By Bhavan Kumar
How can you increase happiness with yoga? Since yoga moved onto the world stage, asana, pranayama, meditation and other Yogic stress-reduction exercises have been studied as possible alternative treatments for mood-related disorders. However, the body of literature on the therapeutic benefits of yoga was rather limited until the Internet propelled it forward.
Yoga is now becoming more and more popular. It is not just a trend, but a lifestyle movement that’s swept the world. It is reported that at least 7.5% of American adults have tried yoga once. Additionally, there are at least 4% that have practiced it within the past year. Those may seem like small percentages, but that’s a lot of people!
The great thing about yoga is that it can be modified for people of all ages and athletic ability. They can be both gentle and challenging. It is largely up to you. There is a style to fit the needs of just about any individual. Hatha yoga is the most common practice style of yoga in the States. Hatha combines physical poses, which are known as asanas, with controlled breathing exercises and periods of meditation.
Yoga is an exercise that combines the body and mind in an integrative approach to health. As we mentioned above, the asanas (poses) can be difficult poses that push your physical limits. There are also poses that have you just lying on the floor in silence. The silver lining is you cab increase happiness with yoga practice.
Breath control is a crucial component of practicing yoga. You’d be surprised by how poor your breath control may be. By controlling your inhalation and exhalation, you can be aware of the present moment and help calm the intrusive thoughts that attack your mental wellbeing. Meditation is another important aspect of yoga. Meditation helps clear your mind of any unwanted thoughts while working on your ability to be mindful.
Yoga as Anxiety Relief
Yoga also works as a natural form of anxiety relief. Certain yoga poses and practices can help reduce stress triggers, which is beneficial for individuals dealing with anxiety or depression. Yoga works through the same neural pathways to balance your mood in the same way that meditation, relaxation, and exercise do. You should think of it as a combination of those three actions to increase happiness with yoga.
Yoga can modulate stress response systems and by doing so can reduce physiological arousal. It decreases your blood pressure, heart rate, and breath rate. There is also a growing body of evidence that suggests that it can help boost your heart rate variability.
Yoga and Stress Response
In an article released by the Harvard Medical School in 2009, it noted that the University of Utah conducted a study reviewing the effects of yoga on an individual’s stress response by looking at their pain threshold. The medical researchers at the university found that the participants that had a poor level of stress response also had increased pain sensitivity. The study included 14 participants with fibromyalgia, 16 healthy people, and 12 experienced yogis. If you weren’t aware, fibromyalgia is an illness that relates to stress and hypersensitivity to pain. These three groups were placed under painful thumbnail pressure and their responses were recorded.
In addition to that, they underwent MRIs to review their brain activity during this pain response period. The participants with fibromyalgia had the highest level of activity in the areas of their brains that relate to pain sensitivity. Whereas, with the yogis, they reportedly had the highest level of pain tolerance and lowest levels of brain activity in the pain response area of the brain. This lends credibility to the concept that people can increase happiness with yoga and improve a person’s ability to balance their mood and regulate their pain response.
Most forms of yoga are safe for you to practice. There is even chair yoga for people that have limited mobility. Remember, your mental and physical health are closely intertwined. Yoga is a fantastic way to improve your health that comes with essentially no risk at all.
Yoga can also help with your level of fitness. Many professional athletes practice yoga as a supplementary exercise to help with their balance and flexibility. It can even help you become stronger. Some of the poses you’ll find yourself doing will test the limits of your strength and physical ability. Also, it can aid in regulating chronic conditions. As noted above, yoga can reduce your blood pressure. This helps with a variety of heart-related illnesses.
According to the Mayo Clinic, even though yoga is safe for just about everyone, you should consult your doctor beforehand if you have any of the following:
• Varying levels of blood pressure.
• Balance issues.
• A history of blood clots.
• Herniated disks.
• Eye conditions.
You should still be able to practice yoga even if you have one of these conditions. You just need to find the right kind of yoga that works for you. Remember that with yoga, you can always modify the pose or avoid doing it altogether. If you have any concerns beforehand, consult your healthcare provider to ensure you’re maximizing the benefits from yoga practice.
Before Getting Started
Yoga is something that you can practice from watching videos on YouTube, Facebook, Daily Motion, or reading through yoga practice books. However, we suggest attending a class if you’re someone that’s just getting started. Classes are also a great way to socialize and make friends, which is essential to your overall health. Once you find a class you want to join, talk to the instructor beforehand to get an idea of what you’re getting into.
