Anahata Blogs & Articles

Daily Cup of Yoga …

Find out how yoga can make a difference in your life with a dose of Yoga Articles and blogs here...

“Yoga is the ultimate practice. It simultaneously stimulates our inner light and quiets our overactive minds. It is both energy and rest. Yin and Yang. We feel the burn and find our bliss.” 

Take a Deep Breath in, Now Release, and Find Inner Peace With These Amazing Yoga Blogs!

Many of us are looking for ways to exercise, relieve stress, and adopt a healthy, positive mindset these days. Fortunately, yoga is an effective approach to address these demands, whether in a socially isolated, masked class or in the privacy of your own home! And you may breathe a sigh of relief since we’ve compiled a list of many yoga articles for both yogis and beginners…

Besides an exercise in general, yoga also has roots as a practice of spirituality, which helps individuals feel their connection to others and to the universe as a whole. Others who appreciate yoga may not understand what chakra balancing entails and merely regard it as a great workout. After all, yoga can help with back discomfort, posture, weight loss, and coordination, among other things. There are also other classes and methods to choose from, including Vinyasa, Power, Hatha, Aerial, Restorative, Pranayama, and others.

Whether you’re just getting started, love “Child’s Pose” or “Savasana,” or enjoy going to yoga sessions on a daily basis, there’s enough to inspire you in these blogs to join us!

Many of you ask us, ‘Which is a good Yoga Mat to practice on??’

Throwing a little light on what we found out over these years…Having a proper mat is as important as having a good brush for painting…..

However good you Maybe, if the tool is not supporting you, the results will not be great.

So understanding and investing in a proper mat is very important. It’s very very important to have your own mat and practice on your own mat, it’s like a toothbrush, who would want to brush with someone else’s toothbrush (yuck) isn’t it?

In today’s time, it’s even more important to use and practice on your individual yoga mats. A Yoga Mat not only prevents our hands and feet from slipping, provides cushioning for our knees, ankles, and elbows, acts as a shock absorber, but also acts as an insulator and prevents our energies to drain down and getting sucked by the earth.

It is thus very crucial that we choose the yoga mats wisely. A good yoga mat would be something that provides a good cushioning for our joints, a good grip on our palms and feet, is durable and is also friendly to our skin, and is friendly to the environment too.

These are the different kinds which are more regularly available.

We would always recommend to go for a natural mat than a foam mat,and using something which is non slippery, provides good cushioning and is durable.

We do stock the natural cork mats by Eco Corner and we can ship them to you directly or you can pick up from the studio at a discounted rate!

Blog 1: Which is a good Yoga Mat to Practice On?

Let us take a look at the few mats available these days, we don’t claim this to be an exhaustive list but few which are commonly seen:

1) FOAM MATS

  • Readily available everywhere, local sports shop, groceries, supermarkets almost everywhere.
  • Price range 250- few thousand
  • Thickness 3mm to 6mm

👍 points

  • Readily available 
  • Affordable 

👎points

  • Chips off very easily.
  • Non biodegradable thus not environment friendly.
  • The cheaper once especially does not have a good grip,and one can slip while practicing.
  • If one sweats a lot on the palms,it will be uncomfortable for them.

2) Natural Mats

CORK MATS: These are made of cork and rubber.

👍 points

  • Durable, lasts long, does not chip off.
  • Low maintenance, can just wipe off to clean.
  • Good grip, provides good stability
  • Biodegradable, thus environment friendly
  • Made from natural products, thus safe for the skin.

👎points

  • Slightly expensive, but lasts long.
  • Might feel hard to the beginners.

3) JUTE MAT

👍 points

  • Jute and rubber, thus natural product
  • Environment Friendly
  • Good cushioning
  • Good Grip 
  • Durable

👎points

  • Jute fiber keeps coming off.
  • Heavy to carryOn the expensive side.

4) RUBBER MATS

👍 points

  • Great feel to it
  • Good cushioning

👎points

  • Expensive
  • High maintenance
  • Heavy to carry (there are travel mats available in this section,they are light weight but are very thin,so might not provide great cushioning).

5) COTTON & STRAW MATS

👍 points

  • Readily available 
  • Is affordable
  • Will help the local handloom weavers
  • Easy maintenance

👎points

  • Does not provide good grip. 
  • Easy to slide and slip.
  • Good for pranayam and meditation,but not good for asana practice especially where there is a lot of movement.

Blog 2: Is Something Lacking in Your Yoga Practice?

Are you a hardcore yoga practitioner, especially the more physical oriented vinyasa, power, ashtanga, hot yoga, etc? And still, do you feel you are not getting the desired results, what your practice should bring?

Most probably, what is lacking is one more major component for good health and that is “REST”.

The Autonomic Nervous System

The autonomic nervous system is in charge of unconscious bodily functions, such as heart rate, blood pressure, and digestion. It’s split into two parts: the sympathetic and parasympathetic divisions. The sympathetic system kicks in when you’re under stress — your heart rate and blood pressure shoot up, your breathing accelerates and your digestion grinds to a halt. Often called the “rest and digest” system, the parasympathetic division turns off the stress response, returning your heart rate, breathing, and blood pressure to normal.

The Stress Response

For your cavewoman ancestors, stress likely meant an immediate physical threat. The sympathetic nervous system is well-suited to respond to short-term emergencies, hence its nickname, the “fight or flight” system. Today, however, you may be faced with stressful situations that are not so quickly resolved: conflicts with your boss, financial worries, even traffic jams. When stress becomes a way of life, your sympathetic nervous system doesn’t get the rest it should, which can contribute to health problems like diabetes, depression, autoimmune diseases, heart attacks, and strokes.

Do you swear by healthy eating and are extra careful to take the right diet?

The idea is to bring a beautiful balance between the two parts of the nervous system, the SYMPATHETIC and the PARASYMPATHETIC  NERVOUS SYSTEM so that a beautiful HOMEOSTASIS(internal harmony) is maintained in the body.

Health Benefits

By turning off the sympathetic system and turning on the parasympathetic, yoga gives your heart and circulatory system a break. Yoga practice lowers your heart rate and blood pressure. It improves heart rate variability, a marker of cardiovascular health and a sign of increased parasympathetic activity. Stress plays a role in insulin resistance and diabetes — another risk factor for heart disease. Yoga lowers blood glucose levels and reduces your risk of diabetes.

Other Benefits

Yoga has been shown to alleviate job stress, anxiety, depression, and insomnia. It can help with migraine headaches, as well. There are several theories about how yoga exerts its calming influence on the parasympathetic system. Some researchers point to yoga’s emphasis on slow, deep breathing, which stimulates the parasympathetic system. Others credit its focus on mindfulness and re-training the brain. Yoga poses that massage your body and relax your muscles also help stimulate the parasympathetic system.

But if all this is not happening with your yoga practice, it is time we gave a thought to our practice. We should make sure that we have a balanced practice and the yin and the yang, the solar and the lunar energies are present in our practice. For example, after a good sweaty and heating vinyasa practice make sure it is balanced by a proper savasana. Another way to do this is if we practice yoga for 5 days, out of those 4 days if we have a strong physical muscular practice may be the 5th day we can complement with a restorative/yin practice or a slow Hatha practice with a lot of breathing.

Blog 3: Backbends

Backbends in particular are strong energizing postures. They tap into the circulatory system by increasing blood flow throughout the body, all the way from the head to the toes. Instant energy. Backbends can excite the nervous system leading to an increase in energy levels and boosting your feeling of vitality.

The days you feel down and out, including backbends in your practice can take you out of your blues.

But most of us, when we practice backbends, experience discomfort or pinching in the lower back. And we wonder then, that backbends are supposed to alleviate back pain, then why this discomfort?

This happens when we tend to create most of the bend from the lower back, it can cause compression and pain, and excitement is quickly replaced by fear. Since the lower spine is naturally more flexible than the upper spine, it’s easy to overdo the arch there. Ideally, you work toward an even bend along the whole spine, including your neck. It helps if you learn to work carefully, making conscious choices each step of the way.

