Articles on yoga

7 Yoga Poses for Better Health

Ms. Swati Kapoor, Dietitian/Nutritionist
The benefits of yoga are varied. The body welcomes and requires active movement. Any form of stretching will help the body stay limber. However, the physical benefits of yoga, as reported by the millions of people who perform various types of asanas, go beyond that, like better flexibility of the spine and joints, Increased flow of blood and oxygen, better balance, better posture, improved digestion, toned and strengthened muscles, reduction of toxins built up in the body and heightened immune system response are some of its benefits.Below are the second set of yoga poses for you to make your life more enjoyable and healthy living:Mountain Pose or Tadasana: This is a simple pose for beginners. Tadasana helps to bring the body and mind in balance and alignment position. Practicing  with proper execution and continual along with other postures helps to re-train the body to stand correctly and reverse the negative effects of poor posture. Downward-Facing Dog Pose or Adho Mukha Svanasana: The Adho Mukha Svanasana helps to cure backaches, relieve stress and mild depression and revitalizes energy.  The Adho Mukha  Svanasana gives the brain more blood flow and alsostrengthens and lengthens the spine. Half-moon Pose or Ardhachandra-asana: This pose benefits the lower back, abdomen and chest by stretching and balancing the body. Start with feet together and arms by the side. Bring both the hands at the chest with palms lightly pressed against each other. Breathe-in while raising the arms straight up keeping palms pressed lightly together. Arch your body backwards while keeping the arms alongside your neck and head.Matsyendrasana or The Lord of the Fishes Pose: This stimulates the liver and kidneys and stretches the shoulders, hips, and neck. The Lord of the Fishes Pose energizes the spine and stimulates the digestive fire in the belly. Matsyendrasana  also relieves menstrual discomfort, fatigue, sciatica, and backache. Noose Pose or Pasasana: Pasasana  provides relief in asthma, menstrual discomforts and tension in shoulder, neck and back. Performing Noose Pose stimulates the abdominal organs and also helps in improving digestion and elimination. Pasasana also brings about the stretching of the ankles thus providing them with strength and flexibility. Straight Angle Pose or Samakonasana: Start the asana with sitting on the ground and stretch the legs forward.  Keep you legs straight and be rested on the ground. Now, slowly stretch your legs sideways so that it should form a straight line and keep the body straight. Stay in this posture for few seconds and then slowly bring back the legs to the normal position. Straight Angle Pose also opens groins and stretches hips, thighs and calf muscles and also strengthens inner thigh muscles. Accomplished or Adept Pose or Siddhasana: Siddhaasana is a simple beginner’s asana which not only helps to establish equilibrium throughout body/mind but also help stretching the legs and pelvic area to the point where the padma-asana can be held effortlessly. This also helps to cultivate concentration. Get these yoga poses into your stride and practice them till the next set of poses come in for you.

Yoga Therapy

Dr. Lakshmi T Rajan, Psychologist
Yoga therapy focuses on all the elements of human being – Body, Mind and Soul. Medical research proves that yoga therapy is the most effective alternate therapies for many common ailments. Yoga therapy focuses on the adaptation and application of yoga techniques derived from the yoga tradition of Patanjali and Thirumoolar. This therapy helps people to face and manage their health challenges at any levels, reduces symptoms, restore balance and improve attitude.By combining different techniques, yoga brings about specific changes in muscles, joints and organs. Yoga therapy enhances the blood circulation in the body and brain. A good example would be the way to understand how yoga can help overcome panic attacks and anxiety attacks.When a particular way of technique is followed which has to be learnt from a trained professional, blood circulation in the prefrontal cortex of the brain is increased and hence a sense of control is gained. This allows the mind to rest calm and increases emotional stability.When we introspect on the psychological level, the various techniques when followed correctly allows the psychic transformation. Yoga considers the psyche to be spread in different centers called chakras along the spine. Each chakra is associated with an endocrine gland and specific psychic qualities.Common disease and CureLow Back PainIn today’s mechanical world, 85% of people have low back pain and knee pain. In addition swelling in the ankle and leg pain have become very common. This is associated with the Mooladhara chakra which is related to feet, legs and spine. This chakra is also associated with the stability and rootedness. This chakra is related to the endocrine gland Adrenal. With special combination of yoga techniques and breathing controls this chakra can be regulated and the pain can be avoided.Gastritis/IndigestionLike the low back pain and leg pain another common disease seen today is digestion related problems. This is associated with the digestive organs and the endocrine gland pancreas. The chakra related is the Manipuraga chakra popularly known as Solar Plexus. When concentrated on this chakra with special combination of yoga techniques, this problem can be avoided.PCODAs we all know PCOD is a problem of the ovaries and the associated chakra is Swadishtana Chakra. A combination of postures, breathing regulation and relaxation techniques can regularize this problem.Blood PressureBlood Pressure is related to the heart and the endocrine Gland is Thymus. The chakra associated is Anahata Chakra. This chakra is also responsible for the respiratory tract infections and Asthma. With a combination of yoga techniques respiratory problems, blood pressure can be controlled.DiabeticsBlood sugar level increases or decreases as per the hormone secretion of the endocrine pancreas. The whole digestive system gets interrupted if this manipuraga chakra does not function well. Diabetics can lead to many other physical illnesses as well. Simple and effective combination of yoga techniques and relaxation techniques can avoid this silent killer disease.Anger ControlControl of anger can be achieved with the regulation of breathe. Relaxation techniques, yoga, breathing and meditation can help the individual to get control over the anger.It is evident from the above discussion that each chakra is associated with a particular endocrine gland and has specific control over our emotional stability. Yoga therapy focuses at regulating the chakra thereby regulating the concerned body parts. Hence yoga therapy focuses on the total wellbeing of the individual – Body, Mind and Soul.

