HOW TO AVOID COMMON YOGA INJURIES

– by Chitra Chandrasiri –

Yoga is not a high-impact sport, but that doesn’t mean injuries don’t happen. Most yoga injuries occur due to overstretch of the muscles involved. When you push your body into a new pose and if it hurts, it is time to release the pose. Never force yourself to go deeper into a pose until you’re ready. Instead, inhale and exhale deeply as your body gently moves into the pose.

The good news is that yoga is one of the safest form of exercises out there. It is said that the injury rate is comparable to that of gardening. But you still need to be aware of any pain and discomfort and be mindful of your body’s limitations.

I encourage my students to practice yoga at home so they can deepen their experience of yoga in a solitary environment, making it a truly personal experience. Most people choose a home practice due to various reasons; perhaps it is just not possible to attend classes due to financial, personal or geographical restrictions. Home-based yoga practice can be effective, invigorating, and calming. Just listen to your body and be careful, without teacher guidance, many individuals end up injured as a result of pushing themselves too far or simply failing to properly align the body while holding poses.

By understanding what the most common types of yoga-related injuries are, you can begin to take steps to avoid putting yourself in a position where these injuries are more likely to occur. Shoulder, elbow, and wrist injuries are quite common, so are pulled hamstrings, lower back pain, and knee and neck injuries.

Shoulder, elbow and wrist injuries

These are common because a lot of people are very tight in their shoulders and they try to force the shoulders to open. Going into shoulderstand, headstand and handstands, before you’re ready is a big mistake, so focus on stretching and strengthening the shoulders first.

To avoid injuries in poses like downward dog and plank, spread your fingers wide and press into the knuckles with the fingertips pressing down for more support. Focus on pressing the forefinger and thumb area down into the mat.

When in Plank, keep your arm in one line, with the wrist underneath the elbow and the elbow underneath the shoulder. This alignment will also prevent elbow and shoulder injuries and make the exercise more effective.

Your body alignment during downward dog, arm balances and handstand also has to be near perfect. You need to bear weight on the proper part of the hand. Make sure your fingers are evenly spread and that both your index finger and the heel of your hand are pushing into the mat.

Hamstring pulls

Just about everyone seems to have tight hamstrings, it is a side effect of modern living, those who sit or drive for long periods of time, runners and walkers tend to have them and some people just have naturally tight hamstrings.

If you push deeply into a forward bend testing your limits, you can pull your hamstring muscle up near your buttocks. If you feel pain, pull back and breathe into the entire length of the hamstring along the back of the leg to be sure you are stretching it gently.

If you are not very flexible, keep your knees slightly bent while doing folds and Downward Dog rather than forcing the legs to be straight or the heels to touch the ground, respectively. This will also prevent lower back strain, especially when maintaining a straight spine at the same time. Never force yourself to go deeper into a pose until you’re ready. Instead, inhale and exhale deeply as your body gently moves into the pose.

Lower back problems

Forward bends can also lead to bulging disks and other low back injuries. The problem occurs when you keep the knees too straight and round your backs going into the pose. Instead, keep your knees soft and aim for a straight back, don’t fold too deep beyond your limits. Engage your abs to keep your core stabilized.

Knee injuries

It’s unlikely that you’ll injury yourself serious enough to require surgery, but a knee tear will slow you down for a few weeks. It can happen if you let the knee twist out of alignment when doing pigeon pose, warrior poses or half lotus. Moving from the hip while keeping the knee bend often prevents these injuries. Do all the preparation poses before moving into something like Lotus pose and use props during pigeon to support the knee.

Neck injuries

Neck injuries are probably the scariest and it does take time to heal.

When doing the full wheel, resting on the top of the head before going up into the pose is a dangerous move, as much of the body weight is on the neck.

Be cautious in headstand, plough and shoulder stand that you’re not putting too much weight on your neck.

Also, in poses like camel and upward dog, you can fling your neck too far back without support. A gentle look up to the ceiling is good enough, if looking at the wall behind is too much.

Listen to your body; if you feel sore or your strength dwindles, tense in your neck and shoulders, you know you have been too ambitious.