To create an even, pain-free backbend, learn to engage your abdominals in the pose—they act as the guide rope that keeps you safe. The abdominals can support and protect your lower back while you reach for more opening in the upper back. Once your lower back is stable, you can focus on contracting your upper-back muscles and pressing your shoulder blades into your back to create space in the spine and open your chest. As long as you feel supported, you can keep going deeper, continuing to press your upper spine in toward the front of your chest and coiling—like a snake—into a big, healthy backbend.

At Anahata Yoga Zone, we use different PROPS like AERIAL SILKS, CHAIRS, WALL ROPES to help us explore backbends in different ways for different body types.

Blog 4: Understanding Pranayama

 It is essential to understand the word pranayama. Pranayama is made up of two words – prana and Ayama. Prana refers to the life force in us and Ayama is generally understood as control but specifically, control through stretching or elaboration/expansion. So pranayama means control of prana by expanding or stretching it. This prana is absorbed by us through various sources. The food that we eat, the water that we drink, the air that we breathe, sunlight, people around us, all give us prana. Out of all these means of absorbing prana, breathing is the most tangible manner of absorbing prana. Or to put it differently, it is at the level of breathing that prana is open for easy manipulation even by ordinary human beings. When we say prana is the life force or vital energy, what we mean is that this prana is responsible for all the activities in the human body – voluntary and involuntary. Voluntary means through the will, so the mind also plays a part there. As regards involuntary activities, it is solely because of prana. So if prana has to be manipulated or controlled, it can be advantageously done by controlling involuntary activities.

Patanjali says ‘tasmin-sati svasa-prasvasa-yor-gati vicchedah pranayamah ‘(II:49).

Having made your body fit through the asanas, pranayama is the break in the pace between inhalation and exhalation. This break in the pace can happen by changing our normal, usual breathing pattern. 

So pranayama effectively happens when the breathing is effectively prolonged.

To summarise and to understand pranayama in a nutshell…

Whenever we are observing our breath and prolonging the inhalation or exhalation or the space between the inhalation and exhalation, we are practicing pranayama. So take out time maybe be as little as 15 mins every day and observe your breath.

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Here lies the paradox…the fact that it is involuntary but it can be controlled. Now we see why breathing is the means of pranayama because breathing is the only involuntary activity that can be voluntarily manipulated by human beings. All other involuntary activities, the human beings have no control over them. The beats of the heart, secretion of bile by the liver, insulin by pancreas…human beings can’t do anything. But when it comes to breathing, though it is also involuntary, we can control breathing and that is why manipulation of prana happens at the level of breathing. That is why breathing practices are also referred to as pranayama practices, though the effects of the two are completely different.

EFFECTS OF PRANAYAMA

Research says that by watching the breathing pattern, the state of the mind can be easily explained. Every state of mind is accompanied by a specific state of breathing, that is the invariable connection between breathing and the state of the mind. And when one does pranayama, making the breath longer and rhythmic with retention in between, automatically the mind becomes calm and peaceful. And that state of mind can easily go towards meditation, can easily do concentration practices.

One of the scriptural text says that pranayama is the highest form of tapa practice. Tapa means the burning of impurities. So if it is param tapa, the highest form of tapa, the practice clears away the shroud of impurities and that inner light shines forth. 

Blog 5: Importance of Ankle Joint

The ankle joint (or talocrural joint) is formed by three bones. These bones are the tibia, fibula, and talus.

Ankle dorsiflexion is vital for many activities. Here is the amount needed for various activities:

Walking: 10 degrees
Biking: 22 degrees
Running: 30 degrees
Squatting: 35-43 degrees

What do you think is the most important joint in the body? Low back? Pelvis? Shoulder or hip? While all of those are great answers and have merit, we often miss out on another very important joint in the body, the Ankle Joint.

How many of us are aware of the biomechanics and importance of the ankle joint,in maintaining good health in our knee, hip, and lower back?

The ankle joint transmits the weight of the body through to the feet and withstands thousands of steps each day. It also sends constant neurological feedback to the brain so that you can stand upright. This makes it an important joint along the kinetic chain of the leg.

If you point your toes like a ballerina, that is called ankle plantarflexion. If you pull your toes and foot towards your knee, that is ankle dorsiflexion. We need a good amount of ankle dorsiflexion in many asanas like down dog, malasan etc. In the absence of the dorsiflexion, if we do malasan for example, not only does it feel unstable but also exerts a lot of pressure on our knees, hips and lower back.

So let’s pretend you don’t have the proper range of motion in the ankle. What happens then? Well, that means other joints and tissues have to take unnecessary stress. Let’s take two examples: running and squatting.

If you don’t have enough ankle mobility for running, that means the Achilles tendon and plantar fascia are going to be under constant stress. Or, you can “cheat” dorsiflexion by running with your foot rotated outwards. While this gives you a bit more dorsiflexion, it creates overpronation. This overpronation can then lead to several issues including knee pain, hip pain and increased risk of ankle sprains.

Squatting requires even more dorsiflexion. And if it’s lacking, it creates more problems. If ankle dorsiflexion isn’t there during a squat, the body only has two ways to deal with it. One option is to lift the heels off the ground. This strategy places a large amount of stress on the knees and hips. The other option is to keep the heel on the ground and stay balanced by rounding the back and bringing the chest down. As you can imagine, this places a lot of stress on the low back.

Problems at the ankle joint can have a major impact on how you walk and negatively influence other joints further along the kinetic chain, including the ankle’s next door neighbor the knee. Hopefully, you realize how important proper ankle dorsiflexion can be and how it can lead to problems not only in the ankle but in the knee, hips and low back as well.

Many yoga poses can help increase ankle dorsiflexion range of motion, especially if you practice them intelligently with the right cues and props. All of the variations described below work by lengthening muscles and tendons on the back of the shins and ankles, and by increasing the dorsiflexion angle at the front of the foot and ankle. It should be noted however that some people have genetically stiff ankles. They are just born that way! For example, some bodies will never be able to press the heels down to the floor in a downward-facing dog pose. But that doesn’t mean you can’t try. Poses like Warrior 1, Chair Pose, Downdog with the heels up on the wall (as shown in the image).

Blog 6: Let’s talk Glutes!

Yes having a great butt is a great asset aesthetically but it’s more than just giving you a great figure. Strong and healthy glute muscles which form your butts is very important for functional movements.

The largest, most important group of muscles in your body are your glutes. These muscles are key players for mobility, being vital for movements such as walking and going up steps. The gluteus maximus, the biggest gluteus muscle, helps propel you forward when you walk or run. The gluteus medius and minimus stabilize the pelvis and promote hip abduction and thigh rotation.

That’s good, it’s important to stretch the muscles, but equally or more important to work on the strength and mobility too.

Strength in your glutes aid’s stability and strength in running. If your stability is compromised, then your body will compensate by trying to provide stability, pushing your natural form out of line resulting in poor mechanics, and ultimately injury.

Do you find Balancing Asanas very challenging? Have you ever noticed while doing balancing postures that your standing leg glute feels as if it’s on fire?

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It could be because you have weak glutes and that’s your glute muscles kicking in to keep you stable while you are balancing.

Our current culture leads many of us to have chronically tight and weak glutes due to excessive sitting and living a sedentary lifestyle. Prolonged sitting from driving in the car, hanging out on a couch, sitting at work, etc. have led gluteus muscles to become more dormant than they should be. Our gutes have become weak, “inactive,” and “switched off” because of an over-reliance on other muscles during everyday movement that should be performed by the glutes.  As a society, we tend to have overdeveloped quads and underdeveloped glutes with tight hip flexor muscles. In fact, the common condition when gluteus muscles are weak and hip flexors are tight is called a “dormant butt syndrome” and it can cause knee, hip, and back pain.