5 Yoga Poses That Seniors Can Do in a Chair

Dr. Saurabh Gupta, Dentist
Yoga has so much to offer that almost everybody can get healthy by adding it to their lifestyle. When no exercise seems to be safe and doable, here is how seniors can stay healthy with Yoga without.Seated Mountain (Tadasana)Take a deep breath, sit up straight and extend your spine. As you exhale, root down into the chair with the lower part of your tailbone, keeping your legs at 90-degree angles and knees directly over ankles leaving a little room between the knees. Take a deep breath and as you exhale, roll your shoulders down the back, pull your bellybutton inwards and relax your arms down at your sides. Now, you will need to engage your legs by lifting your toes and pressing them firmly into all four corners of your feet.Seated forward bend (Paschimottana) Begin with mountain pose, focus on extending the spine and fold your legs. Now,  put your hand on the thighs and slide them down the legs as you fold for a little extra support. You will then need to take  5 or more even breaths in this pose in order to massage intestines, helping you with digestion. In addition, it will also help lengthening the spine and stretching the back muscles. Now, inhale as you lift your torso back to an upright position.Warrior I (Virbadrasana I)Start with seated mountain pose and take a deep breath. As you inhale, lift your arms out to the side and raise your hands up to meet above your head. Keep your pointer fingers and thumbs out and lace rest of the fingers together. Point in the direction of the ceiling. Now, as you exhale, roll the shoulders away from the ears. Keep taking deep breaths for few seconds and then release your clapsed hands on an exhale.Eagle arms (Garudasana arms)This pose helps you relax the shoulders and upper back because it stabilizes and flexes the shoulder joint. Start by taking a breath or two and as you inhale, just stretch your arms out to the sides. Bring them in front of you as you exhale and swing the right arm under the left and left under the right, grapping the shoulders as if you are giving yourself a hug. Now, as you inhale try lifting your elbows as higher as you can and then roll your shoulders down as you exhale, relaxing them away from the ears. Try repeating this process few more times.Reverse arm holdThis yoga pose is good for stretching the shoulders and opening up the chest helping you with with posture, stress, and breathing difficulties. As you inhale, stretch both the arms out to your sides and place your palms down. Roll both shoulders forward so that both your palms are facing behind you. Now bend the elbows and let your hands swing behind your back. Clasp your hands and gently pull your hands away from each other without releasing your hold. After you’ve taken 5 slow, even breaths with arms clasped this way, re-clasp the other wrist or elbow and hold for 5 breaths. 

