Yoga for Mental, Physical Health, Peace and Happiness
By Mehabooba Ramzan
To live in harmony with oneself and the environment is the wish of every human being. However, in modern times greater physical and emotional demands are constantly placed upon many areas of life. The result is more and more people suffer from physical and mental tension such as stress, anxiety, insomnia, and there is an imbalance in physical activity and proper exercise. This is where yoga has its importance.
Yoga is a system of practice consisting of eight levels of development in the areas of physical, mental, social and spiritual health, with its ultimate goal of self-realization or realization of the divine within us, ie. union of our self consciousness with supreme consciousness. When the body is physically healthy, the mind is clear, focused and stress is under control. Each asanas, mudras or pranayama activates a special part of the body or organ and open the energy channels and psychic centers. This helps us to get exact result out of it or a specific effect after practice. The science of yoga consists of acquiring knowledge through observation and experiment. The health and the strength of the body and the mind are acquired only when a state of equilibrium is attained where by the body and the mind are balanced.
Developing control of the body through asanas enable one to control the mind and energy. Stiffness of the body is due to blocked prana vital energy and a subsequent accumulation of toxins. When prana begins to flow, the toxins are removed from the system ensuring the health of the whole body.
Improved flexibility is one of the first and most obvious benefits of yoga. If you are into the first time in yoga, you probably won't be able to touch your toes. But after few days of practice there will be a gradual loosening and eventually, seemingly impossible poses will become possible. Then aches and pains start to disappear.
Tight hips can strain the knee joint due to improper alignment of the thigh and shinbones. Tight hamstrings can lead to a flattening of the lumbar spine, which can cause back pain, and inflexibility in muscles and connective tissue such as fascia and ligaments, can cause poor posture.
Yoga builds muscle strength and balance it with flexibility. Not only the muscles will make us look good, but it protect us from conditions like arthritis and back pain, and helps to prevent falls in elderly people.
Sitting at a desk or computer all day takes a toll on more than just your eyes. It affects your posture, metabolism, risk of anxiety or depression and can lead to obesity. Bad posture can also lead to serious issues like back pain, cardiovascular issues, digestion issues, and eventually changing of the curve of the spine itself, which will create a whole new level of back pain. Regular practices of several yoga asanas for good postures helps to get rid of all the negative effects of bad posture. In addition to straightening your posture, these chest opening poses will also helps you open up emotionally, heal old wounds, be perceived in a better light and embrace the world of abundance.
Yoga protects your spine. Spinal disks are the shock absorbers between the vertebrae that can herniate and compress nerves—crave movement. That's the only way they get their nutrients. If you've got a well-balanced asana practice with plenty of back bends, forward bends, and twists, you'll help keep your disks supple.
It is true that weight-bearing exercise strengthens bones and helps ward off osteoporosis. Many postures in yoga require that you lift your own weight. And some, like downward and upward facing dog helps strengthen the arm bones, which are particularly vulnerable to osteoporosis fractures. Yoga's ability to lower levels of the stress hormone cortisol helps to retain calcium in the bones.
Yoga gets your blood flowing. More specifically, the relaxation exercises you learn in yoga can help your circulation, especially in hands and feet. Yoga also gets more oxygen to the cells, which function better as a result. Twisting poses are thought to wring out venous blood from internal organs and allow oxygenated blood to flow in once the twist is released.
Learning Yoga at an early age can have lasting and immense benefits on the overall health and well-being of a child. Today children and youth are also victims of stress, fears, lack of concentration and focusing, digestive disorders etc., due to a highly competitive environment and food habits. Therefore educational institutions have adopted yoga as part of their everyday routine. Yoga improves memory and attention, maintain increased energy levels, helps to manage weight,improves flexibility and posture, learn correct breathing techniques, helps to bring peace of mind, improves self-control, boosts immunity and improves physical appearance, increases self-confidences and self-esteem. Daily few minutes of practice of Sadhana (pranayama,meditation and kriya) is a ready solution for many challenges described above.
Through yoga you are given the tools required to bring about the necessary transformations in yourself to reach your highest potential in life. Yoga is a complete science that unites the body, mind and spirit, it creates significant difference in one's behaviour, thoughts and attitude and bring us peace and happiness.
(Photo Courtesy: Students practising meditation at Namasthe Yoga, Kochi)