In his book Light on Life, Mr. Iyengar says, “Most people ask only from their body that it does not trouble them. Most people feel that they are healthy if they are not suffering from illness or pain, not aware of the imbalances that exist in their bodies and minds that ultimately will lead to disease.” He goes on to say, ” Yoga has a threefold impact on health. It keeps healthy people healthy, it inhibits the development of diseases, and it aids in recovery from ill health.”
There are many types of perceived health
Health comes in many categories: physical health, mental health, intellectual health, and the health of our consciousness (divine health). Yoga addresses all these types of health. Through the practice of asana (poses), we are able to feel the effects of better health in the form of firmness of body, intellectual clarity, and benevolence of spirit.
Partly because of our busy lifestyles, we have learned to separate our mind and consciousness from our bodies. We move around like machines with floating heads; not acknowledging or understanding the interconnection of the body, mind and spirit.
Often, beginners come to yoga class feeling rigid and stiff. These descriptions are not limited to just the physical body. For example, many of these same people are often rigid in their thinking. The way they replay memories from their lives leaves them stuck in a rut.
Rigidity comes from accumulated toxins; whether in the physical sense or mental. Consequently, these toxins cause us to develop a hard shell around us. It makes it difficult to let the free flow of energy in, as well as letting toxic waste out. In other words, the result is disease.
“You are the Average of the 5 People You are Around Most.”
Usually when you hear this phrase, you think about intelligence or success. However, in this article, Tony Robbins says that the people around you have the power to also influence your moods and affect how you see the world.
Let me challenge you to apply the “5 people” phrase to every part of your life.
Ask yourself, do you want to have true health?
If you said, “Yes” then you need to surround yourself with people living a healthy life style. Not only do you need to be taking care of your body with exercise and proper sleep, but you need to be aware of the food you take in. Consider the things you allow yourself to see (screen time and the news), and the things you listen to (ex. music, podcasts, or other people). Surround yourself with people that uplift you and encourage you to live a healthy lifestyle. Let yourself be challenged by these people. Learn new ways of thinking so that you become supple and strong in mind and body.
Healthy people are beautiful, well-balanced, strong and flexible!
The Body Should be Neither Neglected nor Pampered
The body is the only tool you were given to aid you in your journey through this world. Your body is what allows you to interact with this world. Above all, it is your path to improving your physical, mental and spiritual health.
As you work on Headstand, Shoulder Stand, Twisting Poses, Forward Bends, Back Bends and all the other asanas, you are challenging your body. In addition, you are also quieting the chatter of your mind. You are facing your fears, and developing a healthy self-reliance. You are coming into contact with your truth, learning how to integrate your body, mind and spirit again. Rediscover your wholeness!
What Yoga Poses Should I Practice to Improve My Health?
Here are a few common poses and their benefits:
- Triangle Pose: tones the leg muscles – removes stiffness of the legs and hips – corrects minor deformity in the legs – relieves backaches and neck sprains – strengthens the ankles – develops the chest
- Camel Pose: good for people with hunched backs or drooped shoulders – the spine is toned
- Chair Pose: removes stiffness in the shoulders – corrects deformities in the legs – strengthens ankles and legs – diaphragm is lifted, massaging the heart – abdominal organs and back are toned – chest is developed
- Upward-Facing Dog: rejuvenates the spine – good for people with sciatica or slipped disk – lungs gain elasticity – circulates blood properly in the pelvis
- Downward-Facing Dog: removes fatigue – good for runners – relieves pain in the heels – strengthens ankles – makes legs shapely – eradicates stiffness between shoulder blades – abdominal muscles are strengthened – heart beat slows
- Head Stand: brings healthy blood to the brain – thinking power increases – nourishes pituitary and pineal glands – good for people suffering from loss of sleep – memory and vitality – strengthens the lungs – improves immunity – relieves constipation – improves hemoglobin content of the blood – disciplines the mind (one becomes balanced and self-reliant in pain and pleasure, loss and gain, shame and fame, defeat and victory).
- Shoulder Stand: nourishes endocrine glands – improves circulation of hormones – venous blood is returned to the heart without strain – healthy blood is circulated around the chest and neck improving breathlessness, bronchitis, and throat ailments – eradicates colds and sinus issues – allows bowels to move freely – calms nerves – helps with urinary disorders and uterus displacement – relieves low vitality and anemia
If you want to improve the health of the body, there is not just one pose to practice. You need a well-rounded practice. Practicing yoga at home is necessary, but practicing in class with a teacher is also necessary. In other words, don’t fall into a rut and begin to practice yoga in a mechanical, floating-head kind of way. The trap is mindlessness and imbalance!