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Yoga for the mind, body, and soul

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An ancient practise that originated in India and is now world renowned, Yoga is a combination of physical, mental, and spiritual disciplines, and is a part of Hindu philosophy. Patanjali is called the father of yoga, and his texts, the Yoga Sutras, dating back to the 2nd century BCE, are credited as the earliest works on the subject. However, yoga started to attain fame worldwide only after Swami Vivekananda took it to the west in the 20th century.

While there are several schools of yoga, and many facets to be explored depending on how deep you want to go, these are the five basic principles that govern yogic practise.

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1. Yoga as a mind, body exercise
Most people think of yoga as a means to stay fit, and it is an excellent way to not only become toned but also increase your flexibility and mobility. The exercises stretch the muscles, open up the joints, and improve blood circulation, thus increasing your overall strength, and eventually leading to not just weight, but also fat reduction. The exercises work on energising and cleansing the internal organs and systems, so along with just looking good, you will also start to feel good. But what really sets yoga apart from other fitness regimes is that the yoga exercises, called asanas, have been designed in a way to engage the body, the mind, and the soul. The slow, meditative routine, that draws energy from conscious breathing, also helps to clear the mind, and builds concentration. Yoga should be learnt and practised under a teacher’s care and at Samkhya we have various classes running six days a week.

2. Yoga for relaxation
In our busy lives, we often forget that rest and relaxation are vital in order for us to functional optimally. Yoga has asanas that help us release our stress, regulate our energy and recharge our spent batteries. To relax the body there is shavasana in which we lie still and direct our mind to rest each and every part of our body from the small toe on our foot to our back to our head. Pranayama, or the breathing technique, helps to regulate the breath and the mindful intake of oxygen increases blood circulation, and helps to quiet the mind, refreshing us inside out. To relax the spirit, we can practise meditation or dhyana, which teaches us to just observe our thoughts without reacting to them.

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3. Yoga for breathing
On a regular basis, we don’t pay any attention to how we breathe—we just take it for granted. But oxygen, and how we take it in, is an extremely powerful weapon in our wellness arsenal and yoga teaches us how to breathe right. By practising pranayama daily, we expand our lung capacity (especially helpful in Covid times), allow our body to absorb the maximum oxygen, and immediately feel the benefits of the better circulation of blood. The yogis believed that if you control your breathing, you can control your mind, and a better influx of oxygen undoubtedly helps to clear mind fog and imbues the body with a fresh lease of life to take on the rigors of daily life.

4. Yoga for diet
‘We are what we eat’. Yoga definitely believes in this catchphrase and espouses mindful, conscious eating. While most of us know what foods are good for us, we don’t actively think about or plan our meals keeping our well-being in mind. If we pay heed, we will realise that eating the right kind of food—light and nourishing—not only helps us fight ailments, but also increases our immunity, and keeps us from getting sluggish. Yoga advocates a simple and natural diet based on seasonal, local and organic foods, to optimise the functioning of the body and the mind. You should work out a balanced, nutritious diet that works for you.

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5. Yoga for Thoughts and Emotions
It’s not easy to control our thoughts, and when there is such an atmosphere of gloom created by the Coronavirus, it becomes even more difficult to steer our mind into a positive, happy direction. However, by practising yoga regularly, we can train the mind and stop the chain of downward spiralling thoughts and emotions. Yoga believes that every thought we have yields an influence on the world around us, and therefore if we can control our mind, we can influence our surroundings in a positive way. Practising meditation helps stem the flow of negativity and quietens the mind, allowing us to observe our thoughts in an objective manner, and striving towards maintaining a balance. A calm mind paves the way for a calm body.

Yoga classes run six days a week at Samkhya. Call or email to book a class, a one-on-one Ayurveda consultation, a specialised massage, or a detox therapy. No: +234 908 568 9321; email: samkhya.ayurvedaconsulting@gmail.com. Visit us at www.samkhyawellness.com or follow us @suchita.samkhyawellness on Instagram

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