Monday, May 18, 2009

Adopt Yog - A Beginner's Guide to Health & Well-being

This article describes the basic knowledge required to adopt Swami Ramdevji’s five (5) principles to attain good health and well-being, namely, Pranayam (breathing exercises), Yog Asans (physical exercises), Ayurved, Acupressure, Naturopathy, and Balanced Living.

Yog is a complete philosophy of life based on scientific principles and can be used effectively for Self Healing and Self Realization. Yog is not a mere exercise technique, but, it is a tool that unites mind, body, and soul assisting one on a journey to reaching the profound state of Self Realization. It brings discipline in life and work upon our system rather than the symptoms. The therapeutic use of Yog helps in removing toxins from the body and nourishing it with the support of right food.

Benefits of Yog can be divided into two parts: Physical and Spiritual.
First, we bring the physical body in perfect shape by performing Yog Pranayam and Asans thus making the muscles flexible and getting more energy into the body. Second, through a regular practice of Yog, Ayurved, and having a balanced living a complete integration of body and mind is achieved which would help in an improved quality of life. Finally, we achieve complete physical, mental, and spiritual health and well-being by balancing reproductive, excretory, skeletal, respiratory, nervous, and endocrinal systems

General Rules for doing Pranayam and Yog Asans:

  • Time - morning and/ or evening.
  • Location - clean, calm, and secluded place.
  • Clothes - loose and comfortable.

1. Should be done on Empty Stomach preferably in the morning after usual morning activities.
2. Get up early in the morning and drink 1 to 2 glasses of warm water.
3. Breath Control during Pranayam and Asans: While doing Pranayam, breathing should be always be through the nose, unless and otherwise, advised. For the Asans, follow the simple rule; moving forward – breath out and moving backward – breath in.

Pranayam – Controlled Breathing:
Pranayam is based on the concept that breath is the source of life in human’s body and when it is controlled, it prepares the mind for the next level that is Meditation. Thus when an individual attains this meditating state he finds the door to his Inner Soul or SUKSHAMA SHARIRA.
Thus when an individual attains this meditating state one finds the door to one's Inner Soul or SUKSHAMA SHARIRA. It is only by practicing Yog everyday that the seven CHAKRAS or Nerve Centers (Power generating points) are activated in our body. Three main nadis: Ida, Pingala and Sushumna – connect these chakras to the brain.

The seven chakras are:

Muladhara Chakra Sacral/ Coccygeal Plexus
Swadhisthana Chakra Hypogastric or Lumbar Plexus
Manipura Chakra Solar/ Coelic Plexus
Heart Chakra and Anahat Chakra Cardiac Pleaxus
Vishuddha Chakra Cervical Plexus
Ajna Chakra Hypothalmus
Shahshrara Chakra Brain

Posture – Sit in a comfortable position either on the floor or on a chair. Close your eyes to increase concentration. Do not strain yourself. Breath into your lungs from the diaphragm upwards and do not perform abdominal breathing.

Mudras - Mudras are the developed form of Yog Asans. The five fingers in our hand represent the five elements, such as, Thumb - FIRE, Index Finger - AIR, Middle Finger - SPACE/ ETHER, Rin Finger - Earth, and Little Finger - WATER. These five elements control the internal glands, body parts, and their functions. The body remains healthy, if the five elements are in balance. Mudras generate powers to provide all around development of mind and body.
Some Prominent Mudras are: Gyan Mudra, Apana Mudra, Vayu Mudra, Apana Vayu Mudra, Surya Mudra, Varuna Mudra, Adi Mudra, and Linga Mudra.

Below is a set of Pranayam exercises and their timing/ frequencies as recommended for the beginners:

1. Bhastrika 5 mins 2 cycles
2. KapalBhati 5 mins 3 cycles
3. Bhaha Pranayam 3 times
4. Agnikshar Kriya 3 times
5. Ujjai 5 times
6. Anulom-Vilom 5 mins 2 cycles
7. Bhramri 5 times
8. Udgith 5 times
9. Pranav 2 mins
Note: Include Sheetali and Sheetkari Pranayam for an added benefit.

Yog Asans(Physical Exercises):
A complete set of Asans for a beginner has been described below.
1. Mandhuk Asan - 2 postures
2. Saskasan
3. Makarasan - 2 postures
4. Shalbhasan - 3 postures
5. Dhanurasan
6. Markatasan - 3 postures
7. Pavanmuktasan
8. Uttanpadasan
9. Padvritasan
10. Dvi-chakrasan
11. Yog-Nidra
(Note: for an added benefit, Surya Namaskar can be added.)

Shuksham Vyayams – Light Exercises:
1. Hands and Wrists
2. Shoulders
3. Neck
4. Toes and Leg Stretching
5. Waist, Hips, and Spine – Grinding
6. Butterfly

Ayurved - Its principles and Philosophies
Ayurved is the traditional medical system of India dating back over five thousand years. It acknowledges the holistic approach to medicine whereby the equally important roles of mind, body, and spirit is enunciated in achieving good health. Ayurved is not only a system of medicine, rather, it teaches how to remain fit and disease free by simply following a daily routine using wholesome foods and taking precaution of having a healthy diet depending upon the seasonal changes.

Acupressure can be used as an effective tool to benefit in minor or serious ailments. There are main pressure points of acupressure locations on the hands and feet.

According to Naturopathy, healing comes from within the body. Disease is an offshoot of an accumulation of waste matter, due to imbalanced diet and exercise. Naturopathy involves living with Nature. It is a scientific and eco-friendly way in keeping the body fit and healthy. The finest element of Nature is our body, its Bio-energy, and one can easily use it to heal oneself. Nature cure treatment gives importance to eating habits, fasting, dieting, baths, using sunlight, mud, water, message, enema, Yog, and exercise.

Balanced Living
(1) Develop a positive attitude.
(2) Count your bliss. Connect with yourself on all levels: appreciate all that you are and all that you can be.
(3) A happy mind is a healthy mind.
(4) Remember, you have to make the change yourself, nobody else will do it for you.
(5) Care and Share.

(This article is under construction - to be continued.)

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