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Shumaila Afzal

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Hilal Her

Breathing is Exercising

June 2024

June 21st, The International Yoga Day focuses on practicing yoga for health, happiness, harmony and peace. It is deemed as a lifestyle for a better ‘You’. Yoga philosophy states that santosha, which means contentment, is a form of self-discipline thus, happier people do not have stress-free lives but know how to deal with hard times and tough circumstances. 



The word ‘Yoga’ is derived from the Sanskrit root ‘Yuj’, meaning ‘to join’ or ‘to unite’. Yoga is a spiritual discipline that focuses on bringing harmony between mind and body. It is simultaneously an art and science of healthy living. Yoga has been considered as an alternative to medical therapy while treating depression, stress, anxiety, and other mood disorders, as it has been known to create a greater sense of well-being, increase feelings of relaxation, and improve self-confidence. 
Historians and researchers have traced the origins of yoga back to a period spanning 5,000 to 10,000 years ago. The actual purpose of yoga was spiritual development practices to teach the body and mind to self-observe and become aware of their nature. Other purposes of yoga are to cultivate discernment, self-regulation, awareness, and higher consciousness in the individual. Yoga, an ancient practice and meditation, has become increasingly popular in today’s busy society. For many people, yoga provides a retreat from their chaotic lives. The goal during yoga practice is to challenge yourself physically, focusing on your breathing while your mind is calm.
While discussing happiness, it is decisive to mention that yoga lifts your mood by improving circulation in the endocrine glands. A persistent yoga practice enhances hormones’ functioning, which plays a key role in the composition of depression. This improves overall mood and reduces depression. Yoga increases your energy; besides improving sleep quality, relieving anxiety and stress, and revamping overall physical health. Cortisol, the stress hormone that is elevated when we experience heightened anxiety or stress and lowered when we are in a relaxed state of mind. Recent studies revealed that certain yoga poses reduce fatigue and lower cortisol levels which is beneficial in the improvement of mental health and quality of life. According to the Harvard Mental Health Letter, recent studies suggest that yoga can reduce the impact of stress, help with anxiety and depression, and be a self-soothing technique similar to meditation, relaxation, and exercise.
Most yoga asanas do not require special equipment and can be easily done at home. However, a yoga instructor is truly required to get proper training as in case of any wrong posture or movement, your tissues may rupture. You may later discontinue the use of an instructor once you become well-trained on basic yet intricate postures, techniques, and sequences. 
Yoga is the key to flexibility as your spine is flexible. To practice the various asanas and control your breathing while practicing yoga you only need space around yourself. You save the travel time required to attend the gym. You don’t feel the urge to bunk yoga sessions because of the ease it offers. 
Breathing Without Distraction
Yoga studios typically don’t have mirrors, as yoga gurus believe that mirrors are not only unnecessary but are even the enemy of proper yoga practice. This is so people can utterly focus on breathing and secondly, yoga practice should be preferably done in the open air just to inhale fresh air and exhale the stale. Yoga has become an integral part of the treatment of eating disorders and programs that promote positive body image and self-esteem.
Yoga is truly crave-able as the mind and body relaxes through various poses. With the calmness obtained from a yoga practice, people find that their lives benefit in numerous ways, including clear-headedness, accurate decision-making and feeling energized, with a calm mind. People desire to make other healthy lifestyle choices related to sleep, nutrition, and bad habits. It helps increase self-control and awareness. Brings increased self-worth and confidence. It is obvious that the effects obtained by practicing yoga can help answer many of the symptoms and issues a person may be suffering from. For most people, it will take the commitment and consistency of an ongoing practice to achieve the benefits of yoga in a lasting manner.
Anger Management
If you find yourself getting angry very often, yoga can help you manage your anger at work or at home. Yoga can help calm you down when you feel angry in the moment and manage your anger in the long term. The link between yoga and positive psychology is a strong one; although yoga started with a slightly different focus, it is now commonly practiced in the West as an attempt to boost well-being. Undoubtedly, well-being is a core topic in positive psychology, which explains the frequent use of yoga in exercises. Yoga should not be performed in a state of exhaustion, illness, or hurry. Women should refrain from regular yoga practice, especially asanas, during their specific days. Evade practicing yoga immediately after meals. Don’t shower, drink water, or eat food for 30 minutes after doing yoga. The best Yoga Apps may include Daily Yoga, Yoga Studio, Down Dog, Asana Rebel, Glo, Gaia, DDP Yoga, and Yoga Track Yoga.
Consistent yoga practice has been shown to reduce depressive symptoms. Anxiety can be reduced with yoga. Yoga has been shown to reduce schizophrenia symptoms in many trials. Yoga can enable eating disorder affectees to restore body control and change their mentality and eating habits. Yoga focuses on breath and mental concentration to boost spiritual vitality. Breathing and movement exercises can help PTSD sufferers manage stress and anxiety. A yogic lifestyle promotes balance, optimism, well-being, and joy. This practice integrates our physical, mental, and spiritual selves through postures. It promotes mental peace, physical health, and compassion. It advises on eating right, when, and what to avoid.
Yogi, who lived during the 15th century, stated that eating in moderation is a key part of yoga practice. People who practice yoga and are mindful eaters are more in tune with their bodies. They may be more sensitive to feelings of fullness and hunger cues. Researchers found that people who practiced yoga for at least 30 minutes 4 times a week for at least four years gained less weight during middle adulthood. People who were overweight lost weight. Overall, those who practiced yoga had lower body mass indexes than those who did not. Mindful eating can lead to a more positive relationship with food and eating. Ideally, a yogic diet would be rich in sattvic foods. Sattvik’s diet is purely vegetarian, including seasonal fresh fruit, fresh vegetables, sprouts, whole grains, pulses, dried nuts, seeds, legumes, mild spices, honey, fresh herbs, milk, and ghee
It is worth remembering that we don’t need to abandon how we live now to start living the Yogic Lifestyle. It comes down to small, incremental choices to act by our highest self, which means that we do our best to act with kindness and compassion to ourselves and those around us. Life will remain on its own terms, and there will still be hardships, anxiety, unexpected situations, and known and unknown fears.


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Shumaila Afzal

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