How to test if one has weak glutes?

Trendelenberg Test: This test allows us to test primarily the glute medius and minimus. It begins by having the patient stand on one leg and lift the other off the ground. If the pelvis of the elevated leg cannot stay level with the stance leg side, then the test is positive. It indicates that the stance leg has weak abductors, aka a weak glute medius.

When we run, our glutes hold our pelvis level and steady, extend our hips, propel us forward, and keep our legs, pelvis, and torso aligned. So when our glutes are faulty, our entire kinetic chain is disrupted. That’s why it’s important to work glute exercises into your routine.

Four Reasons to Strengthen Your Glutes:

1) Better Posture

Strong glute muscles provide your spine with the support it needs and the stabilization your pelvis requires in order to have a healthy posture.

2) Improves Your Mobility and Balance

This may sound surprising, but your rear end is capable of generating an incredible amount of power. It is the powerhouse of your body’s mobility level and essential for walking and running. You also need strong glutes for stabilization. Strengthening your gluteus can increase both your mobility and balance.

3) Reduced Chance of Knee, Hip, and Back Injury

Strong glutes protect vulnerable areas of the body such as your hamstrings, knees, and lower back. It is essential that these areas function in a healthy manner in order to perform simple daily activities well. Having a strong rear can also help you avoid tears and sprains in your back muscles. Weak glutes negatively affect lower back alignment which puts back muscles at greater risk of injury.

4) Prevent Back Pain

If the glutes aren’t doing their job, the rest of the body — including the spine — has to pick up the slack and can become overworked and injured.  A common cause of back pain is because the psoas muscle acts as the body’s core stabilizer rather than the glutes. When the psoas is overactive, compression occurs in the lower back, resulting in one of the more common causes of back pain.

Exercises or asanas are some of the best ways to get your butts, get stronger:

Single leg deadlift:

Leg kicks:

Leg raises on the forearm:

Virabhadrasana 3 (static hold)

Fire hydrant

The other component is mobility.

Strengthening the glute can also help improve your mobility in the lower extremities.

Try to do the flow, standing on one leg, six times on each side, and you will feel your glutes working actively while improving your mobility. This is a great strength training workout, using your own body weight.

In fact, yoga can be used as one of the best programmes for functional training too. Because yoga is bodyweight resistance training based on natural movements we use every day. All the postures and moves aim to improve our strength, flexibility, mobility, and endurance (how much depends on the style) so that we stay healthy and pain-free in our day-to-day life.

I think we can happily say that the ancient yogis developed the first functional training program we know of – thousands of years ago!

Blog 7: Yoga Nidra

UNCONSCIOUSLY CONSCIOUS……”Yoga Nidra”…… A Forgotten Science…..

You will benefit from this practice if you suffer from:

  • Chronic Pain
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Chronic fatigue syndrome
  • Depression
  • PTSD (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
  • Insomnia
  • Anxiety
  • Restlessness
  • Or stress-related disorders

Yoga Nidra practice results in deep relaxation and expands the individual’s self-awareness.

Need a nap? Yoga Nidra may be the key to feeling well-rested. Here’s how “yogic sleep” can be even more effective than conventional sleep.

Yoga Nidra is a powerful, ancient form of guided meditation that induces relaxation and healing of the body, mind, and spirit.

Yoga Nidra, a Sanskrit term meaning “yogic sleep” is a deep relaxation technique and a form of meditation. Also called “psychic sleep,” Yoga Nidra is a state between sleeping and waking. The body is completely relaxed and the practitioner turns the awareness inward by listening to a set of instructions; much like a guided meditation. Performing yoga Nidra involves practicing pratyahara (“withdrawal of the senses”), which is the fifth limb of Ashtanga yoga.

This practice is simple, all you do is lay down, listen, and receive as you are guided through all layers of your being to relax, heal, and rejuvenate your body-mind, and spirit. Tantric is a Sanskrit word for expanding, extending, or manifesting. Click Below:

Yoga Nidra helps you maintain your vital life energy, improve your sleep, your mood, and even prevent illness. When you’re struggling with chronic pain, fatigue, or stress of any kind, any little challenge can make you feel like your going to collapse and crumble. It is at this time that you need to reconnect with yourself, your breath, and your environment. Yoga Nidra offers you a way to meet your everyday challenges with poise and balance while reconnecting you to your authentic self.

Regular practitioners of yoga Nidra report that they experience better sleep, less physical pain, and more emotional ease and well-being. It comes from the tantric Yoga tradition.

Regular practice of Yoga Nidra is a healthy habit that rests, restores, and renews the body, mind, and spirit, offering the opportunity to process and release the accumulated stress and tension that cause physical and mental illness.

Blog 8: Yoga For Moon Cycles

It helps balance the ‘Apana ‘ energy in the body which is downward flowing energy and is responsible for elimination and cleansing.

In many years of teaching yoga, We have come across a number of students, some just sail through the classes even when they are in their cycles and some find it even difficult to pull themself out of bed. The debate continues, whether or not to practice asanas during periods.

What we would recommend is doing heavy asana practice during the first two days of the cycle, to avoid deep twists, backbends, and inversions. In fact, take this time as an opportunity to slow down to rest and to renew. One need not avoid practicing yoga totally but will have to change the practice to a gentle restorative practice, doing asanas with the support of the props.

The following asanas are in fact a great way to ease you out of your cramps and discomfort.
It will alleviate back pain and stomach pain and will help you to deal with the mood swings very common at this time. These are gentle supported forward bends which are very calming and nourishing to the nervous system and one should do them for 3-5 mins each with a deep focus on the breath.

1)Jaanushirasana
Bend one knee and keep the other leg stretched, rest the forehead on the chair(you may place a soft cloth or bolster on the chair).
Take soft long deep breathes and focus on the pelvic area.
Repeat on the other side.

2)Upavishtakonasana
Bring your legs into a wide V and bend forward with the forehead resting on the bolster on the chair.
Take deep and calm breathes relax and hold the asana for 3-5 mins.

3)Paschimottanasan
Stretch both legs forward and rest the forehead on the bolster, another prop may be used if a person cannot reach the bolster.
Breathe with awareness.

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After the above asanas, one may sit up and practice a few rounds of Nadi Shodhana Pranayama. This will definitely uplift your mood and will help alleviate the pains and the cramps.

4)Prasarita padottanasan
Stand with the legs wide apart.
Bend forward and place the forehead on the bolster, keep your chest and head in line with the hips.

5)Trikonasana
Turn one foot towards the chair, and stretch the legs wide apart. Bend laterally, keeping the chest and head in the line to the hip, place one forearm on the bolster and stretch the other hand up and above the head. Slow deep breaths and hold for 3-4 mins. Repeat on the other side.

6)Supta Badhakonasana
This is a posture to alleviate menstrual pains and cramps. Lie on the bolster with the hip on the floor and join the soles of the feet together with the knees opening out to the sides. Use two blocks under the thighs if the groin muscles are very tight, alternatively move the feet slightly away from the body. A pose can be done for 6-8 mins or more with awareness on the breath and in the pelvic area.

THE ABOVE SEQUENCE IS ALSO A GREAT ONE FOR WOMEN SUFFERING FROM PCOD AND PCOS.

Blog 9: Yoga for Diabetes Management

The percentage of diabetic patients all over the world is increasing day by day. Diabetes is the third most widespread and serious disease after heart disease and cancer. According to the IDF(International Diabetes Federation), the number of diabetics in the world stands at 365 million, representing around 8.5% of the global population. Diabetes is becoming increasingly more common throughout the world.

The three main symptoms of diabetes are:

  • Increased thirst
  • Increased need to urinate
  • Increased apetite

What is Diabetes?

Diabetes is a metabolic disorder.

Most of the food we eat is turned into glucose, or sugar, for our bodies to use for energy. The pancreas, an organ that lies near the stomach, makes a hormone called insulin to help glucose get into the cells of our bodies. When you have diabetes, your body either doesn’t make enough insulin or can’t use its own insulin as well as it should. This causes sugars to build up in the blood.

