“Yoga is the journey of the self, through the self, to the self.”
In today’s times, when clarity and focus are the most sought elements in day-to-day life, somehow we tend to ignore or even miss out on considering ‘yoga’ and its intended positive impact on our lives. It isn’t just about the exercises or the diet; yoga is a lifestyle by itself. It’s about moulding our habits, our perceptions and general ways of life to be more aligned with the philosophies and ethics of yoga. Yoga (Sanskrit for ‘union’), the ancient Indian discipline of physical exercise, diet control, breathing regulation, meditation and positive thinking, helps you build an environment of peace, control and hope, within you and around you.
The Yogic Diet
A yogic diet, specifically, would consist of sattvic foods – foods that keep the mind and body in balance. Following the Ayurvedic traditions, sattvic foods consist of whole grains, fruits and vegetables (legumes, mainly), nuts and seeds - all grown in fertile, rich soil, are minimally processed and rich in nutrients. It not only helps us maintain a good digestive system, but also helps foster positive thinking within the mind.
A sattvic diet is also home to these following superfoods:
Turmeric powder: Rich in curcumin; known for its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties
Legumes: Rich in protein, dietary fibre and minerals; good for muscle-building and reduces cholesterol levels
Nuts and seeds: Rich in protein, healthy fats and vitamins; aid in weight management and good for heart health
Carrots: Rich in vitamins and minerals; boosts eye and heart, and overall immunity
Spinach: Rich in Vitamin K and dietary fibre; controls blood pressure levels
How does yoga benefit you?
Research has shown that there are many benefits of yogic and mindfulness-based practices. It can help regulate blood glucose levels and keep the cardiovascular system healthy. These practices have been shown to have important psychological benefits as well. Yoga can help increase alertness and positive feelings, and decrease negative feelings of aggressiveness, depression and anxiety.
• May improve respiratory cycles
Pranayama exercises in yoga observe a particular pattern of inhalation and exhalation which helps our bodies regulate our breathing function, promotes the free flow of ‘prana’ (energy) in our bodies, and thus, helps the mind and body operate better. Practicing Pranayama regularly can help individuals suffering from respiratory diseases like asthma as it can strengthen the lungs.
• Helps build a flexible body
Practicing yoga for about half an hour has brought about positive results in a wide sample audience – enhancing their performance by boosting balance and flexibility.
• Gives you a good night’s sleep
Yoga exercises are said to have a negative effect on sleep disturbances and dependency on sleep-inducing medication by helping increase the secretion of melatonin, a hormone that contributes to quality sleep.
• May help you manage depression
Cortisol is a stress hormone that influences the levels of the happiness-inducing hormone serotonin; cortisol levels lead to depression in an individual. Practicing yoga helps decrease these cortisol levels and possibly help manage depression. Recitation of mantras involves increased activity of brain, even though the body may remain at rest.
• Good for heart health
Yoga pumps blood throughout your body in a smooth manner, supplies all corners with the necessary nutrients and helps reduce arterial blockage. Overall, it helps promotes the cardiovascular functioning, while keeping your blood pressure levels in check.
• May act against inflammation problems
A disciplined yoga routine helps you reduce the effects of chronic inflammation; inflammation could further lead to diseases such as diabetes, cancer and heart diseases.
• Fosters healthy eating habits
Yoga increases mindfulness, thus, letting the body proactively adopt mindful eating practices – that help curb irregular eating habits, control blood sugar levels and help in weight management.
• May lessen the impact of migraines
Yoga is known to kindle the vagus nerve which helps in reducing migraine effects, thus helping practitioners manage frequent headache problems.
Investing in a yogic lifestyle is bound to help reap benefits for a lifetime, and beyond. A plant, that needs to be nurtured with patience, discipline and perseverance. Leaving you with a happy mind, body and soul.
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