Advantages of yoga
Yoga has many advantages over other methods of maintaining health, such as gymnastics, athletics, aerobics, games, and various other forms of exercise. It does not need any costly equipment and materials, or playgrounds, swimming pool, gyms, etc. Yoga can be practiced throughout the year. It can also be practiced inside the house or in the open, singly or in groups. The only requirement is a thick carpet spread on the floor and covered with a clean sheet of cloth.
Yoga should only be practiced on empty stomach. You can do it at any time during the day. It will benefit you irrespective of whether you are young or old, lean or heavily built, highly educated or unlettered, rich or poor, from higher or lower middle class, busy, over busy, or retired or worker in the factory or in the field. Yoga has something very valuable, and useful to offer to everyone. It is often described as the best form of health insurance for all from the age of 7 to 77 or more. Two main advantages of Yoga are prevention of disorders and ailments and maintenance of health and fitness in daily life. Other advantage include flexible muscles, supple joints, relaxed and tension–free mind and efficiently working vital organs such as the heart, lungs, endocrine glands, liver, pancreas and good balance between various functions, such as neuromuscular coordination, etc.
Can all the yoga techniques be practiced in all age groups?
Although yoga can be practiced in all age groups, some techniques are more suited and desirable for specific age groups. For example, some asanas that involve forward and backward bending are good for children aged 5 to 10 years. At about 10 years of age, the asanas that have an upside down position and deep breathing can be started. Shuddhikriyas should not be practiced everyday. They need to be performed as and when required for removal of impurities from the body. However, Kapalabhati Nauli can be done every day. They are generally most suited for people in age group of 20 to 60 years. Relaxation is necessary for all, irrespective of age. People in all age groups can therefore practice meditation regularly. It is desirable that older people avoid asanas that involve excessive stretching, such as the plough pose or halasana. Strenuous poses such as the scorpion or vrischikasana head–stand or shirshasana should also be avoided older people. When yoga is practiced for therapeutic purpose to overcome or cure ailments, other restrictions are necessary. This is why yoga should not be practiced unless you have learned the correct technique from an expert.
Disadvantages of Yoga
If you only have 20 minutes a day to spend on your body and your foremost goal is to burn lots of calories, yoga will disappoint you. Although yoga is a sound adjunct to any weight–loss program and has even been shown to promote gradual weight loss, it is not primarily a fat–burning enterprise.
Another potential pitfall is finding a qualified teacher. Before enrolling in a class, ask what type of training the instructor had. Currently, there is no national certification program for yoga instructors. Voluntary certification is available from various groups, but some organizations award teaching certificates to people who have completed only a weekend course. The Yoga Alliance – a voluntary national coalition of yoga organizations and individual yoga teachers – is seeking to establish voluntary national standards for yoga teachers, but not all yoga instructors agree with those standards or support the alliance’s philosophy.
To reap the intangible benefits of yoga, it helps to be humble and to realize that yoga is meant to be practiced, not perfected. It’s a noncompetitive activity. According to Georg Feuerstein, Ph.D., founder–director of the U.S. based Yoga Research and Education Center, at the heart of yoga is “The assumption that you have not yet tapped into your full potential as a human being.”
Even for the most open–minded beginner, yoga is not easy to learn. Although you don’t need to be flexible or in shape to do yoga, the practice is physically, emotionally and mentally challenging.