If practiced with conscious breathing, yoga postures
balance the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous
systems which govern the digestive system
The absolute unity of life in all its different forms of expression is the basis of the holistic view of health, disease and healing. And the ultimate aim of life is nothing but realising this state of oneness. According to those ancient seers of tliis holistic wisdom, our bodies, indeed our whole lives, are nothing other than a reflection of our spiritual situation.
Each symptom or suffering, whether mental or physical, is an exact indication of the point we have reached in our life’s journey. Sufferings teach us what we are lacking to become whole. Health means having the physical, intellectual, emotional and spiritual aspects of one’s personality integrated into a seamless whole.
Food is the main source of energy for the human body and regulation of food intake forms the first practical step in creating health. One can eat to live or live to eat. Every one talks about eating the right food, but another important aspect that is generally ignored is the amount and quality of food that needs to be eaten. ‘Let your food be your medicine; let your medicine be your food,’ said Hippocrates, the father of Greek medicine.
says, ‘food was verily born before all creatures; therefore it is called the medicine for all’. For those ancient sages, food was really a divine tiling. This age old holistic approach towards food is almost lost in today’s fast-food world.
Food provides happiness. When a mother feeds her baby, food is an expression of love and care. Sharing of food is of much importance in all social or religious functions. Recent studies proved that persons lacking love resort to eating as a substitute for love. Up to an extend food gives temporary relief from emotional problems. All these facts point towards the necessity of developing a proper attitude towards food. Rather than for its taste, food should be loved for the nourishment it provides. Bhagavad Geeta classifies food into satvika, rajasa and tamasa among which satvika food is the best.
Obesity, which is the result of improper food habits, is becoming the single most cause for all ailments in modern times. It is simply defined as an excess of fat in body. Lack of exercise, fast food and stress altogether increase the number of obese people in society. Though we can hear many excuses from obese people like gland’s problem, metabolism or inheritance, in most cases, the only problem is with the salivary glands, which work too well! Obese people are slower, more lethargic and inactive. Obesity leads to a number of problems like hypertension, diabetes, cardiovascular problems, arthritis etc.
The key to lose extra weight depends upon two factors- eating behaviour and proper exercise. These two factors can be corrected with regular Yoga practice including Pranayama and Meditation. The postures which really enhance our vitality, stamina and beauty of the body are but the least part of yoga. When rightly understood, it is a process which elevates oneself into something nobler and more whole some. Yoga is a way of life to develop a deeper awareness of one’s own self, by virtue of which one can master the forces internal and external. It helps us to live a ‘frill’ life.
The pressures in day to day life agitates mind and that disturbs the flow of prana through nadis which results in improper digestion and that is the starting point of diseases. So, with postures, breathing and meditation, one can fix all these problems. Tliere are a wide variety of asanas, each one dictated with distinct stretches, counter stretches and resistance. Each pose results in an alignment of the skin, flesh and muscular structure of the body with the skeleton. If practiced with conscious breathing, the postures balance the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems which are governing the automatic func- honing of the internal organs, heart rate, blood pressure, respiration and digestive system.
Among various asanas, Vajrasana is having a special influence upon digestion. If you sit in this Asana for fifteen minutes immediately after food, the food will be digested well. Flatulence is removed. For doing this, sit on your knees on a blanket, placing your heels under your hips. Let the heels be opened but the toes should be joined and the feet are on the ground. Keep the spine straight, place palms on your knees while keeping arms straight. Have normal, full breathing. This pose will give relief to your tired legs. This is meditative posture and can be done at any time and is very good for improving digestion.
Another pose which improves digestive fire is Bhujangasana. For doing this lie on the floor face downwards. Stretch the legs with feet together, knees tight and the toes pointing. Place palms by the side of shoulders. With inhalation lift the body up from the trunk, look upwards. Tighten the thighs and
with normal breathing stay for 20 seconds. Exhale, bend elbows and come to rest. Repeat this for three times and relax. This pose improves agni and digestion, decreases gastric difficulties, gynecological problems, back pain; strengthens respiratory muscles; stimulates liver and spleen.
Tliere are a number of asanas which can wonderfully help obese people. Forward bending, twisting and backward bending asanas help reduce the fat near abdomen, hips and other areas. Sun salutations are highly beneficial in fighting obesity. With that kriyas like shamkha-prak- shalana and agnisara and bandlias like uddiyana and moolabandlia are helpful. Pranayamas like kapala bhati and bhastrika can be practiced. The most important thing regarding this is that, all these practices should be done only with the help of an expert.