5 Yoga Poses to Stay Ahead in Life

Dr. Yogesh Kumar, Ayurveda
Yoga is a way of living; one should try to make use of it in life for a healthy body and mind. So for those who think they cannot stretch, twist and fold their body like professional yogis, we have chosen some of the easiest Yoga techniques or Yoga poses, anyone can do at home or at work, with minimal experience. All you need is a yoga mat, some willingness to stay ahead and change your life. These Yoga poses for beginners are so easy that you can do it at home, on the roof terrace or wherever there is a comfortable place to sit down.Basic meditative Position:These 5 Yoga exercises start with a basic meditative position so it is necessary to get familiar with it. First sit on the Yoga mat relaxed,legs crossed and spine straight as shown in the picture below.1.KAPĀLABHĀTI (Forceful Inhaling and Exhaling exercise.) Sit in the basic meditative position with your eyes closed and body relaxed. Now you have to inhale deeply so that your lungs get filled with air, wait for 1 second and forcefully exhale the air from your lungs by contracting the abdominal muscles. Do this 20-30 times per round and then take rest by deep breathing and slow exhaling.Good for: Sinus problems, Asthma, Fatigue, dust allergies and other respiratory diseases. It increases the blood flow to the lungs and face.People with heart ailments, high blood pressure, nasal bleeding, vertigo, and stroke should avoid this exercise.2. PRĀNẠ̄ YĀMA (Alternative breathing) Sit in a comfortable position ,slowly inhale through the right nostril with blocking the left nostril by the thumb, wait for as much as you can then slowly releasing the thumb and exhaling the air out. Repeat the same process with the right nostril this time. Increase the duration according to your strength.Good for: It provides the oxygen to the deeper parts of the lung and increases the lung capacity to fill the oxygen. It helps in relieving anxiety, stress and refreshes the mind. The best exercise for most respiratory disorders like Asthma, Sinus, Seasonal allergies.3. BHRAMARI (The Humming Bee buzzing sound)Bhramari word comes from the buzzing sound coming from bees. It is a type of Pranayama with focus basically on sound. Sit in the basic meditative position, with the eyes closed and relaxed breathing. Take a deep breath; focus on the area between the eyebrows and humming the (Om or Hmm) sound while exhaling. Make sure your jaws are locked so that the (Om or Hmm) sound creates a vibration in the head.Good for: Stress, Anxiety, Anger, hyperactivity of the mind, boosts concentration, great for attention deficit disorders. It has a tranquilizing effect on the mind.People with Ear and Nose disease should avoid this.4. DHYĀNA (Meditation)DHYĀNA is to dig deep within your soul to find all the answers to the questions asked by life. It is a good way of soul-searching.Sit in any meditative posture, keeping your back straight and body relaxed. First focus on the toe then shifting the focus on the knees, after sometimes shifts your focus on the genital area, next on to the heart area and at last the area between the eyebrows.Try to practice this technique in a peaceful area. Some people recommend soft music, but it can turn your focus to the music itself and here we are trying to dig deep in our soul, so music should be avoided.Good for: Concentration, attention deficit Disorders, Stress, Anxiety, Hyper activity, Soul Searching. Helps in drug abuse, smoking, alcohol or any kind of addiction, self-improvement and temperament.5. SANKALPA (The Vow)Sankalpa is all about determination and will power. I vow to change my life; I will do anything to achieve my Fitness, peace, love and Aim.At the end of the session make a Sankalpa every day stay focus on your goal to do whatever you want to.Good for: DE-addiction-Tremendous Will power is the most important ingredient to conquer any kind of addiction. Sankalpa practice gradually increases the will power,determination and could be used effectively against addiction.

Six Yoga Postures to Master at the Office Desk

Dr. Vishwas Virmani, Physiotherapist
Nowadays, most of us spend a majority of our time sitting at our workplaces, busy working on a desktop for long periods of time. This continuous sitting not only puts pressure on the back and spine, leading to a host of back problems, but also influences other medical conditions such as heart disease, obesity and blood pressure.Apparently, work is unavoidable; however, there are certain yoga stretches and postures that you can do at your seat in your cubicle without disturbing anyone.These easy yoga postures can be done at your office desk leaving you relaxed and tension free. These not only help you stretch and ease muscle tightness but also increases productivity at work.Neck rolls - If you are wearing heels, remove them. Place your hands facing downwards on your hips. Shut your eyes. Let your chin drop to one side of your neck. Slowly start moving your neck in a circular motion from right ear to right shoulder, head and back and then left ear to left shoulder. During this entire stretch, keep your shoulders relaxed. Perform three to five rolls following a shift in directions of rolls. This yoga posture will help to relate any tightness and stiffness in your neck and shoulders.Cat cow stretch - This is an adaptation of the cat cow stretch. Keep both feet flat on the floor. Place your hands on your knees. On inhaling, arch the back and look up at the ceiling. On exhaling, round the spine and let your head drop forward.Seated twist - In your chair, sit tall and straight. Inhale slowly and then on exhaling twist to one side from the bottom of your spine, holding your armrest. Now breathe slowly for a few seconds by repeating the same procedure on the opposite side. This prevents pain in the back as well keeps your posture erect.High altar - Inhale and lift your arms. Clasp your hands and in your palms. Lean to one side and continue for four to five breaths. Repeat by leaning to the other side. This is a good exercise for stretching all your muscles of your hand, neck and shoulders.Ankle to knee- Keep your left foot on your knee. By doing this, let the left knee drop open. Keep your back straight and lean forward and breathe deeply for four to five breaths. Switch sides thereafter.Shoulder rinse - To release the tension in your neck and shoulders, this is an excellent yoga pose. Stand up or while being seated reach behind your back and clasp both your hands with your elbows bent. Inhale as you pull your hands down and straighten your chest. Repeat this for four to five breaths.These simple easy-to-do yoga poses not only keep you refreshed mentally and physically but also enhance your work productivity.REFERENCESSengupta, P. (2012). Health impacts of yoga and pranayama: A state-of-the-art review. International Journal of Preventive Medicine, 3(7), 444−458.McCall, M. C. (2013). How might yoga work? An overview of potential underlying mechanisms. Journal of Yoga & Physical Therapy, 3, 130.

