Yoga is huge in India. You think of an ailment and there is a yoga posture for it. But that does mean that you have to do yoga just because you are ill – you just do it. The main aim of yoga is to become one with God by doing exercises related to the Hindu Samkhya philosophy (one of the six systems of doctrine held by the Hindus You can read more about it in my book – Hinduism Made Easy: Hindu Religion, Philosophy and Concepts). It was in the 1980s that yoga became popular as a system of physical exercises across the Western world. In recent years, yoga has become extremely popular in India thanks to one man called Baba Ramdev. He actually single-handedly made some yoga postures (mentioned below) a household name.
The first International Yoga Day announced by the United Nations is set to take place on the 21st of June. If you have happen to be in India then you are in luck. There will be yoga classes all over India and you will be able to attend them free of charge. In fact, since this is an International Yoga Day, you should be able to attend a yoga session in your town and city. Just find out if there is one.
I will give two simple yoga techniques that you can try at home and even when travelling: the Anulom Vilom Pranayam and the Kapalabhati Pranayama.
Anulom Vilom Pranayam
Anulom Vilom yoga technique in Sanskrit is also called Nadishuddhi pranayama. The practice of Anuloma Viloma is the breathing through one nostril and out from the other. This causes calmness of the mind and stabilization of the nervous system. Proper scientific studies have indicated that alternating breathing through the nostrils assist in the linking from one side to the other side of the brain.
How to do Anulom Vilom
Anulom Vilom is carried out by sitting in any relaxing restful position on a yoga mat or just on the floor. Make sure the body that is the head, neck and spine are all upright. Place your left hand on your left knee. Close your right nostril by pressing the tip of your right thumb against it. Breathe out slowly through the left nostril. Inhale slowly as usual and deeply through the left nostril, keeping the right nostril closed with the fingers. Close your left nostril with the small finger and ring finger of your right hand and exhale all through the right nostril. Then inhale through the right nostril keeping the left nostril closed and finally exhale through the left nostril, keeping the right nostril closed.
This then completes one whole of round of anulom vilom (anuloma-viloma). Now replicate, the whole method. The process of inhalation and exhalation should ideally be done slowly without sound. It strengthens the lungs and calms the nerves. It helps cure cough and the common cold, insomnia, headaches and asthmas. It only takes a few minutes to do it and you can do them at your hotel.
Kapalabhati pranayama one of the most popular “cleansing” breathing exercise is also known as the breath of fire or the skull glowing breath. The idea is to breath in normally and then forcibly exhale; with the intention of removing the lungs of musty air. This causes the intake of oxygen filled or rich air and hence purifying the body. It is recommended that one should gradually increase to at a rate of 30 exhalations per minute or practice at least 10 minutes a day.
Scientific studies have shown that kapalabhati pranayama yoga breathing has positive effects on patients with asthma so much that it led to decrease in asthma attacks and even stop taking cortisone medications.
These types of alternative holistic methods to improve health are increasingly become popular not among Indians but also around the world. Don’t forget to watch the videos above and to do some yoga on the International Yoga Day.
Wishing everyone a happy International Yoga Day!