Yoga: a Powerful Tool for Balancing Body,Mind and Spirit   
 
Yoga: a Powerful Tool for Balancing Body,Mind and Spirit  
Hallo, energetic viewers, and welcome to Healthy Living. On this week’s program we’ll find out about the benefits of yoga, one of the world’s most ancient health-and-fitness practices.

We will hear the perspectives of a number of long-time practitioners namely, Rainbeau Mars, a respected yogini, Yogi Dr. Malik, a world-renowned yoga expert, author of books such as “KUNDALINI YOGA: The fusion of art, science and spirituality” and magazine editor of YOGA Magazine and Mind, Body, Spirit magazine, Yogi Cameron, an Ayurveda and yoga therapist and author of “The Guru in You” and Rita Chohan, a Vinyasa Flow yoga instructor.

“Yoga” is a Sanskrit word meaning “union” or “yoke,” and its goal is to unify and balance body, mind and spirit, not simply through exercise, but through an all-encompassing change in lifestyle. Thus many yoga classes include lessons in diet, meditation and spirituality. In recent years, yoga has become increasingly popular around the world.

When we started YOGA Magazine around 10 years back, we did the research. And at that time in America, only around 12 to 13-million people used to practice yoga. And the last year’s research was that it had gone to around 25 million now. So in 10 years, from 13 million to 25 million is basically a huge increase in the yoga community.

Yoga has been practiced for thousands of years. In fact, 7,000-year-old artifacts of deities in various yoga postures have been discovered in South Asia’s Indus Valley region. As Yogi Dr. Malik observes, for yoga to have withstood the tests of time, it truly must have tremendous inherent benefits.

If it can survive now basically 7,000 years, it means the science is working and the second thing is it’s increasing. It’s growing.

What are some of the key ways in which yoga enhances health? According to Dr. Paul Galbraith, author of “Reversing Ageing,” yoga is one of the most powerful tools available for staying young. Indeed, Yogi Dr. Malik says some of its inverted postures such as the headstand are especially conducive to delaying the ageing process.

Suppose if you take the example of your heart, it doesn’t take any holidays or any rest, (Yes.) not even for five minutes. After 30 or 40 years of constant beating without any rest, the pressure goes a bit low slightly and then the heart can’t basically pump the blood well to your head and your eyes.

What happens is you start losing your hair. Your eyesight is affected and you can’t hear things properly. Your hair goes gray. You can get wrinkles on your face. So here yoga comes to help you. And yoga says if you do any exercise like the headstand, which is basically the head down, so what happens then is the blood circulation goes into your body and your face and every tiny nerve. So those nerves get food and your eyesight is not going to be affected.

In recent years, research on the effects of yoga has found that the practice may help to relieve back pain, multiple sclerosis and insomnia. Other studies show that yoga assists in reducing or overcoming cancer, heart disease and tuberculosis and enhances the immune system. In terms of physical fitness, it increases one’s flexibility, strength and stamina. Yoga is relaxing, fun, easy-to-learn and can be practiced by people of any age, including seniors and children.

Children from two to five, that's one group that I teach. And then there's another age range from six to 11 years old. I've been teaching them some yoga poses and they love it. They're really enthusiastic and children are fearless. They don't really have a lot of barriers. They don't have a lot of embarrassment or anything like that. So they're really up for doing any yoga poses.

Yoga is also highly effective in reducing or eliminating stress-related ailments such as migraine headaches, ulcers and Irritable-Bowel Syndrome. In fact, according to Dr. Timothy McCall, a board-certified specialist in internal medicine and Medical Editor of Yoga Journal, “Yoga is arguably the most comprehensive approach to fighting stress ever invented.”

I was going through a bit of a stressful time, and somebody recommended a (yoga) class. And I went to a (yoga) class and I just found it was amazing. So really, from that first experience, it was very life-changing for me. And ever since then I was hooked.

And the people who do yoga regularly for a few years, you can see they’re calm people. They don’t get angry. They won’t get affected by stress and there’s no stress in their body. They’re always peaceful people and loving people.

In addition to being a powerful and effective form of exercise, yoga is also a great aid in purifying the mind and body. Many students report that after practicing yoga for a time, they automatically drop harmful habits, such as drinking alcohol and smoking cigarettes.

That’s like my quote of this year, “Get on the [yoga] mat, and it will all come.” You’re not going to stop smoking if you don’t get on the mat. But you get on the mat and you see what’s there. You think everything is going great until you get on the mat and you start to breathe and you start to move your body and you’re like, “Wow, what is all this stuff?”

