Yoga and meditation for a healthy and stress-free life

 

Yoga

What is yoga?

Yoga is an ancient practice which originated in India about 5000 years ago.

If you think of yoga as twisting and bending of body in odd shape then you are partially correct. However, it is much more than just that. It is about caring about your mind, body and breath.

Yoga literally means 'to integrate or to unite' . It harmonizes the mind , body and breath in such a way that it gradually heals us from within.

Yoga is a great and fresh way to start your day . It calms down the nerves and massages your organs ,gives them a great oxygen boost. There are  different types of yoga poses. Some are for flexibility ,some for a peace of mind and some for a specific organ.

Benefits of yoga:

there are numerous benefits of yoga . It is a practice for a better way of life. It is designed in such a way that everybody can be able to do it. Sure , it might be hard for you at first. Especially, if you have really stiff body. Yoga does not require you to bend and touch your toes in the first attempt. It is a matter of practice.

Yoga will not only make you flexible and mindful, but it will also treat chronic disorders of the body. This includes diabetes, heart problems, high  cholesterol , high B.P and other lifestyle oriented problems.

Lets look at some benefits of yoga:

Yoga for flexibility:

Yoga poses improve flexibility of the body. This is because they require stretching of your muscles. This makes you feeling better and lighter. Increase in flexibility will make you feel less tired. In one study , people experienced increase in flexibility by up to 35%in just 8 weeks of yoga practice.

Yoga for strength:

There are some styles of yoga namely ashtanga and power yoga are rigorous forms of yoga. These extremely physical yoga will help you tone and improve strength of your muscle.

However, even less physical yoga poses such as Iyengar or hatha yoga can have strength and endurance benefits.

Many poses such as plank pose, upward dog pose build upper body strength. If you hold standing poses for a long time , increases strength of your hamstrings .There are various poses that strengthen your body's core and limbs.

Better posture :

There are many poses that straighten your back. The curves of the spine are accustomed to the way you sit . Practicing these poses will help the neat alignment of curves of your spine. The yoga poses strengthen your core and muscles to support and maintain each pose.

Practicing this will natural improve your posture and strengthen core. These will make you stand tall and appear confident and taller than usual.

Your body will no longer slouch or slump if you try these poses.

Breathing :

Every yoga pose is not only about exercising but you also have to regulate breathing along with yoga poses. This breathing exercise along with yoga will enhance the supply of oxygen rich blood into the body .

It has a set of breathing techniques, they come under' pranayama'. Pranayama literally means oxygen regulation.

It helps you with thoughtful breathing exercises. These breathing exercises are essentially useful for people suffering from lungs and breathing disorders.

Yoga is not aerobic  like running or cycling. It has more focus on sustaining the poses and regulating breathing efficiently.

Calming action and less stress:

If you are in a job which requires you to be on toes throughout the day, or if you have a stressful job. Then practicing it works wonders to calm your mind and relieve it from unwanted worries and stress.

For calm and peace you should practice yoga exercises which are coupled with meditation. It achieves a mindfulness feeling and is a great start for your day.

Improves the health of your heart:

unwanted stress, anxiety and unhealthy lifestyle contribute to high blood pressure and slow heart rate.

Inculcating yoga just for 15-20 minutes per day will help in all the above problems. Yoga is proven t have immense benefits in lowering high blood pressure, heart disease risk and stroke.

However, if you suffer from heart conditions , you should avoid power yoga or any type of yoga hich involves aerobics. Go for more yoga poses which are practiced along with meditation.

Meditation:

Meditation is practiced around the world for a thousand years now. To put very simply meditation is like praying. When you sit calmly and gently relax your shoulders you experience a sense of calm and peace through out your body. This feeling becomes deeper as you practice more and more. At later stages this calmness becomes a part of you. In this situation , you can handle any situation with immense confidence and stability. If  you practice meditation regularly , stress and tension will be a thing of the past.

In meditation you focus your mind on one object or thing or you focus on your thoughts. These thoughts shape your decisions and your personality in all. Moreover, thy relieve stress and give clarity of thought. There are endless benefits of meditation. You can call anything involving peace and calm along with thought control as meditation.

How to meditate properly?

Sit down with straight or lie on your back with your neck in a relax position. Take a deep breath .

Then focus on your extremities, your toes and fingers and relax their muscles. Then gradually relax your arms , elbows, knees , calf , legs and finally relax your shoulders and neck muscles.

At this stage just observe the thoughts  in your mind and let them come and go. Do not try to stop or control your thoughts in any way. Just let them flow through your mind.

Inhale and exhale deeply as you relax further. Focus on your breath.

Be in this position for as long you feel calm and relax. It could take about 20 mins to as long as you want.

Practice this meditation exercise daily in evening and morning . You will notice lowering of stress levels and it improve both your private as well as professional life.

Benefits of meditation:

Stress relief:

It reduces stress. In a study involving 3500 people , this is proved.

When stress increases there is an increase in stress hormone cortisol, this then produces all the side effects of stress.

'Mindfulness meditation' showed a decrease in immune response associated with stress. This was proved in an eight week study.

Controls anxiety and decreases it:

Less stress means less anxiety. As discussed above meditation is useful to reduce anxiety. It also reduces anxiety disorder such as phobia, obsessive compulsive disorder and paranoid thoughts.

A study comprising of 2,446 people proved that a variety of meditations can decrease anxiety. Meditation associated with yoga is very useful for anxiety.

Keeps emotional health normal :

Nowadays, people have a lot of emotional issues. Increase in digitalization has decreased the need for emotional companionship. The number of likes, comments make you feel appreciated. However, when your internet persona does not match your off the net persona. This can lead to negative thoughts and stress.

If you practice meditation regularly, your self image improves and you have a more positive outlook.

Increase in focus and concentration:

Meditation enables the ability to reorient towards your work and maintain concentration.

Meditation is like taming your mind . It will slowly stop overthinking and  lack attention . Hence it improves focus and concentration. A study found that practicing meditation just for four days increased attention span and focus.

Reduce age related memory loss:

Meditation is like exercise for the brain and hence keeps your brain healthy .

There a method in meditation known as kirtan kriya. In this method you chant mantra or holy verses  in a repetitive manner. This makes your brain perform memory tasks. Hence keeps you from memory loss as you age.

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