International Yoga Day 2020
International Yoga Day 2020-
UN theme for International Yoga day 2020 is “Yoga for Health – Yoga at Home”.
In 2015, June 21, the longest day in the Northern Hemisphere, when Lord Shiva is believed to have imparted the knowledge of yoga to the world, was adopted as the International Day of Yoga by the United Nations was proposed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi to the United Nations General Assembly in 2014.
Yoga is an ancient physical, mental, and spiritual practice that originated in India. The word ‘yoga’ derives from Sanskrit and means to join or to unite, symbolizing the union of body and consciousness.
Today it is practiced in various forms around the world and continues to grow in popularity. But yoga is more than physical activity.
In the words of one of its most famous practitioners, the late B. K. S. Iyengar, “Yoga cultivates the ways of maintaining a balanced attitude in day-to-day life and endows skill in the performance of one’s actions.”
Yoga is an important part of Indian culture and civilization. The practice of yoga is not just beneficial for the body alone; it brings it in alignment with the mind and soul too through the breath.
Yoga is an invaluable gift of India’s ancient tradition. It embodies unity of mind and body; thought and action; restraint and fulfillment; harmony between man and nature; a holistic approach to health and well-being.
It is not about exercise but to discover the sense of oneness with yourself, the world, and nature. By changing our lifestyle and creating consciousness, it can help in well being. Let us work towards adopting an International Yoga Day. – Prime Minister of India, UN General assembly.
I feel every day should be yoga day for all so that everyone remains always healthy and the immune system remains strong.
Click here for Yoga for kids –
You might be wondering whether it’s safe or even beneficial for your kids to practice yoga. Good news – it’s both! Kids can practice many yoga poses without any risk and get the same benefits that adults do.
These benefits include; increased flexibility and fitness, mindfulness, and relaxation.
Yoga is a great form of exercise for people who are looking to stay in shape with a low-impact activity. Of course, not all yoga poses are ideal for children. Like adults, they need to master the basics before moving on to more advanced stretches.
Here we list yoga poses that are safe and easy to get your children started. These poses are not in a particular sequence, but we’ve indicated the stretches you should do together, at the beginning and end of the practice.
You can choose a few of these poses to master or cycle through them all, spending a minute or two on each. In any case, your child should never push themselves or do anything that hurts.
It may even be advisable to consult a specialist before having a child take on a new exercise routine.
A great pose to begin with, this is the foundation of most standing stretches. Begin with feet planted firmly on the ground, big toes touching but heels slightly apart. Arms should be by your side with hands facing forwards.
The back of your head, neck, and back should be straight and aligned. Hold this pose for at least one minute. It will set you up for the rest of your practice.
In Mountain Pose, take a deep breath in. Upon exhaling, raise the arms up, bringing the palms together overhead. Your shoulders should be in line with your arms.
So keep your arms parallel above your head if your shoulders and arms can’t line up when your palms are touching. This is a straightforward pose for children to try and it’s grounding.
It’s always good to get kids’ imagination going and poses named after animals do just that! For Cat Pose, get down on hands and knees, then curl the spine upwards.
This should involve drawing the head and shoulders in towards the stomach. Bonus points for the best meow!
Cow Pose goes hand in hand with Cat Pose; they’re most beneficial when done together in sequence. From Cat Pose, round the spine in the other direction, with shoulders open and head facing upwards.
To get the benefit of this stretch, alternate with Cat Pose, so you would hold each pose for a few seconds before moving into the other. Watch out for this one, once you tell your little ones to get into ‘Cow Pose’ you may hear some mooing!
Kids will love this one because it’s named after them! Plus, it helps that it’s a relaxing recovery stretch. Get down onto your knees and rest your bottom on your heels.
Separate the knees outwards while bending forward so that the chest can either rest on top of or between the knees. Arms are either stretched out in front or back towards the feet.
You may have to remind your little ones that they can’t stay in this pose for the whole session!
For even younger children, or those that sometimes act like it, get them into the Happy Baby Pose! Lying on the back, bring the knees into the chest. Hold the outsides of the feet, or shins – wherever is comfortable.
