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Sivananda Yogalife, Delhi

"Health is wealth. Peace of mind is happiness. Yoga shows the way.”

Five Points of Yoga

  The system of yoga is a simple, natural process involving 5 main principles:

• Proper Exercise   • Proper Breathing   • Proper Relaxation   • Proper Diet   • Positive Thinking and Meditation.

Proper Exercise acts as a lubricating routine to the joints, muscles, ligaments, tendons and other parts of the body by increasing circulation and flexibility. Health is a state wherein all organs function well under the intelligent control of mind. Yoga exercises are called ‘Asanas’ which mean steady pose. Asanas are designed to develop the body and they broaden the mental faculties. They work on the internal machinery of the body, the glands and the organs as well as the muscles. They affect the deeper and more SUNtle parts of the body. The ordinary physical exercise emphasizes violent movement of the muscles. It leaves the body exhausted as a large quantity of Lactic acid is produced during the physical exercise. In the Yoga asanas , the lactic acid which is produced gets neutralized by the inhalation of oxygen (deep breathing). Thus, the body feels fresh and rejuvenated after practicing yoga. With the regular practice of yoga, the practitioner builds strength, stamina and gains more flexibility. The spinal column houses the all- important nervous system. By maintaining the spine’s flexibility and strength through yoga, the nerves are ensured their supply of blood and oxygen. One hour of practice gives one hour of exercise, one hour of deep breathing, one hour of deep relaxation and one hour of meditation through developing the concentration powers while holding a posture. Hatha yoga, of which asanas are one limb, is the practical approach to raja yoga.

Proper Breathing helps the body in connecting to its battery, the solar plexus, which stores tremendous amount of energy. When tapped through various breathing techniques, thei energy is released for physical and mental rejuvenation. Many people get tired very quickly and easily. They are totally unaware of the fact that the fatigue is caused due to the lack of oxygen in the lungs which is the result of improper breathing. Only a portion of the lung capacity is being used. The ribcage is barely open. The best way to breathe is to expand the ribcage fully as you inhale deeply and slowly, take the breath to your abdomen, abdomen bulges out which ensures that the lowest and largest part of the lungs get to breathe in every inhale. While you exhale, squeeze the abdomen and the ribcage. This type of breathing is called the deep abdominal breathing. In this type of breathing, the proper use of Diaphragm is made. Abdomen should expand as you inhale and contract as you exhale. Breathe in and out slowly. As an example, try this whenever you climb the staircase. Inhale as you climb the first two steps and exhale on the next two. In this manner, climbing up becomes quite easy without huffing and puffing. You expel more carbon dioxide and breathe in a lot of oxygen which keeps the fatigue away. Remember, with this deep breathing, one can overcome fatigue, depression, tension, headache and other illnesses. To improve the quality and length of your life, breathe like a tortoise not like a rabbit!

Proper Relaxation Modern social life, food, work and even entertainment make it difficult for people to relax. Rest and relaxation are Nature's way of recharging the mind and the body. Our body usually produces enough energy necessary for the next day, but this energy is wasted from the body in the form of anger, irritability, negative thinking, hatred, jealousy, talking, eating food high on oil and spices etc. During complete relaxation, there is little, or no energy being consumed. A small amount is kept in circulation while the remaining portion is stored and conserved. When the body is completely relaxed, awareness of the mind increases. At the mental level, savasana relieves stress and anxiety. It relaxes the Central nervous system and calms the mind. It also has many physical benefits. Savasana controls high blood pressure. It reduces insomnia. Regular practice of savasana gets you rid of headache and fatigue and helps relieve depression. Just a few minutes of savasana is as refreshing and rejuvenating as 6-7 hours of sleep.

Proper Diet The yogic diet consists of pure, simple, natural foods which are easily digested and promote health and vitality. The diet should be balanced with protein, carbohydrates, vitamins & minerals, fats, and fibre. Processed, refined, reheated and overcooked food should be avoided. Eat food first-hand from nature. The sun is the primary source of energy for all living beings. It nourishes the plants (the top of the food chain) which are eaten by animals (herbivores or vegetarian) which are then eaten by other animals (carnivores). The food at the top of the food chain, being directly nourished by the sun, has the greatest life-promoting properties. So, eat a simple diet of natural fresh food. The yogic diet will help one attain a high standard of health, and a calm mind.

Positive thinking and Meditation The above principles govern the state of our mind. If one practices asanas and pranayama and follows a simple vegetarian diet, the mind becomes calm and the concentration moves inward, upon the Self. In other words, the mind is ready to meditate.