“A mind free from all disturbances is yoga.” – Patanjali
The practise of yoga has been in existence for over 5000 years, with more than 100 different types of yoga techniques. It is described as the ‘union of mind, body and spirit,’ and addresses the physical, mental and spiritual dimensions towards an overall harmonious state of a person's well-being. One of the best benefits of yoga is how it helps a person manage stress, a condition known to have devastating effects on the body and mind.
The practice of yoga is something that is now gaining popularity in Nigeria. A good number of Nigerians are beginning to know and see the physical and mental benefits of practising yoga. This is why a good number of gyms across many Nigerian states are now having yoga sessions and classes as part of their services.
Oyinye Ugwueke, a Yoga Instructor in Nigeria and CEO of Olifestyleholistic said "yoga is an important therapy for healing the soul, mind and body. “Yoga trains us to systematically sharpen and sensitise our emotions and consciously expand and diffuse the overtones of such sensitisation''.
There are many reasons and benefits as to why you might decide to learn yoga.
- Need to learn to manage your stress levels? Yoga is there for you!
- Want to lose a few pounds? Yoga lessons will help!
- Insomnia? Yoga will help you centre yourself and fall asleep more quickly!
- Having trouble conceiving? Hormone Yoga is meant for you!
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How The Practice Of Yoga Can Help Reduce Stress And Anxiety
Yoga is a form of exercise that has proven to help reduce stress and anxiety with its proper application.
It was estimated that 7 million Nigerians are currently suffering from mental health problems associated with stress and depression. Yoga can help reduce stress because it promotes relaxation, which is the natural opposite of stress. Taking yoga lessons is an ideal solution for learning to deal with stress.
Symptoms of a stressed-out individual include persistently sad moods, loss of pleasure in usual activities, feeling of helplessness and guilt or worthlessness, loss of memory and concentration, loss of decision-making capability, poor abstract reasoning, restlessness, irritability, insomnia, tiredness, eating disorders, etc.
Yoga doesn’t require a lot of equipment - a simple yoga mat is all you will need to start practising yoga to reduce stress levels and anxiety. To get started on yoga for destressing, it's helpful to commit to practice regularly (3-5 times weekly) for a certain amount of weeks and then re-evaluate. This will help get you into the habit and lets you get stronger physically.
Two Yoga Poses to Help You De-Stress
Yoga brings together physical and mental disciplines that may help you achieve the peacefulness of body and mind which in return will help you relax and manage stress and anxiety.
There are a lot of yoga poses that can help you relax. However, we will be discussing two poses for this article that can help you reduce your stress levels and anxiety. If you do this poses rightly, you will feel its benefits within a few minutes.
Uttanasana (Standing forward bend)
This will help relieve mild depression, fatigue and stress. It will help calm your brain and stimulate your kidneys and liver. It will also strengthen your knees and stretch your hips, thighs, calves and hamstring.
How to do the pose:
- Stand straight and bend forward.
- Stretch your body to touch your palms to the ground.
- Straighten your legs for a deeper stretch.
- Hold this position for three to four deep breaths
- Then whilst inhaling, stretch arms outwards and raise them and your torso back to the standing position
The Chair Pose (Utkatasana)
The chair pose improves breathing, helps protect the knee joint by building stability. It also strengthens the supporting muscles of the major joints, such as the shoulders, hips, knees and ankles.
The pose can also help improve your posture. If you commit to a steady practice, you will gain stamina in this pose after a few months. For this pose, basically, you are pretending to sit in a chair.
How to do the pose:
- Stand straight with your feet together
- Bend your knees while pushing your buttocks out
- Put your hands together and raise your arms over your head as though they are an extension of your spine
- Hold the pose for three full breaths, keeping your abdominal muscles taut and your heels on the yoga mat.
Understanding How Yoga Can Help With Weight Loss
Obesity is a major health problem, and there is an increasing trend of overweight and obese individuals in developing countries.
If you have already made efforts to lose weight and yet, you can’t keep to a diet for more than a few weeks and are desperately looking for exercises that will help you lose fat, trying yoga can absolutely help you develop strategies for sustained weight loss.