Diabetes can cause serious health complications including heart disease, blindness, kidney failure, and lower-extremity amputations. Diabetes is predicted by a clear set of symptoms, but still often goes undiagnosed.

What are the two major types of Diabetes?

Type 1 Diabetes (insulin-dependent):  Requires insulin to treat, is typically developed as a child or young adult and is a disease that destroys pancreatic cells, meaning no insulin production is possible.

Type 2 Diabetes (non-insulin-dependent diabetes): This is considerably more common and typically affects people over the age of 45, who are also overweight. Those suffering from type 2 are unable to produce enough insulin, and sugar builds up in the bloodstream.

How is diabetes controlled?

  • Type 1 Diabetes is controlled with insulin.
  • Type 2 Diabetes can be controlled through diet and exercise.

How does yoga help?

Regular practice of yoga reduces blood sugar levels, blood pressure, weight, rate of progression to complications, and severity of the complications as well. The symptoms are also reduced to a great extent. These findings are uniform for everyone trying to find the effect of yoga on diabetes.

Recently a study was jointly conducted by an Indian Yoga Research organization and Yoga Biomedical Trust. The founder of Yoga Biomedical Trust is a Biochemist named Dr. Robin Monro. The diabetes patients were taught yoga exercises for half an hour and the session took place two or three days per week.

The patients were asked to continue the exercises daily at home. The exercises included spinal twists, breathing, and bows. This continued for 12 weeks and at the end of twelve weeks, it was observed that the blood sugar level of all the patients chopped down significantly.

But for the patients who did not take part in the yoga sessions, the blood sugar remained almost the same. On analyzing the report, the doctors came to the conclusion that 30 minutes of yoga practice daily can reduce blood glucose levels significantly.

According to Dr. Sujit Chandratreya (MD, DM, DNB, Endocrinologist, Diabetologist), this is how yoga works :

  • Glucagons secretion is enhanced by stress. Yoga effectively reduces stress, thus reducing glucagons and possibly improving insulin action.
  • Weight loss induced by yoga is a well accepted mechanism.
  • Muscular relaxation, development and improved blood supply to muscles might enhance insulin receptor expression on muscles causing increased glucose uptake by muscles and thus reducing blood sugar.
  • Blood pressure plays a great role in development of diabetic and related complications, which is proven to be benefited by yoga. The same holds true for increased cholesterol levels.
  • Yoga reduces adrenaline, noradrenalin and cortisol in blood, which are termed as ‘stress hormones’. This is a likely mechanism of improvement in insulin action.
  • Many yogic postures produce stretch on the pancreas, which is likely to stimulate the pancreatic function.

Yoga practices for Diabetes Management

Asanas

Some specific Asanas, given below, have a great effect on the pancreas and other glands. The muscles and organs of the abdominal area are fully activated, and because of this activation, the condition and functioning of the pancreas strengthen. It increases the blood supply to various parts of the body,  improving insulin administration in the body.

Ardha Matsyendrasana
Dhanurasana
YogMudra
Bhujangasana
Paschimothan Asana
Matsyasana
Pavanamukta Asana

Pranayama

Kapalbhati, Bhramari, Nadishodhan (Alternate nostril breathing) are the pranayamas that are considered to be useful in controlling diabetes. It is important to learn the pranayama techniques correctly and practice under guidance to make the practice safe and effective.

Meditation and Relaxation

The practice of meditation gives the best result. Creative visualizing the proper functioning of the pancreas and concentration on the pancreas during the meditation practice has shown positive effects on sugar levels.

………Blog by Sujata Nerurkar……..

Blog 10: What’s In a Face?

Ever wonder why yoga instructors always have a natural glow to their faces, and their skin seems so relaxed? Is it the deep, restorative breaths and meditative state that keep wrinkles at bay, or is it the focused flows of movement that increase circulation or is it the yog nidra, the deep relaxation? Well, it is known that practicing yoga can reduce the signs of aging and give your skin a natural, clear and beautiful glow. 

Sometimes you can judge a book by its cover. Appearance predicts behavior in surprising ways—some of the time. “I am a big believer in the fact that if you focus on good skin care, you really won’t need a lot of makeup” a quote by the beautiful Demi moore. It’s easy to spot a yoga practitioner. If there’s one thing seasoned yoga practitioners are known for it’s great skin.

What’s a Great Skin?

A mirror of great health! Healthy skin is smooth, soft, evenly toned, and appropriate for natural aging. It makes sense, right? And what’s most important is that these external factors symbolize that your skin is functioning properly in that it protects your body from the sometimes unkind effects of the environment, prevents harmful germs and bacteria from penetrating your body, and preserves the skin’s natural waterproof property.

BENEFITS:

  • Yoga postures increase circulation in your body, which helps to smooth your skin.
  • Inversions are especially wonderful, as being upside down sends blood to your brain, which nourishes your face with vital nutrients at the cellular level.
  • Yoga postures also help to balance your chakras, which stimulate your hormonal systems that are responsible for slowing down the aging process.
  • Yoga in general improves the skin by reducing stress (a common catalyst to breakouts and fine lines) and removing toxins from the body.
  • Yoga practise balances your hormones and boosts the flow of oxygen-rich blood to your skin. This naturally keeps your skin resilient and prevents dryness as well as excessive sagging.
  • Yoga tones the muscles of your face and neck.

Though certain practices like Surya Namaskar, forward bending postures like uttanasan or adhomukh shwanasan, or inversions and seated twisting postures are especially beneficial for the skin regular yoga practice is what it takes to get that healthy glow.

So here we go for a practice that will help flush out the entire toxin content from our internal organs:

Kapalbhati: 

This has been practiced by yog gurus and saints for ages and has been referred to as the sanjeevani medicine because of its multilevel benefits. It clears your body of all toxins leaving you feeling fresh and rejuvenated. Kapalbhati infuses a new life into you. Kapalbhati literally is ‘that which shines or brings a glow to the forehead – kapaal’. In Sanskrit, ‘kapaal’ means ‘skull’ or ‘forehead’, and ‘bhati’ means ‘luminous’ and ‘perception’.

Kapalbhati is the practice that brings a state of luminousness, or clarity in the mind as well as the body by-

  • cleansing the nasal passageway and the sinuses.
  • removing carbondioxide gas which is toxic to body and mind.
  • supplying the brain with fresh oxygen rich blood.

Kapalbhati is a rapid diaphragmatic breathing that cleanses and energizes. It is the kriya that cleanses the respiratory tract and destroys all mucous disorders. Broadly speaking, it stimulates an all-around activity in the body. It expels the stagnant air in the lower lobes of the lungs, (which remains there due to shallow breathing). It also clears out the air passage, the lungs, and the nostrils.

It is essentially a voluntary abdominal breathing practice with a focus on forceful exhalations. In normal breathing inhalation is active but exhalation is passive. In Kapalabhati, exhalation is active while inhalation is passive. It is done in quick succession with the help of the abdominal muscles, while the chest is more or less quiet and unmoved. The abdominal muscles are made to contract actively with a force so that the forceful upward movement of the diaphragm expels the air out. The diaphragm then descends easily, creating a slight reduction in the pressure in the lungs, and the atmospheric air rushes in.

With the practice of Kapalbhati, the lungs are cleansed of carbon dioxide – the toxic end product of metabolism. Kapalbhati not only cleanses the lungs but also rids the tissues and blood of toxic waste products, most of which ultimately gets converted to carbon dioxide. This brings a sense of lightness to the body and alertness in the mind. The practice brings a glow to the crown and lightness to the brain; hence the name Kapalbhati.

It’s better done early in the morning with an empty stomach. Pregnant women and high blood pressure patients should not do the practice without consultation.