Open the legs a little wider than the torso, bringing the knees towards the armpits. In this position, rock side to side (like a baby.) This will massage the lower back and is sure to get a few gurgles, even from parents!
Rather than emphasizing flexibility, this pose works on balance. Start off in Mountain Pose and put your weight onto either left or right foot. Bend the opposite knee, lifting that foot. Grab your lifted foot and bring it closer to your groin.
Plant the sole of the lifted foot against the opposite leg at the ankle, shin or thigh – whichever is most comfortable. At the same time, twist the knee outwards. Toes should be pointing down to the floor.
Get kids to concentrate on a fixed point to keep their balance. After holding for a few seconds, release the foot and lower it to the floor. Repeat on the opposite side.
Your little one will enjoy seeing how long they can balance without having to put their foot down. There will be some inevitable giggles as they have to drop their foot a few times at the start.
Lying on the floor on your belly, stretch your legs out behind you with the tops of your feet touching the floor. Place the palms of your hands on the floor, under your shoulders.
Your elbows should be pointing to the sky. Squeeze them towards one another and use this momentum to lift your chest off the ground. As you lower yourself out of this pose, exhale. Hissing optional!
This one will have your little one all tied in knots! They’ll love the challenge of perfecting this pose and will be sure to have a few giggles. In Mountain pose, slightly bend both knees and lift one foot.
Try to stay balanced as you cross the lifted thigh over the other. With the toes pointing to the floor, hook the lifted foot around the opposite calf. See if you can get your toes peeking out at the side of the calf.
While still balancing on one foot, stretch your arms straight out in front of you. Cross the opposite arm to the bent leg over the other arm. Bend the elbows so that the forearms lift up.
Your palms should be facing away from one another. Now try crossing the forearms and pressing the palms together. Lift the arms towards the sky and hold for 30 seconds. Now try to untangle yourself!
Creep out your kids when you tell them to get into this pose! It may seem like an easy pose, after all, how hard can lie on your back be? Yet, to make this pose effective, you want to achieve total relaxation.
This is often difficult enough in itself. Corpse Pose should always be the last position in a yoga sequence as you wind down. You may need some blankets for this, to prop up your head or drape over yourself. Or, pop a sweater on because relaxing lowers the body’s temperature.
This is the only pose on the list which requires you not to move for the most part, because we know that kids can’t always stay still! But, once they’ve gone through all these poses, they will be glad to rest for a while.
To get into the position, sit on your bottom with feet planted on the ground (with knees bent). With a straight back, lean back onto the elbows and then slowly onto the ground.
From there, stretch one leg out after the other. Make sure feet are facing away from one another, without forcing them. You should feel relaxed and loose. Arms should be stretched away from your body with the palms of the hands facing upwards.
Your head should be resting on the floor and tucked into the back of the neck. Close your eyes, relax the face, and let the tongue feel heavy. Concentrate on your breathing, inhaling through the nose, and exhaling from the mouth.
Stay in this pose for about 5 minutes and try to empty your mind. To get up, roll onto one side and using the opposite hand, push yourself off the ground into a seated position.
Click here for Guidelines for Yoga Practitioners for COVId-19 –
Yoga is a discipline based on an extremely subtle science, which focuses on bringing harmony between mind and body. It is an art and science of healthy living. Yoga leads to perfect harmony between mind and body, man and nature, individual consciousness, and universal consciousness.
Yoga helps to build up psycho-physiological health, emotional harmony; and manage daily stress and its consequences.
Yoga is also useful in conditions where stress is believed to play a role. Various yogic practices such as Yogasanas, Pranayama, Dhyana (meditation), cleansing and relaxation practices, etc. are known to help modulate the physiological response to stressors.
Several randomized controlled studies have shown the efficacy of Yogic practices in the management of non-communicable diseases like hypertension, Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD), bronchial asthma, diabetes, sleep disorders, depression, obesity, etc. that can be comorbid conditions in patients with COVID 19.
Yoga has also been shown to be useful in vulnerable populations such as the elderly, children. The function of the immune system is critical in the human response to infectious disease. A growing body of evidence identifies stress as a cofactor in infectious disease susceptibility and outcomes.
