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.
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.
If you have a home asana practice, you may find that time and again you’re practicing your favorite poses. If your back is very flexible, for example, you probably include a lot of backbends. If your hips are open, it’s likely you include poses that increase that flexibility because they feel good; if you’re strong, you may include a lot of arm balances in your session.
While it can be uncomfortable for some people to talk about constipation, it’s even more uncomfortable to experience the bloating, heaviness in the abdomen, the strain to pass stool, and the lack of energy that comes with it.
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.
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.
The practice of yoga asanas is truly a boon for the deskbound, both for one’s physical and mental health.
Even just a few exercises done at or next to your desk throughout the day lets you enjoy a boost of energy, a wave of relaxation, and a clarity of mind that makes you more focused, productive, and solution-oriented.
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.
With the fall upon us and winter not far away, respiratory conditions like allergies and colds become more prevalent. Luckily, yoga techniques offer several ways to strengthen our respiratory system and hopefully fend them off before they can take hold.
A common misconception these days is that in order to benefit from yoga asanas, we have to strive hard, work up a sweat, do extreme poses, and really push our limits. While there’s nothing wrong with challenging ourselves, practicing yoga asanas in a gentle, passive way has many benefits. It allows us to slow down and really check in with what’s going on in our body, to respect our limitations and work with them to gradually increase our well-being.