The international yoga day has just passed by on 21st June. The purpose of it is to remind people of the importance of yoga in our daily lives. It is useful not only for physical fitness but mental health also.
Urban life styles have created much stress in minds of majority people, the result of which is stress related mental disorders like anxiety, depression, e.t.c. . Some people tend to take sedatives and tranquilizers to calm the restless mind. These drugs are addicting in the long run and have harmful side effects. Some tend to find solace in addictions which are harmful.
Yoga offers safe, economical simple techniques for mental relaxation which can be done easily by anyone. When done regularly, these exercises also strengthen the mind and make it strong. A strong minded person can cope up with stress easily as compared to a weak minded person.
This becomes possible because breathing exercises of yoga relax the sympathetic system, one responsible for agitation and excitement in the body and provide the right neurohumoral environment for the mind to relax.
One of the useful exercises for mental relaxation is, “ kapalbhati pranayama”. In this, one inhales deeply and then exhales through the stomach. This exercise is useful for improving mental concentration and relaxation. This can be done for about 5 minutes or up to 10 to 20 times.
Anulom vilom” or breathing through alternate nostril can be done easily by all. One has to inhale from alternate nostrils voluntarily while exhaling from the other. In this way one can breathe from alternate nostrils up to 100 times. By doing this exercise regularly, a person feels fresh all day and can concentrate more on work.
“Shavasana” or adopting a position like corpse(“ shav” in Sanskrit meaning a dead body) – is an excellent technique for relaxation. To do it, a person has to lie down flat on a mat with arms and legs spread flung far from body and fingers and toes spread open. In this position the individual has to breathe slowly and focus on the breathing. He or she should let the mind dwell on something positive and beautiful. Those who practice this regularly say that after doing so for 10 to 15 minutes, they feel as fresh as after a deep sleep of 8 hours.
All these exercises can be done at home, only condition being that the stomach should be empty, i.e. to do it in morning before breakfast or 2 hours after food. Only thing one needs is a blanket or mat to sit on. Ideal position is to sit cross legged with back straight but if that is difficult one can sit with legs spread straight in front or sit on a chair. It should be started from a small time and number. Both can be increased slowly. One can do all or one or two of these techniques depending on his interest and time available.
These exercises are useful for mental relaxation, improving memory stabilizing the mind and keeping one stress free. They also help one in giving up addictions. Because once a person has a strong will, quitting bad habits becomes easy. The mind becomes absolutely relaxed and strengthened. Thus they are useful for chronic diseases like hypertension, asthma, e.t.c in many ways.
These benefits of yoga on mental health have been proved by various studies done in many hospitals world wide. Those interested can start doing it regularly. Only condition is that stomach should be empty, i.e. either before a meal or 2 hours after a major meal. They will definitely be benefited when they do it regularly.