It’s important to let them know of any concerns you have beforehand. Maybe you have a sore knee or are recovering from a recent injury. You don’t want to exacerbate any physical ailments. You should also ensure that the class is aimed at improving the needs you have as an individual. For example, does the class work on developing stress management skills? Or does it solely focus on the physical aspect?
Some yoga classes are highly intensive. Nowadays, there are forms of yoga that are designed to be strenuous on your body. Keep in mind, you need to find the right balance. A good instructor will help you understand your limits. You shouldn’t hold a pose if it causes you too much physical stress and the primary goal is to increase happiness with yoga practice.
Poses to Improve Your Spirits
This is a back bending pose that is also called the camel pose. This pose allows gravity to do some of the work for you. There are also different variations of this pose that explore the flexibility of different muscle groups in your body.
Also known as the feathered peacock, this is an inversion pose that can improve your self-confidence. Yoga reminds us of the duality of emotions. It’s possible to feel sad at one moment, and then confident in the next. Sit in an inversion pose to find peace of mind.
Happy Baby Pose
The name of this pose is positive in itself. This pose is relaxing and also aids in increasing the flexibility of your hips.
Supta Baddha Konasana
This is also known as the reclined bound angle pose. This pose places emphasis on your inhalation. This pose helps you understand how your breath movements occur. This breathing exercise shows that just like your emotions, your breath comes and go. It can be uneven, or consistent. Pay special attention to your breath and try to let the rest of your thoughts evaporate.
The Sun Salutations are a great way to start your day. This series of poses has you constantly moving, which helps you focus on the present moment and clear your mind of anxiety. The Sun Salutations are the most popular flowing sequence. People practice this series worldwide to increase happiness with yoga postures that create positive energy.
Corpse Pose (Shavasana)
The corpse pose is one where you lie completely flat on your back. This pose can improve your sleep quality and help relax your mind.
Over time, you’ll find that with more practice you’re able to complete more difficult poses. Challenge yourself within limits. You might surprise yourself. Yoga therapy is a positive form of therapy that helps with your physical and mental health. The focus that yoga places on breathing and stretching are shown to be an effective measure towards reducing the symptoms of anxiety and depression as well as reducing your pain sensitivity. We hope you enjoy your yoga journey towards wellbeing and mental fortitude. Enjoy it! Yoga is something that you can enjoy by yourself or with your friends. No matter your physical ability, there is a style of yoga out there for you.
Can Yoga Help Release Negative Energy?
Hatha Yoga is essentially a physical art that has brought a host of benefits to many people. Whether you’re thinking of taking classes at the gym, buying tapes for home practice or enjoying yoga at the library or in the park, you may wonder if this practice can help you to release negative energy. The short answer is that it can and you will increase happiness with yoga practice on a regular basis. Learning more about yoga and its benefits can help you to better understand its ameliorative qualities.
One of the reasons why yoga is useful in releasing negative energy relates to how the practice allows you to have extended periods of peace and quiet. The physical space for a yoga session requires quietness, and you will also practice quieting your mind. Think of the racing thoughts that you encounter at some points during the day and how these thoughts can negatively affect your mood and productivity. By taking yoga classes, you can learn how to find that important space of silence.
Bolstered Mental Health
If you are struggling with mental-health concerns, you absolutely must consult with a mental-health professional for full treatment and guidance. In these consultations, you may learn that yoga can help to relieve some of the tension that you feel. In a study published in 2009 and updated in 2018, Harvard Health Publishing at Harvard Medical School noted that yoga can help with the struggles of anxiety and depression. Integrating yoga into your routine, combined with treatment from a professional, can seriously affect your life in a positive way.
In addition to potentially alleviating issues associated with mental health, yoga can also provide you with a mental release. Select a class that you don’t need to rush to and that fits in with your schedule. By integrating this approach and taking the yoga class, you can find yourself with a mind cleared of the struggles of the day. Of course, you must return to these situations once the class has ended, but you can return with a fresh perspective. Yoga can provide you with the mental clarity needed to better tackle challenges that seemed entirely intractable before.
Yoga can also act as a path to meditation. For example, you might decide to take a class that combines yoga and meditation, or you may integrate elements of meditation into your own yoga practices. In fact, the Yoga Journal in 2017 noted the connection between the two fields. If you have ever meditated before, you likely know how this practice can help you to relieve negative energy. For some people, yoga can have religious or spiritual significance, so you can let go of negative energy in this way too. Even when your focus on meditation and yoga is purely secular, you can certainly still enjoy these benefits.