Studies on yoga in managing flu symptoms during an Influenza season have shown promising results. A recent randomized trial comparing meditation and exercise with wait-list control among adults aged 50 years and older found significant reductions in ARI illness during the cold season with mindfulness meditation.
Yoga is also known to increase mucosal immunity by increasing Salivary Beta Defensin-2 levels in the elderly population Considering that they are a vulnerable group to contract such infections, yoga may be useful as a preventive measure.
Yoga practices such as Kriya, Yogasana, and Pranayama have been shown to reduce airway reactivity in elderly subjects with asthma and COPD. Thus, sufficient evidence exists to justify testing the hypothesis that training in Yoga Meditation can reduce susceptibility to ARI illness. Neti kriya is useful in acute coryza and symptoms of a cold.
- To improve general immunity among the population.
- Prehabilitation of vulnerable populations (children, elderly, and those with comorbid conditions such as diabetes and hypertension) and to those patients in isolation/quarantine with or without mild symptoms.
- To add-on Yoga-based interventions and Meditation practices in COVID-19 cases in isolation and hospitalization for psychosocial care
Common Yoga Protocol Forty-Five-minute module: The Common Yoga Protocol of IDY that was developed by a team of leading Yoga experts / Yoga Masters includes safe practices to improve the physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual health of the population.
Regular practice on empty stomach is recommended to improve immune resilience. Twenty and ten-minute modules are recommended for children, adults, Youths and the elderly population to be repeated twice a day (morning and evening).
Apart from CYP; Jalaneti, Sutraneti, and Bhastrika Kriyas are recommended once or twice in a week and Yoga Nidra for 20-30 minutes twice or thrice a week.
Yogic Diet: Follow the recommendations as per the medical advice on diet for your condition of diabetes, or heart disease, etc. and add-on these concepts from yoga that promotes mental health.
This includes wholesome nutritious freshly cooked traditional home-cooked food with plenty of fresh vegetables and fruits (with restrictions as per your disease condition) with added traditional spices in moderate quantities, consumed at regular timings.
Abstinence from substance abuse including tobacco, alcohol and other addictive drugs
To reduce disease susceptibility in high-risk population This guideline recommends evidence-based safe and simple yoga practices as mentioned above that promote the health of the respiratory, cardiovascular, and immune systems.
To add-on Yoga based lifestyle to hospitalized cases without acute respiratory distress.
As these subjects are hospitalized and they remain in bed without respiratory distress, the meditative practices without breath awareness practiced repeatedly is recommended.
The practice of deep relaxation of the body, slowing down of the breathing rate, and calming down of the mind using any of the practices from any school of Yoga for twenty minutes repeated once every 3-4 hours during the day time using audio instructions is recommended.
Some examples include mindfulness meditation, transcendental meditation, yoganidra, progressive relaxation, quick relaxation, deep relaxation, etc.
|Yoga Practices for prevention, rehabilitation and to increase Immunity
|1.||ShodhanaKriya (Yogic cleansing practices) Jalaneti, Sutra Neti,||Use lukewarm water for cleansing.
Jalneti must be followed by kapalabhati to remove all water from nasal passage.
Neti, is advised to
practice weekly once or twice.
|Should avoid in case of epistaxis, middle ear infection, and recent ENT surgery.||Neti helps in cleansing sinuses, beneﬁcial in allergic conditions and reduces upper airway reactivity)|
|2.||Yogic SūkṣmaVyāyāmas / shithilikaranavyaya mas/ Pawanamuktasana series (Joint movements): Neck movements Shoulder rotation Trunk movement Knee movement
|Move the joints as far as possible.
Do it slowly with breath awareness
|Do not overstrain. Avoid this practice in case of severe joint pain and illness.||Joint movements help to increase blood circulation and reduce stiffness which enhances joint ﬂexibility.
It helps to facilitate asana practices.
Standing, Sitting, Prone&Supine lying
|Do it with breath awareness.
Cardiac patients shall do with care as advised by Yoga experts.
