Yoga To Improve Mental Wellness
Photo by Ksenia Makagonova
Health is extremely important in the life of every individual. Health refers to both physical as well as mental health and both of them are dependent on each other. It is important to take care of three factors while considering holistic health: body, breath and mind. Among these, the breath is stronger than the mind and the body is stronger than the breath. Subsequently, the invisible mind must be controlled through the visible body and the breath that is felt. Yoga uses this technique to heal both body and mind and to ensure holistic wellbeing.
Individuals lose their concentration and get easily distracted when they are stressed. It is extremely difficult to perform Yoga effectively in such situations. Subsequently, the mental state of the individual should also be considered while performing Yoga. Pranayama, Dhyanayoga and Yoganidra are the most important factors here.
Pranayama is one of the yoga techniques that enhance the unity of body and mind. Since it is the breath that controls the various bodily functions and thoughts, controlling it helps in the smooth functioning of the body and the mind. Among the various breathing exercises, Nadishudhi Pranayama is the primary one to be practiced.
There are around 72000 nerves in the human body and these are divided into Ida and Pingala which are respectively related to the left and right nostrils respectively. Subsequently, yoga advocates that breathing through the respective nostrils helps in the purification of the veins. This includes breathing through the alternate nostrils and it is called Anuloma Vilomam. To practice this, one has to first sit in Patmasana, Sidhasana or Sughasana.
Sit erect and close the right nostril with the right thumb to breathe in through the left nostril. Now close the left nostril with the ring finger and breathe out through the right nostril. Repeat the same through alternative nostrils and make sure that the ratio of the time taken for inhalation and exhalation must be 1:2. This means that if one takes 10 seconds to inhale, he or she must take 20 seconds to exhale.
One pranayama consists of 4 inhalations and 4 exhalations. There are three types of Pranayama based on the time taken to inhale. If one inhales 6 mathras (almost 6 seconds), it is known as Kanishtika Pranayama. If the exhalation is for 12 mathras, it is known as Madhyama Pranayama and when it is for 24 seconds, it is known as Uthama Pranayama.
As the name suggests, this Pranayama is capable of cooling down the body. This pranayama could be practiced in Pathmasana, Sidhasana or Sughasana. Sit erect and push out the tongue to match the shape of the beak of the crow (this is known as the Kakimudra). Now inhale through the mouth and exhale through both the nostrils. Repeat this for 6 times. The proportion between inhalation, keeping the breath and exhalation must be 6 mathras: 24 mathras: 12 mathras.
Sit down in Vajrasana and breathe in. Now lift both the hands and breathe out while bending down to touch the floor with the forehead and the palms. Remain in this position with normal breathing continue in this position for some time and breathe in while lifting the hands up. Breathe out and bring the hands down. This pranayama is extremely effective for relaxing the brain and spinal cord.
Lie down facing upwards and breathe in while bending the knee. Make sure that you keep the thighs close to the body. Now hold your legs close to your body and keep the upright. Breathe out while returning to the initial position. Repeat the same for 3 or four times.
Also known as Shavasana, this yoga practice is extremely beneficial for your peace of mind and concentration. Lie down facing upwards and keep your legs apart. Also keep the hands a bit away from the body, with the palms facing upwards. Breathe normally in this position for 5-10 minutes. Concentrate and then relax all parts of your body one by one. Practice this for some time and you will feel relaxed both in body and mind. Take long breaths while getting up.
Meditation: Normal individuals may not be able to practice the perfect meditation. At the same time, practicing meditation to the maximum of one’s capability would help in reducing mental stress. Sit down in Patmasana or Sughasana. Keep the mind away from all distractions and try concentrating on an object of your choice. Remain in this position with normal breathing and take 3 deep breaths before coming out of the meditation. This might take some time and practice to be effective.