Its been a while since we at Energizer Yoga started gaining interest in AcroYoga. Its fun, connects people and at the same time develops strength, flexibility with stamina.
Sow a seed and it will take a few days, months or even years before it germinates, grows and bears fruits. Seasons change slowly. Mountains form over centuries. Look everywhere around in nature and all the good happens slowly.
Shift focus to our lives…it’s exactly the opposite. Faster cars, faster music, faster cooking, faster shopping, faster recovery…. Fast has become our way of life. We expect everything to move & happen quickly. Deserving or not, we want it. At the touch of a button the master in out head wants a response. Technology has spoilt us and if we continue to give in we will be miserable.
The unfortunate reality is that mind cannot distinguish, it is conditioned by habit. Now it will be in no mood to have patience. We want to lose weight fast, we want to get into an asana fast, we want all the benefits of our work NOW.
Picture this…eating slowly, enjoying the meal morsel by morsel…enjoying the sea breeze while walking across a beach…holding our partners hand, looking into each other’s eyes and feeling the moment…slow dancing, slow music everything starts connecting you with the moment. And life is that…living the moment.
The practice of Yoga connects you with your natural pace. There is no way you can get into the headstand the very first day, so far no such pill has been discovered. We have no other choice than to be slow & patient. We have to work every day making progress slowly and steadily. It may take days, months and even years…we have to be ready to deserve it. When we devote time to our Yoga practice and work on each asana patiently we start changing our habit…we now work slowly and steadily getting us the right results. Our mind gives in to the new habit. We start understanding the world in its natural pace. The short circuit in our mind that makes us act without thinking is broken, we start living, we start thinking, we start acting rather than reacting.
Life starts getting beautiful and this beauty will reflect in your face, actions and conduct. Slow is the way and the only way of life. Live it.
On an average I get two to three people enquiring about the Yoga class every day. They usually are graceful enough to share their reasons to look towards Yoga. Some want to get into good physical shape, some want to shape up their lives, some looking for a solution to their ailment and others for general fitness. I would spend good time to understand them and also explain to the best of my abilities about how Yoga could show them the desired way. Now these are curious souls who have identified their issue and are searching for solution. This is the first positive step. However, most of them fail to take the second step ….coming to the class. A few of them would come but give up very soon stating that they are just not being able to make it…they would promise to themselves that they will be regular from tomorrow but I mostly don’t see this tomorrow happening.
A common excuse is that I do not have the time or energy left for the Yoga class and therefore its best to skip it. However, it’s important to question ourselves about why we lack the energy or the time for something we know is so good for us?
This situation I guess is not new and the Yoga Sutra has listed 4 reasons why we would skip the Yoga class.
Running behind Money: we are made to believe that money is the solution to all our problems. It can take care of our desires, can make us happy, earn us respect and make us feel successful. It has become a big yardstick on which we rate ourselves and the people around us. We get so absorbed in earning and then maintaining this money or status that we are left with none or very little time for anything else life has to offer.
Being socially overactive: we want to belong or we want to be recognized…either of these makes us socially active or rather in today’s time over active. This is so clearly visible with social networking gaining important ground in our lives. We see comments and ‘Likes’ coming in through the day and night. We want to be a part of every happening event and here hotels and restaurants will give you enough reasons to plan every week. It’s common to see everyone heading for a party or event late in the night. If we keep ourselves so occupied where will we have the energy or the discipline to attend Yoga?
Slept late or insufficient sleep: a popular bollywood chartbuster “char baj gaye lekin party abhi baaki hai” (its four in the morning but the party is still not over) sums this up. A good sound sleep at the right time is foundation to good health. This is the time body and mind need to rejuvenate, refresh and rebuild itself for the new day every day. Today we fail to provide this to ourselves and the result is known by people sooner or later. Lack of quality and timely sleep is a silent killer, it would make us weak physically and emotionally. The 24×7 work and party culture is an epidemic and the sooner we understand the better for us. Sleeping late or having disturbed sleep will keep your energy levels low to get up and go for the Yoga class.
