By Sheila Olson
For busy people trying to stay in shape, finding a great workout routine is their ideal, the solution to concerns over weight, health and fatigue. Finding a way to stay physically active is important, but it’s not the only way to maintain a healthy lifestyle. You also need to couple an exercise regimen with self-care to achieve personal well-being and an optimistic attitude.
In other words, exercise alone isn’t enough. It’s just as important to feed your soul and find time for activities you truly enjoy, whether that means doing yoga, hiking, swimming or dancing. Indulging yourself with activities that benefit your physical and mental health by incorporating them into your busy schedule really is an ideal situation.
A good combination
If you’re looking to couple physical fitness and self-care, yoga is a great way to combine the two. It’s a meditative form of physical exercise that increases muscle and joint flexibility and helps you achieve a heightened sense of self-awareness. Many people stay faithful to an exercise routine every day yet still feel unfulfilled - yoga is a merging of physical and mental discipline that helps make the important mind-body connection. If anxiety and stress are problems for you, yoga’s a great way to practice self-care. Consider setting up a space in your home where you can practice yoga free from distractions. If you’re looking for more intense workouts, you could even turn this space into a home gym.
Get a hobby
Hobbies are another great way to relieve stress. They channel your energies into the pursuit of a personal interest, something you’ve always been interested in but never got around to trying. Try learning French, trace your genealogy or take dance lessons, anything that engages your mind and body completely and provides separation between you and the stresses of everyday living.
Research has shown that pet ownership can improve mental health, even among people with serious psychological issues. It’s also a great way to counteract loneliness and feelings of social alienation. In fact, owning a pet often encourages people to become more socially active. It doesn’t just have to be a dog or cat: Many people derive health benefits from caring for a rabbit, guinea pig, fish or horse. You may be surprised how quickly a hobby becomes a meaningful and mutually beneficial relationship.
If pet ownership isn’t possible or practical, spend time volunteering at an animal shelter, or consider offering a dog-walking service that combines a love of animals with a means of generating extra income.
If you find walking in the woods to be relaxing, consider taking up hiking as a self-care activity. People who hike on a regular basis experience reduced levels of cholesterol, blood pressure, reduced body fat, better control over your weight, and less risk of heart disease. Invest in some backpacks, hiking shoes, and water bottles and you’ve got a perfect family activity.
Swimming is another feel-good activity with multiple health benefits. It burns about the same amount of calories as a good, long walk. It’s also helpful if you have joint pain, want to lose weight, or need a way to bolster your cardiovascular health. Exercising in the water feels good, whereas going for a brisk walk on a hard surface can be a jarring experience and may aggravate sore knees or foot problems. Swimming is a great way to avoid all that while getting the exercise you need.
Don’t minimize your need for mental relief and the achievement of an optimistic outlook. Remember, physical exercise is just one part of your overall health quotient. How you feel emotionally and mentally are just as meaningful, so make time for those things you love to do, either by yourself or with loved ones.
Courtesy of Pixabay.com.
By Yogi Shigri
There are many forms, styles, and schools of yoga like Iyengar, Ashtanga Vinyasa, Yin Yoga, Hot Yoga, Isha Yoga, Kundalini Yoga, Himalayan Yoga, etc. There could be many reasons to practice yoga and tantra methods. Yet the universal intention behind any yogic practice could be summed up as the desire to remain young and healthy in the mind, body, and spirit until death.
Hatha Tantra begins with the prana energy activation and deals with the psychosomatic issues irrelevant to the shape and size of the body. So their fundamental approach is different. It's like a Spanish guitar player asking if he can learn Indian sitar. For sure, the dedication, the spirit and the discipline which helps him learn Spanish guitar will also support to learn Indian sitar. Just the way of handling sitar and the lessons are different. In a similar way, you can learn Hatha Tantra. Remember that the rejuvenation method of Hatha Tantra is universal and supportive to all styles of yoga such as Ashtanga Vinyasa, Iyengar, Himalayan Yoga style etc.
How Does Hatha Tantra Differ from Other Yoga Practices?
Hatha yoga begins with the male approach to have control over the mind, body and ego system. Then, later, the yogi invokes the god spirit and surrenders to him in order to experience the final liberation and union with the god’s consciousness. Hatha Tantra begins with surrendering and establishing a communion with the body. Bringing awareness into the energy system with the breath and movements, and opening to the universal consciousness for further guidance.