Remember that yoga when done correctly should prevent injuries rather than cause them. Work within its limits will not only prevent injury but, paradoxically, may actually result in one day going deeper than you ever thought possible.

 

 

 

IMPROVE YOUR FLEXIBILITY WITH YOGA

by Chitra Chandrasiri 

Most people exercise to stay healthy, keep fit or simply because it makes them feel good. Many fitness enthusiasts and athletes push themselves to the limit without balancing the strength and stretching of the muscles. If you are a runner, most likely you may notice your muscles are stiff and tight. You can run a marathon but can’t touch your toes? You are not alone.

Whatever is your fitness goal, gaining flexibility will improve your form, efficiency, balance and whole-body strength even if you could never touch your toes. Flexibly is a key part of maintaining your health & fitness and avoiding injury especially as you age.

Yoga is a great way to improve the flexibility of your body and mind. Physical, mental and spiritual approach in yoga teaches you how to integrate the body, the breath and the mind to stay strong and flexible in every aspect of your life; in sports, career, business or relationships. It helps you cultivate flexibility of the body and mind, the capacity to remain calm, staying aware of the present without feeling overwhelmed no matter what comes your way.

It’s a common misconception that you have to be flexible to do yoga. But In fact, the opposite is true; doing yoga regularly is a sure way to become more flexible.

Here are some yoga poses that target major muscles groups that tend to get tight from sitting for long periods or even from other types of sports and exercises. When it comes to lengthening tight muscles, there are no shortcuts. It just takes regular practice and patience and consistency is the key. So, let’s get started.

Legs

Forward bends are a great way to stretch hamstring muscles that run along the back of your thighs. Most people are pretty tight in this area and it is important to stretch these muscles as tight hamstrings can cause back pain.

Standing Forward Bend (Uttanasana)

Standing Forward Bend

Standing Forward Bend

 

  • Stand straight (Mountain Pose) with your weight balanced evenly on the feet.
  • Bend forward from the hip joints, not from the waist while exhaling.
  • Keep your knees straight, bring your palms or finger tips to the floor slightly in front of or beside your feet, or bring your palms to the backs of your ankles. If this isn’t possible, cross your forearms and hold your elbows and let your torso hang.
  • Stay in the pose for 30 seconds to one minutes breathing deeply. Then come up gently on an inhalation maintaining a long front torso.

Triangle Pose – Trikonasana

Triangle Pose (Trikonasana)

  •  Stand with your feet 3 1/2 to 4 feet apart.
  • Raise your arms parallel to the floor, shoulder blades wide open and palms facing down.
  • Turn your left foot in slightly to the right and your right foot out to the right 90 degrees. Align the right heel with the left heel.
  • Exhale and extend your torso to the right directly over the plane of the right leg, bending from the hip joint, not the waist. Anchor this movement by strengthening the left leg and pressing the outer heel firmly to the floor.
  • Rest your right hand on your shin, ankle, or the floor outside your right foot, whatever is possible without distorting the sides of the torso.
  • Stretch your left arm toward the ceiling, in line with the top of your shoulders.
  • Look up, gazing softly at the left thumb.
  • Use a yoga block under your bottom hand if you can’t reach the floor. It’s better to put pressure into the block than into your leg by leaning on it.
  • Stay in this pose for 30 seconds to 1 minute. Inhale to come up, reversing the feet and repeating the pose for the same length of time to the left.

Seated Wide Legged forward Bend – Upavistha Konasana

 Seated wide legged forward bend (Upavistha Konasana)

A wide-legged position is a good way to stretch the insides of the thighs.

  • Sit in with legs wide open in Dandasana (Staff Pose). If you cannot sit comfortably on the floor, raise your buttocks on a folded blanket.
  • Walk your hands forward keeping your arms straight or grab hold of your big toes with each hand and bend forward. Increase the forward bend on each exhalation until you feel a comfortable stretch in the backs of your legs.
  • Stay in the pose 1 minute or longer. Then come up on an inhalation with a long front torso.

