Yoga, which literally means “union”, has originated in India thousand years ago. In several religions such as Hinduism, Buddhism and Jainism, yoga is their means to receive enlightenment, and to have a connection with the divine. While in other parts of the world, it is commonly believed that yoga is just all about exercise. Yet, if we are going to look on a deeper sense of yoga, it helps to improve the physical and mental fitness of an individual, thus, the physical and mental health benefits of yoga.
Although it has originated in India, this does not mean that the practice of yoga will only be limited for them and for its religious purpose only. As mentioned earlier, since it helps improve the physical and mental fitness. Hence, everyone is welcome to try this. Both men and women, whether working or stay-at-home parents, can do yoga as part of their physical fitness exercises or a form of meditation, so to speak.
In this post, we will explain why yoga is important, and how to do it properly, in a nutshell. Likewise, we will provide suggestions if you are new to yoga.
What are the benefits in Indulging Yourself in Yoga, and Why Does it Matter?
It is better to understand the concept of yoga before you start doing it. In this way, you will have an idea on what will be your main purpose on why you want to do it, and it will also help you to choose the best postures and techniques that will be applicable based on your objective.
By indulging yourself in yoga, it will be beneficial both to your physical and mental fitness. The different asanas (postures) of yoga could be a better fitness exercise, and it will help you understand your own body.
Also, in some practices, yoga is even used to reach the state of spiritual enlightenment. This helps them connect with the Almighty and lead them to a better understanding of their inner selves as they meditate. Hence, yoga is a holistic exercise for an individual.
How to find your way to physical and mental fitness by indulging yourself in yoga?
The practice of yoga will be concentrating mainly on these three points:
- Body Positioning or Posture
- Breathing Techniques
- Meditating Techniques
Body Positioning or Posture
The body posture of an individual is one of the most noticeable aspects, whether he is in standing or sitting position.
Moreover, it is undeniably true that our activities every day in our work greatly affects our body posture. This is because most of the employees in a company are only sitting during the office hours and facing their computer; while others who are working in commercial establishments are required to stand during their shift.
Consequently, practicing the different asanas (postures) can help the individual to correct or improve his body positioning or posture. Below are some of the different poses that can improve your posture.
Mountain Pose (Tadasana)
This helps you improve your poses for feet, ankles, knees, legs, lower back, thighs, glutes, and belly. This is also a good starting position for other standing poses. It, as well, improves your awareness of your muscles and balance, thereby, increasing the strength and flexibility in the feet, legs, and hips.
- In executing this pose, start standing with your feet hip-width apart. Then stand tall with your legs but do not lock your knees.
- Inhale and exhale comfortably through the nose while still keeping this posture.
- Roll your shoulder front and back.
- Afterwards, focus on your neck, tuck your chin a little towards your chest, and make sure your neck is aligned with your spine.
- Look slightly in the downward position as you deepen your breath and keep your focus on relaxing your muscles.
Tree Pose (Vrksasana)
This kind of pose also improves your balancing ability.
- To do this, take your right foot intently to the ground, and just come on to the tiptoes of your left foot. Take your left knee and hover it. Grab on to it and open your knee.
- Then kick the heel in towards the thigh and also the thigh back-in towards the heel. You can feel two forms of force coming back in towards each other.
- In this way, it will allow you to squeeze-in towards your midline or your center. To find your midline, use your hands in a prayer position while your shoulders are in a relaxing position. Then, take three strong breaths.
Cat Cow Pose
- Make sure your shoulders are over your wrist and that your knees are right underneath your hips.
- In this position, the belly falls down, the shoulders roll back and the gaze comes up towards the sky, then inhale.
- Reverse this position when you exhale by carving the belly in. Puff the rib cage and look in at your navel.
Standing Forward Fold (Uttanasana)
- Stand on the ground, put your hips and inhale deeply.
- Then, move from the hips to fold your torso over your legs as you exhale. Keep and maintain the spine extending as you move.
- Place your hand or fingertips on the floor in front of you or next to your feet. Inhale and bring the gaze forward, extending your chest to lengthen your spine. Exhale and lift the kneecaps but don’t lift too much.
- Stay long through the neck reaching the crown of your head toward the floor and drawing on your shoulders firmly onto the back.
Downward-Facing Dog Pose
- Face down on the floor, your hands on your chest level. Then, push up but keep your feet on the same position.
- For the transition of your pose, tuck up your toes and lift your hips towards the ceiling. Stretch your legs and your arms. Inhale then exhale as you are doing this position.
- Start this position by doing downward-facing dog pose.
- Come forward into a planking position, then inhale.
- Bend your elbows and slowly lower down the floor.
- Roll your shoulder back and gently press your elbows in towards apart.
- Reach back through your legs.
- Press the floor and slowly move up while keeping the back of your neck long and your legs active as you broaden your collar bone and roll your shoulders forward and backward
- Lay flat on the floor and bend your knees and grab it. Move slowly and with control.
