“Health”, “exercise” and Yoga are buzzwords today, but how many of us realize that they are connected?
While most people are aware of the interdependence of “health” and “exercise” “Yoga” invokes mixed feelings. Some consider it “fashionable” [with designer mats and designer clothes for Yoga!] while others consider it possible only for “yogis” and “swamis” [holy men]! However, once you know the basic facts, and fit Yoga into your daily schedule, the myths are debunked, and you start to experience the benefits.
Let us first define health, and see the role of exercise and Yoga in it.
Good health implies that all the organs of the body function effectively, and this can be achieved through regular exercise. Among the best forms of exercise are those in which the body moves naturally, as during daily activities. However, unless we make a conscious effort to move every part of the body, some joints and muscles may be neglected and even stop functioning. Basic exercises ensure that the entire body is worked.
Health also implies positive mental health, which is heightened by exercise.
One of the most effective ways of nurturing the mind and spirit, along with the body, is Yoga.
It is becoming popular world wide, but not every one has a clear understanding of what Yoga means.
Yoga is not just a philosophy but a way of life, as advocated in India from ancient times. The aim was healthy living, culminating in self-enlightenment. It has been recognized from ancient times that the mind and body need to be balanced to enjoy good health. This belief led to the practice of Yoga in India thousands of years ago. It is believed that its methods were first documented by a Sanskrit scholar as early as the second century B.C.
The five basic techniques of Yoga are (i) movement of joints, (ii) postures, (iii) deep breathing, (iv) relaxation and (v) meditation. There are benefits at every stage.
Exercises, in the form of slow and deliberate poses, are a key element of Yoga in helping the individual to focus on the body and become more attuned to it. These exercises are called “asanas.” A complete routine stretches and tones muscles, improves flexibility of joints, and in general, tones up every part of the body. Special techniques ensure the efficient working of all vital organs and systems: digestive, respiratory, circulatory, excretory, reproductive and nervous. Exercises are also adapted to deal with specific complaints, and this has given rise to “Yoga therapists.”
It is interesting to note that joint movements are not mentioned in the traditional texts of Yoga. However, they are good warm up starters for an exercise routine, and have major benefits.
The physical poses or “asanas” are practiced to increase the flow of life energy through the body.
According to principles of Yoga, the breath is a manifestation of this life energy, or “prana.”. Therefore, deep breathing or “pranayama” is an essential feature of Yoga. The cycle of asanas and breathing leads to relaxation, and Meditation completes the process of harmonizing the mind and body.
The only requirements for practicing Yoga are: a quiet space, a suitable surface [even a plain sheet on the floor] comfortable, lightweight clothes, and of course, determination!
To get optimum results, persevere with a daily routine, notwithstanding any constraints [hectic schedules or plain laziness!]
A word of caution: it is important to receive instruction in the correct techniques from a Yoga expert.
The positive effects of Yoga are being realized by people all over the world, so why not try it, and enjoy good health and happiness!
About the author or the publisher
I have a post graduate degree in teaching, a Masters [gold medalist] in English, and two diplomas in writing. I have over 20 years experience teaching at various levels, and am also a freelance writer. In the last 10 years, I have authored a number of educational books, written and
edited content on diverse topics and done online tutoring for American