Yoga: A Miracle For Healthy Heart, Healthy Mind and World Peace: Living Longer and Living Younger with Yogic Lifestyle
In Ayurveda, the exercises are recommended according to dosha dominance and it recommends exercise regularly seven days a week. These exercises are doshas specific, kapha type for example requires strenuous exercise and vata require least strenuous exercise and pitta fall somewhere in between. If you have large muscular body then kapha is your dominant dosha. If your muscular and...
Two excellent ayurvedic exercises that focus on breathing are known as Bhastrika Pranayama and Kapalabhati. In Bhastrika the abdominal muscles work like bellows. You have sit to straight up on floor or in the chair, your arm should be parallel to your sides and bent upwards at the elbows, with your hands in the fists are approximately shoulder height. Then inhale and exhale a single deep breath through your nose then as you take another deep breath raise your arms straight up and as they reach full exertion open your fists and extend your fingers. Now quickly lower your arms back to the starting position while simultaneously exhaling through your nose. Keep your hands facing forward throughout this exercise. Continue for two or three sets of fifteen repetitions. Kapalabhati is another breathing exercise which is equivalent to jogging. A Kapalbhati exercise cleans metabolic wastes from the body. This exercise accelerates heart rate without requiring a great deal of exertion from the large muscle groups of the body, it is a particularly useful exercise for the people who aren’t at the high level of physical conditioning required by conventional athletics. The technique consists of short, powerful exhalations, each followed by a passive inhalation.
To begin, sit with your back straight, either on the floor or in a chair. Your shoulder should be back, and your abdominal muscle should be free to move. Correct posture is extremely important in kapalabhati, because the abdominal muscles must be able to relax thoroughly when you inhale. Once your posture is established, begin breathing through your nose to establish a rhythm of deep, even breathes. Then, just when you’re about to exhale, contract your stomach muscles quickly and powerfully, which will force air out through your nostrils. This exhalation should be as complete as possible in one short, powerful blast. When you first learning this exercise, try to exhale approximately once per second. Then gradually increase the rate to twice per second, but don’t try to go any faster than that. You can also use in mantra to increase the benefit of exercise such as silently repeating the syllable “so” each time you inhale and then, repeat the syllable “hum” when you exhale. Remember that the best times to exercise are during kapha period from 6 am to 10 am or 6 pm to 10 pm.
Yoga is derived of the word ‘Yoke’ which means union of body, mind, soul, spirit and environment. It is a way of life which endows perfect health thereby enhancing optimal integration of body, mind, soul, spirit and environment and thus enhancing physical, mental, social, spiritual and environment welbeing. There are eight limbs of Yoga, which are
1) Yama (Restraints or Do’s and Don’ts),
2) Niyama (Self Discipline),
3) Asana (Postures),
4) Paranayama (Breathing exercise),
5) Pratiyahara (Contemplation),
6) Dharana (Concentration),
7) Dhyana (Meditation),
8) Samadhi (Transcend).
It includes a series of twelve flexion and extension exercises that integrate the mind, body, and breath. The Sun Salute lubricates the joints, conditions the spine, and strengthens every major muscles group in the body. It creates balance, stability, suppleness and flexibility.
General Guidelines for the Sun Salutation
- When you do the Sun Salute, allow a half-hour before a meal and three hours after a meal. If you practice other meditation programs or yoga postures, the Sun Salute can be performed before them.
- One cycle of the Sun Salute, consisting of twelve postures, is described below. Start with as many cycles as is comfortable, and gradually increase to a maximum of twelve. Do not strain. If you start to breath heavily or begin perspiring, lie down and rest for a minute or two.
- Hold each position for about five seconds. The Eight Limbs Position (position 6) is the only exception, as it is held only one second.
- The Sun Salute uses a specific pattern of breathing-inhale or exhale-for each posture. You will be instructed to inhale during extension postures-because inhaling facilitates the extending and lengthening movements of the spine. You will be asked to exhale on the flexion postures, because this helps the body to fold, bend, and flex.