Over eating or eating late: We are an over fed generation. We don’t have to hunt for food it gets delivered to our homes….and to top it up it’s not ‘quality food’. Most of us indulge in emotional eating. We are not happy about our lives, tasty and tangy food lifts up our spirits and we keep going back to it multiple times a day. There is no fixed time schedule and we end up eating a heavy meal right before we go to bed and this also late in the night while watching our favorite television channel. Both these habits are not subscribed to live a yogic life. These habits will disturb our sleep patterns and instead of providing energy will take it away from us.
All of us are aware of these aspects but habits are hard to break. We have to make a commitment to ourselves to lead a healthy life and with patience & practice develop new habits that are aligned to natural living. Also one needs courage and determination to live unlike most around us.
Upset about your growing waist line…. then ‘being upset’ could be adding more to it. It all begins with the mind and I firmly believe that our body is the reflection of our mind. Pick up any comic book and ask a child to identify the hero or the villain ……believe me, even without reading, a child can identify based on the facial and body structure of the characters.
Yes, our thoughts shape us up. A healthy mind is the key to a healthy body.
The modern way of living brings with it higher levels of stress, strain, anxiety and a 24 x 7 sub-conscious brain activity pattern. Left to its own, it is a recipe for disaster. For this is where our inner forces of emotion, habits and mental conditioning end up making us feel tired and out of sorts. Being under constant stress has a direct impact on our endocrine system which essentially maintains our optimal homeostasis. When the functioning of our glands are compromised it reflects immediately on the hormone production and metabolism that makes us gain or lose weight.
Ever come across the term ‘Adrenal Fatigue’.
Adrenal fatigue is a result of our adrenal glands not being able to cope up with stress. When we are stressed physically or emotionally our adrenals have to respond and maintain homeostasis. If their response is inadequate, we are likely to experience some degree of adrenal fatigue. Symptoms of Adrenal fatigue include:
– feeling tired for no reason
– trouble getting up in the morning, even when you go to bed at a reasonable hour
– feeling rundown or overwhelmed
– difficulty bouncing back from stress or illness
– crave for salty and sweet snacks
– feel more awake, alert and energetic after 6 pm
When essential energy is not available for taking care of day to day requirements of the body our metabolism is disturbed and our weight balance takes a beating. We could either start gaining weight or losing it rapidly.
Apart from just weight thoughts affect our range of motion, eating habits, sleep pattern, quality of skin, smile, eyes, response to situations, digestion, blood pressure, breathing and so on. Every cell in our body is affected by our thought pattern.
To sustain the balance in our body or to regain it we need to balance our thoughts or the mind. This is where Asanas, Meditation, Pranayama, Yam and Niyam play a vital role. Yoga knows how to power the brain and more importantly, when to power it off to a mode that helps switch off! This is achieved by getting into Asanas that are directed towards bringing inner peace and well-being, higher energy levels and the ability to handle situations better. Meditation and Pranayama equips us to manage stress effectively and the body works to its full efficiency.
So if you think you need a balanced healthy body that keeps you energetic and full of life then look nowhere but in your mind.
Imagine hopping on to a time machine and zooming back to some of the best days in our life…childhood! Life was easy and making friends without questioning their background or color, was easier. We learnt new things without rationalizing their use. Simplicity filled our lives with joy. Keep it simple stupid was exactly what we did! Life was filled with positive energy each new day, smiling and laughing was easy. We lived our hearts out.
Then as we start maturing and enter our teens, the mind starts taking over and most of the conflicts faced during this period make us or break us for life. We seek answers about following the heart or the mind. Society teaches us to apply our mind and life starts changing. The entry into adulthood brings in the era of logic and rationalization. The mind is now in business and takes over.
Do we see the distinction?
The heart is about gratitude, love, harmony, peace, happiness, forgiveness and non-violence. The mind on the other hand, is the seat of greed, anger, lust, destruction and ego. This is why a major portion of Yog Surta is dedicated to how the mind works and deceives us. In fact the prime objective defined in the Yog Sutra is to still the mind (Yogas chitta-vritti-nirodhah). So is the idea of stilling the mind to allow the heart being heard?
Keeping the larger challenges of life aside let’s look at our Yoga asana practice closely. Follow any system Hatha, Iyengar or Ashtanga and whether it’s a back bend or forward bend or twisting. We are expected to open our chest while moving into the asana. In other words offer our heart or lead from the heart. We are expected to practice with devotion, gratitude, kindness, self respect and all these are properties of the heart. If we bring in the mind to our practice it will be all about display, moving faster, injuries and feeding the ego.