 

Hips

Hip flexibility is complicated because there are so many muscles packed into this small area.

Pigeon – Eka Pada Rajakapotasana

Pigeon (Eka Pada Rajakapotasana)

 

Pigeon is an amazing hip opener, but it can be a tough one for people with very tight hips. The best thing to do in this case is use props. Use as much padding as is necessary to bring the floor up to meet your seat. Once you feel supported, see if you can begin to forward bend. That added pressure on the front leg can open you up even more. But take it gradually if you are very tight to avoid injury.

  • Come onto the floor on your hands and knees. Place your knees directly below your hips and your hands slightly forward of your shoulders. Slide your right knee forward to the back of your right wrist.
  • Lower the outside of your right buttock to the floor.
  • Left leg should extend straight out of the hip (and not be angled off to the left).
  • Lift your torso away from the thigh. Lengthen the lower back by pressing your tailbone down and forward.
  • Lift your chest and maintain the upright position of your torso with the support of your hands on the floor. Drop your head back.
  • Stay in this position for a minute and repeat with the legs reversed for the same length of time.

Shoulders

Like the hamstrings and hips, shoulders are another area that gets tight from sitting at desks, working on computers and driving.

Eagle Pose – Garudasana

Eagle Pose (Garudasana)

Eagle pose improves your balance and stretches your upper back, shoulders and outer thighs. Regular practice of this pose will give you a great shoulder stretch. This pose opens the pelvic area, strengthens the legs, knees and ankles and creates space between shoulder blades. Breathing evenly and gazing at a distance of about 4 or 5 feet away will help you maintaining the balance.

Be cautious if you have shoulder, arm, and hip or knee problems. If you have shoulder or arm problems, keep your arms in the prayer pose and lift the hands and arms toward the ceiling without straining the shoulders. Lightly touch the wall if necessary while performing the pose to help you maintain balance.

  • Stand in Tadasana. Bend your knees slightly, lift your left foot up and, balancing on your right foot, cross your left thigh over the right. Point your left toes toward the floor, press the foot back, and then hook the top of the foot behind the lower right calf. Balance on the right foot.
  • Stretch your arms straight forward and cross the arms in front of your torso so that the right arm is above the left, then bend your elbows. Snug the right elbow into the crook of the left, and raise the forearms perpendicular to the floor.
  • Press the right hand to the right and the left hand to the left, so that the palms are now facing each other. Press the palms together (as much as is possible for you), lift your elbows up, and stretch the fingers toward the ceiling.
  • Stay for 15 to 30 seconds and then release the pose and unwind the legs and arms.
  • Repeat for the same length of time with the arms and legs reversed.

Yoga is a practice incorporating physical, mental, emotional and spiritual exercises to create a stronger, healthier, more flexible body and mind. As you gain experience with yoga, you’ll learn to use your breath and your form to find strength beyond physical flexibility.

 

 

 

PRANAYAMA – THE ART OF EFFECTIVE BREATHING

by Chitra Chandrasiri

Yogic breathing, “ Pranayama” is aimed at increasing vital energy in the body and mind. In Sanskrit, “Prana” means vital energy and “Ayama” means control. With regular pranayama practice you can train yourself to breathe more slowly and deeply reducing your breath rate from an average of about 15- 18 breaths a minute to 4-8 breaths a minute. Reduced breathing rate leads to slowing down the heart rate, lowering the blood pressure, relaxing the body and calming the nerves.

There are many benefits of pranayama which can work wonders in improving the overall health and vitality of the body. As a result of deep breathing, all body organs get more oxygen, toxins are removed from body and the immune system is strengthened. Consequently, onset of various diseases is minimized or even prevented.

Practicing pranayama breathing techniques help you to get rid of negative emotions like depression, anger, arrogance and greed. It also helps you become more aware of your breath. When you concentrate on your breath, your mind becomes relaxed providing a peaceful state of mind for meditation.

Therefore, benefits of pranayama are physical, emotional as well as spiritual.

