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Yoga for relaxation: how yoga helps you switch off

Woman doing yoga tree pose outside at sunrise

If there is one sport that has experienced a real hype in recent years, it is probably yoga. Pretty much everyone has tried yoga or knows someone who practices it. Some practice yoga to prevent back pain, others want to build strength or improve their flexibility. And still others simply use yoga as a   fitness program. Yet this ancient Indian philosophy has so much more to offer.

 

Why yoga is more than a workout

Here in the West, yoga is mostly associated with physical exercises called Asanas. When we think of yoga, images of super flexible people in acrobatic poses come to mind. However, the physical aspect is only a very small part of what yoga really has to offer.

Of course, you can strengthen your muscles and improve your flexibility with yoga exercises. You can practice yoga to relax your neck or back. Done correctly, the exercises can even help you correct bad posture. But these are just a few of the positive qualities that make up yoga. In fact, behind the word yoga is a complete and complex philosophy, which, in addition to physical exercises, has a whole treasure chest of ethical rules of conduct and various breathing and meditation techniques.

 

Yoga and the breath

The breath plays a central role in yoga. The breathing exercises in yoga are called Pranayama and aim to direct and control prana, the life energy flowing in the body. This is because the ancient yogis assumed that the person who is able to control his breath also gains control over his mind. Different breathing techniques can be used to achieve different effects, depending on what is wanted or needed at the moment. For example, there are breathing exercises that stimulate the practitioner and provide a boost of energy. And likewise, there are numerous yoga breathing exercises to relax and wind down.

 

For example, one typical breathing often practiced in yoga classes is Ujjayi Breathing, sometimes called "Victorious Breath" or "Ocean Breath." In this technique, the glottis is constricted, creating a gentle sound at the back of the throat reminiscent of the sound of the ocean. Ujjayi breathing causes the breath to become deeper, finer and longer. In addition, the breathing technique has a calming effect on the mind and helps to remain mindful and focused during yoga practice.

 

Yoga gets you back in touch with yourself

Let's be honest: When was the last time you really took time for yourself? When was the last time you consciously spent time with yourself? If you can't remember or even think now that you don't have time for that, then it's probably urgent to shift down a gear and take a deep breath.

Yoga is one of those things we do just for ourselves. Of course, others are also happy when we achieve a great figure or are more balanced in everyday life through a regular yoga practice. But first and foremost, we practice yoga for ourselves. The time we spend on the yoga mat belongs to us alone, and ideally we spend this time consciously and mindfully with ourselves. When you practice yoga, you have nothing to do, nothing to organize, nothing but be completely with yourself.

Scientists have proven in studies that yoga can help you better manage the ups and downs of the emotional world. In psychotherapy, yoga and meditation can also help reduce anxiety and alleviate depression. Even sleep disorders can be improved by yoga.

 

Yoga is for everyone

The great thing about yoga is that you need next to nothing in terms of equipment to practice, and you can practice it pretty much anytime, anywhere. All you need is a yoga mat and a little space to roll it out and spend a few mindful moments with yourself whenever you want. You can also practice yoga away from your mat and away from the yoga studio. Yoga can be a conscious walk in the woods, a few minutes of deep breathing at the office and even sweeping a staircase, as long as you do it mindfully.

 

But the most important point of all is this: Yoga is for everyone! How many times have I heard people say that they would love to try yoga, but just aren't flexible enough to do so? This mindset is totally wrong because this is exactly why we practice yoga: to become stronger, more flexible, and a whole lot more relaxed. To start practicing yoga, it doesn't matter how strong or how flexible you are. True to the motto:

- How to get a yoga body? Have a body. Do Yoga!

 

 

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