Yoga can help you manage stress, and the best part is it does not take a lot of time. You don't have to spend hours on the mat or invest years in learning complicated postures. Instead, by simply taking out a few minutes every day, you can reduce your stress levels and improve your quality of life. A key component of yoga is that it empowers you to manifest these changes in your breath.
By changing the speed, pace, and quality of your breath, you can calm down your nervous system, thereby moving your body from a state of stress to one of relaxation. Namita Piparaiya, Yoga and Ayurveda Lifestyle Specialist, Founder -- Yoganama, shares three simple techniques that can help you:
1. Start with the Palming Technique
Palming is very useful for eye fatigue and stress from looking at a screen for long hours. Rub your palms together to find some heat, and then gently cup your eyes, creating a hollow dark space around them. Relax your forehead, eyes, and neck as you hold this for a few breaths.
You can follow this up with a gentle head massage, particularly focusing on the eyebrows, temples, and forehead. Then bring your hands in front of you as you open your eyes with a few gentle blinks looking directly at your palms. If you're doing this outdoors, you can also look far into the distance. Taking a few moments to look outside, preferably at some greenery or standing by the window and looking outside in natural light, is also very helpful.
2. Do Some Deep Breathing
When you are emotional, stressed, or physically tired, your breath becomes shallow and loses its rhythm. The good thing is that this is a two-way street. By consciously relaxing your breath and bringing it to an even pace or rhythm, you can reduce your stress levels. This is important because we spend a lot of our modern-day life in a stressed and hyper state, making it even more necessary to make time for activities that counter stress. Deep belly breathing or Diaphragmatic is just the technique you need as you can do it anytime you're on an empty stomach. Just remember not to become overly conscious of the breath and start forcing it to breathe deeply. By paying attention to the breath, you will naturally slow it down. Immerse yourself in the beautiful experience for 3 minutes, three times a day.
3. Practice Stillness
After some deep breathing, the mind naturally comes into a calmer state, and that's a great time to practice meditation. You can do this by choosing an object of meditation; it could be a deity, a symbol, an affirmation, a mantra, a chant, or even your breath. And try to spend at least 3 minutes observing the nature of your object, introspecting on its meaning, or simply trying to maintain your attention on it. For example, if you've chosen the breath as your object of meditation, try to take five slow breaths without getting distracted. If you do get distracted, which is very normal, start again at one and repeat till you've taken those five breaths with your attention intact.
In this way, you can integrate yoga into your everyday life. These techniques are simple, don't require any equipment, and can be done anywhere. But they are immensely powerful, and you will start to see the difference within a couple of weeks of practice.
Read More► Yoga For Pregnant Women
Pregnancy is one of the most beautiful experiences of a woman's life. It is a time when a woman is overwhelmed with different emotions happiness, excitement, anxiety all at the same time. During this phase, a woman can also experience frequent mood swings, thanks to the hormonal changes taking place in the body. Fatigue and discomfort too, become permanent companions owing to the physical changes occurring.
Yoga offers holistic benefits to expecting women helping them to keep the body healthy and mind, calm and relaxed. Yoga prepares women for labour and delivery as well as assists them in recovering better post-delivery. Rajeev Rajesh, Chief Yoga Officer, Jindal Naturecure Institute, shares five yoga asanas that can bring multiple benefits to pregnant women.
How to do: Stand erect and keep the feet a little wide apart. Interlock the fingers, raise the hands up and turn the palms upward. Take a deep breath. While breathing out, bend from the waist to the right, keeping the elbows straight and feet firmly on the ground. Hold the posture and breathe normally. Feel the stretch on the sides. While inhaling, gently come back to the original position. Repeat on the other side.
Benefits: This asana stretches the waistline and improves the flexibility of the spine. It provides relief in back pain and constipation, a common problem during pregnancy.
How to do: Standing erect and spread the legs 3-4 feet apart. Turn the right foot 90 degrees outwards and the left foot by 15e inward. While inhaling, raise the arms sideways so that they are parallel to the ground and in line with the shoulders. While exhaling, bend the right knee and turn your gaze towards the right. Gently push down on the pelvis and maintain this position with normal breathing. Inhale and gently come up and while exhaling, bringing the hands to the sides. Repeat on the other side.
Benefits: It helps develop balance, releases stress from the arms and shoulders and relaxes the mind and the body. It is also an excellent asana to strengthen the lower back, legs and arms.
How to do: Stand on the knees and keep them a little apart. Bend forward and place the palms below the shoulders and in front of the knees on the ground. While inhaling, lift the head up and push the lower back down. While exhaling, lift the back up and bend the head down. Repeat the practice ten times.