Asanas that involve chest expansion preferred
Simpliﬁed version/s shall be followed by beginners and elderly population
|Please avoid this practice in case of cardiac disorders, abdominal hernia,inﬂammation, ulcers, recent abdominal surgery & vertigo.
Hypertensive patients should bend with care. Do not try to bend beyond the limits and do not overdo the lateral
|Ushtrasana, UtthanaMandukasana, Tadasana, Trikonasana, Vakrasana, Bhujangasana, Sarala Matsyasanaetc. practices improves chest expansion and cardio- pulmonary functions.|
|4.||Kapalabhati||40-60 strokes per minute||Hypertensive, cardiac problems, patients with respiratory distress, slipped disc patients should not do it.
Better to practice
it early in the morning on an empty stomach
|It improves pulmonary functions and reduces secretions.
Very useful preparatory practice for pranayama practice
It helps to cleanse frontal sinuses.
|5.||Breathing & Pranayama: Sectional breathing Nadishodhana Ujjayi
|The breath should be slow, steady, and controlled. It should not be forced or restricted in any way.
Initially start the practice with few repetitions and gradually increase the number of repetitions.
If possible, maintain the ratio of 1:2 for inhalation and exhalation
|In the case of any cardiac disorders start with few repetitions and gradually increase the number of repetitions. Don’t practice retention or hold at the initial stage.||Nadishodhan pranayama reduces sympathetic activity and stimulates vagal (parasympathetic) activity and decreases stress and anxiety.
Ujjayi increases oxygen saturation in the body.
Bhramari pranayama similar to humming may increase Nasal Nitric Oxide (NO), which may improve blood ﬂow to the ciliary epithelium and has anti- inﬂammatory action.
|6||Yoga Nidra||Follow mentally with||Don’t open the eyes until||Reduction in|
|(Pratyaahara)||awareness as per the||asked.||sympathetic arousal and|
|instructions are given during||Don’t sleep||reduced emotional|
|practices.||Don’t ask any questions||distress and improves|
|Keep the eyes closed||during the practice even||quality of sleep.|
|during the practice and||if any questions arise in||Rejuvenate the body and|
|avoid body movements.||the mind.||helps to keep the mind|
|Gradually increase the||calm|
|duration of the practice|
|7.||Meditative||For beginners, soothing||Don’t open your eyes||Meditation helps to|
|practices||music may be played in||Don’t shake your body.||reduces anxiety and|
|Breath awareness,||the background during||Don’t be judgemental||stress by reduce the|
|Dharana&Dhyana)||meditation or to observe||with thoughts||cortisol level and|
|the breath.||enhance the alpha brain|
|Practice it as long as you||wave.|
|can.||Makes the body stable|
|and calm the mind|
|Balance the functions of|
|thereby enhance the|
|COMMON YOGA PROTOCOL – 10 MINUTES|
|Practices||Name of the Practice||Duration (Minutes)|
|B||Loosening Practices (SukṣmaVyāyāma /
|Neck Bending||2 minutes|
in standing posture
|Tadāsana (The Palm tree posture)||1 minute|
|ArdhaChakrāsana (The Half wheel posture)||1 minute|
in sitting posture
|Sasakāsana (The Hare posture)||1 minute|
while lying on the stomach
|Bhujangāsana (The Cobra posture)||1 minute|
while lying on the back
|PawanaMuktāsana (The Wind releasing posture)||1 minute|
|D||Pranayama||(AnulomaViloma /Nadiswhodhana Pranayama)
The Alternate nostril breathing (2 rounds)
|E||Dhyāna||The Meditation||1 minute|
|Closing||Sankalpa/ Shanti patha||30 seconds|
|Total Duration =||10 minutes|
|COMMON YOGA PROTOCOL – 20 MINUTES|
|Practices||Name of the Practice||Duration (Minutes)|