Is Yoga Useful in Addiction Treatment?

Ms. Raisa Luther, Psychotherapist
Yoga is best exercise in early recoveryHeavy exercise is not recommended in early recovery. First of all, it puts substantial strain on the already damaged central nervous system which is in process of recovering from substance abuse. This may trigger a health crisis.Secondly, individuals who indulge in strenuous physical exercise such as weight-lifting, begin to feel that they have already ‘recovered’. They may not realize that this feeling is merely on a physical level. Since addiction affects all areas of the addict, they need to address their cognitive, emotional, social and spiritual areas too. This takes time. Heavy physical exercise may make them complacent and vulnerable for relapse.Yoga is an effective tool in addiction recovery for several reasons. Some are:Yoga Teaches New Coping SkillsA primary area of concern for addiction treatment is the addict’s inability to cope with difficult thoughts and feelings. Addiction therapy mainly focuses on helping the individual in identifying the negative thoughts and emotions and learning to manage these. Yoga teaches new and effective stress-management techniques such as deep breathing to help manage thoughts and emotions.Yoga Helps Individuals Achieve Peace and BalanceAddicted persons usually carry a lot of suppressed anger within themselves. This may be directed towards self (guilt and shame) or others (blaming and resentment). They abuse alcohol or drugs in an effort to calm these uncomfortable emotions. They lack a sense of balance and inner peace. The 12 Step approach helps in one’s situation and shortcomings. Similarly, Yoga helps in balancing inner and outer peace by achieving balance – something other types of exercise may not.Yoga Encourages SpiritualityAddiction causes spiritual erosion. Meditation and prayer are found to be useful in addiction recovery – as advocated by 12 Step programs. Yoga also encourages the individual to make a spiritual connection through deep utterances and meditation.Yoga Promotes Self-disciplineUnstructured and unhealthy lifestyle is the hallmark of an active addict. His or her life is determined by drugs and alcohol. High impulsivity is common. Rehabs such as Hope Trust introduce their clients to a structured daily schedule – eating, sleeping, attending sessions and playing on time. It is important for basic health and helps in clearing the mind to be receptive to therapeutic inputs. In recovery, gaining control over impulsivity is important. Negative thoughts and emotions need to be replaced with positive action. Again, Yoga helps in achieving these goals.Yoga is an ancient Indian practice, recently getting worldwide popularity. Yoga is a natural mood-stabilizer, releases negativity and promotes overall wellbeing. In the past decade, it is increasingly been used in addiction treatment.Since its inception in 2002, Hope Trust rehab has integrated Yoga in its addiction treatment program. Yoga supplements the 12 Step centred approach that also includes Mindfulness (meditation), CBT, individual and group therapy, audio-video inputs, nutritious diet, recreation and medical/ psychiatric back up. The experience of Hope Trust is that Yoga is an excellent tool for individuals seeking to build a new life free from alcohol or drug addiction.

Yoga Cheat Sheet- 5 Essential Poses for Being Stress-Free!