Technique

  • Sit in a comfortable pose with an erect spine, and maintain its natural curve. The position must be such that the belly muscles are relaxed and able to move freely and actively, keeping the body steady and comfortable.
  • Place your palms on the thighs or knees. This helps lift the spine and pushes the shoulders back.
  • Relax the nose and soften the face with a gentle smile.
  • Begin with a chest-expanding inhalation and maintaining it, start the practice. Use your stomach muscles to perform active forceful exhalations, followed by passive soundless inhalations.  All breathing is done through the nose.
  • During exhalation propel out the air through a strong flapping movement of the abdomen in an upward direction. At the end of each exhalation allow the abdominal muscles to relax as the inhalations happen passively, recoiling from the force of exhalation. Inhalation is smooth and effortless and prepares the practitioner for the next thrust of the abdomen.
  • A correct practice of Kapalabhati produces a crisp sound as one exhales out without any facial contortions. The sound is produced by the volume of air being pushed up by the forceful action of the diaphragm and not the muscles of the chest, shoulders, neck or the face.

………Blog by Sujata Nerurkar……..

  • To start with do 10-20 expulsions per round, resting between the rounds. One can increase the speed gradually and the number of expulsions to about 60 per round With regular and sustained practice, one can achieve a speed of 100-120 strokes per minute. It is vital not to sacrifice the force of the abdominal contraction to achieve a greater speed.
  • Exhalations should be regular and consistent like the ticking of the clock. Jerky and erratic breaths will lead to air hunger in the form of gasping for breath intermittently. The rhythm should be slow and steady initially, allowing enough time for spontaneous inhalations to occur.
  • At the end of one round, take a short rest. Sit very still and observe the body and mind and experience the feeling of peace. There will be an automatic suspension of breathing. This is called Kewala Kumbhaka. The urge to breathe stops for a few seconds. Simultaneously the mind experiences a deep state of stillness, silence, calm and peace. Enjoy this state of deep rest and freshness.
  • Wait until the breath automatically resumes and then go on to the next round.
  • How much to practice – If you feel fatigued, dizzy or experience discomfort in the abdomen or the back during the practice, slow down or stop for a while. Stay within your capacity as it is not a competitive activity.

Blog 11: What are Probiotics?

Probiotics are a combination of live beneficial bacteria and/or yeasts that naturally live in your body. Bacteria is usually viewed in a negative light as something that makes you sick. However, you have two kinds of bacteria constantly in and on your body — good bacteria and bad bacteria.

Probiotics are made up of good bacteria that help keep your body healthy and working well. This good bacteria helps you in many ways, including fighting off bad bacteria when you have too much of it, helping you feel better.

Probiotics are part of a larger picture concerning bacteria and your body — your microbiome. Think of a microbiome as a diverse community of organisms, such as a forest, that work together to keep your body healthy. Other rich sources of probiotics from food and drinks can be found in sauerkraut, sourdough, kombucha, kefir, etc.

Try this Traditional Indian Recipe of homemade probiotics and keep your gut healthy and happy!

Steps to follow:

  • Juliennes of carrot and beetroot.
  • Add I tbsp of mustard powder.
  • Rock salt to taste.
  • Crushed ginger.
  • Toss it well.
  • Transfer to an air tight glass jar.
  • Keep it under sunlight for 7 days.
  • Sieve the extra water,and your healthy and tasty homemade probiotics is ready!

The benefits of probiotics include:

  • Balancing friendly gut bacteria
  • Improving mental health
  • Preventing and treating diarrhea
  • Easing constipation
  • Reducing symptoms of digestive diseases
  • Arming the immune system
  • Men’s health and ulcer prevention
  • Women’s health and UTI
  • Eczema
  • Weight Management
  • Heart health and Lower Cholesterol Levels

“Almost all our health concerns can be traced back to our belly. Ensure a healthy gut and the rest will take care of itself.”

Blog 12: Seed Cycling

What is Seed Cycling?

Do you suffer from —Irregular periods, acne, polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), endometriosis, inflammation, infertility, symptoms of menopause, such as hot flashes, night sweats, fatigue, and mood swings???

Seed cycling is diet supplementation with four different seeds: pumpkin, flax, sesame, and sunflower. The seeds are eaten every day, raw and ground. Whole seeds won’t break down completely in your gut, so grinding them enables your body to extract more nutrients from the seeds. They can be eaten alone or added to other foods like smoothies and salads.

Many seeds are highly nutritious and offer a number of health benefits. However, evidence to support these claims is either lacking or weak. Nonetheless, eating seeds is still a great way to improve the quality of your diet and overall health!

MAIN BENEFITS:

🔹Seed cycling involves eating flax, pumpkin, sesame, and sunflower seeds at different times of your menstrual cycle.

🔹It helps regulate periods, reducing acne, treating polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), endometriosis, and infertility, and easing symptoms of menopause, such as hot flashes, night sweats, fatigue, and mood swings as well as reduced inflammation.

🔹The practice is claimed to balance certain hormones, boost fertility.

TOP THINGS TO KNOW:

🔹Seed cycling is an alternative medicine practice believed to help regulate reproductive hormones.

🔹 Evidence on seed cycling is non-existent, but the practice has been around for a long time.

🔹There’s probably not much risk to trying seed cycling.

WHY SUPPLEMENT WITH SEEDS?

🔹These seeds contain specific vitamins, nutrients, and fatty acids that are believed to support hormonal function.

🔹Pumpkin and flax in Phase 1 are thought to support the estrogen-dominant follicular phase when the ovaries increase estrogen levels in the body.

🔹Likewise, sunflower and sesame seed supplementation in Phase 2 are thought to support increases of progesterone in the luteal phase.

The recommended regimen has two phases:

PHASE 1 of seed cycling is one tablespoon of raw, ground pumpkin seeds and one tablespoon of raw, ground flax seeds from day one of your period until the day before you ovulate.

🔸Phase 1 should be about two weeks for most people.

PHASE 2 of seed cycling involves eating one tablespoon of raw, ground sunflower seeds and one tablespoon of raw, ground sesame seeds per day from the day of ovulation until the day before the first day of your period.

🔸Phase 2 should also last about two weeks for most people.

Follow the above video for the recipe of ladoo for seed cycling!

Blog 13: Yoga and weightloss?

“Yoga and weight loss” followed by a question mark! Can this no-strain, work-at-your-own-level exercise really help you lose weight?

True, yoga is not perceived as an option for weight loss. But Hollywood and Bollywood actors like Jennifer Aniston, Liv Tyler, Halle Berry, Madonna, Kareena Kapoor, Shilpa Shetty, Bipasha do it. There must be something about yoga that works!

Yoga is a known stress buster, but it’s also one of the most effective workouts for fighting stubborn fat stores, especially the ones that crop up after age 40. Yes, you can use yoga for weight loss.

How Does It Work?

It is definitely more subtle than a calorie-burn-count workout like aerobics or running on a treadmill. It is a gradual process.

Mindfulness:

It brings about “moderation” in your lifestyle. Yoga is not yoga if not practiced mindfully. Mindfulness helps change the relationship of mind to body, and eventually to food and eating. Yoga forges a strong mind-body connection that ultimately helps make you more aware of what you eat and how it feels to be full.

Lowered Stress hormone levels:

Yoga practices help in regulating the functioning of endocrine glands. Studies show that yoga lowers levels of stress hormones and increases insulin sensitivity—a signal to your body to burn food as fuel rather than store it as fat.

Cleansing and detoxifying effects:

It cleanses, detoxifies the body and mind making it more susceptible to change and reaching one’s optimum weight through a healthy lifestyle.

