Yoga Makes You Happy

In modern lives everything is happening really fast; we can have anything we want, when we want,
the way we want. We connect with people far away, in different time zones and have insights about
their lives just by scrolling our own smartphones checking their social media accounts. We constantly
compare our lives with them with the illusion that they have better conditions than us when in
reality what we see online is only a frame of the best part of them. This hectic life we have been
living is making most of us sad and sick without even noticing the real reason why. One of the most
important things; and by the way we take it for granted; is something really simple and it does not
cost a single penny, our breath.

The practice of deep breathing can help us to avoid the “fight or flight” response to stress that
happens when the brain send information to the body that there is a threat at the environment and
the brain send signals to the entire body to release hormones and prepare to stay in alert mode to
either stay and fight; or fly and run away. This is a physiological and natural response of the body to
any type of stress situation but the only problem is when this is sustained for a long period of time
and the body can never relax and fully recover. One of the biggest reasons that this can happen is
because we are not breathing properly. When we are breathing incorrectly we tend to take shallow
breaths carrying a lot of stress and tension especially around the shoulders and neck; not allowing
the Prana (life force energy) to flow through the whole body. A deep, restorative and relaxing breath
should come all the way down from the bottom of your stomach expanding it while you breathe the
air inside and slowly exhaling while contracting the belly and bringing the air from the bottom up to
the chest, and up to your throat; letting the air come out very slowly.

One of the best ways of practicing deep breathing is through Yoga. According to Patanjali; the sage of
Yoga sutras; Yoga can be defined in eight limbs or guidelines for a purposeful life according to nature,
as we are also nature. The eight limbs are: Yama; attitudes towards the environment; Niyama,
attitudes towards ourselves; Pranayama, breath control; Pratyahara, withdraw of the senses;
Dharana, concentration; Dhyana, meditation; Asana, physical postures and Samadhi the complete
integration of everything. In simple words Yoga is the balance of body, mind, emotions and breath.
By practicing Yoga we start to develop awareness of the emotions that we tend to hold into our body
and the relation between emotional, mental and physical levels as well as how they affect each
other. Through the practice of Asanas (physical body positions and postures) not only your body will
change but also you learn to accept your limitations and learn how to deal with frustrations and
anger, along with how to be more flexible in the body but most importantly in the mind.
In my personal experience Yoga completely changed my life for the better. I used to complain all the
time for every small thing and was never happy that I would not even appreciate the smallest things
such as the ability to breathe. Yoga slowly gave me this feeling of calmness and happiness. The yogic
breathing exercises (pranayama) calm the nerve system and reduces effects of any kind of stress and
anxiety. One of the Pranayama exercises is called Kapalabati which is a frontal brain cleansing breath
that help us to detoxify and increase oxygen levels.

Yoga is for everybody no matter your gender, sex, religion or profession you have, you can start with
the beginners Asanas and slowly progress to more advance ones as Yoga is a journey, is the process
of self-discovery where you will learn when is the time to challenge and push yourself harder and
move on.

One of the beginners and basic poses to start would be the base position called Prarambhik Sthithi
where you have to sit with the legs extended in front of you, feet and legs close together but not
touching; back, neck and spine in one line and straight. The palms of the hands to the sides and
pressing down behind the buttocks with straight arms. Once you found your foundation to the pose
you can close the eyes and focus on your breath and feel the relaxation of your body and mind.
On this position you can perform several different exercises. You should start warming up the joints
and muscles, for example moving toes up and down (Padanguli Naman) and ankle rotation (goolf
chakra). It is really important to warm up the joints because every posture if not performed properly
can go straight to the joints, if we do not engage the right muscles; which is something quite
common to happen to beginners practitioners. You should also do exercises for knees, wrists,
shoulders and neck as is used a lot in most of the poses. Another pose to increase spine flexibility and
strength is Bhujangasana or Cobra pose, you will have to lie on your stomach placing the palms
beside your shoulders, elbow close to the body, feet close together. Inhale as you stretch your upper
body upwards, straighten your elbows, arch back to look up at the sky, holding it for around ten to
thirty seconds or as long as it is comfortable for you to feel the nice stretch on the back of your body.
Another good posture for beginners to massage the digestive organs, remove constipation and
strengthen the lower back muscles is Pavanmuktasana or wind releasing posture. You will have to lie
on or back, arms by side and legs together. Inhale and rise your leg up, interlocking the hands below
the knee. Breath in, exhale as you lower leg and straighten leg, repeat with the other leg. This pose
will massage your abdomen and the digestive organs helping to release wind and remove
constipation as well as strengthening the back. One Asana for activating the fire is Agnisar Kriya you
can perform this pose sitting back on your heels or in Padmasana (lotus pose) inhale deeply and
exhale through the mouth emptying the lungs, palms on the knees, strengthen the elbows gently
pressing down the knees. Hold the breath out pulling the abdominal muscles pushing it out.
Remember that you should never strain yourself. After few repetitions just breathe normally. Once
you are improving the movements slowly and gently start to hold positions for longer, but never
forgetting to watch your alignment.

Yoga is a holistic approach to living a healthy life and it has the power to transform not only your
physical body but your mind and emotions. For a deeper practice of this way of life you should also
follow a good and balanced diet rich of nurturing and fresh food according your own nature and also
nourish the mind with positive thoughts, with that being said, I can guarantee that you will feel
calmer and happier with every small thing in life.

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