Yoga practice has become a trend and more these days! Science has proved that yoga is beneficial for our bodies and mind, and a modern healthy lifestyle would include the daily practice of yoga and mindful breathing. Currently, from supermodels to athletes, everyone would talk about yoga as a wellness tool. So let’s get you acquainted with what yoga is as well as the benefits of its practices along with mindful breathing.
Table of Contents
WHAT IS YOGA ?
Yoga is a mind-body practice that combines the physical, mental, and spiritual aspects of life. It is an ancient practice that brings peace, calm, and balance to the body and mind.
Yogis believe that through yoga, you can attain a state of complete union between your physical self and soul/mind.
So therefore one could say– Yoga is a mental and physical discipline. YOGA means Union or connection.
BRANCHES OF YOGA
There are about 6 main branches of yoga.
- Bhakti Yoga:
Bhakti Yoga emphasizes devotion to a deity. This yoga method is based on love and devotion to the divine, to connect with one’s “personal God.” Devotional disciplines, worship, prayer, chanting, and singing may all be part of the practice.
Bhakti yoga practitioners see the divine in everything, which leads to tolerance, acceptance, and peace in everyday life.
- Hatha Yoga:
Hatha yoga is a physical-based form of yoga. The practice of yoga asanas (postures), involves using the body as a tool for self-reflection. It places a focus on mind-body relaxation and muscle strengthening and stretching.
- Karma Yoga :
Also known as the yoga of doing, Karma Yoga is the way of selfless action. built on the principle of using the mind as a tool without attachment or expectations. Karma yogis are constantly working for the betterment of all beings, with no thought of material gain, and are completely detached from how their actions will turn out.
- Mantra Yoga :
Also known as the Yoga of potent sound. Based on repeating a mantra.
The word Mantra is derived from two Sanskrit words; “manas” – mind, and “tra” – tool
Mantra Yoga makes use of sound to harmonize the body and focus the mind. It works with mantras, these mantra has a distinct sound that creates balance and concentration of the mind and body.
You become calmer and more connected to the Source energy as you chant the mantra together with the meditative practice.
Mantras can be syllables, words, or phrases. Yogis believe it to be a sound tool for the mind to keep you centered.
- Jnana Yoga:
Based on the belief of oneness. And it’s often referred to as the yoga of wisdom. They also believe earthly pleasures are only distractions and they focus on their search for the divine.
- Tantra Yoga:
This one is Based on activating the latent Kundalini energy. Yogis believe the Kundalini energy is the prana i.e life force which is located at the base of our spine, coiled like a snake. And that the awakening of this prana is the beginning of your spiritual journey.
The term Kundalini comes from Sanskrit word kundalini meaning “circular or annular”.
There are so many other branches and forms of yoga, that we can not begin to even mention, and which are not the focus of this article. What we want to focus on is yoga as exercise.
So we’re going to focus on Hatha yoga. The word Hatha means force.
It’s the most practiced yoga, especially in the western region.
Hatha yoga is practised with postures, usually referred to as asana, which is also a smaller branch of a branch of yoga (I don’t know if that made any sense), using the body and physical techniques to channel force and energy for self-transformation.
YOGA AS EXERCISE(HATHA YOGA)
Yoga is a form of exercise that primarily consists of postures connected by flowing sequences, occasionally including breathing exercises, and frequently concluding with sitting-down relaxation or meditation. This style of yoga has gained popularity throughout the world, particularly in America and Europe. It is descended from medieval Hatha yoga, which employed comparable postures, but it is commonly referred to as “yoga.” Yoga as exercise has been referred to by academics by many different names, including modern postural yoga.
Posture is described in some Yoga texts, (Sutras II.29, 46, etc.) defines it as that which is steady and comfortable, but no further elaboration or list of postures is given.
These postures were not used in yoga until the 1920s by some yoga gurus who insisted on the health benefits, and so some standing poses from gymnastics were incorporated as well as other poses.
SO- The physical aspect of yoga (Hatha yoga) includes poses called asanas and the main purpose of the asanas is to keep the body healthy.
It usually begins with sun salutation poses and ends with a period of relaxation. They are included in the practice for improving strength, endurance, flexibility, and balance. While balancing your breath with the physical poses.
This helps you to relax your body and feel more energized during yoga sessions.
Trying to take control and balance your breath while doing these poses (Asana) is an integral part of yoga. And it is called Asana Pranayama.
Asana – Posture and
Pranayama – controlled breathing.
So Pranayama is a main component of yoga, which brings us to the next discussion — mindful breathing!
