- What is yoga?
- What are the benefits of yoga practice?
- Who can practice yoga?
- Are there age limits to yoga?
- Will my health improve when I practise yoga?
- I have a stiff body. Can I practice yoga?
- Which diseases can be treated with yoga?
- Can children do yoga?
- What about yoga for women?
- What about yoga during pregnacy?
The word yoga means “union” in Sanskrit, the language of ancient India where yoga originated. We can think of the union occurring between the mind, body and spirit. What is commonly referred to as “yoga” can be more accurately described by the Sanskrit word asana, which refers to the practice of physical postures or poses. Asana is only one of the eight “limbs” of yoga, the majority of which are more concerned with mental and spiritual well-being than physical activity. In the West, however, the words asana and yoga are often used interchangeably.
Everyone can benefit from practicing yoga. It can be used to manage stress, prepare for childbirth, recover from injuries or improve health and fitness. It can give one a philosophical perspective of life, bring tranquillity and mental strength. There is no-one who cannot benefit from its practice.
The elimination of the drudgery in our lives has left us with an immobile, sedentary lifestyle, where the intellect holds sway over the body in the pursuit of happiness. But the lack of natural exercise in our lives has left many people with chronic health and stress problems, especially as they get older. Yoga enables the student to find relief from these physical ailments and to strengthen the body and make it more supple.
When you practice yoga you will find that it works on all levels of the body, mind and spirit.
Physically as a beginner, you will experience the practice of yoga as a form of physical exercise that enables you to improve your strength, flexibility, stamina and balance. However, more than other forms of exercise you will also feel an increased sense of well being and vitality as the body is exercised organically- the inner organs, circulation, joint action etc. are all worked so as to improve their function and efficiency. One thus overcomes many symptoms of an imbalanced modern life, such as headaches, stiff necks, lower backache, insomnia and digestive disorders, and to harness one’s energy bringing vitality to everyday activities. Thus health as opposed to merely fitness improves also.
As one progresses with yoga one becomes aware of this occurring within one’s self also. It steadies the emotions and encourages a caring concern for others. Above all, it gives hope. The practice of breathing techniques calms the mind. Its philosophy sets life in perspective. In the realm of the spiritual, yoga brings awareness and the ability to be still. Through meditation, inner peace is experienced. Thus yoga is a practical philosophy involving every aspect of a person’s being. It teaches the evolution of the individual by the development of self-discipline and self-awareness.”
Anyone regardless of age, sex, nationality, religion or social status can practice Yoga.
It is not recommended that Children younger than 7-8 years practice yoga. Although younger children can playfully be introduced to yoga, they should never be forced as this can damage their spine and other joints because their bodies are still developing.
There is no upper age limit and it is never too old to learn yoga.
Yoga does help in overcoming health problems. One needs to note that health is not just a disease-free state but a state of physical, mental and emotional spiritual . Diseases may be dormant, interrupted or in a fully active stage and an individual is able to detect the disease depending upon his/her sensitivity. Most individuals realise that they have a problem only when the symptoms start showing. In such cases, yoga asanas are taught in such a manner that the patient gets symptomatic relief. Later, the patient has to continue with their practice so as to get at the root of the disease.
Although it might at first sight appear that someone who is very flexible can perform yoga asanas (postures) better than a stiff person, this is a misconception. Yoga should not be confused with gymnastics. Yoga aims to develop one’s understanding, alignment and awareness through subtle adjustments made to the body – the skin, muscles, tendons and joints etc – while in a yoga posture. The aim is to attain firmness, stability and a feeling of exhilaration in an asana – to make “the effortful effort becomes an effortless effort.”
It is therefore not important whether you can touch your head to the knees when bending forward or whether you can sit in full lotus but how well one attempts to do so. Quality not quantity matters. That is not to say that flexibility does not make achieving postures easier, but it is only one element of many necessary for a good
Fortunately flexibility is also developed with dedicated practice and devoted students can develop their flexibility to the level of any ballet dancer.
Therapeutic Yoga can provide relief from chronic health problems. Some of the chronic ailments for which people have benefited from Yoga practice include:
- Skeleto-muscular disorders; arthritis and pains in the knees, shoulders and other joints, curvatures of the back and back pain, slipped discs and sciatic pain.
- Circulatory disorders; heart problems, hypotension, hypertension, circulatory problems in the legs.
- Digestive disorders; constipation, acidity, diabetes and hernias.
- Respiratory disorders; asthma, coughs, colds and bronchitis.
- Nervous disorders; headaches, migraines, sinusitis and stress.
- Reproductive disorders; menstrual problems, uterine displacement and menopausal problems.
If suffering from any medical condition, it is essential to inform your teacher. Serious medical conditions require the attention of a suitably qualified remedial instructor with the necessary training and experience.
Yoga can be safely introduced to children at around seven years.
When young they need to be taught in a playful manner such that they can enjoy what they are doing and are so motivated to continue with it. The basic nature of children is dynamic and they love things which are fast and quick; their minds are very alert but never very steady and therefore they constantly need variety.
In practice this means postures should be taught in quick succession with plenty of variety and continuous challenges such that their latent energy is used positively. Gradually precision and perfection can be introduced as they grow. Introducing yoga to children develops in them the attributes of courage, concentration and determination.
should never be taught to children as this goes against their basic nature.
is “internalisation” while children are basically extrovert by nature. Their curiosity and exuberance should not be trounced as this can lead to emotional disturbances in later life.
Yoga can be practiced by women of all ages and at all stages of life. Practice is beneficial, even during menstruation and pregnancy although the practice needs to be adjusted depending on one’s circumstances. Certain postures are extremely helpful for a women’s physiology, especially to overcome menstrual disorders and also to withstand the physiological and emotional changes accompanying menopause.
Yoga practice during pregnancy is beneficial to the mother as well as the unborn child. However, one must be careful if unsure.
In pregnancy, one cannot practice as usual and the guidance of a suitably qualified teacher should be sought. Special pregnancy classes are recommended as certain postures must not be practiced and others must be adjusted to take into account the condition of the baby and the mother. Above all one should feel no strain or tiredness during or after yoga. Also, how one practices needs to change as the pregnancy progresses. If in doubt it is best to leave the practice of yoga until the baby has been born so there is no risk.
In practice the postures help relieve tiredness and tension. The spine is also well exercised easing back pain and the pelvic floor strengthened. The pelvic area is also expanded encouraging circulation around the uterus and ensuring there is space for the baby to move.
After pregnancy, yoga practice will help the mothers body return to normal shape and strength more quickly.
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YOGA & BENEFIT
Yoga – Self Motivation, Improved Personality, Helthy Lifestyle.
Yoga practicing makes you an yogi who is able to live in this material world, enjoy all the pleasures and exercise self control. Self motivation is necessary and a good guide can bring about drastic changes in your personality.