Benefits: This asana stretches the spine and makes it flexible. This helps support more weight during pregnancy. It also tones the abdominal organs and improves blood circulation.
How to do: Sit straight with the legs stretched forward. Bend the knees and join the soles of the feet together. Interlock the fingers and hold the feet firmly. Bring the heels close to your genitals. Breathe in deeply. Keep the elbows on the thighs. While exhaling, gently press the thighs and knees down towards the floor and then allow it to move up.
Benefits: This asana gives a good stretch to the inner thighs and pelvic area. This helps improve the flexibility and strength of the pelvic and hip region. If practiced regularly, it will facilitate a smooth delivery.
How to do: Lie down straight on the back. Keep the legs slightly apart and hands slightly away from the body. Turn the palms up. Gently close the eyes and relax the body completely. Keep breathing gently and slowly. Do not allow any thoughts to come into your mind. Stay in this position for 10 minutes.
Benefits: The asana helps to achieve a deep, meditative state that fosters the repair of tissues and cells, relieving stress. It is also a good practice to reduce blood pressure, insomnia and anxiety.
Finally, a word of advice: It is crucial for pregnant women to remember that they should not indulge in asanas that require them to lie flat on the stomach. Also, inverted and forward bending asanas must be avoided as they might put pressure on the abdomen. Always Practice yoga asanas under the supervision of expert.
Read More► Meditation has benefits in cognitive impairment, early Alzheimer's
New Delhi, July 5 (IANS) Meditation has emerged as an efficacious practice which improves attention, awareness and psychological health, say researchers.
Researchers from the Shri Chitra Tirunal Institute of Medical Sciences and Technology, Thiruvananthapuram, have shown that supervised mindfulness meditation benefits patients with mild cognitive impairment and early Alzheimer's disease in terms of memory and orientation language and visual-spatial perception.
It has potential as a therapeutic approach for management of cognitive decline, associated with neurological disorders, they say.
Mild cognitive impairment & early form of Alzheimer's is a condition in which memory deteriorates, but a person remains functionally independent. Among several treatment options, meditation is one non-invasive and cost-effective approach to bring relief to such patients.
The team of SCTIMST Additional Professor, Ramshekhar N. Menon, Dr C. Kesavadas, Dr Bejoy Thomas, and Dr Aley Alexander (all SCTIMST) and Dr S. Krishnan (Government Medical College, Thiruvanthapuram) conducted a two-phased study with separate objectives for each phase.
The first phase was designed to explore neural correlations of mindfulness and study regions of brain activation enhancements among seasoned mindfulness practitioners and healthy non-practitioners through Imaging Biomarkers, which is the first of its kind multimodality imaging work in dementia from India.
The second phase was planned to verify the changes in cognitive performance of patients with MCI prior to, as well as subsequent to, mindfulness training.
The team carried out cognitive retraining weekly for one hour and provided feedback on the performance of the retraining tasks at the end of each session.
The patients were given home-based tasks for practicing during the rest of the days.
The researchers also developed a 10 week mindfulness meditation-based programme for patients called 'Mindfulness Unified Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (MUCBT)' training.
The results of initial resting-state fMRI indicated that compared to age-matched healthy subjects who did no form of meditation practice in their routine lifestyle, mindfulness practitioners establish increased connectivity, based on resting-state brain activity in medial prefrontal cortex and right anterior insula, regions of the brain which are concerned with emotion, stress response, attention as well as response of an individual to environmental stimuli and behaviour.
The results of the second phase suggest that mindfulness can activate neural correlates coupled with cognition, especially attention, behaviour, stress response, and reaction or adaptation to the environment, among other functions, and it suggests that consistent practice of mindfulness can mediate internal as well as external awareness and can subserve psychological and cognitive health.
Further, a rigorous mindfulness-based intervention programme has the potential to improve or stabilize cognitive functioning as well as the quality of life among patients suffering from MCI and early Alzheimer's disease, the researchers said.
Read More ► Yoga and meditation reduce chronic pain: Study
Yoga provides one with various physical, mental health and well-being benefits; it requires a tiny investment in equipment compared to other forms of exercise.
A yoga mat is one of the most versatile essentials you need to have, especially in these challenging times where the predictability of gyms opening or closing is incalculable. Practicing on a yoga mat allows one to properly perform different poses while remaining safe and free from unnecessary stresses such as slipping or experiencing pain from uncomfortable body support.
Whether you are a hardcore yogic or someone about to embark on your fitness journey, a Yoga Mat will help you elevate your performance and keeps pains and aches at bay.
