By Dr Manoj Kutteri, Wellness Director, Atmantan Wellness Centre
“Yoga is like music. The rhythm of the body, the melody of the mind and the harmony of the soul creates the symphony of life” -B.K.S Iyengar
In our busy, stressful daily routine, amidst the hustle of work, we often let things that matter fade into the noise. Our minds, are constantly on a move but our bodies are often not. We have tried those tiresome diet plans and all kinds of fasting, went for a walk but kept thinking about that meeting we have tomorrow, all with minimum results and even lesser benefits.
However, in the wake of the recent pandemic that envelopes the globe and has brought with it the sudden flip in the way of life as we know it, it’s more important now, than ever to keep your body healthy. The pandemic is almost like a wakeup call, to start building up our immunity, to take a step towards a healthier lifestyle. Staying fit does not necessarily translate to achieving the perfect body or having the best pair of abs. Fitness, contrary to popular belief, is an amalgamation of a healthy mind, body and soul. Yoga, can help us achieve just that!
Yoga is considered as one of the most important tools for health for people of all ages. The mere fact that it keeps us young, supple and immune to various lifestyle related diseases has inspired many to get into the practice of yoga regularly. As a 4000-year-old practice, Yog or Yoga, is not only a catalyst in our journey to fitness but also interconnects the mind, the body and the soul.
A great mode of relaxation, meditation is an integral part of Yoga. It helps keep an individual centred and has proven to improve concentration as well as reduce stress.
The fundamental benefits of yoga are increased flexibility, balance of body mind and emotions, and improved body awareness.
Ageing process usually is associated with a natural decline in our memory, concentration, agility, flexibility, body balance and also sharpness of mind and cognition. Yoga helps to improve these attributes of our body.
Regular practice of yoga can also positively impact our gene expression, cognitive function, and immune response and can counteract various diseases. Practicing yoga at early stages in life can bridge the gap between childhood and adolescence. Yoga helps them understand what’s going on, giving them time to step back from the everyday, and it helps them see themselves better.
Yoga is also the best tool to cope their changing moods. The breathing Exercises and guided dharana like visualization assist by reducing stress, teach coping techniques, and providing calmness and acceptance. The ability to manage their mood changes themselves, for the child will allow them to better their learning and to participate in educational and daily routines more effectively.
“Yoga is like music. The rhythm of the body, the melody of the mind, and the harmony of the soul creates the symphony of life.” B.K.S. Iyengar
Creates a self-awareness of your own body
Increases the energy levels for the day to day activities
Improves concentration and focusing
Helps manage the weight within limits
boosts self-esteem and confidence
makes your body flexible and fit
makes you a good decision maker
Acts as a stress buster
Strikes a balance between body and mind
makes you compassionate to peers
Improves mood and cognitive functioning
Promotes better posture
Other important benefits of Yoga are…
Fitness for All: It’s no secret that Yoga is the most beneficial workout there is. You can acclimatize yourself with this fitness form at your own pace and comfort level. The practice has no age bar and provides the perfect series of movement for everyone! Be it a teenager still understanding their body or their wiser counterparts, Yoga deals with being fit from within and focuses holistically on the body and its problems.
Health benefits:Most times, Yoga and flexibility become synonymous, and rightly so. However, it not only the magic of doing a split or backbend, you will notice a gradual decline in joint pains and muscular aches. Not only that, yoga helps us build stronger muscles that help us in conditions like arthritis and back pain. Postures like downward facing dog (Adho Mukha Svanasana) and upward facing dog (Urdhva Mukha Svanasana) better your bone health focusing on your arm area and keep osteoporosis at bay.
Breathe well: Most of the Yoga aasanas depend on your breathing. Exercises like the Pranayamas’ anulom vilom, engage your breath in a more conscious way, something we don’t focus on normally. While focusing on these breathing exercises we land up managing stress effectively and in a more conscious manner. Especially for people with asthma or other chronic lung diseases, these breathing exercises make a huge difference in exercising the lungs and thereby aiding in their healthier functioning.
Get that sound sleep: If the sudden change in lifestyle has affected one thing universally, it’s our sleeping patterns. Even on a regular day, we face a great deal of difficulty in falling asleep. Various restorative asaanas such as Savasana, yoga nidra etc. provide the relaxation your nervous system needs. Just sleep, however is not the main objective, but it is deep slumber that these yogic practices ensure– a great sleep which recharges the entire system and has you feeling fresh and lively to start your day.
Mindfulness: One very important and often overlooked aspect of yoga is mindfulness. The practice makes an individual more aware- of themselves, of their surroundings. One mindfully makes conscious choices to eat healthy and focus on the part of their body that needs recovery. Daily practice of Yoga makes keeps your mind agile and helps it focus on one thing at a time, as a result- less distractions and more productivity!
So where can one start?
Here are some basic aasanas of Yoga (for beginners) you can start with today…
1. Tree pose (Vrikshasana)
The tree posture is an excellent practice for training your body to balance. It strengthens the thigh and calf muscles, torso, and groin. This pose is an excellent remedy for flat feet and also helps alleviate leg pains. It’s also an excellent practice to balance the hormonal system.
2. Triangle pose (Trikonasana)
If done properly and consistently, there are many benefits to triangle pose: Stretches legs, muscles around the knee, ankle joints, hips, groin muscles, hamstrings, calves, shoulders, chest and spine. Strengthens legs, knees, ankles, abdominals, obliques and back. Stimulates function of abdominal organs. Relieves stress.
3. Bow pose (Dhanurasana)
Dhanurasana (Bow Pose) Open the heart, boost prana flow and lighten the mental load with a backbend or two. Dhanurasana is known to promote flexibility of the spine, tone the internal organs, increase energy and counteract depression. Dhanurasana is highly recommended for pre-teens as the digestive issues are very common among them. Also this helps in improving the gut health.
4. Locust pose (Salabhasana)
Shalabasana is beneficial in strengthening and increasing the flexibility of the entire spine. It is a ‘must do’ pose for those suffering from back-related ailments. This helps one to gain strong back and helps the teens especially during long sitting in the school and at home.
5. Downward facing dog pose (Adho mukha svanasana)
Downward Facing Dog or the Adho mukha śvānāsana, is the downward facing dog pose that relieves stress, stretches the hamstrings and calves, strengthens hands and legs, and energizes the body. Set yourself for the pose with your hands and knees on the floor. This also helps in building the core muscles and helps in gut health
6. Warrior pose (Virabhadrasana)
Virabhadrasana or the Warrior Pose is a graceful stance commemorating the exploits of a great warrior called Virabhadra, a mythological character created by Lord Shiva. If you are an early riser, practicing the pose in the morning is ideal. Hold the beginner level Vinyasa Yoga pose for about 20 seconds on each leg. It tones your arms, legs, and lower back. With the lack of physical activity in their daily routines, teens experience a strange stiffness in their spines. Virabhadrasana will conquer this stiffness and prepare your child for battle. Try the warrior pose for peace for it brings courage and victory.
7. Cobra pose (Bhujangasana)
A mood regulator, this pose helps you breathe better and makes you flexible. It is the perfect remedy for digestion problems. If your Pre-teenager suffers from asthma, sinusitis, or cramps, bhujangasana is the ideal exercise.
8. Child’s pose (Balasana)
The child’s pose stretches your back muscles, hips, thighs, and ankles. Proper practice of this asana can help alleviate backache. This pose is great for gastric discomfort as well and it especially relaxes the body and helps you sleep better.