MINDFUL BREATHING (& Mediation)
The practice of mindful breathing can help you to focus your attention on the present moment and bring awareness back to the present moment. It helps to turn attention inward by silencing the mind and directing your attention to your breath.
It is a very straightforward yet effective mindfulness meditation technique.
Mindful breathing is simply paying attention to your breathing’s natural rhythm, flow, and sensations on each inhalation and exhalation.
The idea behind this is just to focus on your breathing, and It is especially beneficial to focus on your breathing because it acts as an anchor you can direct your attention to, allowing you to return to a more balanced state whenever you feel stressed or overcome by negative emotions.
The beauty of this is that it can be practiced anywhere anytime. And it could be a good tool to let go of negative emotions, or maybe lighten up when you feel bad or stressed. All you need to know is the basics of how to practice mindful breathing.
There are a lot of ways to practice mindful breathing, but here we have gathered these simple tips that should help you get started:
Sit down in a comfortable position with your feet flat on the floor, knees bent at 90 degrees, and hands resting comfortably on your thighs. If this position feels uncomfortable for you, try something else, sitting up straight or lying down on your back instead; there’s no right way! Just get in a relaxing position.
Close your eyes and take a few deep breaths in through the nose as if you were inhaling steam from boiling water—but don’t breathe out yet! Then let go until nothing comes up except for air moving past each nostril once again before exhaling slowly through pursed lips so no sound escapes them either. Then repeat 8-10 times.
Alternatively, you can just observe each breath without attempting to alter it; it might be helpful to pay attention to the expansion and contraction of your chest or the sensation coming from your nostrils. Your thoughts or physical sensations may cause your mind to wander as you’re doing this. It’s alright. You can become aware of this and make a gentle effort to return your focus to your breathing, while in a comfortable position of course.
To give this practice more structure and provide you with a brief and more guided meditation technique, follow these steps;
1. Settle into a comfortable, relaxed position. Perched on a chair or a cushion, or the floor. Keep your back straight and upright, but don’t hold it too firmly. Place your hands wherever they are most comfortable for you. Place your tongue on the roof of your mouth.
2. Invite your body to relax, let yourself relax, and start to notice how your body feels while seated—the sensations it experiences, the touch, the connection with the floor or the chair. Do your best to relax any areas of tightness or tension and just Breathe… In— and out, in— and out, in— and out…
3. Focus and Tune into the rhythm of your breath. You can feel the natural flow of your breath—in, out. Nothing extra is necessary, not long, not short, deep breath. Instead, let your breath flow naturally as you tune in your focus more to the rhythm of your breath.
4. Take note of where in your body you feel your breath. It could be in your stomach. It might be in your throat, chest, or nostrils. One breath at a time, try to feel the breath’s sensations. Breath in— out, in, out.
It’s okay if you can’t feel the breath throughout your entire body. At various times of the day, we are more in connection with some parts of the body than others.
5. As you do this for some time– Your thoughts may begin to stray and wander.
If it does, there is no need to worry; it is completely normal. Acknowledge when it does and gently bring your focus back to your breathing after that.
You can say words like; “thinking” or “wandering” in your head softly or whichever keywords you may like. I like to say “focus” 3X.
Stay here for 3-5 minutes and just do nothing but notice your breathing, in silence. From time to time, you’ll get lost in thought, then return to your breathing.
6. After a few minutes, once again notice your whole body while seated, and feel the connection with the floor or chair in which you are seated.
Let yourself relax even more deeply and then, just breathe.
If it is available, please offer yourself some appreciation for doing this exercise.
BENEFITS OF MINDFUL BREATHING
1). It helps with anxiety
2). It is a tool for stress management
3). It helps keep your mind focused and away from negative thoughts
4). Can sometimes help relieve pain
BENEFITS OF YOGA
1). Yoga offers many benefits for both physical and mental health.
2). Yoga is a great way to reduce stress and anxiety.
3). It helps you sleep better, and feel more energized.
4). It can help manage your weight and improve your posture.
5). It can improve back pain or joint issues to find relief by practicing poses that strengthen the back muscles without causing further damage.
6). It improves flexibility
Yoga is a form of exercise that incorporates physical postures, breathing techniques, meditation, and relaxation. It has been practiced for thousands of years and is believed to have originated in ancient India. However, Yoga can help with flexibility, strength, balance, and overall physical fitness, as well as stress reduction and mental well-being. Yoga comes in a variety of styles and can be practiced by people of all ages and abilities. It is generally regarded as safe when practiced under the supervision of a qualified instructor.