Calculating your BMI
Here is the official classification of the WHO (World Health Organisation):
- Less than 16: anorexia or malnutrition
- Between 16.5 and 18.5: thin
- Between 18.5 and 25: normal weight
- Between 25 and 30: overweight
- Between 30 and 35: moderate obesity (class 1)
- Between 35 and 40: high obesity (class 2)
- More than 40: massive or morbid obesity (class 3)
If your BMI ranges between 18.5 and 25, then your weight is normal but if your BMI is is higher than 25, you are overweight. It is strongly advised to consult with a nutritionist or a doctor if you are overly overweight so you can understand where your excess weight is coming from and remedy it.
How Do Yoga Exercises Work To Help You Lose Some Weight?
Together with a healthy diet with lots of fruits and vegetables, fibre and some little healthy fats, yoga can help lose weight and especially stomach fat which is especially difficult to lose. Yoga styles are also good for eliminating toxins teaching you to listen to your body and its signals for hunger and fullness.
These poses also help regulate our metabolism which is a great way to kick start that weight loss journey. If you want to lose weight quickly then you have to do your yoga routines daily. A very important aspect when trying to lose weight is pleasure and consistency. If you are not consistent, you cant enjoy the benefits of yoga for weight loss.
If your weight problems are greater than that, yoga alone will probably not be enough. You should associate it with some form of cardio training to accelerate fat burn.
Two Yoga Poses That Aid Weightloss
You don’t have to be very flexible to lose weight! Here are two out of the many poses to help tone you and lose some abdomen and body fat.
Naukasana (Boat Pose)
This is another pose that works fabulously on your side and front tummy muscles and strengthens your core. It is great for a flat tummy and also good for the digestive system and strengthens the back and legs.
How to do the pose:
- Lie down on your back with your legs stretched out before you
- While inhaling, raise your legs, keeping them straight
- Grasp your legs with your hands around your calves (or your knees if that’s too difficult)
- Make sure you keep your back straight and your abdominal muscles tight to avoid injury
- Breathe normally and keep the pose for two full breaths
- On an exhale, return to your original position
- Repeat 5 times with a 15 second rest period between each repeat.
Upward Dog Pose
An upward dog is a great pose for engaging your upper body, since your arms, shoulders, and back will all need to work together.
How to do the pose:
- Begin lying flat on your stomach. Bend your elbows and bring your hands next to your chest so your forearms are perpendicular to the floor. Draw your shoulder blades together.
- Press the inner edges of your hands into the floor and slightly backwards as if you were trying to pull your lower spine out of your pelvis. Start to lift your torso off the floor, keeping your legs straight and strong.
- Inhale and lift your torso further while raising your hips and thighs off the floor. Tilt your head back slightly, but not so far that you compress the back of your neck. Keep your arms straight and legs strong, pressing through the tops of your feet.
How Yoga Can Help You Sleep Better?
Are you having difficulties sleeping? Then Yoga should be considered.
Yoga is a true miracle cure for insomnia. It may help to put your body in a calm state, known as the relaxation response which may cause you to have lower blood pressure and lower amounts of the stress hormone cortisol.
Scientists and researchers all over the globe are learning more and more about sleep every day. Sleep is an important function that allows our body and mind to recharge, leaving us refreshed and alert when we wake up. Without enough sleep, the brain cannot function properly: once the brain cannot function properly then our abilities to concentrate, think clearly, and process memories will be impaired.
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Effects Of Sleep Deprivation On Your Body
- It can leave you vulnerable to respiratory infections like the common cold and flu
- it increases your risk for chronic conditions like diabetes and heart diseases.
- It reduces your level of concentration
- Constant tiredness
- Risk factor for becoming overweight and obese
- It also ages your skin
One good thing about yoga is that you can easily do it at home, even as a beginner - as long as you don’t try complicated yoga poses too soon! Fortunately, the yoga poses associated with better sleep patterns are simple.
