Post: 7 tremendous benefits of a particular breathing technique (Kapalabhati)

I have been a yoga practitioner for years. It has been very instrumental in overall wellbeing in my life.
Kapalabhati in Sanskrit means ‘skull cleaning or shining’. It is a breathing technique practised as Pranayama in yoga. Though the word sounds awkward, it is a breathing exercise of successive, rapid, forceful exhalations followed by brief passive inhalation.

The procedure is quite simple:

  • Sit comfortably in Padmasana or simply legs crossed.
  • Rest your hands on your knees.
  • Follow your normal breathing for some time.
  • In a quick moment, contract your abdominal muscles, and forcefully exhale air from both of your lungs.
  • Then allow air to fill your lungs slowly without effort.
  • Perform this cycle for 10 times at a stretch, then return to normal breathing. With daily practice, the cycle can easily go up to 120 times with each round.

Since this is an ancient old practise, in spite of having tremendous benefits, it has some contraindications.

  • Not to be practiced by women who are either pregnant or during menstrual cycle.
  • As there is too much of abdominal movements, not to be practiced by someone having abdominal hernia.
  • Not to be practiced by a person with slip disc, back pain or neck injury.
  • If you suffer from acute respiratory infections, it is better to rest, and let the infections go before doing any Pranayamas.

This practice has ample benefits. 7 important ones are.
1.It is a very useful tool to release congestion and volatile toxins from the body. It also cleans the nasal passage and respiratory system. It is powerful detoxifying method.

2.Since there is a contraction, relaxation of abdominal muscles, it stimulates and improves digestion.
3. It increases heart rate and blood circulation.
4. It is known to reduce stress, anxiety and tensions.

5.The endocrine system and glands are stimulated and regulated.
6.Since you focus entirely on your breathe, your mind gets rid of unnecessary thoughts, hence helps in concentrating. Therefore, a useful tool during the examination.
7. This breathing technique helps to treat diseases related to the nervous system, endocrine system and mental health.

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Post: My take on yoga mat….

Practising yoga is my daily routine regime for health and wellness. But do I have made the right choice of yoga mat where I enjoy doing my routine practise ? Or is it worse like sliding and slipping very often while holding a posture ?

Before, jumping onto the topic of yoga mat availability and preferences, I would like to share some insight facts about Yoga.

It’s an ancient Indian practice of mind, body and spirit connection. Traditionally, it was practised by the yogis to keep them in discipline with their mind, body and spirit. The ultimate goal of all traditional forms of Yoga was to attain samadhi (enlightenment). All the traditional forms of Yoga like Hatha Yoga, Bhakti yoga, Jnana yoga and Karma Yoga has the same common goal to help reach the samadhi state. Though it is not associated with any religion, it is more of a spiritual practice than a fitness method. Therefore, while practising Yoga, the spiritual essence is very important. Today, because of its popularity in the entire world, the deviation from the actual traditional Yoga has been a concern. It has become more of a fitness tool to build up muscles, stretching, flexing muscles and aerobic exercises. The popularity has been boosted due to its immense benefit on many medical ailments like mental illness, schizophrenia, anxiety, stress and bodily pain. In fact, studies have found that practising yoga and meditation regularly can be beneficial and facilitate healing of all type of physical and mental illnesses. 

I, myself have been a yoga practitioner for the last 5 years. It has not only helped me become more self – discipline and focused but also benefited me both physically and mentally. That is how , I have started to know about Yoga Mat.

As a routine practitioner of Yoga, I know how it is important and essential to have the right kind of yoga mat. Whenever, I use to step into a store, to buy my yoga mat, seeing the different types of sizes and colour, I always ended up in a confusion. Sometimes, picking up the wrong mat, make me realise it to be too thick, slippery, sticky and easily damaged. This has happened to me a number of times. In the course of my experience, I have started to learn the right kind of choice of Yoga mat which does work for me and also last longer without damage. 

Yoga which has gained immense popularity in the fitness industry, likewise the yoga mat companies have become billion dollar industries. When we step inside a store, there are a lot of different types of yoga mats with different materials, sizes and colour. Keeping up the popularity, comfort and trends, different materials of Yoga mat has been in the market, starting from rubber, plastic, cotton, jute and also PVC, latex. Depending upon our essentially, comfort and durability, the choice should be made. Since it’s for our daily routine use, toxic material like PVC, latex should be avoided. As for new beginners of Yoga, the mat should be of sticky material like natural rubber.

Though not a beginner anymore, my personal preference has been always a natural rubber mat. Such a mat would help better grip and prevent from slipping while holding asanas (Yoga poses). Eco-friendly material like cotton and jute mats have become very popular for health reasons and in a warm climate. They are comfortable and help in absorbing sweat. But the wear and tear are more due to the material. Plastic elastomer is the new material that has been widely used in Yoga mats. These mats are quite cheap and health friendly too. One more important aspect of the Yoga mat is the thickness. Regarding the thickness of the mat, it may vary from a range of 1/16 to 1/4th  of thickness. Again, this is a personal choice depending on what type of floor, we do routine practice and the kind of cushioning required. Usually, the i/8th thickness is most preferred for its durability and performance. Nowadays, yoga mats are available with a travel bag, that helps us to carry along wherever we travel. But, yes, many buy it to look cool and trendy. So, next time, when shopping for a Yoga mat, you do have some tips to grab the right choice for you. 

Ideally, yoga should be performed in close proximity to nature. To breathe freely during Pranayamas (breathing poses) and to breathe fresh air. So, the best places are in the quiet back yard, garden or balcony. But this is not possible in city life. So, any preferred place indoor or outdoor is fine, but it should be a quiet place away from distraction. 

Doing Yoga is not just a fitness regime, but also our dedication, respect and spirituality towards the incredible ancient practice.