|Loosening Practices (SukṣmaVyāyāma /
|Neck Bending||2.5 minutes|
|Āsanas performed in standing posture||Tadāsana (The Palm tree posture)||1 minute|
|PadaHatasana(The Hands to the feet
posture)/ArdhaChakrāsana (The Half wheel posture)
|Trikonāsana (The Triangle posture)||1 minute|
|Āsanas performed in sitting posture||Bhadrāsana (The Firm/Auspicious posture)||1 minute|
|ArdhaUshtrāsana (The Half camel posture )||1 minute|
|Sasakāsana (The Hare posture )||1 minute|
|Vakrāsana (The Seated twist posture)||1 minute|
|Āsana performed while
lying on the stomach
|Bhujangāsana (The Cobra posture)||1 minute|
|Āsana performed while
lying on the back
|PawanaMuktāsana (The Wind releasing posture)||1 minute|
|Kriya||Kaphalabhati (The Shining skull practice ) 1 round,
30 cycles each
|Pranayama||AnulomaViloma Pranayama (The Alternate nostril
breathing) (5 rounds)
|Bhramari Pranayama(BhramariRechaka) (The Bee
sound breathing) (3 rounds)
|Dhyāna||The Meditation||2 minutes|
|Closing||Sankalp/ Shanti patha||30 seconds|
|Total Duration =||20 minutes|
|COMMON YOGA PROTOCOL – 45 MINUTES|
|Practices||Name of the Practice||Duration (Minutes)|
|Loosening Practices (SukṣmaVyāyāma / CālanaKriyā)||Neck Bending||2|
|Āsanas performed in standing posture||Tadāsana (The Palm tree posture )||1|
|Vrikshāsana (The Tree posture)||2|
|Pada-hastāsana (The Hands to the feet posture)||1|
|ArdhaChakrāsana (The Half wheel posture)||1|
|Trikonāsana (The Triangle posture)||2|
|Āsanas performed in sitting posture||Bhadrāsana (The Firm/auspicious posture)||1|
|Vajrāsana The Thunderbolt/diamond posture)||1|
|ArdhaUshtrāsana (The Half camel posture )||1|
|Ushtrāsana (The Camel posture )||1|
|Sasakāsana (The Hare posture)||1|
|UtthanaMandukāsana (The Stretched up-frog posture )||1|
|Vakrāsana (The Seated twist posture)||2|
|Āsanas performed while lying on the stomach||Makarāsana (The Crocodile posture )||1|
|Bhujangāsana (The Cobra posture)||1|
|Shalabhāsana (The Locust posture)||1|
|Āsanas performed while lying on the back||Setubandhāsana (The Bridge posture )||1|
|Utthanapadāsana (The Raised leg posture)||0.5|
|ArdhaHalāsana (The Half plough posture)||0.5|
|PawanaMuktāsana (The Wind releasing posture )||2|
|Shavāsana (The Corpse posture )||2|
|Kriya||Kaphalabhati (The Shining skull practice )||2|
|Pranayama||AnulomaViloma Pranayama (The Alternate nostril
|Ujjayee Pranayama (The Hissing breathing) (5 rounds)||2|
|(Bhramari Pranayama) (BhramariRechaka )The Bee sound
breathing) (5 rounds)
|Closing||Sankalpa shanti patha||1|
|Total Duration =||45|
|Note :||1. Yoganindra for 20minutes is advised for twice or thrice a week|
|2. Jalneti and sutraneti may be practiced once or twice a week|
Click here for Yoga Poses by Anatomy –
Poses for your knees – Weak in the knees? When performed mindfully, these yoga poses can help prevent knee problems and disease and help you regain strength and flexibility after an injury.
Easy Pose – ( Sukhasana )
Big Toe Pose ( Padangusthasana )
Bound angle pose ( Baddha Konasana )
Bridge pose (
Extended side angle pose ( Utthita parsvakonasana )
Extended triangle pose ( Utthita trikonasana )
Garland Pose ( Malasana )
Half frog pose ( Ardha Bhekasana )
Heron pose ( Krounchasana )
Lion pose ( Simhasana )
Lord of the dance pose ( Natrajasana )
Lotus pose ( Padmasana )
Noose pose ( Pasasana )
One-legged King Pigeon pose ( Eka Pada Rajakapotasana )
Standing forward Bend ( Uttanasana )
Standing Split ( Urdhva Parsarita Eka Padasana )
Poses for your Hips
Feel like a Happy Baby again: These yoga poses will open tight hips, freeing your body, mind, and spirit and alleviating back pain.
