As I mentioned in “Thing One” of the is series having a successful and happy life is partially dependent on three things: being grateful for what you have, maintaining good health and producing your own food. I also mentioned that having good health is something for which we should be grateful. Not just physical health but mental health is just as important. In order to maintain balance in an unbalanced world it is necessary to tune out the world and focus on yourself and this second installment of “Three Things To Do For A Better Life” will help you do just that.
Greet The Sun
DISCLAIMER: I am not a yoga expert nor am I a trainer or associated with any company or website referenced in this book. However, I am a practitioner of things to do for a better life and let me tell you that doing yoga makes life better.
CAUTION: If you have asthma, serious heart or respiratory problems, do not hold your breath. Inhale or exhale again as you feel the need to.
Most people awake in the morning by either some sound cue or by the natural rhythm of their own bodies. Regardless of the manner in which we wake, the morning is not uniformly greeted with gratefulness and glee. Instead as the body ages the morning is at times greeted with aches and pains. Each awakening is an opportunity to move past the pain and turn the sunshine on. As living, thinking beings on this planet it is imperative we recognize that which gives us life. This life source for our planet is the sun. This is not some fancy new age hippie love talk just simple scientific fact. The sun is at the center of our solar system and provides the energy our planet requires to support life. Thus, it is only fitting that when we awaken we do so with a greeting to the sun to warm our bodies and minds. Doing a morning greeting through yoga practice makes life better.
Yoga is a physical, mental, and spiritual discipline, originating in ancient India. In relation to people of this modern age it still makes for good feelings in body, mind and soul. The goal of yoga, or of the person practicing yoga, is the attainment of a state of perfect spiritual insight and tranquility while meditating on the Hindu concept of divinity. I came to practice yoga as a means to deal with low back pain. Almost everyone will experience low back pain at some point in their lives and I started to experience when I was thirty eight years old.
A common cause of low back pain is lumbar spinal stenosis and that is what I have. As we age, our spines change. The normal wear and tear effects of aging can lead to narrowing of the spinal canal. My pain began to become acute in 2004 and I went to my physician only to learn that back pain was going to be something I would have to learn to live with. He was kind enough to refer me to a pain clinic and I did experience three spinal injections of cortisone which kept my back pain free for a month at a time. But there’s a limit to how much of that a body can take and I had to turn to something else. I did a bit of research on low back pain and eventually came across some very informative yoga sites. So starting in 2005 I began to practice yoga and I haven’t stopped.
The first thing I learned about yoga was that it required a relaxed state of mind and body to begin. I also learned that yoga has physiological benefits unlike any other form of exercise I had done before. Practicing yoga allows for autonomic nervous system equilibrium. That is the scientific way of saying that yoga balances the involuntary nervous system. When I practice yoga my pulse rate decreases, my respiratory rate decreases and my blood pressure decreases.
I also learned about the psychological benefits of practicing yoga. First, my somatic and kinesthetic awareness increase. That means I am more aware of my self-control and body movements which increases the learning experience I have when practicing yoga. My mood improves when I do yoga and so does my well-being. I am happier with myself and there is no anxiety or depression. Practicing yoga allowed me to become aware its biochemical benefits. For example, glucose decreases, sodium decreases, and total cholesterol decreases. There have been numerous clinical studies over the years that reveal these statements so do not just take my word for it.
I have always been a physical exercise person. My motto used to be “No Pain No Gain!” But that was only because it was drilled into me over four years of high school football and I didn’t know any better. That mindset also helped me to prepare for the rigors of basic training in the US Army and it served me well throughout my service. However, “No Pain, No Gain!” is a young person’s exercise mantra. The great thing about yoga practice is that I learned physical pain does not necessarily result in good health. Having a good, clean and clear mind leads to good health. I still lift weights and ride my bike every day, I walk the dog and play sports with my children but yoga has added a new dimension on how to be healthy and strong.
With the long list of benefits I just described there does not seem to be any exclusion factors for people to practice yoga. There is debate out there about how seriously religious people should take the philosophical and spiritual aspects of yoga but the same could be said for Rock and Roll. It’s a big world and you should be open minded enough to incorporate the benefits of this wonderful lifestyle. You must check with your physician first because yoga is a proven life improver for people who suffer chronic pain, depression, poor health, poor mental health. It’s great for athletes and the everyday person who just wants to feel better and raise their energy level to its fullest.
The sun salutation is the easiest yoga series to introduce new comers. It is really great if it can be practiced outside and if not at least facing an outside window preferably facing sunlight. This not only makes doing the sun salutation more fun but it also fulfills the body’s need to get vital sunlight. The best time to practice the sun salutation is when the sun is rising but if your lifestyle prevents that then do what fits your schedule best. I prefer doing the sun salutation in the morning facing the sun and there are few things greater in life than welcoming the sun with good vibrations and good yoga. The sun’s rays lighting up your inner spirit by poring through your body is a wonderful feeling when the weather permits.
The sun salutation like all yoga exercises goes hand in hand with conscious breathing. As you practice the moves not only must you concentrate on the shape you body is to change to but also the deep breaths that aid in the execution of the moves. Breathing deep into the lungs allows for a clearing of thoughts from the mind and as you concentrate on the deep breaths and the motion of your body you begin to feel connected to an inner self that you normally forget is always there. That inner self is the one that has guided you through life so far and has many more years of wise guidance to provide if only you will let it.
I present the sun salutation as a range of motions you carry out while inhaling and exhaling deeply at the appropriate points. There are twelve steps that make the sun salutation series. As one series is achieved continue until you can achieve two, three and more up to a total of twenty minutes. This is not a strength exercise so do not treat it like one. Instead allow your body to learn the moves and flow with its own energy from the Sun.
The best way to do understand the Sun Salutation or any yoga practice for that matter is to watch someone else do it and follow along. Rather than spend time repeating the work of others I recommend that you go to the links on my website and learn from the experts. In Episode-85- Practice Yoga To Improve Health And Live A Better Life I present useful information about the sun salutation and how it can be a great way to start living your life through body movements, deep breathing and connecting to your wiser inner self. In that episode I also provide links and information for finding great yoga information online and a couple of book recommendations.
In Episode-92- Do Yoga To Feel Great And Remedy A Cold I describe how I practice yoga to alleviate the symptoms of the common cold. The primary series of yoga was introduced in that episode as well my unique take on how to feel great even when you have a cold. That episode also has links to more information on yoga and some videos to help you follow along and feel better.
It all begins with one long deep healthy and cleansing breath. Don’t wait another moment to start feeling great. Another note of caution is that practicing and increasing your knowledge and understanding of yoga can be addictive and fun. Let me know what you think by sharing your experience with me.
- Episode-85- Practice Yoga To Improve Health And Live A Better Life
- YogaToday YouTube channel More on YogaThe Yoga today YouTube channel has made my life better because I have less pain. I have learned how to better greet the morning and wake my body to each new dawn. Yoga just makes me feel good. There’s something about the consistent intersection of the forces of mind, body and breath that refreshes the spirit and slowly changes the practitioners life for the better.
- Episode-92- Do Yoga To Feel Great And Remedy A Cold
- Episode-154- How To Get In Shape And Stay That Way
Music of the Day – Pretty Awesome Yoga Music – Long Video