‘Health is wealth. Peace of mind is happiness. Yoga shows the way’
– Swami Vishnu Devananda.
Here is a great 5-point guide to help us apply yogic teachings to our everyday life. Devised by Swami Vishnudevananda,it allows us to harness yogic philosophy in a simple and practical manner.
The five basic principles are:
- Breathing practice
- Healthy diet
- Positive thinking & meditation.
All of these points are essential and they all work together to allow us to live healthy and balanced life.
1. Exercise (asana)
Swamin Vishnudevananda recommended daily asana (posture) practice to build strength and flexibility. A balanced asana practice stretches and tones every part of the body. It also helps to keep our joints and spine mobile, and improves our circulation. It’s a great way of releasing tension and revitalising the body and mind.
When you practice yoga regularly, you will become stronger and flexible in both the mind and body. Asana works not just physically but also mentally and emotionally. You will feel more balanced in everyway.
2. Breathing Practice
A regular breathing practice is recommended for encouraging slow, deep and rhythmical breathing. This way of breathing utilises the maximum capacity of the lungs and profoundly relaxes the mind and body. In yoga breathing practice is referred to as Pranayama or extension of vital energy, and helps to clarify the mind and rejuvenate the whole body. Pranayama is excellent for stilling the agitated mind and teaching you to be grounded.
Full relaxation helps to balance our nervous system and revitalise our entire being. It’s extremely beneficial for our mind and body to rest completely and let go of tension and stress. Full relaxation pose or savasana is an important posture to practice regularly in yoga. In recent years, I have really begun to appreciate the importance of learning how to relax completely.
4. Balanced Diet
Yogis recommend a vegetarian, Sattvic (balanced or pure) diet that is simple, natural and nourishing. Sattvic foods are typically fresh and nutritious like organic vegetables and fruit. They are easier to digest so that you can be light and healthy. It’s advised to avoid eating stimulating or heavy foods and drinks such as caffeine, alcohol, processed meals and meat.
I personally found that I naturally gravitated towards a healthier diet over the years as I started to feel how different food affected my mood, energy level and overall wellbeing.
5. Meditation & positive thinking
Meditation practice enables us to understand ourselves better and be more contented and settled. Our concentration will vastly improve as the mind become less agitated. We become less lost in our thoughts and more present and focused.
One of the most beneficial effects that I received from a regular meditation practice is a feeling of acceptance and abundance. I feel whole, like I don’t need to improve or change anything. It is a very special experience that occurs for a fleeting moment but with practice comes more regularly.
In a well-structured yoga class, you will be taught asana, pranayama, relaxation and meditation. Regular yoga practice will help you to feel more energised and relaxed. As you become more content, you naturally want to look after yourself better by eating healthier foods and leading a more balanced lifestyle.