Kundalini yoga uses the manipulation of breath. Its various kriyas involve changing nostril activation, rapid breathing, various bandha etc. While the Hatha Tantra's kundalini awakening practices involve sound, breath, touch, and vision in a very soft and gentle way. In all these practices we never manipulate male and female energy. It is the various awareness based techniques which stops the breath and balances the male and female energy and opens the middle path of Sushumna channel.
How Does Rejuvenation Work in Hatha Tantra?
The rejuvenation series of Hatha Tantra is a practice of soft, gentle and precise movements with the breath to revitalize nervous system, soften the joints, and activate endocrine system; primarily the sexual glands and the thyroid. The long and sustained practice of Hatha Tantra helps you keep the youthfulness for longer, releases toxins, and works as an overall tonic.
So, without further ado, here are some basic tips for rejuvenation based on the wisdom of Hatha Tantra and Applied Yoga Therapy. Each tip is actually a benefit of the Hatha Yoga practice and lets you know what you can expect through sustained practice.
⦁ Spinal alignment:
One of the basic fundamental to remain young and youthful is to learn the proper techniques for holding your spine upright and well-supported. It is the vertebrae alignment, movement, and patterns which defines the final outlook. The strength and flexibility of the skeleton structure is the heart of any movement. The heart of the skeleton structure is spine and vertebrae. If one learns how to hold the spine in alignment while sitting, lying down, or in any movement then the tiredness and exhaustion process gets slow. It works as an anti-aging tool to keep one energized.
⦁ The softness of the joints:
The softness of joints is responsible for the flow of energy. A child is always bubbling up with energy and looking around to explore new things, yet it all disappears with aging. It is the stiffness of the joints that prevents your mind from supporting the drive to explore more. Hence the second thing to learn from any styles of yoga and tantra is how to make the joints soft and supple again in order to maintain youthfulness.
⦁ Breathing pattern:
René Descartes stated I think, therefore I am, to prove God in a philosophical way. But to experience God in yogic and tantric tradition the fundamental axiom is ‘I breathe therefore I am’. That is why correcting the breathing pattern to the rest of your body is one of the most fundamental learnings of yogic and tantric methods.
⦁ Classical Hatha postures:
Classical Hatha postures (asanas) are the mirrors to check the overall health, alignment and interconnectedness of body, mind and breath system. There could be millions of asanas based on the animal forms. Still, only about twelve to fifteen traditional classical Hatha asanas are considered enough to prepare the body for enlightenment. So it is important to always keep on checking one’s progress in relation to some of the classical Hatha postures.
⦁ Following the sequential progression of asana:
One should never jump through hoops for the perfection of all classical asanas, but rather accept and admire the body as it is now. Nothing stops you to keep learning with dedication and under proper guidance if you want to achieve the sequential progression in the classical poses sometime in the future. Keep your expectations realistic and be happy for even the smallest progress.
⦁ Flexibility and strength:
Performing some asana sequences is crucial for transforming weakness into strength. If someone has less flexibility but strong muscles, then, with the proper technique, he or she can learn how to use that strength to gain flexibility and how to use flexibility to bring even more strength into the muscles.
⦁ Conscious relaxation (Yoga Nidra):
An ongoing practice to relax consciously while moving in and out of an asana, as well as practicing Yoga Nidra (the yogic sleep) is the most vital key point of the classical tantric teaching.
In short, these are some of the most important ingredients of the youth-preserving lifestyle proposed by tantric Hatha Yoga. As long as you try to constantly practice as much of them as possible, you will retain and develop your energy and vitality for a much longer time.
The rejuvenation process could also be supported by other lifestyles habits, though these are most vital points of genuine yoga and tantra practices. Keep at it and don’t push yourself too hard to accomplish the more difficult postures from the start. Your journey will be long and fruitful.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Yogi Shri was born with a curious mind to know the mysteries of the universe, and how the lessons and karma of one life pass through another life. He started sitting into meditation since the mere age of 4, though his conscious systematic learning started at the age of 14. So far on his journey he has learned Hatha yoga, Raja yoga, Nada yoga, Laya Yoga, Kundalini yoga and Tantra yoga: sthula tantra, sukshma tantra and para tantra. He also has a wide experience in Osho style of meditation, Hamsa yoga tradition, Himalayan yoga tradition, western style of therapy etc. Yoga Shigri enjoys writing books and articles for magazines, which you can easily find all over the internet. Yogi Shri is a founder of Applied Yoga Research & Training Center in Rishikesh. He is also a contributor writer to BookYogaRetreats.com