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Our health constitutes our physical, mental, emotional and spiritual health. To live an enriching life, we need to nurture and care for our own well-being. When all these aspects are combined together, we can call this holistic well-being. Yoga is the ancient and divine science that takes care of our whole being.
When we are physically fit and active, it directly plays a role in keeping us agile and alert. With high energy throughout the day, we are bound to radiate cheer and handle the day with ease. This is a reflection that our mental and emotional states are calm, restrained and aware. With all these different factors nourished, we can find ourselves in alignment with our highest goals and purpose.
Here are five ways in which the practice of yoga can benefit all these facets of your being.
Start with sukshma vyayama or subtle exercises. These consist of gentle rotation of neck, arms, wrists, hips and ankles to slowly warm up the joints. Walk around briskly and stretch and mobilise your muscles. This will prepare your body for practice and keep you safe from practice-related injuries.
1. Samasthiti (Mountain pose)
- It prepares your body and calms your mind
- It improves overall body posture
- Creates self-awareness
How to do:
- Stand with your feet together
- Stretch your arms out beside your body and allow them to hover without making contact
- Gently close eyes
- Relax the body
Word of advice: Try to balance your body weight equally on both feet without leaning onto one.
2. Surya Namaskar (Sun salutation)
Surya Namaskar has an array of health benefits, which include combating insomnia, regulating menstrual cycle, helping in weight loss and improving the respiratory, circulatory, reproductive and the endocrine system, to name a few.
Surya namaskar comprises of a total of 24 counts, done with 12 steps for each side. As Surya Namaskar represents the energy of the Sun, which is said to be contained in the right side of the body, it begins with the right leg. Repeat the same twelve steps with the left side to finish one complete cycle. Start with a minimum of 4-5 cycles and increase it gradually.
How to do:
1. Pranam Asana (The Prayer Pose)
2: Hastha Utanasana (Raised Arm Pose)
3: Padahastasana (Standing Forward Bend)
4: Ashwa Sanchalanasana (Equestrian Pose)
5: Santholanasana (Plank Pose)
6: Ashtanga Namaskar Asana (Eight Limbed Salutation)
7: Bhujangasana (Cobra Pose)
8: Adho Mukha Svanasana (Downward Dog Pose)
9: Ashwa Sanchalanasana (Equestrian Pose)
10: Padahastasana (Standing Forward Bend)
11: Hastha Uthanasana
12: Pranam Asana
Repeat the 12 steps with the other side to make one complete cycle.
3. Dhanurasana (Bow pose)
Dhanurasana is derived from two Sanskrit words, ‘Dhanur' meaning bow and ‘asana' meaning posture. This yoga asana helps strengthen the back and abdominal muscles, relieves menstrual pain, prevents constipation and lowers stress levels.
- Begin by lying down on your stomach
- Bend your knees and hold your ankles with your palms
- Have a strong grip
- Lift your legs and arms as high as you can
- Look up and hold the posture for a while
4. Chakrasana (Wheel pose)
This yoga asana strengthens the nervous system, increases energy, promotes weight loss, improves lung health and lowers osteoporosis risk.
- Lie down on your back.
- Fold your legs at your knees and ensure that your feet are placed firmly on the floor.
- Bend your arms at the elbows with your palms facing the sky. Rotate your arms at the shoulders and place your palms on the floor on either side beside your head.
- Inhale, put pressure on your palms and legs and lift your entire body up to form an arch.
- Relax your neck and allow your head to fall gently behind.
Emotional & Mental Well-Being
1. Khand pranayama
How to do:
- As you inhale, divide your breath into two equal parts
- Without retaining the breath in your lungs, exhale twice
2. Anulom Vilom - Alternate nostril breathing
How to do:
- Gently close your right nostril with your thumb, inhale into your left nostril and close it, letting the breath out through the right nostril. Then inhale through your right, closing it to exhale only through your left. This makes one cycle.
Darpan dhyan, it is a meditation technique with a mirror.
- Builds self-confidence
- Provides a channel for questions
- Leads to clarity of mind
- Improves self-esteem
- Promotes self-reliance
- You can start your practice by reciting mantras to create powerful, divine energies for you.
How to do:
- Find a comfortable sitting posture like Sukhasana, Vajrasana, Ardha Padmasana or Padmasana
- Place a mirror in front of you. Keep it at eye level and at a distance of about 3 ft. away
- Practice looking at your reflection in the mirror and repeating any affirmations that you may have
- Engage in an inner monologue that is introspective in nature
Food plays a very important role in our lives. Practice compassion to yourself and to the world around you when it comes to your diet. Yoga and spirituality recommends a Sattvic lifestyle. While it is not advisable to centre your life around food, you should be able to relish your food and eat without guilt. Stay balanced even in your indulgences, and eat with awareness and gratitude.
Chanting of prayers and sutras
Universal positive affirmations:
- Confidential prayers and sutras that were practised by divine Masters and Siddhas belonging to the Himalayan lineage have now been shared with all of mankind. They have the power to transform the existence of our energies.
Om Gurubhyo Namaha
Om Guru Mandalaya Namaha
Om Maha Himalayaya Namaha
Om Siddho Hum- I am towards perfection of existence
Om Sangho Hum- I am part of a divine community
Om Anando Hum- I am the Bliss
Yogic asanas bring physical fitness into our lives, while pranayama and meditation affect our emotional and mental well-being and chanting of mantras etc. have a profound impact on our spiritual well-being. In order to lead a stress-free life, you can also imbibe the practices of walking and self-talking.
Walking is considered as a therapeutic activity that has benefits for both the mind as well as the body. Find a few minutes every day for a walk around your office or neighbourhood block. When you practise introspection and hold a conversation with yourself it will help you clear your mind for solutions.
Swami Vivekananda said, "Strength is the sign of vigor, the sign of life, the sign of hope, the sign of health, and the sign of everything that is good. As long as the body lives, there must be strength in the body, strength in the mind, strength in the hand". Apply these tips to attract goodness to your life, and be a witness to your transformation.