Dr. Vishwas Virmani, Physiotherapist
Not only does yoga help in building physical immunity but it also improves digestion, creates mental clarity, and constructs a sense of inner calm. Here's a cheat sheet with 5 essential yoga poses you should treat your body to everyday.Adho Mukha Svanasana (Downward facing dog):This posture helps you strengthen your chest muscles and improve lung capacity. Avoid shifting your torso far too forward in this posture; we are not aiming at using you as a human plank. Remember to keep your hip high, weight mostly on your legs, and your heels pressed against the floor. Virabhadrasana 1 (Warrior pose):Treat your hips like headlights and place your legs farther apart from each other to gain better balance. Stretch your arms out and hold at least for 10 counts. This particular pose helps you prevent stroke and provides a stronger core for your system.Utthita Trikonasana (Triangle pose):Strengthen your legs, knees, arms, and chest with this pose. Focus and maintain a steady body balance. Don't rest your hand on your ankle but support your body by placing your hand behind your foot. Look in the direction of the arm that is stretched upwards and keep your back straight. Chakravakasana (Cat-cow stretch):Cats do it all the time, it helps relieve stress especially if you have back problems. This pose helps improve spinal health. It works a lot better when you look up and down while practicing this stretch. Breathe in to lift your chest and breathe out to drop your chest.Balasana (Child's pose):Take a deep breath and move into the child's pose in order to relax and collect yourself. You may resume this pose and stay still for 10 minutes (or more) and focus on your breathing. Repeat everyday to relieve constipation and calm your nerves. It's time to face-off against all the stress and pain. Work your way around these 5 basic yoga poses and rediscover yourself!

Yoga for Weight Loss

Ms. Swati Kapoor, Dietitian/Nutritionist
Yoga could be considered the best exercise form to stay fit and healthy in the long term. Yoga focuses on holistic health and fitness. It helps you lose weight, calms your mind, tones your muscles, improves flexibility, and can cure and prevent many health problems. Yoga serves the purpose of both, beginners starting out a new weight loss program and advanced level fitness fanatics. Some yoga exercises are good for beginners who want to start losing weight but are not motivated enough to start running, lifting weights or doing high-intensity yoga routines. Yoga helps increase flexibility in the body gradually motivating you to start increasing intensity of your physical activity. Moreover, you don’t have to head out of the house or buy expensive equipment, since yoga can be practiced from the comfort of your home. All you need are some comfortable clothes and a yoga mat and you are good to go. So start you off on your holistic weight loss journey by trying some of these yoga exercises that can melt away the pounds. 1.Ardha Chandraasana:This pose also called half-moon pose, it is great to tone your buttocks, upper and inner thighs. If these are your problem areas, this is the pose for you. The added stretch on the sides of your stomach helps burn off those unsightly love handles and strengthens your core.2. KumbhakasanaAlso known as the plank pose, this asana is the most simple as well as effective pose in Yoga. It strengthens and tones your arms, shoulders, back, buttocks and thighs. 3. HalasanaThis pose (plow pose) is great for those who sit for long hours and tend to have bad posture. It tones the muscles of your buttock and strengthens your shoulders and thighs. It also stimulates the functioning of the thyroid glands, parathyroid glands, lungs and abdominal organs, therefore helping the blood rush to your head and face, improves digestion and keeps the hormonal levels in check.4. Utkatasana:Also known as the chair pose, this asana requires concentration and focus on the muscles being used. It strengthens the core muscles, thighs and tones the buttocks5. Vrksasana:Also known as the tree pose, this asana is great for the core and abdominal muscles. Apart from concentrating on your core it also helps your mind focus and tones the muscles of the thighs and arms.6. Suryanamskar:Surya namaskar also known as sun salutation is a set of yoga asanas done in succession. It has amazing weight loss result since it employs various forward and backward bending asanas that flex and stretch the spinal column activating a wide variety of muscles throughout the upper body and mid section. Believe it or not, this is a full body workout like no other. It has a deep effect in detoxifying your internal organs through copious oxygenation and has a deeply relaxing effect.7. Ardha Matsyendrasana : This is also called Half Lord of the Fishes pose, is specifically designed to increase the capacity of your lungs so it can inhale and hold more oxygen. Apart from that, it stretches out the spine and tones the thighs and abdominal muscles. According to yoga practitioners, this pose stimulates the digestive system helping you digest food more efficiently and burn fat all over your body.8. Veerbhadrasana 1:This asana stretches your back, strengthens your thighs, buttock and tummy. It also helps in making you more focused and opens up your chest so you can breathe better. This is an excellent pose to melt away the fat from your midsection.9. Veerbhadrasana 2:This is an asana is a continuation of the virabhadrasana I. This asana is great to strengthen the muscles in your back, thighs, abdomen, and core.10. Balasana:Also Child pose is a great stress buster. It gently stretches the hips, thighs, ankles, calms the mind and helps relieve stress and fatigue. It is also a great remedy for that lower back pain you might have from long hours of sitting.Yoga is simple and effective to get started to being fit. For effective results from yoga, monitor your junk food intake and manage meal timings. Being consistent in following your yoga routine is equally important.