Yoga simply means union or yoke of you with the entire exitance. Yoga was first mentioned in the ancient text Rigveda. Specific yoga practices and yoga exercises are designed for specific people so we should be quite careful before choosing any yoga practices.
Practicing yoga helps in all areas of our life whether that may be physical, psychological, mental, or emotional. Yoga exercises and practices are significantly important for people who are facing stress, anxiety, restlessness, and other physical problems.
A study shows that practicing yoga just for 15 minutes changes brain chemistry helping people to get into a better mood.
Yoga has been used as a great tool by different types of people to rip its benefits. Everyone can achieve their goals by using yoga exercises whether that may be mental, physical, or psychological.
Students too can achieve excellent results in their academics and in their life as well. Now the question comes: why yoga?
- Consider your body as a mass of flesh that runs by a source of energy. Practicing yoga on a daily basis manages that energy within you making you more calmer and peaceful. Basically, it balances your energy making you feel happy and joyful.
- When you are happy your intelligence functions at its peak. Thus it enhances your capability to focus and think more creatively.
- Practicing yoga on a daily basis increases your physical flexibility keeping you away from so many diseases.
- Yoga increases your perception by tuning you to the source of existence. It’s like the antenna of a tv. The tv itself is just a box but when you adjust the antenna of a TV the whole world falls into it. Similarly, practicing yoga is aligning your body in such a way that you can connect yourself to infinite intelligence
- Scientific studies show that yoga practitioners are mentally stronger, and having high emotional intelligence than normal people.
- You literally can develop any kind of capabilities through the practice of yoga on a daily basis.
Top athletes and celebrities who practice yoga?
Well, a lot of elite athletes who practice yoga are Kevin Love, Dwayne Wade, Kevin Durant, Kevin Garnett, Torrey Smith, and so on. Not only athletes, many popular celebrities like Matthew McConaughey, Jennifer Aniston, Sting, Michelle Williams, Robert Downey Jr., etc. also practice different forms of yoga.
Top yoga exercises for mental and physical fitness are listed below:
1. Shambhavi Mudra
Shambhavi Mudra is also known as the ‘Eyebrow center Gazing Technique’. In this mudra, we are centralized to discover the power of the third eye I.e., ‘Ajna Chakra’. These are the meditations performed by Lord Shiva and Lord Vishnu.
This meditational practice can help a student in attaining stability as well as sound emotional health. Although the mudra is easier to perform, it’s almost a path of a challenge to acquire proficiency. Consistency should be maintained to attain mastery in this practice.
This mudra is very efficient for students who are struggling with relaxation and concentration. It helps a student to function smoothly even in a state of hectic schedule and multitasking requirements.
The mudra gives a high level of consciousness when practiced along with a healthy diet, physical activity, and the required amount of sleep. It is an intense form of meditation that is helpful to improve concentration as well as improve various other skills.
This mudra aspires one to meditate deeply and discover inner peace. Shambhavi Mudra is a beneficial mudra that can deeply connect a person with one’s conscience and inner soothing peace.
How to practice Shambhavi Mudra?
- First, sit in a relaxed and calm position. Make sure that you are away from all kinds of worries, depression, and hazards of life.
- Keep your back straight
- Take a few deep breaths. Exhale them consciously for a calm mind.
- Then slowly and gradually one needs to focus on the center of both eyebrows. This technique is also known as the ‘Eyebrow gazing technique’ for the eyebrow’s engagement in it.
- You might feel some pain or discomfort along with a mild headache after a few minutes. Don’t get distracted, just close your eyes immediately and start deep breathing for relaxation.
- Repeat the procedure after some minutes.
- In shambhavi mudra, you need to touch your index finger to the thumb to keep the energy saturation.
This mudra is believed to open the third internal eye of an individual to find deep inner contact with oneself. If practiced correctly then it will help to maintain the concentration level as well as detoxify different hazards of life. Emotional stability and good digestion are maintained with habitual practice.
2. Isha Kriya
Isha Kriya is simple and easy to practice which can transform the life of anyone who is willing to invest just a few minutes a day in this divine action.
It is a powerful 12-18 minutes meditation process designed by famous spiritual master Sadhguru for anyone willing to get through the spiritual mode of life. Students can practice Isha kriya for better health, dynamism, peace, and well-being with the timeless wisdom of yogic sciences.
