Did you know that yoga is proven to enhance concentration, reduce stress, improve your memory, combat anxiety and depression and improve overall psychological well-being? Yoga’s core is about uniting the body with the mind and breath through various breathing techniques, yoga postures and meditation. The impact to overall student (and life!) success are obvious. In this guest blog, Nand Narine outlines the purpose, practice and benefits of yoga.
The purpose of yoga practice is to encourage a better connection between the physical body and the mind. The process is a slow and incremental one, especially if you are new to the various yoga postures. The good thing is that your practice slowly becomes part of a regular routine and, over time, you will feel more relaxed and healthy.
Benefits of yoga
Yoga tones your muscles and relieves stress. It is a wonderful gateway towards the development and maintenance of a personal wellness practice. You can decide later how you want to sustain that practice. Yoga is not a cult and it is not a religion. It is a universal method of self development with roots in ancient India.
It is important to differentiate between occasional stretching and yoga. All human beings stretch their limbs and muscles during daily activities. Stretching involves the elongation of our muscle fibres and it feels good. Yoga coordinates physical postures with active breathing. Everyone can practice some form of yoga. We use the breath and various physical postures to stretch different muscle groups and relieve stress. Then we rest, relax and recuperate.
The basics of yoga
It is the consistency of the yoga practice, not the intensity that matters. This takes time and commitment, but it is the best investment that you can make towards your own health and lifestyle.
The best way to start a consistent yoga practice is to attend formal classes at a yoga studio. What type of yoga is good for you? It is different for each person. There is no one style that fits all body types and dispositions. Try different types of yoga during different times of the day and you will find a style, a studio and a teacher from whom you can learn the basic breathing techniques and postures. Trust your intuition.
Invest in a durable yoga mat. Some have lines to help with the alignment of your feet in such poses as Triangle and Warrior. You can also purchase a strap and two yoga blocks. Foam blocks are light and easy to work with. Wooden blocks and cork blocks are more durable and offer better stability in such poses as Reverse Triangle and Half-Moon.
The intention of yoga
Anyone can stand on one leg for a few seconds. Standing on one leg, and focusing on your breath, with the intention of inviting symmetry to your body is a different thing. This is where your intention comes in. It defines the roadmap for your yoga practice – a personal GPS.
Yoga teachers often say that you should let the breath fuel your practice. This means that you should create an intention before you get into a posture. This will provide a unique experience of that pose at that moment. Yoga is experimental, experiential and existential. The experience changes each time you get into a pose, depending on what is happening in your world, but it always orients you towards a relaxed state of mind.
Nand Narine is a former Senior Manager with the Provincial Government of Alberta, Justice Department. He is also a former commercial banker from the Caribbean Islands, and has worked with the Alberta Provincial Government in various management positions since 1982.
After completing graduate studies in Business Administration in 1992, Nand joined Athabasca University as an academic expert and part-time instructor. Since that time he has tutored CRJS 410 – Special Needs Policing, CRJS 350 – Community Policing, HRMT 387 – Strategic Human Resource Management, CRJS 352 – Victims of Crime and CRJS 427 – Civil Liberties and Individual Rights, which he has co-authored. His research interest is in the field of Victimology, specifically the use of alternative healing modalities in Victim Treatment. Nand is also a Certified Yoga Teacher in Edmonton.