Bharadvjas Twist ( Bharadvajasana )
Boat pose ( Paripurna Navasana )
Child’s pose ( Balasana )
Cow Face ( Gomukhasana )
King Pigeon pose ( Kapotasana )
Pose Dedicated to the Sage Marichi I
Poses for your Lower back –
Looking to target your lower back? Try asanas like Downward-Facing Dog and Extended Triangle Pose, which strengthen and stretch your back. Plus, yoga for lower back pain.
Chair pose ( Utkatasana )
Crabe pose ( Bakasana )
Dolphin pose (
Dolphin plank pose (
Downward facing dog ( Adho Mukh Svanasana )
Extended puppy pose ( Uttana Shishoasana )
Firefly pose ( Tittibhasana )
Locust pose ( Salabhasana )
Cow pose ( Bitilasana )
Top Yoga safety Tips for Beginners –
When people first start looking into yoga, they often look into the best poses or routines for a specific ailment or area or jump right into a yoga class. The amount of yoga-related injuries nearly doubled in 13 years! And most injuries are completely preventable if you follow safe practices.
It’s very easy for you to get injured when something is new and unfamiliar, so keep the following tips in mind as you begin to build your practice in order to prevent injury:
- Don’t push yourself deeper or further if it’s not feasible.
- Remind yourself that it is not a competition.
- Mind your joints, align knees over middle toes, always!
- Don’t dump into your wrists.
- Don’t lock into your joints, It’s always better to micro-bend.
- Keep a slight bend in the knees in forwarding folds.
- Protect the lower back by engaging the core or supporting if necessary.
- Watch your head and neck alignment.
- Rotation happens from the “square” of joints, nowhere else.
- Breath – helps control your blood pressure.
Click here for Do's and Don'ts of Yoga practice –
- Śauca means cleanliness – an important prerequisite for Yoga practice. It includes cleanliness of surroundings, body, and mind.
- Asanas should be practiced on an empty stomach. Consume a small amount of honey in lukewarm water if you feel weak.
- Bladder and bowels should be empty before starting Yogic practices.
- Practice sessions should start with a prayer or an invocation as it creates a conducive environment to relax the mind.
- Yogic practices shall be performed slowly, in a relaxed manner, with an awareness of the body and breath.
- A Warm-up or loosening exercise and stretches before asanas are mandatory to avoid injuries.
- Asanas should be done slowly and one should move to advanced postures with practice.
- Try to eat Satvik food (Avoid meat, eggs, onion, garlic, and mushrooms from diet).
- Stay hydrated before going into yoga practice
- Wear supportive and comfortable clothing. Light and comfortable cotton clothes are preferred to facilitate easy movement of the body.
- Yoga should be practiced in a well-ventilated room with a pleasant draft of air
- Use a mat with a good grip to do Yogasanas
- Be aware of breathing while doing Yogasanas.
- Complete the yoga session with relaxation techniques to cool down
- Do not hold the breath unless it is specially mentioned to do so during the practice.
- Breathing should be always through the nostrils unless instructed otherwise.
- Do not hold the body tight or give undue jerks to the body.
- Perform the practices according to one’s capacity. It takes some time to get good results, so persistent and regular practice is very essential.
- There are contra-indications/ limitations for each Yoga practice and such contra-indications should always be kept in mind.
- Yoga session should end with meditation/ deep silence / Sankalpa / Śānti pāṭha etc.
- Yoga should not be performed in a state of exhaustion, illness, in a hurry, or in acute stress conditions.
- Women should refrain from regular yoga practice especially asanas during their menses. Relaxation techniques and pranayama can be done instead.
- Don’t perform yoga immediately after meals. Wait until 2 to 3 hours after a large meal.
- Don’t shower or drink water or eat food for 30 minutes after doing yoga.
- During illness, surgeries, or any sprains or fractures, one should refrain from Yoga Practice. They can resume yoga after consulting experts.
