Being in balance both physically and mentally is very important, maybe even more important if you are living abroad where you may have to deal with different stressors than in your home country. You may be far away from your family and friends, having to get used to a different culture and lifestyle. In this article, on International Yoga Day celebrated every June 21st, we will explain to you more about yoga and how yoga can make you and your family get more relaxed and find your inner peace wherever you are located.
Yoga is an ancient technique from India. Within yoga you can distinguish many branches or different ways of approaching it, but these treat the human being in all its dimension and seek its development, both physical and mental and, if you have beliefs about it, we can also say that it develops the spiritual part. In short, a growth and a holistic or global work of the person. But how does this work?
To achieve this state, exercises are practiced regularly, one, two or more times a week. By a teacher who knows the exercises of the practice well, having performed it an infinite number of times. They can transmit it from within, meaning they have lived and learned the practices intensely from attending workshops and not just by having read it in a book or heard in a lecture…. And that passionate transmission helps the pupil learn much faster and with more interest. Therefore, when choosing a yoga center, the teacher is much more important than the branch of yoga to which (s)he belongs.
Types of exercises
As for what kind of exercises constitute this regular practice of yoga, depends a lot on the type of yoga that is practiced, although it is true that the majority (hatha yoga, ashtanga, iyengar …) are methods that give great importance to the physical part of the practice through the work of the postures.
- The asanas also known as postures are the most visible work of yoga, more aesthetic, more striking at first. They consist of placing the body in a certain position to promote the circulation of blood, lymph, massage of internal organs, oxygenation of the lungs and blood, muscle stretching, opening of joints and production of hormones.
Fortunately, there are many types and levels of asanas, so every participant can find not only his/her working group but also the exact point up to which (s)he can do a posture; yoga, then, adapts to everyone with the help of the teacher or master and our prudence and attention.
- But yoga is much more than that, and the range it offers us is very wide and fortunately, we can take that which most interests us. So, we can prioritize the work and learning of breathing, another of the fundamental pillars of yoga. Breathing is utilised in hatha yoga, but apart from the asanas, it is known as pranayama or energetic breathing. While in ashtanga, it is more synchronized with the postures and in Kundalini it is used with passion, with the ultimate intention of awakening the energy.
- The mental part is perhaps less used or, let’s say, less popular, but we could never say that it is less characteristic of yoga. There is always some mental work, for example, when we perform the postures, because this requires very intense concentration. But it is not a mental work as strong and transformative as meditation, a practice that is gaining followers. But it is not as popular as the physical part of yoga, although it will most likely go up. It is not as popular because of its difficulty, as most people find it harder to do nothing than to do a lot of things. So, contrary to what it might seem, meditation is more difficult than physical work.
Tools to relax
But the part of yoga that our society might benefit most from are, most likely the tools that help us to relax. Many of us are aware that our society lives are accelerated, that our mind has no rest, that our body tightens but does not unwind? But who does anything about it? Fortunately, more and more people. Yoga is the ideal tool to achieve relaxation. Like everything else, we need some time to learn, especially if our situation is already stressful or anxious. But let us suggest, both from the postural and respiratory aspect, as well as the mental aspects, yoga has a spectacular impact on the levels of stress, agitation, nervousness, insomnia … it only asks us a little bit of routine.
From everything we have seen so far, it follows that yoga is very useful to prevent and assist in the recovery of many diseases and illnesses, as it promotes the vitality of the body at all levels: muscular, organic, hormonal, circulatory, cranial…
With these effects it is easy to understand why it helps with many of the pathologies we suffer, from back pain to varicose veins, through asthma and headaches. However, it is true that there are certain contraindications, the most notable of all, being that of fever: if there is fever it is better not to practice until the usual temperature is restored.
Although all facets of yoga are suitable for prevention and collaboration in the management of the conditions in question, we can advise a little more in the choice:
- If you have tense muscles, or joint pain, or difficult digestion without apparent cause, or general weakness, poor posture, lack of body awareness … the asanas will be great for us.
- If you need to relax, suffer from stress, anxiety, nervousness, lack of vitality… breathing and visualization will be the choice.
- If you want to transform yourself then you can choose meditation.
- And if you do not like to choose and you have time and energy, you can choose all three!
But when you start practicing yoga, or if you are already a regular practitioner, you will know that more and more people practice yoga simply because they feel like it, because of the feeling of wellbeing it brings, and all the advantages we have seen so far seem like a great addition.