For the last twenty years I have enjoyed regular exercise. Through running I love the high it gives me and through my yoga practice I always feel mentally and physically relaxed. I can benefit from the cardio vascular aspect of running and the mind, body connection that Yoga offers.
People have practiced yoga for thousands of years in India. Yoga is based on the idea that the mind and body are “one.” The word yoga comes from the Sanskrit language and means “union.” The goals of yoga include improved physical and mental health and finding “oneness” with a higher being, the self.
Yoga is now the most rapidly growing health movement in the modern world, despite it being developed thousands of year’s ago. There are many types of Yoga to cater for the Western lifestyle, with no exclusion for age, religion, class or sex all of whom can benefit from the breathing, meditation and physical techniques. For me the very essence of yoga lies in attaining mental peace, improved concentration and a relaxed state of living.
The intention of Yoga practice is for oneself, so there should be no competition or ego attached to it. The world of competition draws us towards stress, and yoga, meanwhile, draws us away from this. Regular yoga practice creates mental clarity and calmness, increases body awareness, relieves stress patterns, relaxes the mind and sharpens concentration.
Yoga teaches you to focus on yourself; it means you can become a better person. I believe this respect for the self, the moving away from the sense of competition, the elimination of stress, and the moving towards a deep sense of peace, makes yoga a special philosophy for modern lifestyle.
Here’s a simple exercise you can do at home. – Yoga mountain pose (Tadasana)
- Stand with your feet together, close your eyes and rock very gently backwards and forwards from heels to toes. Come to rest at the centre of your feet. Press the four outside corners of the soles into the floor.
- With straight legs and soft knees, engage your thigh muscles above the knees.
- Lengthen the sides of the waist and lift up through the ribcage, heart and chest.
- Roll the shoulders back and shoulder blades down the back.
- Engage the stomach muscles, pulling the abdomen into the lower back, while the shoulders and arms remain relaxed, hanging naturally.
- Gently lengthen the neck as if you are lifting through the crown of the head and look forwards keeping the face relaxed and soften your lips.
- Inhale (through the nose) the arms up to the sky
- Exhale (through the nose) and fold forward from the waist, bending your knees, bringing your hands to the outside of your feet.
- Allow your body to hang here with your head relaxed. Inhale and exhale for five breaths.
- Inhale and roll your body slowly up to standing, bringing the head up last and dropping the shoulders as you return to Tadasana. Repeat the exercise five times.
In today’s world, there are many reasons to feel stressed. Our current way of life has lost the harmony of the mind-body relationship, which has caused several stress based modern diseases such as hypertension, coronary heart disease and cancers to surface.
My work as a massage therapist over the last fifteen years has taken me on a path of discovery, learning and caring for others. There is a realization that we are only on this earth once, life can be very fragile, therefore perhaps we can appreciate why we should look after our wellbeing, reconnect and find peace within ourselves, then everything will fall into place.
Annie Moore massage therapist, reiki practitioner, yoga teacher and owner Vidatherapy Spa.