Twist and breathe

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Learn Yoga from a good teacher who understands your personal needs and requirements. remember, this ancient form of exercise has preventive and curative powers, besides being good for mind and soul

I was introduced to this ancient practice of yoga (yuj means union ) nine years ago. The alternative medicine practitioners who were helping me manage my autoimmune disease suggested it would help improve the condition and strengthen immunity! The very first thing I noticed was an increase in my energy levels – all that oxygen inhaled and toxins exhaled! Yoga is a big part of my life now, part of my healing journey.

Over the years, I tried many different forms — Ashtanga, Hatha Yoga, Kundalini, Power and Hot Yoga. I even tried Suspended Yoga at my wellness resort The Farm at San Benito. Some forms are more physically demanding and some more relaxing and meditative — it depends on what you want! I definitely feel it balances the system, purifies the mind and improves physical strength, flexibility and stamina. People I know have been helped with lifestyle diseases like obesity, hypertension, chronic back pain, low immunity and stress.

“When we practice yoga, it increases our pranic intensity,” says Manor Kumar Narasimha, formerly a lecturer with the world’s first yoga university at Munger, the Bihar Yoga Bharati. “It gives you vital energy. Just as low voltage dims the light in the house and makes everything seem less bright, a person who lacks vital energy is like a crumpled flower.”

Of course, as you will have noticed in your own social circle, a person who does yoga has a glow on her face and is full of positive energy. “Whichever part has less shakti, that part will get healed,” says Guruji. “Asanas clear physical blockages, pranayam distributes the shakti and dhyan increases will power which in turn facilitates distribution of energy.”
So is it true that particular asanas are targeted for exercising certain organs, and preventing or curing particular diseases? Yes and no. For instance, pranayama is good for all. Also, Sarvang Asana (sarv-ang means ‘all organs’), stimulates the pituitary and endocrine glands, regulating the secretions from these glands. In that sense, it is good for all practitioners. Yet it is contraindicated in case you have high blood pressure or heart disease. “That is why you need a good teacher to guide you. It is all scientifically determined,” concludes Guruji.
Speaking of science, modern medicine has also taken note of the beneficial effects of yoga for body and mind, which is why it has caught on internationally. We Indians might be practising it because it is part of our age-old traditions, but others look for validation to doctors and researchers. Here is what the West has found:

• The journal Frontiers in Human Neuroscience carries a paper by Dr B Rael Cahn, from the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioural Sciences at the University of Southern California. It shows that yoga and meditation appear to have a positive effect on the central nervous system as well as the immune system, and that it may improve the individuals’ overall sense of well-being

• Dr Marlon Maus, a physician and now assistant professor at the UC Berkeley School of Public Health, explains that yoga provides lifelong tools individuals can use to combat chronic diseases like cardiovascular disease and diabetes that manifest as a person grows older

• In a study published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease, Dr Helen Lavretsky and colleagues say practising yoga and meditation may be just as effective — if not better — for protecting cognitive function as doing crosswords and other mentally stimulating tasks

• Dr Natalie Nevins, family physician, says it’s good for relieving stress, which manifests as back or neck pain, disturbed sleep problems, headaches, drug abuse, and lack of concentration. She says, “Regular yoga practice creates mental clarity and calmness; increases body awareness; relieves chronic stress patterns; relaxes the mind; centres attention; sharpens concentration.”

So if you are in good health, not suffering from any disease, would there be any benefits from learning yoga? Yes, because of its preventive value, especially to prevent chronic diseases. At the very least, it will keep you free of disease. And if you become a regular yoga practitioner, it will lower your stress, improve sleep, boost healing, enhance creativity, uplift mood and increase your energy.
So renew your body, mind and soul! Embrace health and vitality!

Dr Reshma is an advocate of wellness, prevention and holistic health. Instagram handle: dr.reshmakhattarbhagat n

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