Yoga is one of the six systems of Indian philosophy originating from the Vedic tradition. Today’s popular concept of yoga is most commonly associated with Hatha yoga, a branch of yoga that emphasizes physical postures (asanas) designed to enliven proper functioning of all of the bodily systems. Yoga asanas, have become popular around the world as a form of physical exercise which promotes relaxation, mental calm, physiological flexibility, strength, perfect health and reversal of the aging process.
In 2014 an international day for yoga was declared unanimously by the United Nations General Assembly, with the first celebration on June 21, 2015. Originally proposed by the current Prime Minister of India, the celebration is meant to honor yoga as one of India’s gifts to the world. Embodying unity of mind, body, thought and action, yoga offers a holistic approach to health and well-being.
The ideal of daily practice of yoga asanas is not to strain to attain a pretzel position, but rather to gently stretch the body with the understanding that regular practice will make the physiology more flexible and ideal. As a side benefit, internal organs are nourished in a manner which promotes optimal functioning.
Some of the popular poses are outlined below.
Plough Pose. This pose is said to strengthen the back muscles and give flexibility. Also good for digestion because it stimulates the abdominal organs while making the spinal cord strong and flexible.
Half Plough Pose. This pose is said to reduce abdominal fat, while toning thigh and hip muscles. Known as a remedy for stomach disorders, it is said to improve appetite as well as being helpful for those with arthritis.
Cobra Pose. This pose is sometimes recommended for weight loss. It improves liver, kidney, pancreas and gall bladder functioning. It is also good to promote sound sleep and proper spinal alignment. This pose has been offered as a potential remedy for headache.
Half Twist Pose. This pose increases oxygen flow to the lungs and increases the flexibility and the functions of vertebrae of the spine. It stretches the back muscles and spine and releases stiffness of the hip joints.
Camel Pose. This asana is good for back and neck problems and is said to relax the mind, increase blood circulation and reduce abdominal fat. It may be beneficial for asthma.
Shoulder Stand. This asana strengthens the back while increasing blood flow to the head. It is also said to restore proper functioning of the pancreas while improving overall immunity.
Diamond Pose. This is one of the simplest asanas. It is used to calm the mind and is said to cure stomach acidity while improving digestion. It may also be helpful for arthritis.
Hand to Toe Pose. This yoga pose is good for stretching the body parts but you should not stretch beyond your capacity. This asana naturally massages the spine, lower back, hips and legs.
Unlike other forms of vigorous exercise which raise the metabolism and consume energy, daily yoga asanas are very nourishing as they increase energy and gently promote optimal bodily functioning. Fun and easy to do for young and old alike, one can celebrate the day of yoga every day by investing just a few minutes performing yoga asanas!
Simi Summer, PhD is an independent researcher, educator and free lance writer. She is a strong proponent oforganic consumer education and informed consumer choices.