Throughout the day, we predominately breathe through one nostril or the other. In a healthy person the breath will alternate between nostrils about every two hours. When the breath continues to flow in through one nostril for more than two hours, as does with most people, it has an adverse effect on health.

Thousands of years ago, yogis observed that prolonged breathing only through the left nostril over a period of long time caused asthma. They also knew that this disease can be treated by teaching the patient to breathe through the right nostril until the asthma is cured, and then it was possible to prevent asthma recurring by doing the alternate nostril breathing technique.

Nadi Shodhana (alternate nostril breathing) clears any blockage to air flow in the nostrils and reestablishes the natural nasal cycle. It has a long history in Ayurvedic medicine and yoga where it’s thought to harmonize the two hemispheres of the brain, resulting in balance in physical, mental and emotional well-being. Recent studies have confirmed that Alternate Nostril Breathing directly affects the autonomic nervous system, which governs your digestion, pulse rate and blood pressure. According to a 2008 study by Nepal Medical College researchers, the cardio-respiratory functions of young adults who practiced Alternate Nostril Breathing for 15 minutes each morning improved significantly after four weeks.

Left Nostril Breathing: Relax Activates the Ida Nerve Ending in the left nostril, which relates to calmness and relaxation. Left nostril breathing is associated with the moon energy, which is changeable, feminine and cool. Breathing through the left nostril for five minutes can calm you and lower your blood pressure.

Right Nostril Breathing: Energize Activates the Pingala Nerve Ending in the right nostril, which relates to alertness and activity. Right nostril breathing is associated with the sun energy, which is constant, masculine and hot. Breathing through the right nostril for five minutes can energize you and raise your blood pressure.

Alternative Nostril Breathing: Balance

Creates a relaxed and harmonious feeling as it balances the left and right hemispheres of the brain. It is known as Nadi Shodhana (Nadi = subtle energy channels, Shodhana = cleansing) as it helps to clear out blocked energy channels in the body and release tension and fatigue.

Here’s how to do it.

Left Nostril Breathing: Relax
Sit in Easy Pose or in a comfortable chair. Close your right nostril with your right thumb, your other fingers are stretched straight up as antennas. Your left hand is in Gyan Mudra (thumb pressing the index finger) on your left knee. Close your eyes and focus on your eye brow center. Paying attention to your breathing, begin to breathe long and deep only through your left nostril. Continue for three minutes.

Right Nostril Breathing: Energize 

Sit in Easy Pose or in a comfortable chair. Close the left nostril with the left thumb, the other fingers are stretched straight up as antennas. The right hand is in Gyan Mudra on your right knee. Close your eyes and concentrate at your eyebrow center. Paying attention to your breathing, begin to breathe long and deep only through your right nostril only. Continue for three minutes.

Alternative Nostril Breathing: Balance

Sit in Easy Pose or in a comfortable chair. Your left hand is in Gyan Mudra on your left knee. Close your eyes and focus at your eyebrow center. Breathe relaxed, deep, and full, as you practice the following sequence, for 3 minutes.

  • Inhale through the left nostril (Close your right nostril with your right thumb)
  • Exhale through your right nostril (Close your left nostril with your right index or ring finger)
  • Inhale through your right nostril (Close your left nostril with your right index or ring finger)
  • Exhale through your left nostril (Close your right nostril with your thumb)

While it is important to practice advance Pranayama techniques under the supervision of a trained yoga teacher, you can safely practice these techniques on your own if you follow the guidelines properly. Regular yoga and pranayama practice has lot of health benefits but it is not a substitute for proper medical care. In the case of specific medical conditions, practice pranayama after consulting a doctor.

Do not practice pranayama if you have blocked nose, suffering from fever or any infection. Do not force breathing; keep the air flowing naturally and gently. Always breathe through the nose not the through mouth. Place the fingers very lightly on the nose; there is no need to apply pressure. It is more beneficial to practice pranayama on empty stomach.

 

YOGA – AN EFFECTIVE STRESS BUSTER

– by Chitra Chandrasiri –

Do you find yourself complaining that you have too much to do and not enough time, and it gets worse week after week to a point that you feel burnt out and your creative energy and morale plummeted?

