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Yogic Stretching of the Mind and Body Can Be Beneficial

By Randy Collins Subscribe to RSS | January 10th 2012 | Views:
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Yoga is an ancient system of physical and mental conditioning that was perfected thousands of years ago. The important watchword is "train but never strain". Every part in the human body has a specific purpose or in yogic terms dharma to fulfill. The primary function of a muscle is to generate force to create movement, for which it needs to build and retain tension. This tension needs to have enough elasticity in order to make the muscle pliable, which in turn enables it to smoothly negotiate a range of movement with ease. Therefore it is important for all muscles to need to possess a certain degree of resistance or tension.

Just as the muscle needs strength, elasticity and resistance, in order to hold on to the tension required to produce force, the mind also needs to experience a resistance-less state of being. The breath, otherwise called prana in yoga, and the mind need to work in tandem. Calm deep breathing has a soothing effect on the mind and body. Stretching enhances the attaining of natural tension of the muscle to its optimum limit. It is important to note that stretching in yoga is very special, since yoga involves the application of breath and mind in a prescribed fashion. The yogic breath is a well calculated breath that helps gauge, facilitate and guide the physical movement to achieve the maximum range without running the risk of causing stress or injury.

There are 2 cardinal principles to remember while stretching, firstly, a stretch takes place between two points that are aligned or positioned intelligently against each other, and secondly, out of these 2 points, one remains fixed and well-braced while the other pulls in the opposite direction, stretching the muscle along the line of alignment. When the same muscle that is attached to these 2 points is stretched at regular intervals in tandem with the yogic breath, it helps in building the flexibility of the muscle. Now, after a set of sustained stretches, the muscle loses its natural tension and creates a relaxing effect which is actually pleasurable. This moment of pleasure is defined as sukha in yogic parlance. Hence yoga is applied to a dual experience of first becoming like a stretched rubber band and conversely like a soggy strand of noodle. The soggy noodle experience that can be attained by methodical practice of tenacious rubber-band stretching is considered to be very important. The quality of physical and mental comfort that ensues as a result of this practice of stretching and relaxing of the body and mind is directly proportionate to the state of self-containment. The serenity and contentment that the mind attains helps to rejuvenate the entire system.

Another yogic practice that helps in attaining maximum benefit with minimum effort put in for a few minutes every day is pranayama or controlled breathing. Breathing normally is a para-sympathetic activity and we breathe without being conscious of it. Pranayama is kind of conscious and measured breathing, where the emphasis is in slow deep breaths being inhaled, held in for a few seconds longer than during normal breathing and exhaling slowly and completely so that the stale air that is normally always present at the bottom of the lungs is forced out. This rhythmic breathing in three stages is called raechakam, kumbakam, and purakam ie. Inhaling, holding and exhaling. This has to be done in a rhythmic manner to attain the best results. The simplest way would be to follow a ratio of 1:3:2. For example, count 10 while breathing in, count 30 while holding the breath in, count 20 while exhaling. This is considered as one round of pranayama. The breathing in needs to be done through one nostril and breathing out through the other. Practicing 20 rounds of pranayama every morning regularly should start showing positive results in a couple of months' time. Related programs are aired regularly by popular service providers like Dish TV Packages.

Randy Collins - About Author:
Randy Collins is a free lance writer and Yoga enthusiast who believes in spreading awareness about holistic approaches to health and wellness and keenly watches related programs that are aired by popular service providers like Dish TV Packages.

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