Yoga for Everyone
We all wish for good health and happiness for ourselves and our loved ones. We put in sincere efforts to reach these goals by exercising and working hard to meet the needs that we think will bring us satisfaction. But it seems that we are constantly struggling, and even in our quest to be healthier and happier; we bring more stress to ourselves. Work, study, health, family and relationships are just some of the areas we juggle to maintain a sense of balance and ease.
To add to this there is intense environmental stress from constant external stimulation via television, the internet, road traffic and noise, the lack of open space, and even competitive sports. We usually don't think of these influences as stressful, but often they are. The bustling pace of our busy lives can have a profound effect on our ability to deal with the challenges of daily life and our coping mechanisms.
Yoga is seen by an increasing number of people as an antidote to the challenges of urban city life - as a way to break away from the cycle of stress that we are caught up in. Documentation and research lists yoga's health benefits to include increased physical flexibility and strength, stress reduction, increased focus, lowering of depression and anxiety, detoxification of the body and management of blood pressure.
Yoga offers a way to be healthy and stay active, to contribute to society in a positive way, and to age gracefully. Regular and consistent exercising of muscles and joints in a particular sequence keeps the physical body free of major illnesses. Through movement we have better blood circulation and over a period of time we develop endurance, flexibility and control over our body and thought processes.
Swimming, walking, running, tennis, and team sports such as soccer all exercise the body, while games like chess and mahjong sharpen the mind and its focus.
Yoga offers a unique combination of working almost all parts of the body that encompasses asana (pronounced ah-saa-na), breath work called pranayama (pronounced praa-na-yaa-ma) and techniques to engage the mind. It is non-competitive, does not require elaborate equipment to start and can be practised by anyone of any age and physical & mental capacity.
Guidelines to practice:
• Create a safe and comfortable environment to practice. This could be in the open - on the beach, on green lawns under the sky, at home or work using a carpet or mat as a steady base.
• Try to stick to a schedule.
• Wear clothes that are comfortable and that allow you free movement.
• Do not eat too much before practice.
• Your practice should create a sense of lightness and ease. There should not be any pain in your body or a sense of struggle in the mind.
• Feeling stretching in the body is normal - pain is not.
• Move mindfully and slowly through practice so that you do not injure yourself.
• Be playful, creative and enjoy your practice. You are more likely to continue something you enjoy.
• Practise with a competent teacher. Choose a style of yoga practice that supports and balances your life. For example, classical hatha yoga is a very good introduction. If are an athlete, ashtanga vinyasa, which develops strength and endurance in a dynamic and static manner, may be a practice that you might find beneficial. If you are pregnant, a specialised class may be more appropriate.
• Never overdo any practice. Yoga is not a competitive sport. Follow your own pace and don't judge yourself.
• Be safe, be comfortable and be happy
• These are general guidelines. If you have any specific conditions or concerns you should speak to your health care provider and ensure that your practice includes postures suitable for you. Not all postures are suitable for everyone.
Sujata invites you to contact her with questions or comments via email
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