine.

Yoga for Mental Health

The physical exercises or poses of yoga boost the flow of life energy throughout the body. According to the ancient principles of yoga, this life energy is manifested through the breath, known as “prana.” According to Dr. Nagarathna, “prana is the basic life principle”. Therefore, deep breathing, known as “pranayama”, is a vital part of yoga. It leads to relaxation and awareness and rids the body of stress. Meditation is the final step in harmonizing the body and mind, leading to holistic good health.

According to classic Yoga guru B.K.S Iyengar, “With a healthy body, clear mind and pure emotions, the practitioner can learn to excel in his chosen career”. This is because yoga is a set of exercises and techniques that improve physical and mental health. It tones up all parts of the body, calms the mind, and leads to harmony between the body and mind. It can be practiced as part of the daily routine, and regularity reaps rich benefits. Introducing a meditation practice along the physical part will also increase all the health benefits.

Disclaimer: The information contained in this article is for educational purposes only; it should not be used for diagnosis or to guide treatment without the opinion of a health professional. Moreover, it is essential to learn the techniques from a professional yoga teacher/practitioner, as incorrect postures could lead to problems. Finally, different practitioners may advocate different schedules, as some recommend starting with pranayama.


About Zoe

Zoë is a freelance Yoga and Dance teacher based in the UK. As a trained Contemporary Dancer and Dance Teacher, Yoga has always played an essential role in Zoë's career.

Since graduating from All Yoga in 2018, Zoë now works as part of the All Yoga Team as a course coordinator while running her own studio, 'Flow Dance & Yoga' offering Yoga and Dance classes in Cornwall in the UK.

Find out more about Zoë:, Instagram or at Facebook.

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