The practice of yoga is an excellent way to transition from a day‘s activity to a night’s repose. Holding a pose for 30 to 40 seconds can help you relax and shed tension. Having a pre-sleep routine also helps prep your body for sleep by telling it when bedtime is coming up.
There’s no reason not to try bedtime yoga. It might just be the answer that you’re looking for. It is relaxing, reduces stress and strengthens your body for a deeper and better sleep.
One Easy Pose To Do Before Bedtime
Corpse Pose (Savasana)
This is one of the easiest poses you should do before going to sleep. You can do it in your own bed. Corpse pose is the traditional final resting pose of yoga practice. You can let your breath return to normal in this pose.
How to do the pose:
- Lie back on the mat.
- Hug your knees in towards your chest tightly and take a deep inhale.
- Exhale and stretch your legs out away from you while keeping your tailbone grounded on the mat.
- Your feet should be hip-width apart and relaxed away from each other, toward the edges of the mat.
- Let your lower back soften and relax. You should not feel any pain or tightness in your lower back.
- Relax your arms at your sides, palms facing upward.
- Check to make sure your shoulders are not hunched, and, if so, relax your shoulders away from your ears.
- Optional: Place a folded towel over your eyes to block out any light.
Can Yoga Help You Conceive?
Studies have proven that stress is a negative factor in female fertility. The obsession of trying to get pregnant alone can increase a couples' stress levels, thinking they may have a problem when in fact may be possible that there isn't even an iota of a medical problem. How can you get pregnant if you are constantly obsessing over your health? The good news is that yoga helps against stress, increasing your chances of conceiving a baby!
Once the doctor says you need more relaxation to aid your conception process, then immediately start your yoga journey to help reduce your stress levels.
Some possible reasons and factors that may be associated with infertility in women:
- Unhealthy body weight
- Underlying Medical Problems
- Age and so on
Ever heard of Hormone yoga? Hormone Yoga can help you conceive! It is mainly for women suffering from polycystic ovary syndrome, PMS, a low hormone count, hyperthyroid issues or osteoporosis. This therapy consists of a series of exercises specific to reactivate hormone production and consequently eliminate the symptoms of low hormones.
If you decide to do hormone yoga as home yoga sessions, make sure you consult your physician beforehand and, if you can, take at least a few yoga classes with a qualified yoga teacher so that you know how to do the asanas correctly.
Easy Pose To Do To Aid Conception
Viparita Karani (Legs Up the Wall)
This posture is best done after sexual intercourse as the gravity will help the sperm join the egg and fertilize it.
How to do the pose:
- Start off lying on your side with your bolster within reach, bring your hips close to the wall.
- Bend your knees and then roll onto your back.
- Push into the wall to lift your hips and slide the bolster under your lower back.
- Take deep breaths to relax while at it
- Close your eyes and relax, progressively releasing all tensions and visualising fertilization. Hold for 10 full breaths.
Some Yoga Specialist Compiled Tips To Help You Relax
Relaxing is very important to your mental health and overall well-being.
You don’t need to practice yoga intensively or master it completely to use it to help you relax, fall asleep quickly, increase your fertility or lose weight. A simple introduction to beginner yoga poses and some tips is enough to start on. These tips will go a long way to aid the results you want to achieve with Yoga.
Here are some tips on how to relax and de-stress:
- Eat foods and drinks like dark chocolates, green tea, yoghurt, chamomile tea, turmeric and so on that help with relaxing your body.
- Practice meditation like deep breathing, guided imagination, mindfulness meditation.
- Book a date at the spa to get a deep tissue, Swedish or hot stone massage
- Listen to some of your favourite slow and classical music
- Get moving by dancing, going for a walk, jogging
- Plan a vacation to some of your favourite spots or countries
- Go for a swim
- Get some scented candles for aromatherapy to help you relax
- Sleep: having to sleep for like 7-9 hours a day will help reduce your stress levels and relax your nerves.
- Talk to a friend or therapist: If something is really bothering you, it can help if you share your feelings with a friend or a therapist.
When you feel stress, your body responds by releasing hormones that increase your blood pressure and raise your heart rate. Relaxation techniques can help your body relax and lower your blood pressure and heart rate.
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