Simply exercising on a regular basis can help you to reduce negative emotions. Just think of all of those endorphins that are released. Once you try out yoga, you may opt to enroll in a series of classes so that you can continue on this positive path. When it comes to exercise, many individuals are interested exclusively or primarily in weight loss. In 2019, the Mayo Clinic noted that the connections between yoga and weight loss are currently “inconclusive.” If you are seeking to lose weight, consult with your doctor to see how yoga can play a role. Keep in mind that losing weight is not the only way to be healthy. When you practice yoga, you can tone your body. Also, starting with some gentle yoga classes can encourage you to dive into other exercises.
Focus on You
Signing up for a yoga class also means that you’re taking the necessary time for yourself. In a world filled with scores of obligations and responsibilities, including jobs, classes, housekeeping and raising a family, you may find that you put your own needs to the side on a regular basis. Never taking time for yourself isn’t good, and it can lead you to lose a sense of your identity. Going to yoga means that you have set aside that time for you. No matter how busy the day or week is, you know that you’ll have this time.
Identify Your Frustrations
When you have this time to focus on yourself and your needs, you may also get the opportunity to discover what it is that is really frustrating you and bringing you negative energy. Sometimes, the answer is right in front of you, but you can’t see it until you have this mental space and clarity that yoga can provide. Only in identifying your frustrations can you begin to resolve them, and yoga may be just the answer that you need to get started on creating resolutions.
Some people feel as though they have virtually no free time whereas others find themselves with a bit too much free time. For example, if you have a particular month off from work, you may discover that you spend the majority of your time lounging on the couch. Also, when you have too much free time, you may start thinking about all of the negative situations that could arise. Whether your mind starts to create negative scenarios or you feel as though you are not making the best use of your time, you can fill some of that space with yoga. Getting into a routine can make you feel inspired and increase happiness with yoga.
Freedom from Electronics
If you’re lucky, you’ll have a yoga teacher who requests that you silence and put away electronic devices while you are in class. Just think of how distracting text messaging would be in a room that is supposed to exude silence and meditation. Texting is so in opposition to the premise of yoga that teachers can provide poses that can help with text neck. Consider the last time you put your electronics away for awhile; you probably felt quite free.
Yoga is an exercise, but it is also an art. You are creating art with your body when you engage in the poses. Integrating this type of art into your life on a regular basis might inspire you to do so in other ways. For example, you may decide to return to a creative pursuit that you loved when you were younger, such as painting, or you opt to try out the theatrical arts or drawing. Many people know that their artistic pursuits help them to release negative energy, and participating in yoga can inspire these activities.
When humans are young children, they are often a part of communities in many ways. They may participate in sports teams or clubs at their schools, and they generally part of an educational environment. However, that sense of community can dwindle a bit as people grow older and find themselves with careers, homes and families of their own. Instead of longing for that sense of community to return to your life, you can regain it yourself by joining a yoga group. Motivate yourself to engage with other members before and after class, and you can even more so feel the benefits of the community at work.
Teaching Yoga with Gentle Guidance
An important member of the yoga community is the teacher. Whether you currently are a teacher or are training to become one, consider how the way that you guide the class can have a profound effect on how all of you release your negative energy. Using a soothing voice and helping students to discover their best selves are both important techniques to employ. Remember that the benefits are for you as well. In providing this type of positive energy for your class, you are also doing so for yourself.
Sense of Accomplishment
Think about how creating positive energy helps to eliminate the negative energy and lift your spirits. One of the ways that you can create positive energy for yourself is buy having a sense of accomplishment. Whether you are proud of yourself for taking the initiative to join a new class or you are seeing major improvements since you first started taking yoga classes, you can feel a strong sense of accomplishment. Knowing that you have conquered new goals is enough to get rid of negative energy you are feeling and replace those vibes with positive emotions.
Yoga can certainly help to release negative energy. Of course, you want to make sure that you are putting in the necessary effort and finding a class that matches up with your needs. Simply making the effort to go to a yoga class can have positive effects on your entire life in both the long and short term.
© Copyright – Aura Wellness Center – Publications Division
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Creating a Yoga Tribe and Culture
By Kathryn Boland
Do you have a group of friends, or one or two close friends, who practice and/or teach yoga? Do you see the benefits that can come from the support of having such friends? Do wish you had this support system? I’ve previously written about the advantages of connecting with yoga instructor colleagues – collaboration, ideas for solving difficult issues, having a network of potential substitutes that you can call upon in a pinch, et cetera. These practical advantages are key.
