An interesting interview on Yoga, its simplicity and genuineness.
An interesting interview on Yoga, its simplicity and genuineness.
We have heard a lot about personality types. Sometimes we hear about extrovert and introvert or Type A and Type B. At times we come across categories based on attitude or behavior. We could be labeled as emotional, hyperactive, stressed, angry, stubborn and so on. However, this is an inaccurate way at looking at personality. There is even something more basic, like a root cause which drives our personality.
The Three Types of Qualities
Yoga and all other Hindu and Jain philosophies are very clear that there are three qualities which every individual is made up of. These qualities are known as Gunas. By made up, we mean both, mental and physical constitution. A permutation and combination of these three in varying degrees gives us our nature and personality. Also, these are not cast in stone and every human can change its own personality with various Yoga practices and lifestyle. Let us look at these three core qualities.
Rajas is the quality which defines action and everything that goes with it. This includes restlessness, mental and physical hyperactivity, multi-tasking, inability to concentrate, need for power or control, constant movement, uncontrolled action. Rajas is an essential quality to maintain life and growth. Even the internal organs function because of Rajas. The problem occurs when the mind starts functioning mainly from Rajas. Persons we see as hyperactive, workaholics, compulsive multi-taskers, physically very active and physically violent are all operating from excess of Rajas.
Tamas is a quality which gives form to objects and things, whether animate or inanimate. It is also the quality responsible for ‘being at rest’ and relaxation. This very nature of Tamas is also the foundation for inertia, lethargy, dullness, change resistance, stubbornness, fixed, dark, brooding, emotional, desires. When we see people who are dull, lazy, stubborn, emotional or very sensory oriented, the operating quality is Tamas.
This is a quality which is balanced. This brings in purity, calmness, positivity and stability. Satva is the balancing factor which does not allow either Rajas or Tamas or both, to hold sway. A person operating from Satva is balanced in thoughts, speech and action. The personality itself is different. Those operating mainly from Satva are Rishis, mystics and prophets.
Swing of the Gunas Determines Personality
These qualities we have seen are present in all of us in some proportion. Most of us are not aware how we function and operate. But once we do become aware, we will be able to figure out the predominating guna in our actions and thoughts. Most of the times, it will be Rajas or Tamas.
To give examples, if we desire something, get emotional, resist change or have some deep rooted or obvious fear, it is Tamas. On the physical side, fatigue, feeling tired, lazy and sleeping a lot are all Tamas. If we are very active or hyperactive then it is Rajas. Rushing around, doing many things, expecting others to be the same, obsessive behaviors and trying to be perfectionists are all signs of Rajas.
We all have a predominant quality. Some are inherently relaxed or slow. Some are inherently active. We then keep operating and shifting through life. So at times we are hyperactive and at times we feel ‘low’. Sometimes we are angry and sometimes we become indifferent.
Balancing the Gunas
The whole concept in Yoga, therefore is to create a balance between these qualities and gradually develop Satva to play a predominating role. Not getting angry, remaining calm, working with full focus but in a balanced way and many more, are the attributes of Satva. This is not an easy task. At the same time it is not so difficult if you have the right kind of inputs. Yoga is one such discipline. It has been seen in all the cases, that even doing asanas on a daily basis, automatically helps you to become calmer but more active and balanced.
Make a beginning by starting Yoga asanas. Take a good online yoga program or online yoga classes to start improving your personality by practicing at home. You really need not spend a lot of money to start yoga.
Elements of a Strong and Healthy Body
We all know the different parts of the body. All of them have to be kept fit and healthy to enable the body to function properly. However, there are some parts which get more priority due to their relative importance. We have heard a lot about these parts but lets look at them once more. The most important part apart from the brain is no doubt, the spine. The nervous system and the body functions because of the spine. It contains the spinal chord which transmits messages to and from the brain and the rest of the body. The bones of the spine provide support to the head as well as the body. Can we imagine trying to live with a spine?
Another important part most spoken about from a fitness point of view is the core. The core is nothing but the center point of the body at the level of the lower back. Imagine a hypothetical string entering two fingers below the navel and coming out at the back at the same level. That region is the core. The core stabilizes the body and helps it to function correctly. These two are the most spoken about parts; the back and the core. However, we tend to take for granted an important part of our body, which is ignored. These are the legs.