If you ask someone “How are you?” the reply could be anything from “I’m ok to I am so stressed” these days. It is all too familiar conversation that you hear so often and you know exactly how it feels; You’ve felt the same way all too often yourself.

For some of us the stress shows up as insomnia, while others sleep well but suffer from all sorts of other symptoms. Individual stress symptoms can differ, but all have their roots in the psychological and physiological changes that our bodies undergo when we feel we’re in danger.

Stress is a slippery word to define, but we all have experienced it. Stress in any form, mild or severe, arise from our struggle to survive. We experience it when we sense a threat to ourselves. A situation doesn’t have to threaten imminent death to cause stress. We get disturbed by social threats like job security, marital problems and financial woes. One key thing to remember about stress is that a threat doesn’t have to be real to cause it; we just have to believe it’s real.

Short-term (acute) stress evokes physical and emotional responses that activate the body and mind to deal with an immediate threat. When the threat passes, the reactions subside. Long-term (chronic) stress evokes similar responses. When we experience moderate stress repeatedly day after day our bodies activate the same emergency systems although to a lesser degree, usually at a lower intensity, but keep repeating them without respite. When they repeat too often for too long, the life-saving responses that are so helpful in the short run can actually become dangerous themselves. Chronic stress can lead to susceptibility to disease, infertility, poor healing capability, and exhaustion.

Fortunately, there are many strategies that you can adapt to cope with stress: To begin with you can consider changing your situation, changing your attitude, and changing your lifestyle that is the root cause of stress.

Changing your situation – getting a new job, moving to a new neighborhood, or leaving an unhealthy relationship can be very effective, but it’s often not practical or even desirable.

Changing your attitude – Learning to let go can be very powerful, even life-transforming, because it puts you in control. When you realize you can choose how you react, many events you formerly found stressful may lose their power to push your buttons.

Changing your lifestyle – Healthy eating, exercising, deep relaxation, meditation, spending quality time with loved ones and sincere friends, avoiding addiction to alcohol, harmful drugs and smoking help you recover from stress and keeps it from building up again.

I know from my own experience that yoga is an effective stress buster. Yoga directly counteracts both the physiological and psychological components of stress, simultaneously helping you take better care of yourself and change your attitude. The stretching you do in yoga asanas relieves muscle tension. Upside-down poses and reclining poses slow the heart, relax the blood vessels and calm the brain. Pranayama (yogic breath work) slows respiration and breath rate. As you practice being more aware and mindful, you gain a sense of self-control, equanimity, and peace of mind.

With years of study and experiment with different styles of yoga, I have come to understand how yoga truly works as a stress buster. In my yoga programs I include deep relaxation, pranayama, and meditation to give a wholesome experience to my students. Initially, some of my students thought yoga was just stretching. They were blown away when they discovered how yoga helped them to cope with stress, to get more done in their day, and to succeed in their goals in a more relaxed way. They also commented on how their relationships improved. They thought they would stretch, which they did. But they also learnt how to breathe properly and how to change their body and mind to create positive changes.

Perhaps most important of all, meditation and the understanding of yoga philosophy can help you realize that most of the things that upset you just aren’t worth getting stressed about in the first place.

Meditation for Emotional Balance (Sunia(n) Antar

Sunia(n) Antar meditation for emotional balance is an excellent Kundalini yoga meditation especially for women when worried, emotional and upset and don’t know what to do. When you feel like screaming and yelling just do this meditation for 3 minutes.

When depressed, upset or emotional, pay attention to the body’s water balance and breath rate. Humans are approximately 70% water and human behavior depends upon the relation of water and earth, air and ether.

Breath, representing air and ether, is the rhythm of life. Normally we breathe 15- 18 times a minute. But when we are able to slow down the breath rate to 4 breaths per minute, we have indirect control over our minds. This control eliminates obnoxious behavior, promoting calm mind regardless of the state of affairs.

When there is a water imbalance in the body, and the kidneys are under pressure, it can cause worry and upset. Drink a glass of water before practicing this meditation.