By doing certain yoga postures you are strengthening the vital force of the liver (the powerful detoxifier and cleanser)  in profound ways that will bring it to optimum functioning. The best postures for the liver are mainly backends:

Bhujangasana (cobra pose)
Dhanurasana (bow pose)
Chakrasana (wheel pose)
Matsyendrasana (spinal twist)

Activate the thyroid gland:

The thyroid secretes a hormone that regulates our metabolism. One of the main factors that define whether we have a high metabolism that burns a lot of fat is whether our thyroid is active or not. Many people who suffer from weight gain have hypothyroidism (“hypo-” meaning low). There are certain postures that help to correct this dysfunction:

Sarvangasana (shoulder stand)
Matsyasana
Setubandhasan(bridge pose)

Create the right pH balance – Alkalize!

If the body has too much acid content (low pH), then the body will attempt to protect itself from the acid by storing fat and using it as a buffer. As a result, the heart is forced to overwork just to maintain blood circulation. If this continues to happen then the heart gets exhausted and a heart attack occurs. So the pH balance of the body is extremely important to avoid a heart attack. The ideal pH balance is about 7.35. And most people struggling with their weight have too much acidic content.

Some of the best postures to increase alkalinity are:

Paschimottanasana (seated forward bend)
Janushirasana (head to knee pose)

Balance the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous system:

A lot of overweight people’s bodies are under an immense amount of stress. Their nervous system is under pressure from lifestyle choices. And if the nervous system is under stress then it will set off a chain reaction in the rest of the body. The body needs to be relaxed and soothed. This requires finding the right balance between the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems. The best yoga postures for this are:

Viparitakarni
Shavasana

Activate internal heat:

Ancient yogis created warmth in the body by generating internal heat by drawing the chin towards the chest in forwarding bends, thereby lengthening the femoral nerve and the spinal nerves. This heat burns up and purifies visceral (deep) fat and subcutaneous (superficial) fat. The best postures for this are:

Paschimottanasana (seated forward bend)4
Anjaneyasana (lunge)

Move the body with strength.

Any yoga position that requires you to be active, either as you shorten or lengthen the muscles, will help with weight loss. This is because muscles are active tissue, which consumes fat as fuel. If you build strong muscles they will be eating into your fat stores even when you are resting. That is why strength work is very good for weight loss.

Arm balancing postures are great for this. Even basic arm balancing poses are great because they often engage every muscle, not just the arms or shoulders, but also the abdominals and legs.

Some great postures for this are:

Bakasana (crane)
Tolasana (scale pose)
Chaturanga (plank)

Get your heart rate up.

Starting in a standing position at the front of your mat, do two slow rounds of Surya Namaskar (sun salutation) and then come back to standing and connect with your heart with palms together and eyes closed for a moment. Then repeat it again, perhaps this time making the pace a little faster. Continue a few rounds like this and you will have your heart rate at an optimum level; without the tiring and jarring effects, your body gets from jogging. Move more, eat less: that’s the basics to losing weight, and yoga can help in both the physical and mental aspects.

Regularly practicing yoga gets your body moving and burns calories and the spiritual and emotional dimensions of yoga can encourage you to address any eating and weight problems on a deeper level. Yoga helps to bring the body into balance and a regular yoga session, several times a week, will certainly bring you tangible benefits such as shedding a few extra kilos and increasing your muscle tone.

………Blog by Sujata Nerurkar……..

Blog 14: Here Comes The Spring!

“Nature often holds up a mirror so we can see more clearly the ongoing processes of growth, renewal and transformation in our lives.”

 ~Mary Ann Brussat

Spring is a time of dawning light, new life, new birth, and new hope — a time of warmth, exuberance, dancing, and blossoming. Spring is a season of renewal and rebirth. It’s a time when buds become leaves and flowers.

As outside, so inside! Watching the leaves fluttering to the ground in the fall, we are reminded that nature’s cycles are mirrored in our lives. Autumn is a time for letting go and releasing things that have been a burden. All the religious traditions pay tribute to such acts of relinquishment. After the cleaning and letting go, here comes the spring, making way for fresh possibilities and new commitments. It’s a time to revive our senses and expand our horizons. It’s a time to begin again.

Windows are open wide in the spring, carpets hang outside on the line, and the breeze is gentle and warm. It is the best time to rid yourself of unwanted accumulations, vacuum the dust, take down cobwebs.

To make way for new growth, it helps to clear our mental landscape of any destructive thoughts or feelings. Challenge your fears. Anytime new insight replaces an old assumption or a fossilized perception is the spring.

New understandings sprout, new tolerances appear, and new curiosity draws you to previously dark places. Just as the sun shines earlier and longer in the spring, changes that seemed impossible appear to be possible with each new insight into your own health.

All forms of life are designed to adapt to their environment, becoming dormant in the autumn and reactivated in the spring. We humans are no exception. Spring is the perfect time to effect a positive change in our lives because the ever-lengthening days of warmth and light — and all of nature’s responses to them — are powerful cues for new growth.

It’s time to stimulate the growth cycle by syncing yourself with nature. The sun is the ultimate source of energy, light, and warmth for all of life on earth. Simply witnessing the solar ascent is enough to lift our spirits, but bright sunlight also stimulates serotonin production, gifting us with a sustained elevation in mood and vitamin D production, providing us with an essential pro-hormone with many rejuvenating properties.

The spring wakes us, nurtures us and revitalizes us. So, if the spring is in our mind, we do not have to check the calendar and be restricted with it. We can bring our own spring more than once in a year.

Yoga practices open up the “spring state” of mind. By practicing asana, pranayama, meditation, or OM chanting, we nurture and revitalize our inner self.

We evolve !

Creating the fertile ground of the peaceful mind is what we need to do and then just observe silently the inner world blossom, spreading its fragrance outside.

Amongst the yoga practices the most practiced one is asana. The health benefits of asanas are very well known, be it flexibility, strength or the soothing effects on mind. If we learn to look beyond… asanas release trapped energy improving our sense of well-being. Asanas give a firm foundation to psychological and spiritual growth. The movement to get into an asana, is the journey towards stillness. We learn to accept. And the breath awareness during asana elevates asana,… the physical posture to a higher level of experience.

Engaging the mind by breath awareness starts a positive creative process towards the meaningful progress. Pranayama takes us from gross to subtle. The mind calms down. Fine tunes our awareness on the journey inward. Peace becomes the natural state of mind.

It’s astounding how quickly your creativity unleashes itself in the fertile ground of a peaceful mind. The creative impulse seems to be activated as soon as there’s a little breathing space in your mind. Spring season strikes. Seemingly from out of nowhere, a spark of creativity is ignited and you have a vision, plus the optimism and enthusiasm, and even a sense of urgency, to bring it into being. Suddenly, you find yourself doing things which were found to be difficult earlier.

Creating authentic power is continual spring-cleaning. That power can be created by adopting yoga as the way of life. Awareness built by practicing asana, pranayama will bring forth what’s to be discarded…  the “unwanted” emotions, the destructive habits, behavior within us. All those unwanted things …waiting to be uprooted and thrown out. Giving way to the emergence of a new-self. The self which is ready to create the life that is calling you–a life of more joy and less pain, more freedom and less limitation, more love and less fear!

So, your spring is here…. Right on your yoga mat!

To tap into our potential, we simply need to make space for it. Too often the creative aspect of the Self gets hidden or pushed aside in the hustle and stress of everyday life. Whoever you are, whatever you are seeking, you rely on creativity to meet everyday challenges. And you thrive on its ability to fill your life with beauty, purpose, and meaning. If we are in sync with the nature we may realize that our creativity as humans, our creative impulse is related to the evolutionary impulse of the universe. There is vitality, a life force, a quickening that is translated through you into action.

…………..Blog by Sujata Nerurkar…………

Blog 15: Yoga – Harmony and Healing

There is no healing without harmony, whether that harmony is defined physically, emotionally, or spiritually. Harmony is that condition of health when all the functions of every system in our body are optimized, giving us a feeling of well being. Sickness indicates that there is a part of our being(body, mind or spirit) out of harmony. Healing is about returning to harmony.