Importance of Legs
The legs are important as they carry the whole body. If the base support is weak, a lot of physical and physiological problems may occur. When we are born and growing up, our legs and their strength are in proportion to the body. Later on, we reduce our activities and start putting on weight. This causes an imbalance. We may not realize but over a period of time, this causes arthritis and other leg related problems. What also happens is that our physical activity reduces. This in turn, adds more weight. More weight means weaker legs and greater pressure on them. This cycle continues and we eventually start getting diseases related to a sedentary life like high blood pressure and cardiovascular problems.
Taking Care of Legs
We take our legs for granted, but we need to take care of them like any other part of the body. By care, we mean adequate nourishment, the right kind of movements and the right kind of exercise. Strong legs till old age means that we are able to lead a normal life till the very end. If there are injuries, we recover faster and we get less hip and joint problems which could be debilitating in later ages. However, the causes build up right from the time we are young. Let us look at each of the elements which keep the legs in shape:
The legs need to be kept supple and flexible. Your legs, knees, ankles and hips should all be used with all kinds of movements. Sitting cross legged with your feet up is one of the best ways to sit. Sitting is one aspect.
The other aspect is posture. We need to have a posture which is in a straight line. The spine is naturally straight, the head is resting on the spine and the weight of the body falls on the feet equally. Avoid standing with your weight on one feet or on the balls of the feet or on the heels. There should be even distribution.
Similarly, when we walk, try and avoid loose shuffling movements and walk firmly. Avoid walking on your toes. Walk at a steady pace and avoid leaning forward while walking.
The legs need exercise like the rest of the body. The best exercise for the legs is brisk walking. Running, cycling and sports can cause knee problems over a period of time. So once you reach a certain age or a particular lifestyle, avoid exercises which strain the knee. If you are into a lot weight training, do your exercises correctly so that there is no undue pressure on the knees.
The best form of movements and exercises for the legs are Yoga asanas. Hatha Yoga has some great postures which train the legs very well and keep them fit right till the end of the years. All standing asanas are very good for the legs. In addition there are many seated and lying down asanas which are also fantastic.
You can watch some good asanas for the legs on the following youtube links
There is a lot of information as also some form of debate as to the physical effect of asanas. The purpose of asanas is beyond the physical but there is no denying the fact that asanas have a great physical impact on the body. The problem starts when we try to compare it with different forms of exercise or physical activity. Let us look at the different types of physical activity before we figure out something about asanas.
Weight Bearing Exercise v/s Non-weight bearing
Weight bearing exercises are those which involve the body to carry a load or bear some excess weight. The classic example of weight bearing exercises is weight training. Some of us also land up doing a lot of weight bearing activity without realizing. Doing housework, lifting loads of any kind and bending or squatting in different ways are all weight bearing. For example, when we bend forward, the entire upper body weight shifts and the whole body needs to gear up to maintain the balance. Muscles contract and release as required. Similarly, side bends, backward bends and lifting the hands or legs above the body, are all weight bearing.
Non-weight bearing are those activities where we do not have to grapple with extra weight. Running, swimming, walking are examples of non-weight bearing activities. We require both types of exercises on a daily basis, else we become physically unfit.
Isotonic movements or exercises are those where the muscle movements involve the joints and bones and there is lengthening of the muscles. In these types of exercises, there is isolation of certain muscles to increase their strength. Examples are weight training and running. These help in muscular efficiency, maintenance and weight management.
These movements involve muscle movement but no elongation of the muscles and there is limited load on the joints and bones. These are different kinds of movements. To give an example, any form of exercise where we get into a position and hold it for a few seconds, is isometric. Imagine doing a push-up. But instead of going down and coming up again, go down and stay there for ten to fifteen seconds and then come up slowly. This is an isometric exercise. These help in endurance and flexibility.
Aerobic exercises are those which use glycogen and fat as fuel and also expel carbon dioxide from the body. Moderate levels of exertion over a period of time, benefits breathing and cardiovascular health. Brisk walking, slow jogging, gentle swimming, are all of this nature.
