There is so much more to yoga than squeezing yourself into mind-blowing postures. Yoga is a holistic therapy which benefits both mind and body in many different ways. They include:
Strength: Yoga asanas (postures) start by working the big muscles in the body and then go onto work all the subtle connected muscles. In this way, yoga uses every muscle in the body which builds strength and releases tension and toxins from the muscles.
Flexibility: Yoga helps to improve the muscles ability to stretch and lengthen and to work independently. This helps with alignment and muscle tone (for a more detailed explanation of how yoga improves muscle tone see: https://pranavashyauk.com/2017/01/02/how-to-improve-muscle-tone/) and causes you to develop better posture in your day to day activities.
Alignment: It is often the case that injuries, like lower back pain and neck pain, are caused by bad posture / alignment. Yoga helps with proper alignment when sitting, standing, etc., by conditioning the body with good postural habits and by bringing awareness to proper alignment.
Stress relief: Yoga can reduce the physical effects of stress like occupational stresses on the body incurred at work (for a detailed explanation of this see: https://pranavashyauk.com/2017/01/03/a-cure-for-occupational-stress/). However stress can manifest itself in many ways, including neck or back pain, headaches, alcoholism, substance abuse, sleeping problems, etc. Prana Vashya’s emphasis on the breathing during practice is effectively a mediation which improves the overall mental well-being of the practitioner. The Prana Vashya Yoga sequence of postures (‘the Primary Series’) also teaches the mind to remain calm in face of adversity. This skill can then be easily applied to everyday life / stressful situations.
Increased lung mobility: Only yoga exercises the lungs in more than one dimension (for a detailed explanation of this see: https://pranavashyauk.com/2016/12/30/how-prana-vashya-yoga-benefits-mind-and-physiology/). Yoga teaches us to take slower, deeper breaths. This triggers the body’s ‘rest and digest’ response (i.e. the parasympathetic nervous system) and increases the amount of oxygen available to the body.
Weight loss: Some of the physiological benefits of yoga include improved digestion and metabolism. The Prana Vashya Yoga Primary Series is a continuous flow of movement that is joined with the breath (so each movement is associated with a full breath in or a full breath out) to help combat fatigue. The practice, then, is fairly intense and does wonders to burn excess calories!
Improved blood pressure and circulation: Yoga reduces blood pressure by inducing a heightened state of relaxation. In addition, a regular yoga practice helps reduce the resting heart rate. The slower the heart rate is at rest, the slower the cell depletion in the body and the longer you live.
Prevention of injury: Yoga asanas have a remarkable ability to restore and rebuild connective tissue and the skeletal system. Nearly all yoga asanas in the Prana Vashya Yoga Primary Series work the muscles or joints or tendons or ligaments, etc., in a way that helps avoid developing problems in later life by teaching us healthy habits like maintaining good posture.
Spirituality: Yoga brings you closer to yourself. When you close your eyes, who or what do you see? Most of us do not know ourselves. This is because modern life is such that our minds are nearly always required to be outside of our bodies. Take driving, for example: when you are behind the wheel of a car you are not conscious of what the body is doing. Instead we concentrate on anything but what the body is doing – we multi-task. We focus on the road looking out for potential dangers, and at the same time we are listing to music and, at the same time, we are worrying about what the boss will say to us when we arrive at work, etc, etc. We are constantly living in the past or planning for the future and the present moment is lost. The breath is the easiest way to connect with what is going on right here and now. Yoga therefore helps us to focus on the present and be mindful in life. As such, a regular yoga practice allows you to go deeper into meditation.
Damian is an authorised teacher of Prana Vashya Yoga. Damian will be opening a Yoga School at 250 Queens Road, Leicester, LE2 3FU in February 2017. Spaces will be limited so please register your interest by contacting Damian: firstname.lastname@example.org Tel: 0777 900 1896