How to do Sunia(n) Antar Meditation

Sit in Easy Pose or in a comfortable chair. Place the arms across the chest and lock hands under the armpits, with palms open and against the body. Raise the shoulders up tightly against the earlobes, without cramping the neck muscles. Keep the spine straight and the head in straight line with the spine. Tuck in the chin slightly towards the chest (Neck Lock). Close the eyes. The breath will automatically become slow. Continue for 3 minutes and gradually increase to 11 minutes.

Drinking water, pulling the shoulders up to the ears and tightly locking the entire upper body creates a solid brake that can be applied to the four sides of the brain. After 2- 3 minutes, thoughts will still be there, but one does not feel them. This is an effective meditation to balance the functional brain.

YOGA – AN INSTANT ENERGY BOOSTER

– by Chitra Chandrasiri –

Feeling tired? Yoga may not be the first thing you turn to when you are tired but an invigorating Sun Salutation or some other energy boosting yoga poses could be exactly what your body needs to fight fatigue.
Back bending yoga poses are excellent to reduce fatigue and you can increase energy with balancing poses, inversions and Pranayama (yogic breathing techniques).
Yoga works on clearing energy blocks in the body through breath and movement, basically bringing new life into the body. Energizing yoga poses that stimulate the blood flow through the body, particularly those that gently stretch the spine can help combat fatigue and boost a feeling of vitality. As you sit for a long period of time, the energy in the spine gets stuck and stagnant. Yoga helps counter these effects and rejuvenate the body.

Sun Salutation (Suriya Namaskar), the invigorating yoga sequence leaves the body and mind feeling refreshed, revived and ready to take on the day. There are several variations of Sun Salutations and these series are performed in one continuous flow, synchronized with breathing which encourages prana (energy) to flow more freely throughout the body, boosting energy while strengthening, toning and promoting flexibility.
Back bending poses stretches the spine, energizing the nervous system while opening up the chest and upper body and expanding the lungs.
Inversions will clear up the head, boost brain power, and improve complexion.
Pranayama is energy management. It is the science of breath and controlling the movement of “prana” through yogic breathing techniques. Yogis practice a wide range of pranayama techniques, using the rhythm and depth of the breath to effect and manage different energy states of health, consciousness and emotion.
Immediate energy boost with easy to do yoga, anywhere anytime
The following yoga poses and pranayama technique will give you an immediate energy boost. Do them anytime when you feel like you need a quick energy makeover:
• Suriya Namaskar – Sun Salutation – This energy producing calorie burning sequence stretches and opens up the entire body in a gentle yet effective way. One round of Suriya Namaskar consists of two rounds of twelve poses, first leading with the right leg and the second leading with the left. It is designed to be done in the direction of the sun at dawn or sunset and it is a great energizer done at a fast pace at any time of the day.
• Inversions and front bending – Inversions include upside down poses such as headstand, shoulder stand and handstand in which the feet are above the head. If you don’t feel comfortable jumping into a handstand yet, just forward bending will do. Bend over and bring your head lower than your hips to get some fresh blood and oxygen to your brain and stay there for a few deep breaths.
• Back bending – Backbends are invigorating, uplifting, and heart-opening. They stimulate the proper functioning of the digestive system, help preserve the health of the vertebrae and spinal disks, and open the body to deep diaphragmatic breathing.
You may do the back bending standing or keeling down (Camel Pose).
Stand or kneel down with your feet slightly apart, body weight equally distributed on both legs. Take a deep breath in and roll your shoulders back, lift your chest forward creating a sensation of openness and stretching in your chest muscles. Place your hands on your lower back. With an inhalation move your chest forward while moving your head and shoulders back, bending backward. Stay there for few breaths and gently come back to the upright position on an exhalation.
• Pranayama – Breathing is the most natural and essential thing we do yet most people do not breathe correctly. Stress causes poor breathing; shallow, erratic, upper chest breathing with a faster breath rate.
Long deep breathing is the first Pranayama technique for beginners. It frees up the prana, energizes the body and increases the vitality. It reduces and prevents build up of toxins in the lungs, releases the tension and calms the nerves.
Long deep breathing (Yogic breath) – Sit up straight in a comfortable position. When the spine is straight and in a balanced position, the ribs and muscles can move freely expanding the abdomen and chest to full capacity. Begin taking a long deep breath filling the abdomen first, then the chest and finally lifting the upper ribs and clavicle. All three movements are done in a smooth, unhurried motion. The exhale is the reverse; start the exhale by relaxing the clavicle, then slowly empting the chest and finally pulling in the abdomen to force the remaining air out.

