The ancient practice of yoga originated in India, while at the present moment it is deeply rooted in millions of hearts all around the world. Yoga encompasses a diverse range of spiritual practices that everyone without exception can find something suitable. Practitioners observe that yoga helps to achieve lightness and flexibility for the body, and harmony and peace for the soul.
Throughout many years of teaching and practicing yoga I’ve collected a few interesting and the most unusual facts and details about this popular discipline.
1. Conscious breathing
The ancient yogis were convinced that the number of human breaths is limited – imagine that from the moment of birth you commence a countdown, and the slower you breathe, the longer you can live. That is probably why so much attention in yoga is paid to breathing practices. And indeed, breathing practices are proven to reduce stress, symptoms of anxiety, depression, and PTSD, therefore sets us up on a path to longevity.
Back in 1980 a study found that the ‘greatest indicator of life span’ was not your diet, and not even a workout, but lung capacity. We can logically assume conscious, slow, and expansive breathing can protect the lungs from long-term “wear and tear” and irritation, which can increase possible lung capacity which can lead to a longer lifespan.
2. Yoga improves sexual relationships
The thing with yoga is that it destroys emotional barriers, relieves pain and stiffness, and liberates the mind and body. By virtue of a regular yoga routine, practitioners embody their own imperfections and discover their own uniqueness. That leads to acceptance of your own body and so your partner’s. And of course flexibility is a bonus.
Practitioners observe that yoga helps to achieve lightness and flexibility for the body, and harmony and peace for the soul.
3. Yoga and mirrors
For novice yoga fans, it may seem strange that there are no mirrors in specialized studios. At first glance, it is much easier to achieve the correct performance of asanas (postures) by looking at your reflection.
However, a mirror is always a distraction, a reason to concentrate on the external aspect, while yoga’s goal is an internal awareness of everything that we do. It is believed that mirrors make it difficult to hear the teacher, as mirrors encouraging you to admire yourself. Without them, a person listens to feelings, explores the body and posture, and this is the deep meaning of the practice. Mirrors become an obstacle to establishing internal connections and unity. In other words, the gaze should not be directed outward, but inward.
4. Inverted postures can slow down the aging process
Any pose in which your heart is higher from the ground than your head is considered an inversion asana. Inverting your body boosts circulation and lymph flow. Going against gravity helps venous return (the deoxygenated blood going through your veins back to the heart).
Unlike blood in your arteries that is pumped with the heart, venous return relies on muscular movement and gravity to move the blood. Inversions give it a helping hand, improving circulation. Lymphatic system picks up toxins, excess proteins and bacteria and carries them to the lymph nodes to be eliminated. Like with venous return, our bodies rely on gravity and muscular action to move the lymph so inversions can help us to detox and heal faster.
On the other hand, inversions oppose the force of gravity and help the internal organs return to their original position, decreasing pressure on the pelvic floor. Inversions counteract natural body decay but to train your body to master the upside-down position, I recommend starting slowly and starting young.
5. Clumsy yogi, and why these two words don’t get along
Doing exercises for coordination and balance will be quite useful in your daily life. Asana and breathwork practice is there to tune your fine motor skills and perception of space. Balancing in the poses is a great way to improve body awareness and coordination. By working on your balance, you can learn to recenter yourself during precarious situations and prevent falls. In general, you will become more connected and graceful, even your posture and walk will change.
6. Breathing through your nose is already a breathwork on its own
Multiple statistical surveys show that nearly half of the all respondents are chronic mouth-breathers. An interesting experiment was done by an author of “Breath: The New Science of a Lost Art” James Nestor – he spent ten days with silicone plugs stuck in his nose forcing him to breathe through his mouth. He was trying to discover what “proper breathing” is and how it impacts our current health state. This resulted in his snoring increasing 13-fold while obstructed, he developed sleep apnea (two dozen events per night), and his blood pressure skyrocketed to stage 2 hypertension.
Breathing is living. Breathing through your nose is long healthy living and pranayama is a great tool to start with.
If you had fun reading this article and would like to know more, book a class with me and I’ll see you all on your mats!