Let our practice lead us from the heart. See the bigger picture here…take the hint and let your heart enable you to lead a better & richer life.
There are loads of advice about diet plans and what to eat but there are even more basic and essential points that we miss to understand or implement while eating. Here are ten such aspects, if followed, that can keep us healthy, fit and lean:
1) Drink solid. Eat liquid.
You read that right. The process of digestion begins when we start chewing and saliva acts on it. It makes sense for the food to spend sufficient time here and get prepared for the digestive track. The idea of drinking solid is to chew the solids till it turns liquid and we should allow liquids to stay and relish it, not just gulp it. Chewing food properly prepares the stomach to be ready with the digestive enzymes and makes it easier for it to break the food for further process.
2) Remain stress free
The primary role of our Energy system is to combat stress, be it physical, mental or emotional. This is followed by helping the process of digestion. Now if we are stressed in any form and eat it would be of no help to us cos the system needs to first manage stress. Remember the good words from our parents that discouraged us from eating immediately when we ran back home. Learn to stay focused on food and eat with a peaceful mind. Ideally before eating wash your feet, hands, face and pour a little water on your neck which helps you to get fresh and relaxed.
3) Eat half full
When we eat in a rush or in stress there is tendency to over eat. This is not desirable. The ideal formula for healthy eating is to eat half stomach; quarter is for water and quarter for air. When we overload a mixer it has to work harder and could also burn the machine, the same principle applies to our digestive system – never overload. Sitting in sukhasan on the floor helps us to gauge when we are half full. An interesting quote I once read said “there is no harm in eating less”…but remember do not starve yourself.
4) Keep entertainment away
It is common to see members of family sitting in front of the television or internet while eating. If that was not enough our smartphones keep us engaged. When our mind is distracted with entertainment, in any form, we tend to lose control on how much we are eating. Eating becomes a mechanical process and the hand would stop only once we are filled up to the throat. Overeating then becomes an everyday habit; that would be an open invitation for several diseases.
5) Avoid whites in your food
Too much of Sugar, Salt or Maida in our food is an absolutely no. Vegetables if cooked properly take care of the salts, sugar and mineral requirements for our body. The additional salt required is very limited but we tend to keep taste as our priority. Our sweet tooth keeps us glued to sweets and maida while it is heavy on the digestive track, it tastes great. Also we should not forget that all these available to us are processed and treated with chemicals to look and taste good. No wonder BP, Diabetes and Constipation are so common.
6) Don’t skip breakfast
We need more energy during the day than night and so having a healthy breakfast is essential for the day. After dinner this is the next meal with a gap of about 12-14hrs, this is reason enough that we provide our body with essential nutrients and minerals that would aid our energy and keep us alert and active through the day. Important aspect being that the food should be healthy, one that supplements’ your energy and does not drain it.
7) Last meal by 7 pm
Having a healthy gap of 2-3 hrs between eating and getting into bed is a great habit. This gives sufficient time for the body to digest the food. Our body at night gets into repair mode and so if the digestive system is still active, it interferes with our rest and restoration. Eating late and sleeping immediately also disrupts your digestive process cos gravity aids the movement of food and this gets deprived when we sleep. A light meal is sufficient to keep us going for the night. This habit also keeps check on our weight.
8) Do not drink water while eating
Water contains essential salts and minerals for the body. Water needs no digestive enzymes to work on it and is immediately moved to the intestines for direct absorption. Therefore, when we drink water while eating food it would carry with it undigested food from the stomach into the intestinal track. This unprocessed food gets difficult to work on and creates unnecessary drain on our system. A few sips of water, if the food is very spicy however, is acceptable.
9) Eat five/six small meals a day
Eating small portions five/six times a day is better than eating more than just 3 meals. This habit keeps blood sugar levels steady. It helps keeping ‘feeling of being fatigued’ away. Eating smaller portions five times will also bring in variety into food ensuring the right nutrients get into our system. When we stick to three meals a day think about how we come to the table like a hungry monster and this brings with it the tendency to eat more than required. One of my favorite quotes on food ‘you can have it all, just not all at once‘ also reinforces this.