YOGA FOR WEIGHT LOSS

Before we talk about weight loss, let’s try to understand the various factors that contribute to weight gain. In addition to bad eating habits, weight gain also stems from inefficient metabolic function of the body.

Most people think yoga involves a set of exercises, a regime meant for those who are already fit but are keen on improving their flexibility. They don’t relate it to being an effective tool for weight loss as compared to calorie burning, sweat inducing cardio dance routines and high intensity workout sessions in the gyms.

Typical weight-loss programs address the symptom (excess fat) and ignore the cause, which is essentially an imbalance caused by or manifested as any range of emotional problems, bad habits and poor nutrition. Through a sustained yoga practice, your body will change, your health and metabolism will improve, and your peace of mind and self-discipline will return.

Yoga teaches you proper breathing techniques (Pranayama) which aims at cleansing, balancing and rejuvenating the inner organs and their functions. Various breathing exercises and yoga asanas help improving metabolic and heart rates. Once you are healed from within, you can focus on the outer body.

Ironically, gentle and restorative yoga can help with weight loss, stimulating the parasympathetic nervous system, which regulates breathing, digestion and hormones, helping you develop a leaner, more supple body not by emphasizing a restricted food intake and targeted muscle-building, but by nurturing an attitude adjustment that paves the way for long-term change. Yoga establishes physical and mental poise in a natural, gradual, lasting and organic way. Yoga activate the parasympathetic nervous system, gently stepping on your internal brakes, which lets everything take a rest; hormones rebalance, injuries begin repairing, and digestion proceeds normally; all of which can aid better health and achieving correct body weight.

It’s true most types of yoga don’t have the calorie-burning power of aerobic exercise but it is a phenomenal way to put you in touch with your body the way nothing else can, and yes, it can help you lose weight.

I can’t really think of any specific set of asanas for weight loss. Almost all of them aim at cleansing your inner mechanism, strengthening your core and stamina, increasing flexibility and improving your metabolic rate. It involves twisting the body, forward and backward bends, inversions and other poses that help in opening up the body and toning up the muscles.

As you get through the daily chores, deadlines and responsibilities, your body is often in fight-or-plight mode. If you’re eating to compensate for grief, dieting won’t help you deal with your loss. If you snack to calm your nerves, cutting calories won’t help you release stress. If you crave the wrong foods because of chemical imbalances, an appetite suppressant won’t recalibrate your system. If you indulge in bad eating habits with the excuse that your job is too demanding and you simply don’t have time to maintain a more balanced lifestyle, a frozen low-fat meal won’t be the solution for your health and well being.

Physical exercise has always been held important for weight loss and the overall well-being but it should always be kept in mind that any form of physical activity will remain futile and unproductive if not teamed with proper diet.

Practicing yoga helps improving your sensitivity to your inner signals such as hunger and cravings. The true hunger to feed our body’s basic needs is a totally different experience than craving foods that do not nourish us. When you are mindful about your eating habits, you learn to distinguish between the urge to eat and the emotional impulses that sometimes drive you to over eat to repress emotions.

By turning your focus inward, yoga works on an emotional level to put you in touch with your feelings and to strengthen a nurturing relationship with yourself. By increasing your awareness of your body, yoga can help you identify your overeating triggers and determine whether they are chemical, habitual or emotional. Suddenly you actually get the signal that you are full or that a particular food doesn’t digest well or you begin to notice how you feel after you eat something; whether it makes you feel well or not.

Being mindful on how your body and mind relate to food, you can find the keys to maintaining equilibrium — both emotional and biological.