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“Ultimately, yoga is about connection; to our body, our thoughts, and our feelings”
“By listening, we promote a healthy relationship with ourselves.”
This ancient science tells us much about how to live life in a harmonious way. One aspect of this science which is the physical practice, is known as Hatha yoga, which is comprised of 3 parts; asanas (or poses) that help to both stretch and strengthen our bodies, and pranayama (or breathing exercises) and meditation/relaxation practices. The latter two help us to turn our attention from our external environment (that may have a disturbing influence on us) to a more internal focus, and can bring us a feeling of greater ease and self-control.
Ultimately, yoga is about connection; to our body, our thoughts, and our feelings. Establishing this connection to our essential self is usually a relief. By listening, we promote a healthy relationship with ourselves.
There are lots of ways available for us to introduce yoga into our lives. The local bookstore or library often have books on yoga that will help you start. There are many videos available today leading a person through a Hatha yoga practice. And now more and more communities have yoga classes available either at a community or fitness centre or even a local yoga studio. For someone new to yoga, all of these avenues offer a way to support you. Doing some of the physical practice (poses) will prepare our body and mind to be able, with ease, to focus on some of the breath and meditative techniques.
Yoga is not a quick fix for all our problems but regular effort will reorganize our bodies and minds back to wholeness and health.
If you want to start, you could try the following:
1. FOR ANXIETY
DEEP BREATHING Lie down on your back in a comfortable position or sit comfortably but with an upright spine. Begin to consciously relax all the muscles in your body, having a sense of sinking into the ground. Then pay attention to the sound of your breath as you slowly inhale and exhale. Notice the movement of breath in your abdomen as it expands and contracts. Begin by practising for 5 minutes at a time and then see if you can lengthen the duration.
2. FOR DEPRESSION
If you are feeling low or depressed, try this:
ALTERNATE NOSTRIL BREATH - Sit comfortably with an upright spine (perhaps cross-legged). Settle into a relaxed breathing pattern. Then close off the right nostril with the thumb of the right hand. Inhale slowly on the left side. Close the left nostril with the right index finger. Lift your thumb and breathe out slowly through the right nostril. Breathe in through the right nostril and close it with the right thumb. Lift the index finger and breathe out slowly on the left. This is one round Continue this pattern, alternating nostrils after each inhalation. Repeat the sequence for 5 rounds. As you get comfortable and gain confidence with this breath technique, see if you can lengthen the number of rounds you do.
Valerie Hobson is co-owner of Lotus Centre Yoga Studio in London, Ontario and is a certified yoga instructor.
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