“For breath is life, and if you breathe well, you will live long on earth.”
Yoga as an institution has three main techniques – Yoga exercises (Asanas), Breathing techniques (Pranayama) and Meditation.
Inhaling and exhaling raises circulation of blood and reduces oxygen consumption. Healthy posture boosts energy, overall flexibility, and maintains equilibrium. Meditation quiets your head thereby resulting in mental relaxation. This will decrease blood pressure, persistent soreness, stress, and cholesterol level. It will eventually raise coordination, improve posture, raise focus and cure insomnia in addition to ensuring proper digestion. Combined with regular remedies, yoga exercise is frequently practised by people suffering from osteoarthritis, asthma, cancers, back discomfort, depressive disorders, diabetes, coronary disease, migraines, constipation and bowel disorders. And that is just the beginning of the list of the health benefits of yoga.
Gone are the days when meditation and yoga were the business of the elderly. Today, many schools and colleges are organising optional yoga and meditation classes for children to cope up with increasing stress.
Yoga is all about serving and helping people. It’s about giving back to the society. Studies have revealed that people who do social work and volunteer live seven years more than their counterparts.
As you are reading all the ways yoga can improve your health, you must have noticed that all of these are similar and overlapping with each other. The reason is because they are conjoined, they are intensely woven together, because one leads to another. Yoga teaches you that everything is connected and this interconnection what gives yoga such a profound meaning. The interaction we have with one of the many yoga asanas and their benefits is somewhere connected to others also but may be in different spheres but nevertheless the connection is omnipresent.
But there are various things a person should consider before doing Yoga. Call it a rule or mere important points, but this is what makes the Yoga effective and beneficial.
HOW TO DO YOGA
Yoga should never be done on the floor. Use a Yoga mat or a rug or just simply go outside and do it on grass.
Early mornings and evenings generally during twilight is the best time to do meditation and Yoga.
Take a bath beforehand. This will make you feel better and stimulate the sensation, but make sure you have a cold-water bath.
While doing Yoga, minimal amount of clothes should be worn. These help in free movement or wear such clothes, which doesn’t restrict your movements.
Do not wear any shoes or socks while performing Yoga asanas.
Keep yourself hydrated.
Yoga must not be done after eating meals or with full stomach. If you do this, Yoga will be ineffective. Eat after half an hour once you finishthe Yoga.
Always start with an easy asana and then gradually move to a tougher one.
Stretching beyond the body’s limit and enduranceis a clear no-no. Your flexibility will increase gradually and eventually.
Listen to your body. Don’t ignore any pain or any signs of discomfort.
While doing Yoga, remember to close your mouth and use nose for inhaling and exhaling.
Each asana should be done for prescribed time.
As per the tradition, the sweat that comes out of yoga should be wiped with your palms and not to use any kind of clothes for wiping.
The room where you perform asana should be well ventilated and should be distraction free.
The main key is Concentration. Concentrate on the asanas. A soothing music will help or chanting the word “Om”. Do not allow your mind to wander.
Try to limit asanas to less time during summer when there is more of dehydration.
Take as much as rest you want between two asanas. Shavasana and Balasana are perfect to relax and unwind.
Difficult poses are not be done by amateurs without any guidance by experts.
Do not combine any form of breathing exercise while doing the asanas.
Never do asanas in a forced, jerky manner. But advance gradually.
Remember one thing, every pose has modification. But do not strain yourself.
Last but not the least, eat healthy and sleep properly.
Remember, Yoga is a continuous process. It’s about the journey to your final destination. Yoga is a celebration that you need to feel and love. Enjoy the moment. Remove your doubts, all the negative sources. Balance and flexibility will follow with practices. Its benefits are profound. The deeper you will delve, the more you will find. You will have more awareness to follow, to ponder and to realize.
BENEFITS OF YOGA
- Fitness: Overall fitness of body achieved through its various techniques of Asanas/Postures, Breathing/Pranayama and Meditation is the prime yoga health benefit.
- Weight Management: Exercises like Suryanamaskara (Sun Salutation) and Kapal Bhati help in overall weight management. It helps in reducing fat and cholesterol level and increases good cholesterol (HDL) in the body.