The Oxford English Dictionary defines the word ‘heal’ as ‘to make whole, or sound’; also ‘to unite, after being cut or broken’. On the physical level, healing is the drawing together of the two sides of a cut, the knitting together of the two ends of a broken bone. On the spiritual level, healing is the process of becoming whole. It is the integration of all the aspects of one’s being, the bringing of body, mind and spirit into harmonious union.

Yoga, the ancient body, mind and spirit practice, has been known mainly for the benefits of this system’s exercises. But for thousands of years, since the Ancients themselves explored and developed Yoga, it has been used as a deep healing process.

It’s important to make the distinction between curing and healing. Curing is what mainstream medicine may or may not be able to do for us when we are ill or injured. Healing comes from within us, from our inner resources.

Yoga not only helps us to stay strong and vital and keeps stress at bay but can also prevent disease and promote rapid healing which is free from side effects…

Yoga has teaching, education and guidance to alleviate and counter the problems of the modern lifestyle. Teach a person self-control, give them positive guidance, and let them feel the amazing benefits of well-being and you give a person health and vitality for life – to enjoy life as we’re supposed to, to our full potential.

Each aspect of Yoga has its part to play in the healing process.

No wonder, when she was fighting a bitter battle against cancer, actress Manisha Koirala sought solace in the healing power of yoga. And now, after returning to her home in Mumbai, yoga is what she plans to continue. “Loved yoga… realized I need to be patient… my body is not the same now… lot weaker… happy I started it at least… slow n steady,” the actress had posted on a social networking site.

There might be some skepticism about the merits of Yoga over medicine. Researchers have learned recently that, besides relieving back problems, yoga can provide help for people suffering from serious medical conditions— if you have a chronic condition, especially one that’s not responding to conventional care. Yoga is powerful because it “works” on the whole person, on the mind, the body and the spirit. There is something in Yoga for the body’s energy, for all the body’s systems – circulation, digestion, hormones, metabolism, the brain as well as all the vital organs, and very importantly, the psyche.

Yoga postures

Yoga postures work on all of the body’s internal organs and systems, i.e. circulation, respiration, digestion, and excretion. They also work on the nervous system and the lymphatic system, as well as on the joints, muscles and ligaments. They affect our posture, breathing, as well as our physical strength, stamina and flexibility, and our overall balance.

Many of the better known yoga postures are not appropriate for people who are ill, but there are simpler, less physically demanding techniques that promote healing  by clearing toxins, removing the blockages that hinder the free flow of energy, and raising energy levels.

Breathing exercises

Breathing exercises release tension and replenish energy. Shallow, restricted breathing contributes to tiredness, depression and physical illness. Deep, relaxed, rhythmic breathing in which the lungs are fully utilized is energizing and revitalizing and can help us to avoid and overcome illness. The simple breathing and stretching exercises of yoga will improve the elasticity and efficiency of the diaphragm and intercostals muscles, and replace poor, ineffectual breathing habits with more healthful, life-enhancing ones.

Simple breathing exercises help us to deal with the strong emotions that a diagnosis gives rise to: panic, grief, despair. We can easily observe how our emotions affect our breathing: when we are anxious, angry or frightened, it responds by growing shallow and erratic. But the reverse is also true: our breathing affects our emotional state.

Deeper, rhythmic breathing calms the mind, nerves and emotions, relieves anxiety and stress, restores serenity and balance, and lifts the spirits. The breath brings energy into our being. It carries the vital life force throughout the body, and it connects and brings into harmony all the levels of our being: physical, mental, emotional and spiritual.

Meditation

Meditation  isn’t ’emptying the mind’. It is ultimately calming to the mind and the emotions, but what makes it so is the opportunity it gives us to allow our thoughts and emotions to surface so that we can look at them instead of repressing them. Meditation develops the mental focus, the powers of observation and perception, that enable us to observe things accurately, to better understand the workings of our mind, and to face and let go of our fears.

Burying emotions traps our energy and creates more stress; acknowledging and accepting them liberates energy and reduces stress. Meditation is therefore a therapeutic process: it cleanses and brings about integration on the emotional level, releasing energy for our spiritual growth. In other words, it brings about healing.

Relaxation

Relaxation is possibly the most vital element in healing, because it helps undo the stress that is so detrimental to the immune system. In relaxation, muscles release tension, the heart rate and blood pressure drop, breathing and mental activity slow down, and tension and anxiety begin to dissolve. Body and mind ‘let go’ and surrender themselves to the stillness and peace of deep relaxation. These are conditions conducive to the repair of cells, conditions in which healing can take place. In relaxation we are actively co-operating with our immune system and encouraging our inner healing forces to work for us.

Sat Bir Singh Khalsa, a name known for his research work in the field of healing power of yoga says,  “If we’d use yoga as regularly as our toothbrushes, if schools taught it, doctors recommended it, and parents reinforced it, people would be physically and emotionally healthier.”  In Khalsa’s mind, a generation of people would have a tool that reduces their stress, or at the very least manages it, while building self-awareness. “If you can find a pill that fixes something, that’s golden. Everybody wants that,” he says. “What’s not sexy is the stuff that makes the most sense—lifestyle research. And yoga is really all about changing your lifestyle.”

Julie Friedeberger, a yoga teacher who believes in the healing power of yoga confesses, ‘A lifetime of yoga has taught me to regard life’s big challenges as opportunities for growth and transformation. My experience of cancer left me with a deeper trust in the power of yoga to help us meet those challenges” 

…………..Blog by Sujata Nerurkar…………

Blog 16: Let us understand SARCOPENIA

Use it or Lose it!

How many of us hate when the teacher asks us to hold planks or chair pose, when each count sounds like a lifetime?

Well this long holding of the asanas is the key to keep your muscles healthy as we age.

Let us understand SARCOPENIA and how yoga is a wonderful practice to prevent this condition.

When we are young, many of us enjoy a fast paced Vinyasa style of sessions, where we are moving on our mats in the rhythm of our breath.
Great for our cardio vascular health and joint health, but adding Hatha style practice from time to time can help us prevent SARCOPENIA.

It’s terrible, but true. As we age, we become weaker. Sure, as we get older we start to slow down a little bit, and maybe become a bit more sedentary. But these lifestyle changes are not the only reason why we don’t get up from the floor as easily as we used to, or why lifting that heavy suitcase into trunk is a little more difficult. We get weaker as we get older due to normal physiological changes of our skeletal muscles and guess what?! Believe it or not, that decline begins in our 30s with an average lean muscle mass loss of 3-8% per decade.

This means that as we age, muscles of the arms, legs, neck and trunk begin to atrophy (aka shrink). Along with this decrease in muscle mass, the speed and force of muscle contractions are reduced. This phenomenon is called sarcopenia, and it results in a decline of physical strength throughout middle age. After the age of 60, loss of muscle tissue and strength can accelerate quite dramatically.

Beyond a decline in strength, a reduction in muscle mass leads to a progressive reduction in the support afforded to bones and joints. This in turn contributes to postural changes and increases the risk of joint pathologies, especially osteoarthritis, as well as the risk of falls and fractures.

What to do??

One activity that should be high on everyone’s list is YOGA!

Using maximum voluntary isometric contractions (holding the posture) like in Plank which works on abdominal oblique muscles which means that this pose can strengthen your core, while Chair Pose packs a punch for your back extensors. These muscles are especially important for managing back pain and postural changes as we age. Downward Facing Dog and Warrior 1 work on gluteus maximus, the major muscle for hip extension and an important muscle for functional mobility.

We use our own body weight in yoga, to build the muscles, and is also a great way to do resistance training.
We are holding ourselves against gravity, as in plank and downward dog, and this works like resistance training.

You MUST pay attention to sarcopenia!

We must use and mindfully stress our functional muscles to be able to do our regular day to day activities with ease even in our 60s.

And we need to start early, we cannot wait till we are in our 50s or 60s and then wake up to taking care of our health, it can be already too late.

After the age of 50~60, it is not possible to lose weight, especially if you do not exercise and rely on eating less to lose weight!
Because if all the muscles are lost, it can be very dangerous!