It just doesn’t seem, “Why do all the work?” So, you get on the mat and you end up having a really clear perspective of how all the other things in your life are affecting you - what you eat, what you thought, how you are in your relationships, all of that, and then you change your life. The cigarettes fall away.

An essential component of every yoga class is teaching students to lengthen and deepen their breathing. This not only relaxes mind and body, but also improves stamina and energy. Students are encouraged to breathe deeply while flowing through or holding postures. Yogi Cameron illustrates how this is done.

Watch your breath. Are you breathing? Is the stomach coming out? Is the chest coming out? If the stomach doesn’t move, you’re only breathing here. If you’re only breathing here, it’s very shallow. Take in a few breaths. I should be able to breathe maybe six times a minute or five times, six times, seven times a minute. That’s a good. Most people are breathing 25 times a minute.

One of the pillars of yoga philosophy is “ahimsa,” which means practicing non-violence toward ourselves and others. Thus, diet plays an important part in yoga practice, and some yoga instructors encourage their students to adopt a plant-based lifestyle.

I'm vegan, mainly because I follow one of the main yogic principles by Patanjali, non-harming, ahimsa. I don't believe in eating animals. I'll encourage you to eat vegetarian just because I think it is the healthier option for yogis.

And there are other reasons why the veg diet is in harmony with yoga.

It took me probably five or six years to understand if I eat meat, if I eat anything which is non-vegetarian, it makes my body a bit more stiff. So if you eat vegetables, they make your body more flexible. It’s my own experience that if you eat meat regularly, you get a lot of diseases from one disease, to arthritis, to another disease, another disease.

But vegetables keep you very fit and they keep you very healthy. And yogis I have seen in India and Kashmir and anywhere I met them, even a few are 100 years old and they're good, healthy. They are basically vegetarian. So, personally, I advocate that we should be vegetarian.

So, apart from that, if you eat vegetables, you'll always feel happy. You always feel grounded and you always feel nice as well.

Yoga helps practitioners make progress physically, mentally and spiritually, which is like creating ripples in a pond, spreading out in ever-widening circles, and profoundly affecting their day-to-day lives.

It's quite hard to put into words what that experience has been like. But it's been quite, I think the best word is, it’s very liberating. It's been quite liberating for me. I tend to be quite emotionally-driven. So it's given me that freedom to be a bit more balanced throughout my life.

There is something about the practice when applied first that helps teach your body proper alignment and awareness so you can avoid injury. It improves your focus, your co-ordination and your balance. So therefore, you do those things and then you’re going to do whatever you do better.

And as far as the many celebrities that I have a privilege to spend time with, I’ve also heard things like, “It’s help me become a better bassist,” “It’s helped me be a better actor, It’s help me understand my vehicle more.” So, when you go inside and you use the tools of ra’yoKa to open yourself up, then you do your job. And you’re going to enhance, you’re going to just do whatever you do better.

Yoga makes you shine. So, I’ve personally seen the people who practice yoga, and you see their faces are glowing. It's very difficult for everybody to find the time to go to a local gym and do exercise over there, and those exercises can keep you fit, but they can't keep you healthy. And yoga keeps you healthy as well. And if you are basically healthy, then your brain works more properly.

And if your brain works more properly, you're more successful in your daily life as well. So, I'll just say, “Please, do yoga.” Even it can make you wealthy as well. Because if your mind and your cells are working properly, your body system is working properly, your immune system is working properly, you'll make money too. So that’s when yoga makes you shine.

Many thanks Rainbeau Mars, Yogi Cameron, Yogi Dr. Malik, Rita Chohan and others who share their wisdom and knowledge of yoga with the world. Through your caring efforts, you bring much health, joy and peace into the lives of your students, and thus help elevate the communities you serve. Finally, we sincerely appreciate your acting as role models of compassionate living.

For more information on the yogis and yoginis featured on today’s program, please visit the following websites:
Yogi Cameron www.YogiCameron.com
Rita Chohan RitaYoga.blogspot.com
Yogi Dr. Malik www.YogiDrMalik.com
Rainbeau Mars www.RainbeauMars.com
Books and DVDs by Yogi Cameron, Yogi Dr. Malik and Rainbeau Mars are available at their respective websites.

Thank you for your presence today on Healthy Living. May we all be blessed with vibrant health and long, peaceful lives.
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