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Yoga for Holistic Health, Greater Concentration and Wellbeing

Human beings today are no longer shying away from expressing their psychological and emotional angsts. Going to a counsellor is no longer a closeted choice. On a parallel vein, the plethora of mental wellness issues are also constantly expanding and compounding . Therefore this is a space that envisages to address the entire gamut of issues pertaining to mental health and wellbeing by experts from MIND India Wellness Centre

Yoga for Holistic Health, Greater Concentration and Wellbeing

Sentinel Digital Desk

Yoga is a slow process. When we do yoga, at a physical level we feel the stretch, body movements, mild pain etc and then automatically our mind gets engaged. It stays on the present moment. We become more aware and more alert. When the mind is engaged or busy then it is free from past and future thoughts. In a yoga posture, we take voluntary action. However, we get involuntary benefits, which occur due to our awareness and observation. So yoga is not just a physical exercise; it is indeed a multidisciplinary system. It works on our physical energy and at the mental, intellectual and spiritual level.

When we do Pranayama, we start to control our breathing. During pranayama, when the breathing is slow, deep and longer (than usual) the mind automatically becomes slow, calm and steady. The pranayama techniques help our sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous system to be in balance.

There are four main streams of Yoga, which include Raja Yoga, Bhakti Yoga, Jnana Yoga, Karma Yoga.

In Bhakti Yoga, we essentially chant the Lord's name with vibration. Consequently, we feel the positive energy within us and the mind become free from all types of tensions, worries and anxieties. Bhakti Yoga increases more in the silence mode.

In Karma Yoga, we learn relaxation in action and non action in action. Through Karma Yoga, we learn to relax in every action that we undertake. When we are able to relax in the midst of an action than our mind automatically becomes calm and relaxed. And due to this our actions becomes perfect.

Another attribute of Karma Yoga is non action in action (which is the basis of Lord Krishna's conversation with Arjuna in the Bhagwat Gita). It is highly spiritual. According to Gita through practice and detachment we can reach a state where we become silent. We essentially become a silent spectator to the events around us. This state enhances our capacity for detachment and Karma Yoga facilitates this stage.

In Jnana Yoga, through real knowledge we realise the real existence of the self. Our rishis and Upanishads have mentioned that there is something beyond our body and minds, which is immortal. This something is also blissful, deathless and birthless. Jnana Yoga is a higher spiritual practice and this form of yoga can be done in silence.

In Raja Yoga, we practice Asanas, Pranayama, Dharana, Dhyana etc. Here meditation is the ultimate tool to slow the breath and calm the mind. The journey of yoga starts at restlessness and ends at restfulness.

The benefits of yoga on mental health are very subtle but certain. Yoga enhances social wellbeing (through a sense of belongingness to others) and mitigates symptoms of depression and attention deficiency and cures sleep disorders. Yoga is especially helpful for people with anxiety disorders. It helps in improving mood, behavior and mindfulness. It also helps in improving one's wellbeing and resilience in the workplace. The benefits of yoga are considerable for adults who experience lower life satisfactions, depression and stress. In a nutshell, yoga, meditation, deep breathing and prayer help to reduce stress and improve stress related imbalances.

Having a good time with friends or family is not enough to relax the human mind on a cellular level. Yoga and meditation are some ways that transfer the body from a state of excitement or biochemical tension to a state of calm, deep rest and relaxation.

Cooling pranayamas like Sitali, Sitkari, Sadanta are very useful to calm down the mind, thereby reducing stress and anxiety. Bhramari is very good technique to calm down the mind and activate the brain cells. On the other hand, Nadi-sudhi is a technique where we can balance our right brain and left brain. Kapalabhati is a technique where we can release more carbon dioxide from our body quickly and activate the brain cells and intra digestive system.All these practices teach us to live in the present. To get the full benefits of yogic breathing practices we need to be more disciplined with our food habits, other exercises and the quality and quantity of sleep, among other things. All our worries, tensions and anxieties arise because we live in either the past or the future. As Swami Vivekananda said: "The great trouble with such concentration is that we do not control our mind. It controls us". The very essence of education is concentration of the mind. Education is not about collecting facts. Thereby pranayama or breathing exercises can help to attain holistic health.


Mintu Roy

Certified Yoga Practitioner

(Trained from Vivekananda Kendra, Guwahati)

Consultant, MIND India

Ask Dr Sangeeta Goswami

Question: I am a 40 year old married woman with a full-time job and two children. I often experience stress induced breakdowns after a long and tiring day. I have to manage my family and job. What can I do to lower stress?

Work -life balance is the biggest struggle in today's world and stress and life style diseases are the fall out of this. The most important thing in our life is the personal time that we give ourself. All individuals should have a personal time. It does not have to be for a long duration; it can just be for 30 minutes or an hour. During this period you can do things which you enjoy doing the most like reading, listening to music, etc. Yoga helps to modulate our stress response system by reducing perceived stress and anxiety. Though yoga has received less attention in medical literature it has become increasingly popular in recent decades. Yoga practices change the firing patterns of nerves and chemical makeup of the body fluids and activate relaxation. It improves mental health by reducing anxiety, depression and negative moods by improving self-esteem and cognitive functions. Some exercises like breathing exercises, flexibility exercises, stretching exercises can help you to reduce stress. You can also include your family to do these exercises which can turn into a family activity.

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