- Energy Efficient: Yoga keeps you refresh when you are multitasking. A few minutes of Yoga everyday or 10 minutes of meditation before you start your day, will rejuvenate you and keeps you recharged for rest of the day.
- Flexibility and Good Posture: Another very important of the benefits of yoga practice is that it makes the body strong and tones the body muscles and hence relieve from any pain that arises from incorrect postures.
- Stress Relief: Yoga helps in detoxifying the body and helps in releasing stress and tensions from the body.
- Improved Immunity: Yoga helps in improving immunity and also helps in blood circulation.
- Peace and Intuition: Yoga helps in calming mind and leads to a more serene state. It heightens the intuition level and thus helps in decision-making capacity.
- Greater Awareness: With Yoga, you will be elevated to a heightened sense level, where the mind is harnessed to stay calm and focus on present, instead of past or future. Many people claim that this is the only source of peace and joy.
Based on professional medical scientists, yoga and fitness therapies work as a result of balance designed inside the nervous and also endocrine techniques, which directly influences the rest of the human body. Yoga exercises operate as not only being preventive but also precautionary therapies. Yoga is based on reaching mind serenity, increased awareness power, a relaxed state and also tranquillity.
Scientists and medical practitioners have found that Yoga can relieve symptoms of the several common and potentially life threatening diseases also.
- Respiration problems and Asthma: People practicing Yoga have a better chance to control their breathing abilities. Studies conducted at various ashrams across the country revealed that patients performing Yoga succumb to fewer amounts of Asthma attacks. Moreover, the dependency on such drugs has reduced drastically.
- High Blood Pressure: With the breathing techniques and different postures, studies have revealed that it lowers the blood pressure. With Savasana, 26-point drop was noticed in systolic blood pressure and 15-point drop in diastolic blood pressure.
- Alzheimer: A fresh study signifies that yoga exercises can help raise brain gamma-aminobutyric (GABA) degrees. Minimal GABA degrees are generally connected with Alzheimer’s. Yoga exercises in addition have proven to help sluggish tendencies which are a further advancement connected with Alzheimer’s.
- Type II diabetes: In addition to the glucose reducing capabilities of yoga, it encourages Insulin production by the pancreas.
- Multiple Sclerosis: Yoga is now very well accepted for managing multiple sclerosis.
- Cancer: Cancer patients who practice yoga have more strength, higher level of RBC and experience less nausea through chemotherapy.
- Pain Management: Pain like back pain, arthritis can be cured with Yoga using different asanas. It not only makes the muscle strong and flexible but also releases the tension and stress. Yoga helps in rejuvenating the cartilage between two bones. This is another great benefit of yoga that makes it so popular among people of all age groups.
- Migraine: Migraine can also be combated through Yoga.
- Bones: Yoga increases bone density in the body. By keeping the stress hormone cortisol low, it helps in retaining the calcium in the bone. This is one of the major yoga benefits for children as these are the most crucial years of the bone formation.
- Blood Circulation and Heart Attack: Yoga aids in blood circulation and oxygenated blood flow in the body. Keeping an aerobic body mechanism helps in maintaining the body pH. Yoga increases the amount of hemoglobin and RBC in the blood. And it also thins the blood simply by making platelets less sticky and also by reducing the amount of clot-promoting amino acids inside blood. And hence it reduces the chance of Cardio-vascular attacks (Heart attacks).
- Lymphatic vessels: Yoga increases lymphatic circulation and thus helps in building immunity, destroying cancer cells and disposing of toxic waste product.
- Cortisol and Serotonin: Consistent practice of yoga significantly decreases the amount of Cortisol and increases the Serotonin level. Cortisol is also associated with the binging syndrome. Experiments done on rats showed that rats tend to eat more when they have high cortisol level. Hence, it is the kind that drives you to eat when you are stressed, depressed, angry or just bored.
- Higher Intelligence: Studies have shown people who follow Yoga and meditation demonstrate the ability of higher reasoning. The fact is that yoga focuses on the present and improves ones reaction time, reflexes, IQ, memory and recall factor.