I’d like to turn now to another aspect of having a yoga community, which can include fellow practitioners (non-teachers) as well – for fun, for emotional support, for practical help when you can use it. Let’s go through some ways in which this bears out, and therein how’s it’s all so valuable. First, practicing with friends is even better than practicing alone.
Yes, yoga is a very personal process and experience, but it can be fun to sneak glances, smiles, and sometimes giggles – at moments like falling out of a difficult pose, an instructor’s joke (funny or not so funny), and when you’d just like to have gratitude for the other’s presence. A friend can also help hold you accountable; it’s harder to cancel a plan to go to class when it affects someone else, someone who might have really been looking forward to going with you!
It can also be interesting and satisfying to discuss the class a bit over coffee or a meal after. With a teacher friend, you can discuss a bit what worked and didn’t work as well for you as students. This can inform your own teaching, but also be a lens on your practice. A practitioner friend could offer another interesting lens on this – perhaps with insights with which those in a teacher’s mindset might have lost touch. This effect can increase happiness with yoga and often be multiplied with more friends practicing together!
They can also offer perspective on other aspects of yogic living in modern life. What are some inexpensive and convenient ways to more consistently practice ahimsa (non-violence) as a twenty-first century consumer? Should you go vegetarian? If you already are one, should you go vegan? How do you make that transition in a healthful, logistically accessible, and economical way? Where are there Kundalini classes in your area (you’ve always wanted to try that!)? Do you have a certain type of essential oil I can borrow for a workshop I have coming up?
All of this can increase happiness with yoga and be a powerful force for reminding you why you love the practice, if the teaching “grind” has replaced some of that with exhaustion and discouragement. In any way you may connect with your yoga “tribe”, individuals who share common knowledge of and appreciation for this practice we dedicate ourselves to, you can be more fueled to weather the challenges of teaching. You’ll also be more receptive to it’s gifts.
This can increase happiness with yoga and be a powerful force for reminding you why you love the practice, if the teaching “grind” has replaced some of that with exhaustion and discouragement. In any way you may connect with your yoga “tribe”, individuals who share common knowledge of and appreciation for this practice we dedicate ourselves to, you can be more fueled to weather the challenges of teaching. You’ll also be more receptive to it’s gifts.
All of this can increase happiness with yoga and be a powerful force for reminding you why you love the practice, if the teaching “grind” has replaced some of that with exhaustion and discouragement. In any way you may connect with your yoga “tribe,” individuals who share common knowledge of and appreciation for this practice we dedicate ourselves to, you can be more fueled to weather the challenges of teaching. You’ll also be more receptive to it’s gifts.
To increase happiness with yoga, you can be there to support your friends – which can be even more enjoyable than being helped! Mutuality, equal members of a relationship or community engaging harmoniously, is at the core of truly healthy, successful relationships and communities. But how does that start? It’s actually fairly easy to never truly engage with your fellow yogis, beyond things like stacking props together and saying “excuse me…that’s ok…..thanks” while navigating tight spaces.
In order for some sort of friendship or community to build, someone has to reach out with a smile, with a kind word, with a comment about class – why not you? If you like someone’s leggings or yoga top, compliment them! After class, as may feel appropriate, joke with someone about a silly moment like almost falling out of a pose or when the instructor made you laugh. And, just as in yoga, see how things may change after simple first choices and actions.
When you’re teaching, you’re in a bit more of a professional position, so this dynamic cannot as freely play out and still be professional. Yet, if friendships organically grow with your students, even from that professional position, you can let them grow. Use your common judgement, play on the safe side, and always be clear with boundaries. So long as those proper professional boundaries are in place, being friendly with your students can help you serve them better by knowing more about them. It might also just make you look forward to teaching your classes even more.
The act of reaching out, of building community, and from that living in community with others, might just lead you to smile and greet strangers – the cafe cashier, the toll booth officer, the person in front of you at the grocery store. It’s a way to go through life with more kindness, joy, and grace. Others outside of the yoga world might very well follow suit. This might be something that the yoga community can offer the world. It has to start with someone – why not you? You – professionally and personally – and all could be much better for it. We could all, yogis and non yogis, perhaps experience a bit more of the union of true yoga.
© Copyright – Aura Wellness Center – Publications Division