Yoga, the ancient Indian Science has many benefits for mind, body and spirit, including reducing stress, improving sleep and helping to create a more balanced life.
All right. That is something we probably know already. But it has other benefits as well – it helps you to acquire more realistic perceptions of your body and to replace obsessions about external appearance with new respect for your body’s inner structure and functioning.
In other words, Yoga can help you to improve your perception about yourself. Healthcare professionals talk about low self esteem and how in extreme cases it can cause serious psychological issues like BDD.
Body Dysmorphic Disorder (BDD):
Body Dysmorphic Disorder is defined as a mental disorder in which people are very preoccupied with what they believe to be a flaw in their physical appearance. Though often hidden, BDD can cause severe emotional and social problems. Body dysmorphic disorder usually begins with the person noticing that they are not as beautiful or attractive as others. Often, people with BDD will want to cover up their perceived flaw by using make-up or by wearing clothing that covers over their body. The thoughts of appearance may cause anxiety and distress leading to a preoccupation with the “flaw.”
Yoga has helped some persons with BDD acquire more realistic perceptions of their bodies and to replace obsessions about external appearance with new respect for their body’s inner structure and functioning.
Now that we have covered what Yoga can do to your health, appearance and perception, we will get to the brass tacks.
What is yoga?
Yoga is an ancient Indian practice that combines physical poses, breathing and meditation. The goal of yoga is to create balance in the body and mind. Yoga can be a great way to reduce stress and anxiety, and improve your overall quality of life.
Traditionally Yoga has 4 paths :
- Hatha Yoga – The path leading to the control of body and mind through Asanas (Postures) and Pranayama (breathing techniques) Hatha – denotes the union of Sun and the Moon.
Raja Yoga – The transformation of the energy of body and mind to Spiritual Energy.
- Karma Yoga – Action Yoga – practice of this path of yoga enables one to achieve eventual higher level.
- Bhakti Yoga – Prayer and devotional path to achieve oneness with God
- Jnana Yoga – Path of Wisdom and Knowledge – to seek God in everything .
Yoga as we know was originally conceived as a set of principles to quieting the mind. The first text about Yogas was written by the sage Patanjali. His Yoga Sutras (threads of Yoga) talks about the 8 limbs:
Eight Limbs of Yoga:
- Yama – Moral commandments similar to the 10 Commandments
- Niyama – Moral Directives
- Asanas – Poses to enhance balance, flexibility and overall health
- Pranayama – the techniques of breathing – “When the prana (breath) and the manas (mind) have been absorbed, an indefinable joy ensues.”
- Pratyahara – control of the senses
- Dharana – Concentration and Focus of the mind
- Dhyana – Achieving a blissful state by meditation
- Samadhi – Eventual destination of the travel called as Life.
Prana—Basic life energy found in the elements.
Yoga—System of body and breathing exercises.
From now, we will concentrate on the positive benefits of Yoga without any Sanskrit words. After all it is like driving a car. You don’t need to know about the automobile engineering terms in order to drive your car. Some of the Sanskrit intonations (they call that as Slokams) often refer to the God as Shiva.
You don’t need to subscribe to the Hindu pantheon of Gods to practice Yoga. Many adherents of Yoga practices sometimes talk about the supposed superiority of Vegetarian food over other diets. For the hardcore meat eaters, it is not essential that you need to follow the eastern Satvic food. We adopt only what is strictly necessary for our needs and discard any other practices – dietary, religious or social.
How does yoga reduce stress?
Yoga makes increasingly profound forays of control and command into the process of breathing.
There are many ways in which yoga can help to reduce stress. First, by practicing yoga, people learn to focus on their breath and to focus on the present moment. This helps to clear the mind and to quiet the inner chatter that often contributes to stress. Additionally, yoga postures help to stretch and relax the body, releasing tension and stress.
How does yoga improve quality of life?
Yoga has been shown to improve quality of life in a number of ways. First and foremost, it can help reduce stress levels. When we’re stressed, our body is in a state of constant fight-or-flight, which can take a toll on our mental and physical health. Yoga helps to bring us back to a state of balance, leading to improved focus, productivity and creativity. Additionally, yoga can help improve sleep quality, increase energy levels and promote feelings of happiness and well-being.
What are some other benefits of yoga?
Yoga has many benefits that go beyond just reducing stress. In fact, regular yoga practice can help improve your overall physical and emotional health. Here are some other benefits you can expect from a regular yoga practice:
- improved cardiovascular health
- stronger, more flexible muscles
- better breathing and circulation
- increased energy levels
- improved sleep quality
- reduced anxiety and depression symptoms
- better focus and concentration
Now that we have covered the ‘Why’s we can move on to the ‘How’s:
Let us start with Pranayama – the art of breathing in Yogic way: The deep breathing technique explained here is specifically designed to expand the lungs, promote deep breathing, and reduce stress. Pranayama contains an element of pratyahara, as we draw our attention inward through the breath. Pratyahara is the process of observation or withdrawal from the external world. It is a process of turning inwards and observing one’s internal landscape with greater clarity, by focusing on one’s breath and body sensations.
Yogic Breath: Let us make one thing clear. Ideally you need a Yoga Guru ( an expert with years of practicing Yoga) to teach the different poses (Asanas) which might look like body contortions for the uninitiated. I learnt under a Guruji who had been teaching Yoga for about 6 decades. He told me that he had never been to a hospice in the last 60 years. But if you have the patience and persistence you can learn anything short of launching a ballistic missile.
Now we see how we can do the Yogic breath (explained in a simple way) :
This breathing technique enables you to use all your respiratory muscles and helps to expand the lungs fully thereby accelerating the oxygenation.
Start by placing one hand on the chest and the other hand on your abdomen (this is to help you feel the expansion of your rib cage). Now as you start inhaling, expand the abdomen and then feel the expansion in your chest rib cage. Hold your breath for a count of 5 and slowly exhale. Begin your exhalation by relaxing your abdomen and then your rib cage. Contract your abdomen to actively force your lungs to empty. Repeat the inhalation and exhalation for about two minutes in the initial stages.
Once you get the hang of the inhalation/exhalation process you can remove the hands.
As is usual with TargetWoman, we will give you a short quick way to do. We are working on a Video for a simplified Yoga and Balance.