Pallav Bihani, Founder Of Boldfit, shares some tips on how to select the best Yoga Mat for home workouts:
There are several yoga mats in the market with varying thicknesses. You need to factor in comfort, portability, and safety before you narrow down on few products. If you love the extra cushioning or are purchasing for senior citizens, opt for mats with 10-12 mm thickness. While if you are someone who loves to connect with the ground while you move from one asana to another, then a yoga mat with a standard thickness of 6mm is the ideal fit for you. Opting for anything below the 10-6 mm thickness range won't provide you with the benefits of stability, comfort, and cushioning that you are factoring in.
Size is one of the most important factors when looking out for a yoga mat. 6 feet by 2 feet is the standard size in the market, which is more than enough to perform all the asanas and exercises. If you are tall or big stature-wise, you should opt for a larger mat. Consider how much room and portability is also required before fixing the size of the yoga mat. Portability is a crucial aspect of purchasing a yoga mat; buying a large yoga mat that you can't carry around easily defeats the purpose. On the flip side, purchasing a small one will have your limbs touching the ground.
The texture of the yoga mat is quite essential for proper movements. The yoga mat's surface provides traction and prevents slipping; everyone has different preferences: some like their mats with manufactured texture, while some prefer a smooth cushioned mat.
This might be a surprising one, but people who perform Yoga regularly know the importance of stickiness in a mat. A sticky yoga mat will keep you from sliding all over the place and help you maintain your alignment as you move from one pose to another, as well as when you hold asanas. Make sure you purchase a mat that provides just the right amount of stickiness for you.
Last but not least, factor in the material when planning to purchase a yoga mat for your home workouts. Most budget yoga mats under Rs 600 are made of recycled plastic such as EVA or PVC, leaving a nasty odour and can cause skin allergies. Although these are yoga mats, they are not optimized for performance to perform an asana that may require your mat to hold your grip during the movement.
If performance is one of your concerning parameters, then TPE material is the perfect match for you. TPE yoga mats provide you the confidence and quality to perform your exercise while lasting for years without degrading in nature. This is the ideal investment you can make in your fitness.
If late, there are advancements and innovations around rubber as well as cork yoga mats, these are pricey, and they lack performance. Though they are a boon for the environment, these mats don't provide the bang of your buck.
Read More► Five Yoga Suggestions to Help You Breathe Easy
Indic traditions emphasise that good mental and physical health is directly connected to three prime activities-- what we eat, how we breathe and the way we think. These help us to understand the deep connection between our bodies, minds, emotions and thoughts.
One needs to respect the balance between the physical or the food that we eat, mental or the thoughts that we manifest by what we think, emotional or the reactions or responses to situations that we give and the spiritual aspects that we experience in understanding the connection between us and the cosmos. Only when all this is in balance will we have the fortune to experience a healthy, peaceful and successful life. Let us briefly divide these three important aspects that help detox our bodies and help us live a wholesome life.
A Balanced Diet
Based on the principles of the Indic sciences, our life is primarily composed of elements that are sattva or pure, ahimsa or nonviolence and upyogita or symbiotic living. It is in this context that a yogic diet is recommended to live a wholesome life. An ancient practice that has been tried and tested for over thousands of years, a yogic diet promotes mindful eating, consumption in moderation, eating according to the season and indulging in organic and natural food for consumption.
A wholesome diet promotes the concept of "mit-aahar" or moderate eating encourages one to eat food that is in accordance with one's doshas. Our civilization understood the interspersed connection between the ecology and us and this probably is the one reason that we must find the lost connection on why we need to discipline our food eating habits in accordance to nature. Indulging in wholesome grains, fresh vegetables and fruits, nuts, seeds etc that are both fresh and seasonal are the correct tools to live a healthy lifestyle.
Asanas for Great Health
Physical exercise like Yoga is known to help tune into the body's mechanism. We now need to connect individual intelligence with that of the universal consciousness. Our seers devised yoga as a way to overcome all suffering, internal or external, to enable us to live a healthy and peaceful life. Yoga helps centre the mind in chaotic times, strengthening immunity and building a strong but calm mind that can help us to withstand everything that comes our way.
Practicing Yoga Asanas for just 30 minutes everyday combined with simple breathing techniques and meditation, will help stretch the body and mind making us stronger and more flexible, less lethargic and more active. Not to mention we will be able to lead a disease and infection free life once we start our yogic journey.