Believe it is one of the best yoga exercises considering its simplicity, time duration of practice, and benefits you get from it.
How to practice Isha Kriya?
- Sit in a cross-legged posture, with your spine comfortably erect. Use a backrest if necessary.
- Face to east direction.
- Keep hands upon your thighs with palms facing upward.
- With your face slightly upturned, eyes closed, keep a mild focus between your eyebrows.
The meditation is fragmented to three stages:
- Inhale and exhale gently.
- With each inhalation, mentally utter yourself “I am not the body”. The inhalation should last for the whole duration of thought.
- With each exhalation, mentally utter yourself “I am not even the mind”. The exhalation should last for the whole duration of thought.
- Repeat for 7 to 10 minutes.
- Make the sound, “Aaa” 7 times with mouth wide open, exhaling fully into each sound.
- Concentrate the sound to be coming from below the navel loud enough to feel the vibration.
- Sit for 5 minutes with a slightly upturned face, and keep a mild focus between your eyebrows.
- The total time of practice is 12- 18 minutes. You can extend it to any length you want.
Regular practice of Isha Kriya can beautify life in many ways. It helps in developing mental clarity and focus. It exhibits wise living with mental stability. Isha Kriya helps an individual get in touch with the source of his existence as well as cherish peace and well-being.
3. Anulom Vilom
Anulom Vilom is one of the well-practiced core breathing exercises in yoga. It is also called Alternate Nostril Breathing. It involves conscious breath regulation by keeping a nostril closed and inhaling through the other one. Considering its benefits and ease of practice it is one of the best yoga exercises.
The breath is pulled in from one nostril for a short while and then exhaled out through the closed nostril. We then repeat this process by alternating the nostril to close and to breathe.
Practicing Anulom Vilom on a daily basis facilitates many physical and mental health benefits. When practiced correctly, it fills you with positive energy, reduces stress, and improves many vital body functionalities.
It is very much beneficial for students as it induces a calm mind, filters toxins from the body, increases oxygenation, and improves vital functions of the body. Students with different mental issues like stress, fear, anxiety, and panic attacks can practice this yoga exercise.
How do you practice Anulom Vilom?
- Generate Vishnu Mudra by folding your index and middle finger inwards for the right hand. Close your right nostril with your thumb and breathe out consciously through your left nostril.
- Get in your breath calmly for 4 seconds through your left nostril.
- Close your left nostril with the ring and little fingers so that both nostrils are now closed. Hold your breath for 8 seconds.
- Keeping your left nostril closed, release your right nostril and exhale completely for 8 secs.
- With your left nostril closed, inhale through your right for 4 secs.
- Close both nostrils and hold your breath for 8 secs.
- Keeping your right nostril closed, release your fingers from your left nostril and breathe out completely for 8 secs.
- This completes one round. Continue this exercise for 5-10 minutes.
- A 1:2:2 ratio is recommended for early beginners. So, 4 seconds inhalation, 8 seconds retention, and 8 seconds exhalation.
- As you become comfortable with this exercise, extend the ratio to 1:4:2, which is the classical and proper way. So, 4 secs inhalation, 16 secs retention, and 8 secs exhalation.
- The ratio is always in a ratio of 1:4:2. Counts can be increased.
Caution: Do not practice retention of breath if you are pregnant or suffering from hypertension, anxiety, or panic attacks. Do only alternate breathing in and out.
The practice improves oxygenation throughout the body and prevents the risk of many heart-related diseases. It is good for the brain’s healthy functioning with a calm mind and balanced energy channel.
Vipassana is the practice of continued close attention to well-being and sensation to ultimately enlighten the true nature of existence. Often, the term “Vipassana meditation” is used to implicate “mindfulness meditation,” but Vipassana is more specific in its inclusion.
It involves observing your instant thoughts and emotions without judging or dwelling on them. When practiced regularly, it helps in self-control over habits, decision-making, and response inhibition, all of which are crucial to reducing addiction and avoiding distractions.
Steps to Vipassana:
- Set aside 10 to 15 minutes to practice. It’s recommended to practice when you first wake up in the morning.