- Don’t do strenuous exercises after yoga.
- Don’t practice yoga in adverse and extreme weather conditions (too hot, too cold or humid)
- According to the yoga texts for the spiritual seeker, one needs to follow The Yamas or restraints. They are the basic principles that are to be followed to lead spiritual growth.
- They include Ahiṃsā (अहिंसा): Nonviolence; Satya (सत्य): Truthfulness; Asteya (अस्तेय): Not stealing; Brahmacharya (ब्रह्मचर्य): Marital fidelity, sexual restraint; Aparigraha (अपरिग्रहः): Non-avarice, non-possessiveness. Other attributes such as Kṣamā (क्षमा): Patience, forgiveness; Dhrti (धृति): Fortitude, perseverance with the aim to reach the goal, Dayā (दया): Compassion Ārjava (आर्जव): Non-hypocrisy, sincerity, Mitāhāra (मिताहार): Measured diet, etc are also to be adopted.
Consult health experts if you have any health condition or you are pregnant before doing yoga practice.
Click here for Benefits of Yoga –
If you’re a passionate yoga practitioner, you’ve probably noticed some yoga benefits maybe you’re sleeping better or getting fewer colds or just feeling more relaxed and at ease. But if you’ve ever tried telling a newbie about the benefits of yoga, you might find that explanations like “It increases the flow of prana” or “It brings energy up your spine” fall on deaf or skeptical ears.
As it happens, Western science is starting to provide some concrete clues as to how yoga works to improve health, heal aches and pains, and keep sickness at bay. Once you understand them, you’ll have even more motivation to step onto your mat, and you probably won’t feel so tongue-tied the next time someone wants Western proof.
Yoga improves your health in the following ways –
- Improves Flexibility – Improved flexibility is one of the first and most obvious benefits of yoga. During your first class, you probably won’t be able to touch your toes, never mind do a backbend. But if you stick with it, you’ll notice a gradual loosening, and eventually, seemingly impossible poses will become possible. You’ll also probably notice that aches and pains start to disappear.
- Builds muscle strength – Strong muscles do more than looking good. They also protect us from conditions like arthritis and back pain and help prevent falls in elderly people. And when you build strength through yoga, you balance it with flexibility.
- Perfects your posture – Your head is like a bowling ball—big, round, and heavy. When it’s balanced directly over an erect spine, it takes much less work for your neck and back muscles to support it. Poor posture can cause back, neck, and other muscle and joint problems.
- Prevents cartilage and joint breakdowns – Each time you practice yoga, you take your joints through their full range of motion. This can help prevent degenerative arthritis or mitigate disability by “squeezing and soaking” areas of cartilage that normally aren’t used. Joint cartilage is like a sponge; it receives fresh nutrients only when its fluid is squeezed out and a new supply can be soaked up.
- Protects your spine – Spinal disks—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 backbends, forward bends, and twists, you’ll help keep your disks supple.
- Betters your bone health – It’s well documented 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, help strengthen the arm bones, which are particularly vulnerable to osteoporotic fractures.
- Increases your blood flow – Yoga gets your blood flowing. More specifically, the relaxation exercises you learn in yoga can help your circulation, especially in your hands and feet. Yoga also gets more oxygen to your cells, which function better as a result.
- Drains your lymph and boosts your immunity – When you contract and stretch muscles, move organs around, and come in and out of yoga postures, you increase the drainage of lymph (a viscous fluid rich in immune cells). This helps the lymphatic system fight infection, destroy cancerous cells, and dispose of the toxic waste products of cellular functioning.
- Ups your heart rate – yoga practice lowers the resting heart rate, increases endurance, and can improve your maximum uptake of oxygen during exercise—all reflections of improved aerobic conditioning. One study found that subjects who were taught only pranayama could do more exercise with less oxygen.
- Drops your blood pressure – If you’ve got high blood pressure, you might benefit from yoga. The effects of savasana ( corpse pose) with simply lying on the couch regularly will show a drop in diastolic blood pressure.
