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Through practicing various body postures (asana), breathing techniques (pranayama), and meditation, it is believed that one can obtain a sound physical body as well as a calm and peaceful mind. Regular practice of a variety of yogatechniques have been shown to lower heart rate and blood pressure in various .
ental body (manomaya kosha), Intellectual body (Vigyanamaya kosha) and Bliss Sheath (Anandamaya kosha).
Benefits of yoga on the physical level are well known. Today, millions are taking to the yogic lifestyle for its health and fitness benefits. Yoga makes your body steady, flexible and strong. It increases endurance and vitalizes the organs. It gives a feel-good factor and improves self-confidence. Though not a panacea for everything, it is known to relieve many health problems, like anxiety, constipation, obesity, hypertension, digestive disorders, hormonal imbalances, respiratory and cardiac problems, allergies, and reproductive disorders, to name a few. Various yoga asanas and the Hatha Yoga practices of shad karmas (six practices for purification of body) were developed for specific health benefits.
Meditative asanas like Padmasana, Siddhasana and Sukasana give steadiness and stability to the body, so that one can sit for meditation for a prolonged period.
Asanas like Hamsasana and Mayurasana can strengthen the arms and shoulders, improve digestion, remove constipation and remove toxins from the body.
Backward bending asanas like Makarasana, Bhujangasana, Chakrasana, Ardha-Chakrasana, Ushtrasana, Dhanurasana, etc. are good for problems of the back and spine by strengthening the muscles and increasing flexiblity.
The Hatha yoga practice of Neti gives nasal hygiene, removes sinusitis, and relieves allergies, headaches and migraines.
Surya namaskara is a set of yogic exercises that vitalize the body, remove lethargy and depression, and burn calories.
The list is endless as hundreds of Asanas are practiced by yoga enthusiasts for their various benefits.
The ‘Pranamaya kosha’ or the energy sheath is our vital body. It’s responsible for all the physiological functioning, like digestion, excretion, blood flow, nerve impulses and body movements. The Science of Pranayama is specially designed for improving our vital energy, or Prana. Pranayama increases our energy levels, reduces carbon dioxide content in our blood, enhances self-healing properties of the body and improves lifespan. It can remove imbalances in all our physiological processes, reduce anxiety and hypertension and correct hormonal imbalances.
The prana is directly connected to both body and mind, as this sheath is sandwiched between the ‘Annamaya Kosha’ (physical body) and the ‘Manomaya kosha’ (mental body). Thus, the effects of pranayama are seen on both the body and the mind. When the Prana is controlled, the mind is automatically controlled. This principle is used by yogis to still the mind. Pranayama can reduce the fluctuations of the mind (also called ‘Vrittis’ in Sanskrit). It can relieve tensions and anxiety; and hence helps as a preparatory practice for meditation.