Stress Management through the 5 Principles of Yoga Stress Management through the 5 Principles of Yoga
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Many think Yoga requires great flexibility of the body,that a yoga practitioner should be slim and perfect -this is not necessarily true. Yoga brings you to your True Balance. If having a healthy, full-body is your natural balance then please accept it as anything else may cause you dis-ease. For us who live in our daily grind, here are the 5 Principles of Yoga to work from:

1. Proper Diet

You are what you eat. It is like GIGO (Garbage In – Garbage Out). The purest source of food is that which is produced closest to the Sun. Vegetables and legumes and grains are the first source, followed by herbivore animals. This will give the purity of the mind and enhance the remaining principles below. Yogis fill their stomach half with food, quarter with water and the remaining quarter is left empty.

2. Proper Exercise

If the above is in maintained, then just keeping the joints lubricated and the muscles supple is required. Hatha Yoga (physical yoga) exercises are enough. The Sun Salutations with the 12 basic postures (or asanas) as per Swami Vishnudevananda through Swami Sivananda are enough (http://www.sivananda.org). Go slowly. At first you may not be able to do all the postures but with guidance and under an authentic teacher you will be able to reach your body’s optimum ability over time. Compete only with yourself in making today better than your yesterday. Each day is different.

3. Proper Breathing

Generally, our depth of breath does not past our chest. Under stress, our breath rarely deepens beyond the throat. The three-part yogic breath is where you breath-in three slow counts into your abdomen, feel it rise, then exhale with the same timed three counts. This is best done when lying down in the corpse position - Savasana away from your desk or at home. One can also perform this sitting up or even walking upright. Breathwork in Yoga is called Pranayama – this is the art of harnessing prana or life force from the earth’s life force into yours. There are many pranayama techniques. For daily practice, just Kapalabhati and Anuloma-Viloma are enough and are safe. Other pranayamas are best done under supervision as these can unearth past emotions that one has not dealt with and perhaps is not ready to deal with at present resulting in anger, sadness and even grief.

4. Proper Relaxation

Proper relaxation is a state between sleep and being awake. Awareness of the breath helps get to this point. Using the three-part yogic breath lie down in Savansana for a few minutes talking to your body from the toes to the head, not forgetting your fingers, palms, thumbs, wrists, forearms, elbows, upper arms. You can go relaxing your body in as much detail as you like. Breath into each part, ask the body part to relax and move onto the next one until you have completed as much of your body as you wish, including internal organs (you may drift off mid-way and that is okay!). Just lay down being aware of your breath for as long as you like.

Positive Thinking and Meditation

See the people of great faith in the Holy Books: Jesus, Prophet Mohammed, Lord Buddha, Abraham, Job, Joseph, Mary, Hannah etc. That is, we should be living in utmost faith and with the best of intentions in everything we do. Yoga follows Vedanta through the Upanishads or scriptures of the highest knowledge. The world is but an illusion, actually we are all connected therefore the law of karma - action and reaction are equal and opposite holds. Like sleeping, Meditation is not learned. The idea is to come to calmness that will reflect one’s true nature in order to realize one’s true passion and potential. There are various meditation techniques; even the one you are using currently is fine.

To come to a good balance, all the five principles above should be given equal importance. Good luck!

By Arif Salehmohamed 

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