To help you maintain a healthy body and mind through the practice of yoga you need to follow the five main principles of yoga.
1: Proper Relaxation
For you to be able to be in the correct state of mind and body your nervous system needs to be revived. The tension in your muscles can often be the main obstacle for you to overcome, once you have achieved the relaxed feeling you will be able to let go of your fears and worries.
2: Good Exercise
Physical movement is needed in this principle there is no other way around it. Exercise is achieved through Yoga Postures or Asanas, these concentrate on the whole body by stretching and toning the muscles, helping to add suppleness in the spine and improving your blood circulation.
3: The correct Breathing
To encourage maximum oxygen intake, you need to use all parts of your lungs, by taking slow deep breaths. You must be able to control the length of your pauses between your inhalation and exhalation. Yoga Breathing Exercises or Pranayama teaches you how you can control your state of mind and relax your body.
4: Proper Diet
Your mental state and spiritual awareness can be affected by what you eat, natural foods are needed in your diet to help maintain your body and mind. Too much wheat and cow dairy is not recommended as bacteria breed on these foods in the gut which can amount to mucus in the system. Diet in Yoga suggests eating in moderation to help you keep the mind calm and the body light.
5: Positive thinking and Meditation
The way you think can affect your way of life, if you practice keeping an positive outlook this will help you in having a peaceful mind. Meditation and positive thinking can help you to remove negative thoughts. Listening to calm music can help you to relax and meditate.
The Benefits of Asanas
In Yoga, the word Asana means Posture. The yoga asana movements are gentle and take into account the entire being. They form part of a psycho-physical system intended to awaken individuals to the experience of their full potential. Performed regularly, the asanas have a profound effect in freeing a person from fear and conditioning.
Yoga asanas are performed slowly and meditatively using deep abdominal breathing. They are designed to make the body strong enough to hold the positions for a sufficient period of time without discomfort. The idea is to keep still while the position is maintained, to breathe consciously into the yoga asana and to focus your attention on the rhythmic sound of your breathing. Body and mind will then naturally move into stillness and equilibrium.
Once you are comfortable in a position, you can take yourself in deeper by stretching just a little further. Not only does the practice of yoga require you to mould your body into a particular pose (many of them mimic animals), it also asks you to identify with the qualities of the pose you are performing. So, when you are performing the Marjariasana (cat posture), you should feel yourself possessing the qualities of a cat as you move into the exercise; try to feel as you imagine a cat would feel; feel the arch of your back and the stretch of your spine.
The various postures of a basic yoga session will stretch, strengthen and tone every muscle in the body, and there are many other benefits to be gained from the practice of asanas. Some postures will work on a particular organ of the body, while others will help regulate the endocrine system. The twisting, bending and stretching movements increase flexibility of the muscles and joints as well as massaging the internal organs and glands.
Asanas also improve the circulation, ensuring that a rich supply of nutrients and oxygen reach all the cells of the body. The most important work of the yoga asana, however, is in strengthening and purifying the nervous system, especially the spinal cord and spinal nerves, because these correspond to the channels for Prana in the astral body. The increase of Pranic energy will help to awaken the spiritual potential. The loss of vitality and the ill-health we suffer are caused by the running down of the body systems due to neglect, under-stimulation, laziness and unhealthy lifestyle.
Regular practice of the asanas will promote a state of mental well-being and physical health. The techniques are designed to maximise vitality and youthfulness, reduce stress, depression and hypertension, improve concentration and help balance the emotions. When you start practising yoga, it will be the physical experience that will affect you. As you gradually develop and progress, you will begin to experience the sensation of Pranic energy as it starts to flow more freely through the channels.