Yoga moves are part of an ancient holistic approach to keep the mind and body working optimally. Unlike other forms of exercise, yoga does not just help you to lose a few inches here and there but it also has innumerable mental and physical benefits.
A lot of people make the grave mistake of equating the asanas (yoga postures) with flexibility training.
However, yoga not only aids in enhancing muscle flexibility but it also helps in keeping musculoskeletal ailments at bay and increases overall body strength.
The core principle of yoga emphasizes the importance of proper breathing; in the respiratory system only the nasal cavity is capable of purifying the air that goes into the lungs. The mucus and tiny hair help to trap impurities.
However, a lot of people have a tendency of inhaling and exhaling through their mouth which often deprives the lungs of pure oxygen as particulate matter freely enters the respiratory system.
Filling the lungs to maximum capacity is also crucial to ensure that all parts of the body get oxygen, so yoga stresses on deep breathing. It's no wonder then that most people who try out yoga report feeling energized and more active.
When I started including yoga moves in my exercise regimen, I noticed a distinct improvement in mental clarity and cognitive functions. For a while, I was not sure if this was attributed to the yoga moves that I practiced every day or I was going through a good spell.
However, a little research on how yoga moves impact the body, brain and mind proved that the asanas, which are part of an ancient principle, are designed to take the body to its peak and bring it down gently to a very relaxed state. This not only helps to burn fat but also your stress and negative energy.
Yoga is probably the only form of physical activity that can impact the functioning of the pituitary glands. The endocrine system controls the release of hormones in the body and one of the neurotransmitters secreted in the body is cortisol, the stress hormone.
Cortisol was included in the human physiology to help our jungle-roaming ancestors in case of fight or flight situations. For instance, if they were to suddenly come across a hungry lion.
However, while there may be no big cats in the urban jungle, the stupendous increase in work and home related stress can cause the over secretion of cortisol in the body and this in turn can have horrific ramifications in the form of chronic ailments.
As a matter of fact, a lot of disorders such as high blood pressure, cardio vascular maladies and some autoimmune ailments such as hyperthyroid can directly be linked to stress. Since yoga helps to relieve stress, it also aids in preventing the onset of these illnesses.
One of the biggest advantages of incorporating yoga moves into your lifestyle is that there is no age barrier for practicing yoga. You can just do yoga or you can incorporate the asanas in your exercise regimen, which includes a host of workout types.
Yoga for children: Learning the asanas is a lot of fun for children and it helps them to develop self-discipline. The yoga moves help to enhance mental and physical health and aid in improving memory, concentration and coordination. Regular yoga practice can help youngsters to retain their natural, physical flexibility for years.
Yoga for teens: Yoga moves can give your teens the strength to stay away from negative influences and it instills in them a culture of healthy living. The asanas help to retain youthful looks and flexibility.
Yoga for seniors: Older people will find that yoga helps to retain mobility and prevents health concerns with the joints, arthritis, spondylosis and poor circulation. It also helps to retain mental dexterity and cognitive functionality.
Yoga during pregnancy: Yoga is the perfect workout form for pregnant women; because it encourages passive movement and is not entirely aerobic in nature, it does not stress the body but still enhances core strength and endurance. Yoga moves also prevent common pregnancy related issues such as backache, weight gain and depression.
Yoga for professionals: A busy work life often takes a toll on the health of professionals and yoga moves can be used to counter most work related concerns such as back ache due to long hours spent in front of the computer, eye problems, tension and more.
Yoga for a sportsperson: Yoga compliments other forms of exercise such as running, swimming, cycling, jogging, walking etc. It targets all the muscles in the body including those in the back, hands, wrist, stomach, hips, buttocks, neck, leg, feet, wrists etc. The asanas help to increase stamina and endurance, making yoga the perfect form of workout for athletes and people into sports.
Vajra-asana: (The Posture of a Diamond): This is one of the simplest yogic postures; it is well suited for meditation and improves digestion. To perform the vajra-asana, start by sitting on your knees with your feet together. Your buttocks should rest on your upturned heels. Now, separate the knees to reach the width of your hips.
Place your hands on your thighs with your palms down and this is vajra- asana. Breathe gently, inhaling through the nostrils and exhaling through the mouth; maintain this position for at least three minutes even when using it to rest between other seated asana.
Bala- asana: (The posture of a child): This is another simple, seated posture that helps you to relax and works well when used to counter any asana that requires you to arch your spine backwards. To get into the right position for this asana, start with the vajra- asana. Inhale deeply and when exhaling lower your chest to your knees while swinging your hands forward.
Your foreheads should touch the floor and your arms should be forward; now, bring your arms back to your sides, so that your hands are resting at the side of your feet with your palms up. Breathe gently as for the vajra-asana and hold the posture for one to two minutes before returning to the upright position. The posture should be done at least twice for maximum effect.
Ardha Chandra- asana: (The posture of the half moon): This is a basic stretching asana that helps to enhance flexibility and strengthens the core muscles in the lower back, the tendons around the spine and the muscle tissue in the neck.
This asana will take some practice; however, it is imperative to not force your body into a position. If you feel pain, you are either not doing the asana properly or you have stretched your body beyond its limit. The ardha chandra- asana helps to reduce lower back pain and spinal concerns.
To perform the ardha chandra- asana, start with your feet touching each other from heel to toe. Your back should be straight and arms should be pressed against the sides of your body with your palms inwards. Now, bring the hands together with your palms touching each other at your chest.
Inhale deeply and raise your hands above your head while keeping the palms together. Arch your spine backwards; also, tilt your neck back. Make sure that your knees are held straight. Your arms should still be alongside your head and neck and hold the posture for a minute. Then, go back to the upright position
Matsya- asana:(The posture of the fish): The matsya-asana is another stretching exercise that benefits the chest and heart. The posture helps to relieve congestion in the respiratory system. The position helps to drain the sinus cavity when the neck is stretched back. It also helps to stimulate the thyroid and the parathyroid glands.
To practice the matsya- asana, lie flat with your back rested against the floor. While keeping your buttocks on the floor, inhale and raise the upper body including the shoulders, upper back, upper arms and head. Your back will be arched in this position with the chest raised up.
Tilt your head back so that the top of your head touches the floor. Now, raise the elbows to bring your hands together, with your palms touching and fingers pointing straight up. Hold until you inhale or breathe gently to maintain the posture for longer. Repeat two or three times.
There are very few exercise routines that can simultaneously address physical as well as mental issues while offering you a well-rounded workout. Because yogic postures can vary depending on your specific health concerns and your goals, it is best to seek the advice of a trainer or learn the postures from a reliable source.SELF IMPROVEMENT PROGRAM › MIND & BODY › YOGA