Yoga is an elixir of life; it has the innate ability to heal, strengthen, and transform the body, soul, and mind and, in turn, promotes a sense of holistic well-being. One can practise yoga for a reason, and it is a good fitness regime to be followed in all seasons.
Yoga lowers the response of the sympathetic nervous system’s fight or flight mechanism and increases the work of the more restorative parasympathetic system. It reduces breathing and heart rates, decreases blood pressure, and increases blood flow to the intestines and reproductive organs. “Breath is the key to yoga practice. The more you are conscious about breath, the more you will be able to control waves of mind and vitality. In comparison to other workouts, yoga promotes all-round health, and well-being in body, breath, mind and soul as Yoga uses many tools of transformation including Asana (physical posture), Pranayama (breath), Meditation (mindfulness) and many more,” explains Kishore Kumar, founder of a portal dedicated to yoga called Ushakaal.com, and ardent yoga practitioner himself. An important part of Yoga is focusing on the present time here and now. Studies have found that regular yoga improves coordination, reaction time, memory, and even IQ scores.
There are newer forms of yoga to find peace within the chaotic sequence of life and keep your attention turned inward so that the mind stays serene and stable even when the body becomes challenged.
AcroYoga is a blend of the wisdom of yoga, the dynamic power of acrobatics, and the healing power of Thai massage. “These elements form the foundation of AcroYoga that cultivates trust, connection, playfulness, and community among the practitioners who connect, play and fly," says Mumbai-based Pradeep Mehta, who has been practising AcroYoga since January 2014 and conducting workshops all over India for seven years.
AcroYoga helps improve balance and strength, builds trust, and forms healthy relationships. “It allows yogis to change perspectives and thus experience the same things their partners did during practice. It further promotes a strong sense of belonging,” adds Mehta, whose next Yoga retreat is scheduled in July.
AcroYoga is gaining popularity as a rapidly growing discipline because it gives immense health benefits. “At the same time, one should practise this form of yoga under the guidance of a qualified teacher to minimise the risk of injury to the musculoskeletal system,” warns Mehta.
There are three roles in this form. “Base is the person in contact with the ground, who is responsible for supporting their partner with legs and arms, while Flyer is lifted off the ground and is able to dynamically change positions making it more challenging for the person in the base key role to endure and maintain balance. The Spotter stands close by and oversees the yogis in the base and flyer roles to ensure the flyer lands safely if something unplanned happens,” explains Mehta.
Thane-based Suvi Choudhary, who specialises in Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga, Aerial Yoga and Multi Style Yoga, says, “Aerial Yoga is a very supportive Yoga form. People who want to explore their strength and flexibility and want to have fun while doing Yoga can explore this form.” The repertoire consists of various asanas that have been selected to suit the aerial nature of this yogic practice. It’s quite a challenge as mastering the moves requires upper body strength and stamina. The founder of Suvi’s Yoga House emphasises that apart from offering regular yoga benefits, Aerial Yoga gives more freedom of movement, as one can move more freely, with less effort, by counteracting gravity. “There are techniques to go upside down using a rope. It is all about the art of your breathing and body coordination to perform it. It’s an ancient art only formed from rope Yoga and can be performed by anyone and at any age,” says Choudhary, who also teaches at the International Yoga School in Thane and Goa.
You know that laughter makes you feel better, and the science behind laughter supports its role in two major areas: strengthening social cohesion and reducing pain. Founder of Samsara Yog Pradeep Mehta, who has been holding Laughter Yoga workshops across India, says, “First smile, then chuckle, giggle after that, then laugh slowly and gradually increase your volume and tempo. It involves opening arms, lifting them and laughing out loud. Then bring hands down and stop, again raise arms, and laugh. Repeat this.” Laughing Yoga is accessible in over 110 countries and is becoming increasingly popular online. “Furthermore, laughing coaches are bringing laughing yoga workshops directly to people in places like college campuses, workplaces, and senior living facilities. Although it’s generally safe, laughter yoga may not suit everyone. “It involves some physical strain and a rise in intra-abdominal pressure,” he adds. Those with a hernia, bleeding haemorrhoids, persistent cough, epilepsy, heart disease, high blood pressure, incontinence, and major psychiatric disorders should avoid this indulgence.
Hyderabad-based Susheel Jain’s yoga practice involves a mix but mostly Hatha and Vinyasa Yoga. Jain, who has been practising yoga for a score, still feels like there is so much more to explore. “I offer my students a mixed style depending on their body and mind’s needs. For example, Chair Yoga is a modification of Hatha Yoga which is very good for people with physical limitations,” says Jain.
Explaining the basics of Chair Yoga, he says, "It is done with the help of a Yoga Chair, commonly called the Iyengar Yoga Chair. Made of metal, it is safe and sturdy. Most of the poses which are done on a mat can also be performed on the chair. But, yes, some can only be done on the floor like Shavasana. Chair Yoga also involves other props like a bolster, rope and blanket,” Jain adds.
Chair yoga is quite popular, especially in the Iyengar style, as the chair makes most poses safe, especially backbends and inversions. “Also, a person can hold the poses longer and safely with the chair. Chair yoga is growing in popularity as it addresses many health issues, especially those related to the spine and joints,” he emphasises.
He agrees that though there are no limitations to Yoga, there are certain poses and techniques which a few people should avoid, especially those with severe health issues. “It’s good to practice yoga under a certified and experienced yoga teacher,” he suggests.
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