Inhale, exhale, deep inhalation, long exhalation, moving meditation, warming up your heart, coming home fluid and smooth — that’s my daily mantra as a yoga teacher. This ancient holistic healing practice awakens and connects you to the therapeutic energy within yourself, so you can achieve a blissful life, full of energy and boundless joy.
We already know that yoga has amazing impact that helps in gaining strength, improving flexibility, and easing aches and pains, but not many of us are aware of the gains that go beyond our yoga mat.
Controlling the Boss, Your Mind
Mental stress and burn out have become our daily complaints. But the good news is that when it comes to protecting your mind from the effects of depression and anxiety, yoga and meditation is a win-win game. The most powerful asset we all have is our mind, which if trained well, can guarantee enormous wealth. Researchers are exploring the mechanism through which yoga improves mood, emotion and memory — in short, our neural pathways. Studies suggest that yoga, just as well as other exercises, works gently yet forcefully to reset, reboot and rewire our nervous system leading to better mental and physical health.
All yoga poses are great for physical and mental health, specifically the ones that are focused on blood circulation towards your brain. Headstand, shoulder stand and legs-up-the-wall are extremely effective poses, as the blood flows towards the brain, which helps in revitalizing and energizing the brain cells. There is authentic data to support the notion that these poses are great for the regeneration of brain cells along with overall wellness. These poses bring your heart rate down and calm the mind as well.
Meditation is the ancient technique of taking control of your thoughts, beliefs and behaviour. Zikr is the ultimate ibadat in our religion, Islam. Focusing your mind on zikr and gratitude will not only bless you immensely but also enable you to control your thoughts, which in turn enables you to control your life.
Balance is the Key to Life
Yoga poses are built around the wisdom of balance and wellness. When we think about balance, we often envision doing a picture perfect shoulder stand, goddess pose or tree pose, but falls do not usually happen when you are standing still or in a steady state or pose, rather when you are moving, transitioning, or adjusting. The key to building balance, coordination, and preventing injury from falling as we age is in mastering transitions and developing coordination. A study conducted by University Neuromuscular Research Laboratory, Miami, explored the muscle utilization patterns of different yoga poses. The study focused on muscles, which are actually being used and their activeness during each pose. For example, in electromyography (EMG) study, which records electrical activity produced by skeletal muscles, the more activated the toes in standing poses, the more enhanced is the leg muscle control and balance, therefore, targeting the primary balance muscles. This kind of data fully supports yoga sequence and flow, and has scientifically proven it to increase balance and prevent falls. Regularly practicing yoga increases proprioception — the ability to feel what your body is doing and where it is in space, and improves balance. People with bad posture or dysfunctional movement patterns usually have poor proprioception, which has been linked to knee problems and back pain, quite common in elderly people. Better balance could mean fewer falls. For the elderly, this is a herald of more independence and delayed admission to a nursing home or never entering one at all. Yoga poses like tree pose, shoulder stand, crow pose or warrior flow lead us to find our balance and happiness.
The breathing techniques of yoga amazingly slow down the mental loops of frustration, regret, anger, fear, and desire that can cause stress. Stress is related to hormonal imbalance like polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), which is quite common these days and since stress is implicated in so many health problems, from migraines and insomnia to digestive diseases like irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), MS, eczema, high blood pressure, and heart attacks, etc., if you learn to quiet your mind, you may be likely to live longer, healthier and happier. Yoga poses like butterfly pose, plough pose, shoulder stand, fish pose, etc., are great exercises for hormonal balance. The butterfly pose activates the hormones of the reproductive system. The plough pose and shoulder stand are great for thyroid glands, detoxification and glowing skin. Another great pose for thyroid gland is the fish pose. It is a great heart opening sequence as well. The pineal gland is a small gland located in our brain that regulates melatonin production, a hormone that helps regulate sleep and wakefulness. A great yoga position to induce sleep and relax your heart is the legs-up-the-wall pose. There are many other benefits of this position as well, like calming the nervous system, increasing the blood flow, relieving headache, stress etc. Look for the correct position on YouTube. We all must practice it before going to bed for at least five minutes to bring our blood pressure down, relaxing the heart, inducing sleep and increasing blood circulation towards the face to bring a youthful glow.
It is no secret that an energetic and blissful yoga session is a spiritual experience, taking you to happy mental places. Movement is the most powerful and yet underrated medicine for the body, as stillness is for your mind. Yoga means addition of vitality to life, rejuvenation and calmness to body, mind and soul. Yoga is no magic but daily practice will help you see and feel its magic! HH
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