- You’ll see that there are two Equestrian positions per cycle. Use the same knee forward during the same cycle. Switch to the opposite knee for the next cycle, and continue alternating with each new cycle. Always do an even number of cycles so that both sides of your body are exercised in a balanced way.
- Do not rush through the exercises; maximum valve comes from doing them slowly. Each cycle takes one to two minutes.
- After completing the final cycle, lie down on your back, arms at your sides, with palms facing upward, for two minutes. Just allow your attention to be easily on your body.
- Be careful not to strain by stretching too far. The drawings show the ideal performance of each pose, but you should stretch only as far as your body is comfortable. Over time, more flexibility will develop. You should definitely not feel pain or discomfort while doing these exercises. If even minimal performance of a particular posture causes discomfort, omit that posture. If you have back problems, consult your physician before starting these exercises.
How to Do One Cycle of the Sun Salutation
- Salutation Position: Start the Sun Salute with your feet parallel and your weight distributed evenly over your feet. Place your hands together, palms touching, at chest level. Breathe easily for about five seconds.
- Raised Arms Position: As you inhale, lift your hands over your head, lengthening your spine easily in an extension posture.
- Hand to foot position: As you exhale, bend your body forward and down into a flexion posture. Allow your knees to bend.
- Equestrain position: On the inhalation, extend your left leg back, knee to the ground. Allow your right leg to bend and your right foot to stay flat on lengthen upward.
- Mountain position: As you exhale, place your right leg back, even with your left leg, pushing the buttocks up into a flexion posture. The body forms an even inverted V from your pelvis to your hands and from your pelvis to your heels.
- Eight limbs position: Carefully drop both knees to the ground and allow your body to slide down at an angle, with your chest and chin briefly on the ground. Hold this for a second and then move smoothly into the next position.
- Corba position: As you inhale, lift your chest up and slightly forward while pressing down with your hands. Keep your elbows close to your body. Allow your spine to lift your head-do not start the movement with your head or lift your body with your neck.
- Mountain position: While exhaling, raise your buttocks and hips in a flexion posture, the same as position 5.
- Equestrian position: As you inhale, bring your right leg forward, between your hands, the same as position 4. Let your left leg extend backward, with the knee touching the ground. Your right knee will be bent and your right foot flat on the floor.
- Hand to foot position: Repeat position 3. As you exhale, bend your body forward and down, coming down into a flexion posture. Allow your knees to bend.
- Raised arms position: Repeat position 2. As you inhale, lift your hands over your head, lengthening your spine easily in an extension posture.
12. Salutation position: Repeat position 1, ending the Sun Salute the same way you began, with your hands folded, palms together, in front of your chest. Breathe easily for about five seconds. Then begin the next cycle. (Position 12 becomes the first position for the second cycle; you can go directly into position 2 from here.)
How to Do Pranayama
This simple neurorespiratory exercise, called Pranayama, creates balance throughout your body. It’s ideal to do Pranayama after the neuromuscular integration exercise and before meditation.
- Sit easily and comfortable with your spine as straight as possible.
- Close your eyes and rest your left hand on your knees or thighs. For this exercise you will be using your thumb and the middle and ring fingers of your right
- Using your right thumb, close off your right nostril. Start by exhaling through your left nostril. Then inhale easily through your left nostril.
- Now use your ring and middle fingers to close your left nostril. Exhale slowly through your right nostril, and then easily inhale.
- Continue alternating nostrils for about five minutes. Your breathing should be natural, or exaggerated. It may be a little slower and deeper than usual.
When you are finished, sit quietly with your eyes closed for a few minutes while breathing easily and normally.
Dr H.K. Chopra, MBBS, MD is a Sr.Consultant Cardiologist at Medanta Moolchand Heart Institute and Chairman CME, Moolchand Medcity, New Delhi. Earlier he was a President of, National CSI, National IAE, and the Country Head of AHA.