Sarcopenia is more terrifying than osteoporosis!

With osteoporosis you just need to be careful not to fall, whereas sarcopenia not only affects the quality of life but also causes high blood sugar due to insufficient muscle mass! The fastest loss of sarcopenia is in the muscle of the legs! Because when a person sits or lie down, the legs are not moving and the muscle strength of the legs are affected, this is particularly important. Don’t become black feet !

Hurry Up and Start Early!!!

For a better quality of life for everyone in old age, practice yoga everyday, and make sure one includes Hatha style practice in the routine, where one holds the asanas for a few breaths, where there is isometric contraction in the muscles and one maintains a good muscle tone and health.

Blog: 17 Unlocking the benefits of yoga for Runners

Strengthening body & Mind

Runners are often reluctant to try yoga; their most common fear is that they are not flexible enough. Yoga is suitable for every body type. It can be started at any age regardless of physical condition, and those who are the stiffest have the most to gain. Runners, specifically, have a tremendous amount to gain from adding yoga to their fitness regimens.

Running can lead to injury because of its repetitive nature and the resulting musculoskeletal imbalances. On a physical level, yoga restores balance and symmetry to the body, making it the perfect complement to running. Runners are often drawn to yoga to deal with specific issues, such as improving flexibility or helping with an injury. Yet many are shocked at the world it opens for them, specifically, the strengthening capacity and the use of muscles they never knew they had.

Let’s take a closer look at the effects of yoga, both physical and mental, on runners

Flexibility

Many runners cite greater flexibility as the number one reason for beginning a yoga practice. This is a good reason because yoga stretches the muscles that are tight, which in turn increases the range of motion in related joints. Increased flexibility decreases stiffness, results in greater ease of movement, and reduces many nagging aches and pains.


Strength

Runners are strong in ways that relate to running. However, a running stride involves only the lower body and movement in one plane—sagittal (i.e., forward and backward). Thus, certain muscles become strong while others are underused and remain weak. Runners have strong legs for running, but when faced with holding a standing yoga pose, they are quite surprised to find that their legs feel like jelly. This is simply because a properly aligned yoga pose involves using all the muscles in a variety of planes.

Overly tight muscles are also weak ones. To be fully functional, a muscle needs to contract when needed and also relax and lengthen when needed. For example, if your hand is perpetually in a state of contraction, as in a fist, its function is severely impaired. A healthy muscle is able to move through a healthy range of motion.

Additionally, running primarily uses the muscles from the hips down, whereas a balanced yoga practice involves the entire body. Muscles that are simply not used while running are called upon and strengthened—specifically in the arms, upper torso, abdominals, and back. Moreover, yoga uses the person’s own body weight to create resistance, working against gravity to build the muscle and bone strength vital for overall health. Muscles strengthen by various methods of contraction, followed by rest and supported with proper nutrition. In running, the strengthening is primarily in the legs, whereas a balanced yoga practice contracts and stretches the muscles of the entire body.

For example, a fairly basic pose such as plank requires numerous muscles to actively engage; otherwise, the effect of gravity would result in the belly, hips, and upper torso sagging.

Strengthening the upper body and core helps improve posture during daily activities and also while running. Moreover, a strong core allows the arms and legs to move more efficiently, creating better overall form, less fatigue, less weight impact on the legs, and a reduced risk of injury. A strong core creates a strong runner!

Additionally, a by-product of becoming stronger is greater muscle tone. Yoga helps shape long, lean muscles that do not hinder free range of movement in joints.

Biomechanical Balance

Overusing some muscles while underusing others creates muscular imbalances, which affect the entire musculoskeletal balance and impairs biomechanical efficiency. For runners, biomechanical imbalances eventually lead to pain and injury.

Depending on the action, a muscle is either contracting (i.e., an agonist) or lengthening (i.e., an antagonist). For example, if you make a fist and lift your forearm, the biceps contracts while the triceps stretches. If you want showy biceps and do repeated biceps curls to pump up the muscle, the triceps will shorten and you could lose the ability to straighten your arm.

A healthy balance is to work to both contract and stretch to maintain muscle equilibrium as well as functionality. For example, when stretching the hamstrings, the quadriceps need to contract. This coordinated action not only creates a deeper and safer hamstring stretch but also provides an opportunity to strengthen the quadriceps, especially the inner quadriceps, which are weak in many runners. This is crucial for runners because the hamstrings most likely need lengthening while the commonly weak inner quads need strengthening.

Executed correctly, a seemingly simple yoga pose requires the balanced activity of opposing muscle groups. To hold a pose, some muscles need to stretch while others need to contract. In this way, a natural balancing of strength and flexibility occurs, which creates biomechanical balance over time. This is one of the major benefits that await runners who undertake a regular yoga practice.

A balanced yoga practice requires most of the muscles in the body to perform some action. At the same time, joints are taken through their full ranges of motion as the corresponding muscles contract or stretch to support the movement. The result is improved muscle balance, which translates to better form, stronger running, and fewer injuries.

A Complete, Inside-Out Body Workout:

Yoga provides a workout that includes every muscle and all the joints. Yoga uses all muscle groups, including the small muscles in the hands and toes, the large muscles of the legs and torso, the superficial muscles such as the calves and hamstrings, and the deeply layered muscles that are not visible.

Furthermore, all of the body’s systems beyond the muscle groups are worked in yoga, including the cardiovascular, respiratory, skeletal, and endocrine systems. Additionally, the internal organs are massaged and oxygenated through yogic breathing and movement in the poses.

An Energized Body:

Many forms of exercise deplete the body of its energy stores. Yet a yoga practice oxygenates the blood and creates more energy, leaving the body and mind feeling restored and energized. Yoga provides a vehicle through which the body can actively recover from the physical demands of running.

Embrace the Harmony of Yoga and Running

In the pursuit of becoming better runners, we often focus solely on the miles we run and the speed at which we do so. Yet, as we’ve explored in this journey through the world of yoga, there is a complementary path to strength, flexibility, and overall well-being that can significantly enhance our running experience.

 It has the power to reshape the way we move, the way we breathe, and the way we perceive our own physical abilities. It’s a practice that welcomes runners of all levels, regardless of flexibility or age, offering a path to enhanced performance and reduced risk of injury.

So, if you’re a runner who has been hesitant to roll out the yoga mat, perhaps it’s time to reconsider. The benefits are not just physical; they extend to mental clarity, endurance, and a sense of balance that can help you go the extra mile.

Incorporate yoga into your routine, whether as a warm-up, a post-run cooldown, or a dedicated practice on rest days. Explore the world of yoga and discover its incredible power to transform your running and your life. With every pose, every breath, and every mindful movement, you’ll find yourself inching closer to becoming a stronger, more balanced, and more harmonious runner.

Improved Breathing:

Improved Breathing Lung capacity is of prime importance for runners, because it creates the ability to maintain an even breathing pattern through all phases of running. The better the lung capacity is, the more oxygen is circulated through the system, which is most helpful for running long and strong. However, the breathing pattern used in running and other forms of aerobic exercise involves quick and shallow inhalations and exhalations. This uses only the top portion of the lungs, leaving the middle and lower portions untouched. Yogic breathing involves slow, deep inhalations and long exhalations, making use of the upper, middle, and lower portions of the lungs. Yogic breathing has been shown to increase lung capacity, and greater lung capacity increases endurance and improves overall athletic performance.

In Sanskrit, prana means “energy,” and yogic breathing is called pranayama. Through the breath, you bring in oxygen, feeding your cells and creating vital life force, and remove carbon dioxide, eliminating toxins. The use of the breath in yoga is vital. Whereas holding the breath creates internal tightness, tension, and anxiety, deep breathing releases tension, reduces stress and anxiety, and physically helps the body ease into poses, particularly those that are challenging. Through this conscious breathing, the body is energized as a result of increased oxygen circulation throughout all of its systems.

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