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Yoga Insights

Get High with Yoga Breathing and Meditation

Just about everyone enjoys the natural high they get from being out in nature and breathing in fresh air—whether surfing, skiing, hiking, or just taking a leisurely stroll. But when we don’t have the opportunity to get outside, we can turn to some of yoga’s more introspective techniques for an uplifting natural high.

Yoga breathing and meditation, especially when practiced together, make us feel vibrant and alive, yet calm, relaxed, and peaceful at the same time. How does it work? Focusing on our breath activates the parasympathetic nervous system, helping us let go of the stress we experience in our daily lives and returning us to our natural state of calm. The moment we begin to observe our breath, it naturally begins to slow down and deepen. We can enhance this process with yoga breathing techniques—consciously slowing and lengthening the breath (always within our comfort range of course—never gasping for breath). This takes some mental focus, which can be challenging since the mind is always jumping from one thing to another.

This is where adding Yoga Sound Meditation to the breath can be so helpful. By using sound as a focal point for our meditation and our breath, it becomes easier to keep the mind focused. We think of the sound on the inhalation, then listen to it with our ears on the exhalation. We can also focus on its vibration in our mouth and throughout the body, which helps keep the mind from wandering. What’s more, the sounds themselves have a spiritual potency that goes beyond simply calming the mind and relaxing the body. While yoga breathing and a controlled mind are calming and enlivening, when combined with Yoga Sound Meditation, we get a natural high that makes our hearts feel happy.

I invite you to experience this for yourself by practicing with me here: Yoga Sound Meditation with Breathing

The Real Purpose of Yoga

Some people practice yoga to attain a perfect body—in terms of lasting beauty and health. However, such a goal is impossible to achieve. A real yogi recognizes this fact. A real yogi knows that the purpose of yoga asanas and breathing techniques is to attain optimum health—or one’s best possible physical condition, given their genetics, history, lifestyle, environment, and age.

Yoga for the Immune System

Practicing yoga asanas, even doing gentle poses for just 15 minutes a day, releases tension from our bodies, reduces our stress, and strengthens our immune system, all of which help keep away winter ills like coughs and colds. Doing Salute to the Sun regularly is also quite beneficial for building up resistance to coughs and colds. Yoga asanas in general help us breathe more fully, which strengthens our lungs and helps make them more resilient to viruses that are often floating around. Regular practice is key for prevention, because once you catch a cold, it’s best to rest.

Yoga Poses For Good Digestion

When we’re young, we rarely think about our digestion. But often, after years of living with stress, eating on the run, overeating, eating the wrong kinds of food, all combined with the natural effects of getting older, our digestion may gradually weaken. We may experience heartburn, gas, or belching, or just feel uncomfortably full after a meal.

Yoga Postures Help Keep Bones Strong

I’m sure we all know of an elderly man or woman who has fallen and broken a hip. This is a painful and often traumatic experience requiring surgery, rest, and recovery time. It can take several months of using a cane or walker to regain mobility. This can be quite demoralizing to someone in their later years, who may already be struggling to retain their independence. Generally hip and other bone fractures in the elderly are due to osteoporosis, or the loss of bone mass.

Asana Practice for a Healthy Back

Since ancient times, yogis teaching and practicing asanas have placed a great deal of emphasis on the back, especially the spine.

They appreciated the value of keeping the spinal column straight, strong, flexible, and relaxed. Not only does a healthy spine have a favorable impact on your overall comfort and mobility (both present and future), but it also benefits your internal organs, glands, and tissue. A healthy back and spine also helps increase your energy level and improves the circulation of prana (subtle energy) throughout the body. 

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