10) Eat seasonal fruits and vegetables
Nature provides us with the right foods at the right time of the year. Water melons before onset of summer, oranges/mangoes during summer etc. Advanced scientific techniques have enabled the availability of every type of fruit or vegetable mostly through the year but we need to sit back and think about our food habits w.r.t seasons. The kind of food we eat alters our temperature and metabolism and the more we respect the cycle of nature the better for us. One easy way to get to know the food for each season is to enter a market and check for fruits and vegetables that are most visible and economical.
We are in love with the new age 24×7 lifestyle. We love to talk about how busy we are (not necessarily constructive), how we are making the most of our time. Work, play & party hard is the mantra…there is no room for sleep or rest. Rest seems to be a waste of precious time. So much so that if we do get some spare time we start feeling uncomfortable, unproductive and depressed. Chasing the clock has become our daily routine and habit.
So do we really need rest? the answer is a firm ‘Yes’. Its as essential as eating, walking or breathing. When we rest, our body gets time and energy to repair and restore our muscles, joints, cells etc that are a part of our physical being, it helps the subconscious to assimilate thoughts and provide us with solutions, it reduces strain and stress that accumulates during work. It’s like going on vacation…when we get back from vacation we have more energy and enthusiasm. So right kind of rest will also bring in energy and enthusiasm in abundance.
Feel like you are dragging yourself from day to day and feeling fatigued when you get up in the morning? then rest assured you need rest 🙂 With proper rest we can be assured that our channels of thinking work most efficiently thereby making us more efficient in all the tasks that we take upon us.
Here are two cases that I share from my classes.
The first one is a gentleman from Mumbai who is in his early 40s and had developed heart problem. The fast paced life running behind the clock displayed in his body with a paunch around the abdomen, marks below the eyes and the skin looking dull and lifeless. He turned to Yoga looking for a solution and gave me one week time. To put him through a routine of asanas was not possible cos he had never spent time for fitness and coupled with this was his weak heart that could not take much physical exertion. I realized his immediate need was proper and effective rest. For one complete week we worked on only Pranayaam and Yog Nidra. This brought familiarity and importance of rest in his life. The result was there to see in just one week…his skin firmed up and was shining, eyes and face expressed freshness, the bloated body restored to normal and he also developed a positive mindset that life can be restored. When he returned to Mumbai his wife called to thank and said “he looks so much more younger!”
The second case is of a lady who delivered her second baby after about 6 years of gap. Now managing the home with a school going kid and having a new one who would not let her sleep was taking a toll on her. Exhaustion was visible on her face, eyes and body language. She had practiced Yoga earlier and now she had turned to Yoga once again for fitness, balance and weight loss. She was very efficient with asana practice earlier but now standing forward bending was making her dizzy. She was unhappy about this and so was I concerned. BP check brought in normal reading and that was a good news. On further discussion and contemplation I explained that it was lack of rest that is displaying itself in various ways. Once again for one whole week we just worked on Yog nidra in the class and she recovered. No more dizzy head and what more she also started loosing weight. Her efficiency in performing asanas improved and even bettered the earlier stint.
Rest is a biological need and lack of it can make you irritable, angry, unclear & unpleasant. So what is proper rest. If you think lying on the sofa reading a book or watching your favorite television show is rest then you are mistaken. Proper rest involves minimal nerve stimulation and absolute suspension of use of muscle, joints and the mind. Rest is complete when its more than just physical, we need psychological rest with suspension of use of mind. As we age and responsibilities multiply we need to relearn the art of resting that would help us lead a meaningful life with focus and clarity.
Here are quick benefits of proper Rest or Sleep:
– Keeps weight in check
– Make us look healthier and attractive
– Adds years to life
– Strengthens immune system
– Reduces stress
– Improves memory
– Improves creativity
– Sharpens attention
– Brings clarity to thought
– Improved enthusiasm & Positive thinking
Shavasana in the Yoga system reinforces the importance of rest, performing Shavasana at the end of a Yoga session helps channelize the energy gained while performing the asanas or praanayaam.
So till next time take care and do rest.