- Founds a healthy lifestyle – Move more, eat less—that’s the adage of many a dieter. Yoga can help on both fronts. A regular practice gets you moving and burns calories and the spiritual and emotional dimensions of your practice may encourage you to address any eating and weight problems on a deeper level. Yoga may also inspire you to become a more conscious eater.
- Helps you focus – An important component of yoga is focusing on the present. Studies have found that regular yoga practice improves coordination, reaction time, memory, and even IQ scores. People who practice Transcendental Meditation demonstrate the ability to solve problems and acquire and recall information better.
- Relaxes your system – Yoga encourages you to relax, slow your breath, and focus on the present, shifting the balance from the sympathetic nervous system (or the fight-or-flight response) to the parasympathetic nervous system. The latter is calming and restorative; it lowers breathing and heart rates, decreases blood pressure, and increases blood flow to the intestines and reproductive organs.
- Improves your balance – Regularly practicing yoga increases proprioception (the ability to feel what your body is doing and where it is in space) and improves balance. Better balance could mean fewer falls. For all of us, postures like Tree Pose can make us feel less wobbly on and off the mat.
- Maintains your nervous system – Some advanced yogis can control their bodies in extraordinary ways, many of which are mediated by the nervous system. Scientists have monitored yogis who could induce unusual heart rhythms, generate specific brain-wave patterns, and, using a meditation technique, raise the temperature of their hands by 15 degrees Fahrenheit.
Advantages and benefits of Yoga are numerous so form a habit of practicing yoga daily.
Quotes from Yoga Gurus
“Yoga does not transform the way we see things; it transforms the person who sees.” –B.K.S. Iyengar
“I offer you peace. I offer you love. I offer you friendship. I see your beauty. I hear your need. I feel your feelings. My wisdom flows from the highest source. I salute that source in you. Let us work together for unity and love” -Gandhi
“Yoga is a dance between control and surrender – between pushing and letting go – and when to push and when to let go becomes part of the creative process, part of the open-ended exploration of your being.” -Joel Kramer
“Yoga is not about what you do. It is about how you do it.” –Adriene Mishler
“I was looking for someone to inspire me, motivate me, support me, keep me focused… Someone who would love me, cherish me, make me happy, and I realized all along that I was looking for myself.” -Unknown
“In karma yoga, no effort is ever lost, and there is no harm. Even a little practice of this discipline protects one from great fear of birth and death.” -Bhagavad Gita
“The attitude of gratitude is the highest yoga.” –Yogi Bhajan
“Without proper breathing, yoga postures are nothing more than calisthenics.” –Rachel Schaeffer
“In our uniquely human capacity to connect movement with breath and spiritual meaning, yoga is born.” –Gurmukh Kaur Khalsa
“Do not feel lonely. The entire universe is inside of you.” -Rumi
“I am standing on my own altar; The poses are my prayers” -B.K.S. Iyengar
“True meditation is about being fully present with everything that is including discomfort and challenges. It is not an escape from life.” -Craig Hamilton
“The nature of yoga is to shine the light of awareness into the darkest corners of the body.” –Jason Crandell
“For me, yoga is not just a workout – it’s about working on yourself.” -Mary Glover
“Yoga is the study of balance, and balance is the aim of all living creatures: it is our home.” –Rolf Gates
“Yoga has sly, clever ways of short-circuiting the mental patterns that cause anxiety.” -Baxter Bell
“The chakras are very intelligent. They are like the software of the whole computer body.” -Dharma Mittra
“The rhythm of the body, the melody of the mind, and the harmony of the soul create the symphony of life.” -B.K.S. Iyengar
“Yoga is essentially a practice for your soul, working through the medium of your body.” -Tara Fraser
“Meditation is like a gym in which you develop the powerful mental muscles of calm and insight” -Ajahn Brahm
“Practicing yoga during the day is a matter of keeping your eyes on the road and one ear turned toward the infinite.” – Erich Schiffmann
“You should sit in meditation for 20 minutes a day unless you’re too busy; then you should sit for an hour.” -Old Zen Saying
“Chair pose is a defiance of spirit, showing how high you can reach even when you’re forced down.” -Terri Guillemets
50 Yoga Poses