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How a Yogic way of life can transform your health
Yoga dates back more than 5,000 years, originating as a spiritual Hindu practice. Today you can find literature on yoga and studios all over the world. True yoga is a holistic lifestyle, not just a physical practice. The focus of yoga should be on well-being, personal growth and development, not on materialistic things. Yoga incorporates three important elements which are postures (or poses), breathing techniques, and meditation.
Almost everyone thinks of body contortion and twisty poses when they think about yoga. A pose, or an asana, helps the body in a number of ways, depending on the pose. These postures can range from easy to very challenging. There are nine types of poses; seated, standing, balance, bends, lying, twists, inversions, plank and relaxation. Each type of asana has different benefits. Seated poses help bring inner peace as they promote deep breathing. These poses can also help strengthen back muscles and increase flexibility in hips and back. Standing poses help align the body and spine. These poses are great for improving posture. Mountain pose is one of the fundamental standing poses.
Balance poses can be challenging, but they are extremely beneficial. They will improve coordination, posture, and agility. These poses will also tone your muscles as they work your entire body. Balance poses also help develop attention and focus, as they are required to properly perform these positions. There are two types of Bend asanas, forward and back. Forward bends stretch the back and hamstrings while releasing upper body tension. Back bends stretch the hips and chest while working shoulders and arms. Both improve flexibility in the spine and help prevent injury. Lying asanas on the back stretch abdominal muscles. Lying stomach asanas strengthen back and arms. Both relieve tension and improve spinal and hip flexibility.
Twists are some of the best poses for relieving tension and backaches. These types of poses are used in physical therapy for aiding in the recovery process. Twists strengthen the back and improve shoulder and hip flexibility. Make sure you twist to both sides so you maintain proper balance. Inverted asanas are very challenging but are very rewarding. The most popular poses are the King (headstand), Queen (shoulder stand), and Prince (plow) asanas. Inversions stimulate thinking by increasing blood flow to the brain. These poses also relieve tension or pain in the legs, strengthen the core upper body muscles, and increase stamina.
Plank poses are great for building arm, wrist and back muscles. Side plank poses also work shoulders. Hold plank poses for at least one minute for the best results. Plank asanas are a great way to prepare for inversion poses. Finally, relaxation poses do exactly as they are named! These poses instill a deep sense of calm and tranquility. They bring peace to body and mind, which allows for deep relaxation. Use relaxation asanas throughout your yoga routine. They work at the beginning, middle, end, or all three. Though these seem like easy asanas, they can actually be quite challenging as it is hard for the body to fully relax. Through practice, though, it will become increasingly easier. Though each pose is done a specific way, there is no singular way to practice a pose. Everyone’s body is different. Each person will have a slightly different way to express their asanas with their body. It is never okay to make fun of another for their postures. This is known as pose shaming, and is not proper etiquette for the yoga lifestyle!
Yogic way, or yoga lifestyle, is more than just the postures, meditation, and breathing techniques. It incorporates a sense of good-will and care towards others, self-awareness, and non-violence. Though yoga involves a great deal of self-awareness, it does not mean the practice is solely about an individual. True yoga also incorporates service to others as a key component. You should be giving back to the community around you and living by the “golden rule” – solve others how you want to be solved. Yogic way is also the non-violent way. People who practice true yoga share peace not fists. Violence is more than just physical. It can manifest mentally and verbally as negative thoughts and words towards ourselves or others. Yogic way means being kind in thoughts, words, and action.
A yogic diet consists of all the necessary proteins, vitamins, and minerals, without the inclusion of meat, fish, poultry or eggs. A yogic diet is balance of fruits, grains, vegetables, nuts, legumes, and most dairy products. A proper yogic diet only consists of fresh and unprocessed foods. These are the most nutritious and provide the most energy. A diet like this is light on the stomach, but completely sustaining. With a vegetarian diet you’ll feel better because you are eating correctly. You will also have more energy and be able to strengthen the body with ease. You might be missing out on meat, but you’re really saving your health!
Aside from the moral reasons to not eat meat, there are plenty of health reasons that will make it a little easier to kick. When an animal dies, its proteins release toxins. The human liver can only do so well to siphon out these toxins. A high consumption rate of meat will pollute the body with harmful toxins. Vegetables do not release toxins when they break down. Cellulose is the main element in vegetable tissue decomposition, and it is harmless to the body. Meat also produces a lot of acid in the body, not just in the stomach but in the blood. Acidic blood increases your risk for cancer by more than 50%. A buildup of this acid in the bloodstream also makes it harder to meditate and maintain clarity of thought. Meat is the number one contributor to heart disease and high cholesterol. These days, most of the animals used for consumption are fed a toxic concoction of chemicals and hormones. The animals grow bigger and faster, but at great risk to the consumer. It is safe to say, meat is not healthy or worth the risk. A vegetarian diet is much healthier and can taste just as good (if not better) when prepared right!
Transitioning to a vegetarian diet can be challenging. Try starting the transition slowly by gradually removing meats from your diet. Work in vegetarian entrees as substitutes. Also, increase the amount of fresh produce you consume regularly. Start by going completely vegetarian just one day a week. Slowly increase the number of days until you’re a vegetarian seven days a week. Another method is to start by removing all processed foods from your diet. Then, slowly replace meat with vegetarian dishes. Lastly, you can always go “cold turkey” and cut out meat entirely from the start. This final method is the hardest, but the fastest if done successfully. Everyone has different dietary needs. It is important that your diet reflects your needs to maintain a healthy body and metabolism.
When you’re practicing yoga, you’re leading a better and healthier life. You’ll be stronger, fitter, happier, and spreading good will. Learning the basic poses, breathing and meditation techniques doesn’t take long. With the right teacher anyone can practice yoga! Advanced yoga techniques take a little longer to master, but the benefits are worth the time. Regular yoga practice improves posture, balance, and mood. It also strengthens body’s systems, muscles and bones. You’ll find relief to stress and tension through relaxing deep meditation and physical poses that release endorphins. Yoga helps improve on focus and mental acuity. With a yogic way of life you will feel better and be energized!
Be sure to check out our article on Advanced Yoga for Healing! This site also has resources on other valuable alternative wellness therapies. You can feel better and be healthier naturally. If you’re looking for a healthy lifestyle with a huge backing, yoga is for you. Give it a try today and see what a difference it makes!