Let us look at Yoga which may have different connotations to people
“Take a deep breath, inhale. Now slowly exhale and breathe out. Relax. Feel your entire body and muscles relax.”
This part of yoga is commonly referred to as meditation. But Yoga goes much beyond. What exactly is Yoga? It is a 5000 year old Indian body of knowledge, which originates from the Sanskrit term, yuj, meaning a union of the individual consciousness or spirit with the universal spirit. It is often perceived to be more of a physical exercise of bending, stretching, twisting and turning, but it goes far beyond as it unfolds the infinite potentials of the combination of mind and soul.
Yoga is about the essence of the Way of Life, which comprises - Gyan Yoga or philosophy, Bhakti Yoga or path of devotional bliss, Karma Yoga or path of blissful action, and Raja Yoga or path of mind control. Raja Yoga itself is divided into eight parts. It involves 8 limbs which are: the yamas (restraints), niyamas (observances), asana (postures), pranayama (breathing), pratyahara (withdrawal of senses), dharana (concentration), dhyani (meditation), and samadhi (absorption).
A few tips for beginners to be kept in mind:
Help from Experts: Before you commence on the journey, should you have any medical or health issues, it is advisable to consult an expert.
Dress Comfortably: Loose and comfortable garments are advisable. Avoid accessories like belts, chains, etc.
Be a Regular Yogi: Whilst early mornings are ideal, choose your time according to your schedule. Most importantly, practise regularly.
Stay Light: It is best practised on an empty or light stomach. Also it is advisable to consume approximately 4 litres of water per day to flush out the toxins.
Warm-up: A gentle or light warm up by stretching and bending the body limbs and muscles is beneficial before the yoga exercise.
Keep Smiling: Keeping a smile on your face helps relax the body and mind. A calm mind helps you push your limits.
Challenge Your Limits: Keep challenging and stretching your limits on a daily basis.
Relax and Recharge: Relaxation helps you recharge and reinvigorate so relax at regular intervals.
Yoga has huge benefits and not everyone experiences all or the same results. Some of them are:
Holistic Health. In other words, it promotes a healthy mind in a healthy body. You are truly healthy when you are not just physically fit but also mentally and emotionally well balanced. The right breathing technique, proper postures and meditation helps in achieving this.
Weight loss. In today’s image and health conscious society, loss of weight is a huge demand. Sun Salutations or Surya Namaskar energises the body as you stretch and strengthen all of its major muscle groups. Also, breathing exercises known as Kapalbhati, ("Kapal" means forehead and "bhati" means shining) are helpful for weight loss.
Stress relief. The ill effects of this fast paced world are stress and tension. A few minutes of yoga during the day can be a great way to get rid of stress in both the body and mind which accumulates in a day. Yoga postures, pranayama and meditation are effective techniques to release stress.
Inner peace. Many of us today chase peace within ourselves, which is easily achieved with Yoga which calms a disturbed mind.
Some of the other benefits of yoga include:
Greater Awareness: Yoga helps bring about greater awareness and consciousness of mind and body.
Better Relationships: Awareness helps you understand, acknowledge and improve relationships which in turn makes you a better individual.
Increased Energy: With the body and mind invigorated, your energy levels increases.
Better Flexibility: The flexibility of your body is enhanced whist the agility of the mind increases with Yoga.
Some of the common terms in Yoga:
Asana —A position or stance in yoga.
Dyana —meaning meditation.
Hatha yoga — This form uses postures, meditation and breathing techniques.
Meditation —A technique of focusing on an object, sound, breath, movement, breath which increases the awareness of the present moment and reduces stress, helps relaxation and enhances spiritual growth.
Pranayama — The technique of breathing correctly and deeply.
Some of the Yoga forms:
It is a gentle and basic form of Yoga that requires you to hold each pose for a couple of breaths. It is derived from the Sanskrit term “hatha” actually which refers to any yoga form that teaches physical postures.
The term “vinyasa” refers to “arranging something in a special way,” like yoga poses for example. This form coordinates movement and breath together in a graceful manner, often with background music. The pace can be quick which increases the pulse and heart rate.
This is at a slightly advanced level to Vinyasa as the postures are held for longer durations and demands precision and details along with the body alignment in each pose. Props like blankets, straps, rope walls, yoga blocks, are some of the tools in this yoga type. It can be practiced at any age and helps in healing injuries.
This is a more tedious yet orderly form comprising 6 series of specifically sequenced yoga poses which cause you to flow and breathe with each pose and helps build internal heat. The poses are repeated in the same order every time.
If you like perspiring, this practice is great for you. It is a 90 minute sequence, held in a room heated to approximately 105 degrees with 40% humidity, and consists of a specific series of 26 poses with 2 breathing exercises. Since it is strenuous and combined with heat, it can be exhausting so hydration of the body becomes imperative.
This yoga form too is conducted in a heated room but not constrained to the 26 poses. The heat may be conducive to moving deeper into some poses. Be careful to not overstretch!
One of the advanced yoga forms which involve kriyas, repetitive physical work along with intense breathing whilst chanting, singing or meditating. It helps break through internal barriers releasing new untapped energy that lies dormant and escalating you to a higher level of awareness.
This is a great exercise to help calm and balance body and mind. It is designed to target the deeper connective tissues and fascia, restoring elasticity. The poses are held for several minutes. Instead of actively flexing the muscles, props aid the body release into the posture. It helps to stretch and unwind.
Props like blankets, bolsters and yoga blocks help support each pose, whilst the mellow slow-moving exercise which has longer holds, offers the body the opportunity to delve into the parasympathetic nervous system, allowing for greater relaxation and peace. This Yoga type is of immense help to those suffering from insomnia and/or facing anxiety issues.
"Now breathe in slowly. And breathe out. Inhale. Exhale. Very slowly open your eyes and face reality. Feel the sensation of peace, calm and tranquility."
Since Yoga is not a mystery anymore, we highly recommend you try a class!
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