For many, spring symbolizes change and renewal. We’re more likely to try new diets, work-out routines and healthier lifestyles. As a teacher and student of yoga, I’ve observed and experienced its benefits. While there’s never a perfect time to start a new routine, Yoga For A Healthy Spring, personally, it seems spring is the best season to begin.
Yoga has various scientifically proven positive health benefits. I recommend focusing on the three parts of yoga; Asanas (poses which increases circulation and with consistent practice develop muscle tone and add flexibility and also alleviate lower back pain,) Pranayama (breathing techniques which increase oxygen production to cells and promote healing,) and Mind-body awareness, which counters daily stresses and chronic pain. All of these significantly contribute to a healthier mind, body, and spirit.
There are numerous unique yoga poses. I suggest to start with a basic sun salutation composed of a series of poses, which increase red blood cell production, delivers more oxygen to organs, increases energy level and eliminates toxins. In addition, these promote body alignment, proper posture, strengthen and stretch the spine (creating muscle flexibility which counters lower back pain), lubricate joints (prevents arthritis), increase endurance and strength (decreases risk of osteoporosis). Here is a basic sun salutation link: life.gaiam.com/video/sun-salutation-how-rodney-yees-yoga-beginners
The second important aspect of yoga is deep breathing or Prana (Sanskrit word defined as life force). I encourage my clients and students to avoid shallow breathing by making a habit of abdominal or diaphragmatic breathing. Shallow breathing delivers minimal amounts of oxygen to the body, thus increasing the production of cortisol, which after a prolonged period of time decreases the production of immune cells that increases the risk of infection. To counter these negative effects of shallow breathing, here are basic guidelines to follow for abdominal breathing:
- Exhalation should be longer than inhalation.
- Take a slow deep breath in through your nose for a count of 5-7.
- Slowly exhale through your mouth for a count of 8. As you exhale gently contract your abdominal muscles completely to expel the remaining air from the lungs. Remember, slowing down respirations is done by exhaling completely not by inhaling more air.
Lastly, we’re all affected by the daily stresses and challenges in our life. These stresses can produce negative reactions such as high blood pressure, shortness of breath, and decreased immunity creating health issues in your body. Mind-body awareness practice changes your body’s physical responses to stress. Focusing the mind, slowing down the breath, breathing deeply and relaxing the body alter your body’s reaction to stress and create a path to well-being. No matter how small the changes may seem, incorporating them will have tremendous impact, creating a healthier and more balanced lifestyle. Link: www.scientificamerican.com/article/the-physiology-of-meditation/