Correct Breathing and Why it is The Key to Great Health
Our traditions emphasise that good mental and physical health is directly connected to the way we breathe. Correct breathing is known to help sharpen the brain and body, increase immunity, reduce stress and increase efficiency. Morden research confirms that most of us use only 20 percent of our breathing capacity during our entire lifetime, essentially hyperventilating on two overworked and exhausted lungs throughout our lives.
And without realising this, we live a stressful and disease filled life. Specific breathing routines have thus been established by our ancients that are as relevant today as they were thousands of years ago. Simple breathing techniques to manage breath must be practiced everyday to consciously navigate the body towards great health.
Read More► Post-Covid Healing Yoga Asanas
As the country reels under a severe Covid wave, nearly every family has had a brush with the debilitating virus, and many members are going through a slow recovery.
To help with the recovery via yoga, Delhi-based The Pink Lotus Academia, an online and offline tutorial platform focused on Indian classical art forms and yoga, suggests asanas that go a long way in building immunity, relaxing the body and mind, leading to faster healing post-Covid.
The ancient practice of yoga is known to offer scientifically proven solutions to many everyday problems both physical and mental. From increasing immunity to improving the function of vital organs of the body, from reducing stress to minimizing depression, yoga plays a major role if you choose the right asanas and practice them with awareness. These select asanas strengthen your body and mind, increase immunity, and take away fatigue.
This simple asana comes with many benefits for the body. It stretches the shoulders and chest, strengthens the back muscles and improves posture.
Step 1: Sit on the floor with your legs extended in the front. Keep the back straight, you may sit on a blanket or a cushion to keep the pelvis slightly raised. To ensure perfect alignment of the upper body, you can sit against a wall. The sacrum and the shoulder blades should touch the wall, but the lower back and the back of the head must not.
Step 2: Sit on the front of the sitting bones so that the pubis and tailbone are equidistant from the floor. Firm the thighs, press them down against the floor, without hardening the belly, and flex your ankles and feet.
Step 3: Visualise your spine as the "staff" -- the vertical core of your torso rooted in the ground, hold the pose for a minute or two.
Cat And Cow Pose
This asana combines the Cat pose (Marjaryasana) and Cow pose (Bitilasana) to gently stretch the body and warm up it up to relieve stress and massage the spine and stomach organs.
Step 1: Start on your hands and knees with your wrists directly under your shoulders, and knees under the hips. Look down at the mat.
Step 2: Move into Cow pose by inhaling and drop your belly towards the mat. Lift your chin and chest, and gaze up toward the ceiling. Broaden your shoulder blades.
Step 3: Move into Cat pose by exhaling, and draw your belly to your spine and pull your back toward the ceiling, just like a cat stretches its back.
Step 4: Release the crown of your head toward the floor, don't let the chin drop. Inhale, come back to Cow pose, then exhale as you return to Cat pose. Repeat 5-20 times.
Also, Read► 5 Reasons to Include a Workout in Your Child's Routine
This asana stretches the inner thighs, groin, and knees, and improves flexibility, removes fatigue from long hours of standing and walking.
Step 1: Sit with your spine erect and legs extended in the front. Bend your knees and bring your feet towards the pelvis. Let the soles of your feet touch each other.
Step 2: Hold your feet tightly with your hands, you could also place them under the feet for support. Try to bring the heels as close to the pelvis as possible. Take a deep breath in.
Step 3: Breathe out, and press the thighs and knees downward gently towards the floor.
Step 4: Start flapping both the thighs up and down like the wings of a butterfly. Starting slowly, gradually increase the speed. Keep breathing normally throughout. Flap as fast as you comfortably can. Slow down and then stop.
Step 5: Take a deep breath in, then exhale and bend forward, keeping the chin up and spine erect. Press your elbows on the thighs, pushing them towards the floor. Feel the stretch in the inner thighs. Breathe long and slow, relaxing the muscles. Take a deep breath in and bring the torso up. Exhale and gently release the posture.
By stretching your thigh, groin and back, this asana works as an antidote to the strain of sitting for long hours, and calms your mind. It also stretches outer hips and prepares you for seated postures and backbends.
Step 1: Start on all fours, bring your right knee forward towards your right wrist, so that your right ankle will be in front of your left hip. Slide your left leg back and point your toes and heel towards the ceiling.
Step 2: Draw your legs in towards each other. Inhale and come onto your fingertips, stretch your spine, pull the navel in and open your chest.
Step 3: Exhale and walk your hands forward and lower your upper body towards the floor. You can rest your forearms and forehead on the mat. Stay for a count of 5 breaths or more.
Step 4: Push back through the hands, lift your hips and move your leg back into all fours. Repeat on the other side.
Read More► Yoga helps improve respiratory health, immunity post Covid: Experts