- Parasympathetic Nervous System: Yoga focuses on relaxing and hence attention is shifted from sympathetic nervous system to parasympathetic nervous system. This lowers breathing and decreases heart rate and therefore is restorative in nature. This is when all the healing takes place inside the body.
- Releasing Tension: Yoga is all about releasing tension, Find the tension spots in your body, be it on your face, fingers or hand and then release it. This will save you lots of money and ensure you good health in future. One of the greatest benefits of yoga asanas to mankind ever!
- Bowel System: Irritable bowel, constipation, ulcers can be eased through practicing Yoga. Yogis believe that some poses may be beneficial in eliminating waste out of the system.
- Positive Energy: Yoga channelizes positive energy and helps in making connection with oneself therefore raising awareness. It gives you a power to change yourself, to cleanse yourself, to treat your body like a temple and keep it clean and worthy. And we know that positive energy attracts the best of things from the universe.
- Karma Yoga and feel good factor:
Do you meditate? It has become widely accepted that meditation is a great way to reduce stress, improve focus and restore internal balance. I know that lots of people would like to be able to meditate, but find it hard to begin. Our minds wander, we get fidgety, and we don’t know what to do with ourselves.
In this age of digital-everything, it’s just harder because our brains act differently now. We spend less time staring into space, watching clouds go by, slowing down, and just being present. I have a simple meditation technique for beginners that I think will be really helpful for you. It has helped me get back into a meditation practice recently, as I had gotten a bit rusty, too. I find that using visualization really helps me.
A SIMPLE MEDITATION TECHNIQUE FOR BEGINNERS:
- Find a quiet place, and lie down on your back. With your feet on the floor, bend your knees and let them lean in together comfortably.
- Set a timer for the amount of time that you will meditate. I recommend starting with just 2 minutes at first, then increasing as you become more comfortable and your ability to focus grows. I usually do 10 minute sessions, and am working up to 15– but it’s not a race. Take your time, and just choose what seems the most doable for you.
- Place your hands on your belly, relax your body, and listen to your breath. Don’t do anything to try to control your breath– simply observe.
- Now, bring in some visualization. As you exhale, picture an ocean wave breaking on the sand. As you inhale, see it rolling back into the sea. With every inhale and exhale, watch the waves go in and out– the sound of your breath is the soundtrack to these waves going in and out, and will set the pace.
- If your mind wanders, bring yourself back to the sound of your breathing and the images of the waves. Again, do not try to change your breathing in any way– simply match the motion of the waves to the sound of your breath.
You may find that the shapes of the waves change throughout your meditation session. I often begin with more powerful waves crashing on the beach (breathing harder) and end with something more like the waves of a lake barely lapping the shore, as my breathing calms and I become more relaxed. This is not a goal, just something to observe.
When I feel like I’m struggling to stay with the exercise, I take a moment to picture the beach– the color of the sand, whether there are any plants or trees on it, what the sun and clouds look like, and how the sun would feel on my skin. I hear the waves again as I breathe, and am drawn back into them.
To take things a step further, you can use this visualization to incorporate the thoughts that come to mind and to let them go. When I think of something negative, I allow it to transform in my mind’s eye into something for a wave to spit up onto the shore– getting rid of it. For whatever reason, I often find myself leaving old worn out hiking boots and rusty tin cans on the sand as I seek to expel a burden that comes to mind. A pain in my neck may turn up as a piece of old rebar, and the pain eases as I let it go.
Likewise, when I think of a desire or hope or positive thought crosses my mind, I give it an image, something for the wave to sweep up from the sand as it retreats into the vast sea. When I give these thoughts an image and an action, it’s a way to acknowledge them, acknowledge whether I want them in my life or not, and move on.
Another way to use the waves and breath for meditation is to imagine yourself as a piece of seaweed or a leaf, riding the waves– both going in and out with your breath. Seeing myself moving with the flow helps me to further relax my whole body as I imagine the sensations of “going with the flow” as I listen to my breath. It is deeply relaxing.
Feel free to experiment with what works for your visualizations, making the exercise your own. When your timer goes off, take your time, and don’t stand up too quickly. See if you can add another minute to your next session.