- Arch your back by lifting your feet then inhale, then lift your feet higher as you exhale. You will notice that you balance your body through your stomach.
Warrior I (Virabhadrasana I)
- Open your hips wide, and bend your right leg and stretch your left leg.
- Curl up your back. Thereafter, reach for your fingertips up high.
Breathing assists you in executing your desired poses or even relaxing and calming your muscles. If done properly and strategically, you will notice the smooth execution of every yoga positions along with adapting to every resistance that a certain movement transition may offer.
It will also help you to properly meditate and concentrate.
Basic Breath Awareness
- Sit straightly and place your hands anywhere within the legs where you’re feeling comfortable.
- Stretch up your spine, close your eyes and watch your breath. Feel your inhale and exhale.
Ujjayi Pranayama (Ocean Breath or Victorious)
- Sit straight crossing your leg
- Rest your wrist on your knees, touch your thumbs together with your index fingers.
- Inhale and exhale then repeat this method
Nadi Shodhana Pranayama (Alternate-Nostril Breathing)
- Sit straight and cross your leg
- Place your left wrist on your left knee and connect your thumb and forefinger.
- Fold the index and middle fingers of your right into your palm.
- Use your ring and pinky fingers to manage the opening of your left nostril, and your thumb doing the same for your right nostril.
- Leave your right nostril open and shut your left nostril, then slowly inhale and exhale.
- Do this alternately.
Kumbhaka Pranayaman (Breath Retention)
- Inhale then hold your breath for long periods of time of your time.
- Completely exhale the air inside your lungs.
- Then relax without neither inhaling nor exhaling.
Kapalabhati Pranayama (Skull-Shining Breath)
- Inhale but remember to focus more on exhaling forcefully.
Sitting Meditation – This enables you to meditate by only sitting on a position where you are feeling comfortable. There are three suggested sitting positions such as:
- Cross-Legged – This is often referred to as Sukhasana (easy pose), you may sit on a cross leg position wherein you will feel comfortable. After you get that comfortable cross leg position, breath and luxuriate in yourself during this posture. Better if you may practice this in solitude.
- Legs Move into Front – Stretch your legs while sitting, and if you already feel comfortable, inhale and exhale.
- In a Chair – You will also meditate while sitting on a chair by sitting up straight and relax your shoulders, then breath.
Visualization – This is often simpler if you are a visual learner. What you need to do is to take a seat straight in an exceedingly comfortable position. Close your eyes and focus your attention on your breathing.
While breathing, imagine your spine gently elongating and transforming into a ray of light. From that ray of light, slowly imagine a scene of nature and expand your imagination. Continue to inhale and exhale while visualizing your concepts.
Mantra Meditation – Your mind will achieve its calmness and peace by repeating silently a sound. A suggested activity here is Ajapa mantra where you may concentrate on the sound of your breath while you are doing the sitting meditation.
Walking Meditation – Instead of doing the common kind of meditation in yoga, you may also do this kind of meditation where your focus are on your feet. You can do this in an open space or hallway, to take slow and careful steps, and focus on them as you move them.
5 Tips and Reminders for Indulging Yourself in Yoga
Know Your Purpose in Practicing Yoga –
It is better to identify your objective in practicing yoga. Therefore, you may ask yourself: is it for your mental fitness? Physical fitness? Or both? In this way, you can choose on where you will mainly focus depending on your objective, whether on body posture, breathing techniques, or meditation techniques. You can also solicit pieces of advice from people who are practicing yoga with the same objective as yours.
Consult Your Doctor –
If you have previous physical injuries which you think might affect your yoga activities, it is better to consult a doctor before embarking on yoga, for this, so you can avoid further injuries.
Join Classes –
For beginners, it is better that you practice yoga with the help of yoga instructors so you will be guided whether you are doing the techniques correctly or not. Sure, it is cheaper if you will just watch yoga videos online, but you would not know if you are doing it correctly or not because no one is guiding you.
Find Your Own Place and Hire a Private Instructor –
If socializing with other people can be exhausting for you, you can also have a private yoga class. You must find your own place where you will be comfortable doing the yoga poses and techniques and hire a private instructor to guide you.
Invite Your Friends –
Any activities can be more fun if you are doing it with your friends, and yoga is one of them. You will surely feel motivated and enjoy practicing yoga with friends whom you can share your experiences together. This will allow you to explore other things with your friends by joining yoga classes together.
Gone are the days that yoga is only for religious activities. Yoga is actually not a boring endeavor; it is fun when done properly because you will be surprised with the changes within your mind and body.
What is really good with yoga is that it allows yourself to understand better your body and at the same time has a calming and peaceful effect in your mind.
Surely, you may want to give it a try to do yoga after reading this article; but remember to familiarize yourself with the three main focal points of yoga so you will have an idea on what is more applicable on your objective.