These are exercises which involve short intense bursts of energy and strength. It is high intensity exercise. There is a shortage of oxygen and build up of lactic acid. You feel very fatigued after this. Examples of this are short duration or intense cardiovascular sessions or weight training. Running fast for fifteen minutes is anaerobic but a slow jog over forty five minutes is aerobic.
Stretching is required for the muscles to remain flexible. There are stretches which are done after different types of exercises to avoid muscle and joint damage. There are some exercise routines which are just stretching of different kinds. This is one of the most important aspects of the body which we rarely do.
Nature of Asanas
Now that we have a brief idea about the types of exercises, we shall see what are asanas all about. Asanas are all of the above and much more. There is so much that modern science has not understood about Yoga. A simple but effective Hatha Yoga session for around forty five minutes will cover all of the above. We land up doing isotonic and isometric movements with stretching. Aerobic activity is taken care of due to the slow and gentle pace of asanas. There are many practices which are internally intense and tax the system. Therefore, anaerobic exercise is also done. But this alone does not explain the benefit of asanas. There are many more benefits of asanas compared to any other form of physical exercise. Some of these are:
There are many more benefits of asasas over physical exercises. Your heart rate improves and so does your cardiovascular and breathing capacity. Blood gets purified and toxins are removed from the body. We feel that we need to strain and sweat and breathe hard. Only that is called proper exercise. This is not true at all.
In fact, the yogis of the past and the regular practitioners of today are significantly more healthy and fit even after the seventies and eighties. Start practicing asanas from today. Learn authentic, simple and effective hatha yoga asanas from wellzee.com through our online yoga programs.
Why do We eat
Food is not only fuel for the body, but it also gives a lot of other nutrition which is required to run various internal body functions. So it is not just about energy or fuel. Also the body is actually made of billions of other cells which are separate living creatures. They also need nutrition and fuel. It is only if all the cells are healthy that we are able to function properly. So actually, we are feeding billions of lives, not just us. In turn, these lives help us remain healthy.
When we eat, the food is processed in stages. Very broadly, food is processed in four stages:
Stage 1 – The first stage is chewing. Most of the digestion, in a sense, actually happens in the mouth. If you chew your food well, digestion and absorption is much better. Not chewing your food well creates a lot of problems.
Stage 2 – The food then enters the stomach. In the stomach the food is processed in a manner that the intestines can use. The stomach is quite flexible and can comfortably hold between one to two liters of food and drink. It can also hold up to four liters of food and drink if you have overeaten. However, it cannot contract properly to digest the food properly. That is why, eat less so that the stomach and digest properly.
Stage 3 – The digested food then enters the intestines. The intestines absorb the required nutrients. Whatever, the body thinks may come in use later is also retained and gets stored as fat.
Stage 4 – Elimination. After digestion and absorption, all that is not required or non-digestible is eliminated from the body.
Fasting is Recommended at Times
There are various schools of thought which recommend fasting. It is supposed to cleanse the system or give it a rest. Ayurveda and naturopathy also suggest fasts based on your body’s state. It could be either a fruits fast or only liquids fast or a total fast. The role of fasting in Ayurveda is related to preventive and curative purposes for certain types of conditions. Some people fast once a year for a few days for religious purposes. Some fast by eating one meal a day. There are various such combinations.
Do Not Fast
There are benefits of fasting, however, the question to be asked is why do we reach a stage where we need to fast in the first place? Why do we need to cleanse or give the stomach a rest? We also get digestion related problems and stress related problems which impact digestion. If we are eating correctly, we do not need to fast at all. Not only that, we actually bring in imbalances in the body by fasting.
As seen above, we have seen the role of food and how it nourishes billions of lives. The problem starts when we eat incorrectly. That is why we have explained the digestive process as well. If we eat correctly, nothing unwanted builds up in the body or nothing goes wrong. In fact, you can eat every day of your life without missing a single meal and be much healthy than people who fast.
We therefore need to know how to eat correctly. Some of the following guidelines can help you:
If we follow all of this, the body does not build up any unwanted bacteria, fat or toxins. You will always remain in a state of health. It has been found by yogis and now corroborated with evidence, that if you eat like this, you do not need any cleansing or fasting. Why trouble the body if it is not required?