WORDS PANK JIT SIN
This may not be the most well-known fact, but June 21 is International Day of Yoga. The worldwide celebrative day is still fairly new as it was incepted in 2015 by the United Nations General Assembly. However, yoga is anything but young. It is believed to have originated in India around 3000 B.C. with stone carvings of persons in yoga poses being found in the Indus Valley, which is one of the main civilizations during the Bronze Age. The word ‘yoga’ is derived from Sanskrit and means to join or unite, which is a reflection of yoga’s aims of uniting the body and consciousness.
Since then, yoga has seen many changes and in more recent times, different forms or styles of yoga have been introduced, catering to different needs—physical, mental or spiritual. While it should ide- ally be practiced in totality as the benefits of the trinity are syner- gistic, yoga is fine being practiced for its physical benefits. In other words, yoga has been split into its components to cater for the needs of the modern human.
Why do yoga?
Scientifically sound studies point to yoga’s effectiveness in improving many conditions including multiple sclerosis, asthma, irritable bowel syndrome, hypertension, drug addiction, osteoarthritis and mental health issues. It doesn’t take a genius to figure out why yoga is so beneficial for health. It is a low impact exercise and the various poses and stretches performed in yoga improve fitness and blood circulation throughout the body. The end result is improved oxygen delivery to all parts of the body and improved flexibility of the body without the negative impact of injury of more physically demanding sports such as futsal or squash.
The breathing exercises performed during yoga are also good in reducing anxiety, stress and depression—a study concluded that yoga can be considered a complementary medicine as it can reduce a disease treatment costs by reducing the use of medication. It is quite obvious that the calming breathing exercises and shift in focus away from one’s illness are the key reasons for yoga’s potency. Meditation and breathing exercises can help one be ‘present,’ thus improving a person’s mental wellbeing. By being in the ‘now,’ worry about the past and anxiety about the future can be washed away, leading to a present and alert frame of mind.
Jojo Struys, the yoga instructor
Mental health and stability is an important aspect of overall health. Jojo Struys, the famous TV celebrity, yoga practitioner, and cofounder of OhanaJo Studio, says she frequently meets people who suffer from insomnia and are stressed. She can see the signs and symptoms especially in new mothers and people who work long hours. “They [the people who work long hours] come back from work and they can’t disconnect from work,” said Jojo. Similarly, when these people wake up, the first thing they do is check their emails or messages. Should a disturbing or negative message come in early in the morning, that sets the mood for the rest of the day. It destroys one’s initiative to meditate and exercise, which are essential to the mental and physical health of the person. “The world can wait another 20 to 25 minutes. It is important to look after our thoughts and ensure the first part of the day is set aside for yourself, before you interact with the world.”
In light of the mental and physical benefits we can gain from practicing yoga, let’s do some sun salutations now! HT
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