A lifestyle that could beat the Disney rollercoaster at speed? No need to worry, just strike an aasan to relieve you of your stress.
Yoga has been the Indian medicineman's mantra for all ails down the ages. But with the international eye on the ancient science, it has come into fresh focus - even in the country of its origin. Today, Yoga has emerged as the harried soul's way to an earthly, stressless nirvana.
The sudden interest in Yoga and resurgence in practitioners can perhaps be attributed to the fact that it is more meaningful in today's pressure-cooker existence than it was centuries ago. Businessmen with gut-churning deadlines, executives working more hours than 24 and women walking the tightrope between children and home are all ideal candidates. Yoga is the best way to unwind.
Here's a starter: Lie down straight. Place your palms flat on the stomach, take a deep breath and push out the stomach. Compress it while exhaling. The movement should be slow and smooth so that gradually a rhythm is built up. With each deep inhalation, fresh oxygen is pumped into the lungs and with each exhalation all stale air is removed.
The movement makes lungs strong and healthy (must for smokers); due to the copious amounts of oxygen inhaled, brain cells are nourished, improving memory and thinking capability. The mind relaxes. Novices should start with five rounds and gradually build it up to about fifteen.
A note of warning: Most breathing exercises are best learnt under professional guidance since if practiced wrong, they can be counter-productive. Following are some less complicated practices you could incorporate into your daily routine to keep tension and fatigue at bay.
Shoulder Stand (Sarvangasana)
Lie on your back. With the help of your hands raise your hips all the way up till feet and chest are in a straight line. The chin is pressed to the chest and the entire body is supported by the back of the head and shoulder. Remain in this position to the count of 30 seconds, breathing regularly. Try to focus your sight on your feet for steadiness.
What it does for you: This position facilitates the blood flow towards the neck and head, nourishing and strengthening body organs in this region. It takes care of thyroid disorders, neck, lung and ENT problems, strengthens nerves and improves eyesight. The blood pressure towards the face increases making the skin smooth and radiant. Headaches are cured and the spine becomes more elastic. Ideal to kill Stress.
Timing: Start with 30 seconds and go upto 2 minutes. Do not make jerky or quick movements during this aasan.
Patients with heart problems and high blood pressure should avoid performing this assan.
Tree Pose (Vriksaasan)
Practicing this aasan brings on a feeling of calm and inner peace. Stand straight and with the help of your hands, place a foot behind the knee of the other leg. Stretch your hands horizontally and slowly raise them above your head and join them in a gesture of prayer. As in all balancing postures, fix your gaze on a point in front of you. Breathe deeply as you hold the pose. Repeat the aasan in a laterally inverted position. Once you are able to hold the pose effortlessly, practice with your eyes closed. This may not be all that easy and is likely to take time.
What it does for you: Prolonged practise negates quick temper, irritability and nervousness. It cuts stress considerably. Practised early in the day, it helps you to begin the day on a calm note.
Timing: Hold the pose through 5 deep breaths. Build up to 15 on each leg. Make sure you breathe only through the nose. Try to keep your eyes closed for the duration of the aasan. With practise it becomes easy.
Sit on the ground with the left leg bent and the heel under the body. The right foot should then be placed near the left knee on the ground. The left arm must encircle the knee, and the fingers should grasp the right toe. Take the right arm behind the back encircling the waist. Look over your shoulder and hold the position till a count of 30.
Repeat laterally inverted.
What it does for you: Makes the spine elastic and tones the nervous system along with the roots of the spinal nerve. Cures backaches. The digestive organs, especially the pancreas and the liver, become strong and active. The lungs and the heart are toned. This aasan helps reduce weight and the waist line. Start with 30 seconds and go up to a minute on both sides.
Yoga requires plenty of discipline. But give it your sustained best, incorporate it into your daily routine and the results won't take too long to follow.
FOOD FOR HEALTH
Yoga must be combined with good eating habits for maximum benefit. We are fortunate that much of our food is grown within the country. This ensures that the right eats for the right season are all easily available for us to be able to build up a balanced diet with little trouble.
Ensuring that your daily meal has a representation of the season's natural output is enough to make for a nutritious plate. Another aspect that needs to be taken into account is the method of cooking - faulty ways of cooking and prolonged storage destroys valuable elements. Remember not to cook too much. A meal is best eaten fresh-cooked.
Important minerals, calcium and iron, can be obtained in plenty from green leafy vegetables such as spinach and fenugreek (methi) and even from vegetables like bitter gourd, carrots, onions, tomatoes and onions. Fruits, another natural food grown in abundance here, have several uses.
Apple, lemon, orange and pomegranate help in the proper functioning of the heart. Dates and mangoes, on the other hand, have a direct action on the central nervous system, which in turn sharpens memory and prevents nervous exhaustion and insomnia. Wood apple (bael) and apples add roughage.
For this season raw mango is especially useful as it helps prevent and cure heat stroke. Another must-eat this season is a salad of tomato, onion, cabbage and cucumber tossed in a little yogurt. This acts as a cooling agent, keeps up the energy level and helps you lose weight. Cut down on eating-out and opt for less spicy eats.
An all-season must is breakfast. Don't skip this meal as it sets the pace for the rest of the day. The glass of milk, especially, is all important. It protects your bones, is essential for body buildings and repair of body cells, increases strength, improves memory and promotes long life. Space out meals by about four hours. Avoid drinking water with your food as it interferes with the digestive process. Have a glassful 10 minutes before your food or 20 minutes after the meal. As far as possible, drop refined foods, go for natural products like gur, honey and atta.