Many of us in modern life today are under stress all time. However, we still have to stay in control. If this goes on for a long time, we can react to stress with poor eating habits, release of more stress hormones, and even by manifesting cardiac risk factors.
However, there is a way to reduce these risk factors and even reverse them without turning to prescription drugs. All it takes is some discipline and to develop some habits over your lifetime that will work in tandem with your ordinary diet and exercise programs. Yoga is one of these; it can help you relearn the state of peace and harmony that you want your mind and body to be in. It will help you relax.
Yoga is one of the most prominent forms of meditative exercise within the growing mind-body health movement. Other forms include qigong, tai chi, and other exercise techniques that include meditation. Mind-body fitness comes from Eastern philosophies and religions. These practices improve both your emotional and physical well being.
Mind-body exercise has many benefits; these benefits are showing themselves to be bona fide even under careful scientific scrutiny. In fact, mind-body exercise can do many things, not the least of which are to reduce cardiac risk and enhance mood.
Yoga’s kind, gentle movements are easy on the joints and yet still improves strength and flexibility, as well as muscle tone. In fact, it can make you more youthful than the sometimes jarring effects of aerobics, weight lifting, or running.
In fact, practicing yoga can impact every part of your existence. Most modern Western practitioners, for example, focus on the physical asanas, or positions. However, many others utilize yoga as a path to bliss and live their lives in its all-encompassing embrace.
Yoga has lofty goals indeed, but in fact practicing it is wonderfully simple and you can do it anywhere, anytime. If you take yoga to its extremes, you can utilize yoga’s dietary practices and moral codes as well as its meditative practices. More commonly, though, it’s utilized as a combination of asanas (or postures), meditation and breathing exercises, also called pranayama.
Authors have written entire books on how to breathe during yoga. When you deep breathe, you calm yourself, but you also energize yourself at the same time. You can feel very energized from a few minutes of careful deep breathing, but it’s a different kind of energy than many of us are used to feeling. Not jittery or hyper, this type of energy is calm and steady.
If you’re feeling particularly stressed, try this five-minute “breath break” to energize yourself and release stress. Read through the instructions several times before you actually try following the steps.
1. With your spine as straight as possible, sit in a chair or on the floor. If you sit in a chair, your feet should be flat on the floor with knees directly over the center of your feet. If your feet don’t rest comfortably on the floor, put a book or cushion under your feet so that your knees are perpendicular to your hips. Your hands should be on the tops of your legs, palms down, open and relaxed.
2. Close your eyes gently and simply rest them, lids closed.
3. Picture your ribs at the back, front and sides of your body. Your lungs reside behind your ribs.
4. Now, slowly breathe in, filling your lungs up from the bottom. Picture your ribs expanding out and up. Now, breathe out, slowly, with your lungs emptying from top to bottom and your ribs gently contracting back down and in. Don’t push the breath out.
5. When you first do this, do it for two or three minutes. As you become more practiced, do it for 5 or 10 minutes. When you first begin, set aside a time once per day to do this. As you become more accustomed to it and realize how good it makes you feel, you’ll want to practice it throughout your day at various times.
Kim Archer is publisher of women’s wellness site The Internet Spa at http://www.internet-spa.com/ where you’ll find the information you need to rejuvenate your mind, body and spirit.