- Choose a quiet area for no distractions. An empty room or an isolated spot outside can be great choices.
- Sit on the ground. Cross your legs comfortably.
- Close your eyes and breathe normally. Focus on your natural breath and what you feel instantly.
- Be mindful of each inhale and exhale. Observe your thoughts and feelings.
- If you become distracted, simply observe the distraction and return to your breath.
- Aim to do this for at least 5 to 10 minutes in the beginning phase. As you get used to this practice, prolong the duration.
Vipassana helps in promoting brain plasticity, improves mental wellness, reduces anxiety, and relieves stress.
The Sirsasana or Headstand Pose involves balance on the head. ‘Sirsha’ means ‘head’ and ‘asana’ is ‘posture’, so this asana is done on the head. This is a guided yoga asana so it must only be attempted under the supervision of a yoga instructor. This asana is very popular because it has multiple health benefits. It enhances blood circulation and ensures that the brain receives oxygenated blood.
How to practice Sirsasana?
- Sit in Vajrasana, bending forward with folded forearms. Rest on the ground with locked fingers.
- The head and the hands are on the floor and form a triangle.
- Place the crown of the head in between locked fingers.
- Slowly, balance the head on the fingers.
- Keep up the knees and glutes off the floor and straighten them.
- Slowly walk the feet towards the trunk.
- Carefully prepare to lift yourself off the floor by bending the knees, keeping the heels near the glutes, and slowly straightening the hips so that the thighs are perpendicular to the floor.
- Slowly straighten the knees and the calves till the entire body is vertical – one straight line with the feet relaxed.
- Balance the body and maintain this position for a few seconds or as long as you are comfortable
- Focus your attention on the breath, and the head region.
- While coming back, follow the steps in the inverted procedure.
- Slowly, fold the legs to bring the thighs back to the 90-degree position.
- Slowly, drop the legs to the ground.
- To regain balance from the inverted position, sit in Shishuasana (Child Pose) for some time.
- Release the hand position, and sit in Vajrasana.
- Rest for a few minutes.
Sirsasana helps in strengthening the muscles of the neck and shoulder, abdomen, and spine. It helps induce relaxation. This asana helps in circulating blood to the scalp helping in preventing hair loss, graying of hair, and baldness.
6. Three Step Breathing space
Three-step breathing space is a mindfulness practice that encourages taking time for oneself and being mindful of your thoughts as well as feelings. It can help when you need to take time out from a hectic day or feeling overwhelmed by a stressful event.
Steps for Three-Step Breathing space:
- Become aware of what is happening right now by tuning in to your vital senses, inner feelings, body sensations, and thoughts.
- Become aware of your breath as it goes in and out. Notice your chest and belly movement of rising and falling with each in-and-out breath.
- Become aware of your entire body then expand your awareness for a wholesome body to breathe.
Regular mindfulness practice can help relieve stress, improve your sleep, and support you to regulate your emotions and live a harmonious and peaceful life.
7. Yog Nidra
Yoga Nidra or yogic sleep is semi-consciousness between waking and sleeping. It is also understood as the ‘going-to-sleep’ stage. It works in a hypnagogic state induced by guided meditation. No concentration on a single focus is required.
Steps for Yog Nidra:
- Connecting to your heart’s deepest desire can be a lifelong goal or something that relates to your health.
- Set a distinct intention.
- Find your inner resource to lie.
- Scan your body thoroughly.
- Become aware of your breath at every instant of time.
- Welcome your feelings no matter what it is.
- Witness your thoughts with pride.
- Experience joy.
- Observe yourself honestly.
- Reflect on your practice.
Yoga Nidra works with an autonomous nervous system for a better heartbeat, breathing, digestion, and blood flow. It helps to calm the sympathetic nervous system as well.
Practicing yoga has a great impact on millions of people all around the globe. Often times our logical mind thinks of it as a waste of time so it tends to procrastinate the yoga exercises and practices. However, always remember that it has life-changing benefits irrespective of your age, race, ethnicity, and religious background.
Yoga increases our awareness level helping us to handle our disturbing thoughts and emotions. Consequently, we can cure stress, anxiety, depression, and any other physical ailments.
Thus incorporating yoga exercises and practices in your daily life is of utmost important thing.