Why more people are choosing yoga
Inga Rubikienė is a yoga teacher and psychologist who is passionate about helping people to go a little deeper and find inner peace.
Why more people are choosing yoga
The roots of yoga run both deep and ancient through human history, but why has this spiritual practice – which dates back to the third century BCE – become so popular in the modern world?
“Yoga is the only system which has lived for over 5,000 years without any enforcement,” says traveller, author and mystic, Sadhguru. “It has lived on because it has worked as a process of well-being like nothing else.”
In many ways yoga has become popular for its restorative physical effects. Practicing yoga regularly can improve flexibility, energy, strength and balance, and in a society enamoured with health and fitness it is not surprising that yoga plays a prominent role.
But yoga isn’t just about the physical side of things; it also offers mental benefits too. A large part of the practice is spiritual, and with its focus on flowing movements and strong breathing it can be both meditative and calming.
It is not surprising that in an increasingly busy and distracting world this practice is flourishing. Yoga offers a break from computers, phones, the internet and television, and allows us to escape into our minds.
What are the health benefits of the Downward Dog Pose?
“The Downward Dog pose is a part of the sun salutation, which happens at the beginning of our yoga practice,” says Inga Rubikienė, yoga teacher and founder of Yoga Studio Surya, Vilnius. “It releases tension in the spine, gently stretches your hamstrings and shoulders, and strengthens the arms and legs. It also calms the mind and relieves stress.”
“Yoga practices give strength and flexibility to the body, which lead to feeling healthy and energised. They also teach us to look deeper into our own subtle mind, to notice thinking patterns and emotions, to recognise our automatic reactions. Thus we become more mindful in our daily activities and daily being, and more compassionate towards others. This gives inner peacefulness and equanimity, which are of great necessity in our busy lives.”
How to Downward Dog
Downward Dog, known in the original Sanskrit as Adho Mukha Śvānāsana, is one of the first yoga poses a newcomer will learn. It stretches the arms, legs and feet, and is often returned to throughout a yoga lesson as a transition between other poses or as a resting pose.
To perform the Downward Dog follow these steps to achieve the pose below:
Step 1: Start on your hands and knees on a yoga mat, with your hands aligned underneath your shoulders, and your knees aligned underneath your hips.
Step 2: Spread your fingers wide, pointing your middle fingers to the top of the mat, and press down through your palms.
Step 3: Whilst exhaling deeply, tuck your toes under, lift your knees off the floor and push your hips towards the ceiling.
Step 4: Straighten your back and legs as much as you are able to so that your body makes an inverted ‘V’ shape.
Step 5: Bring your ears in line with your upper arms and relax your head, gazing between your legs.
Step 6: Breathe steadily, pressing into the mat with each exhale.
Step 7: Relax the legs and lower yourself back onto your hands and knees.
With this simple pose you can build strength, ease fatigue and relax the mind.
HEALTH NOTE: Before you do any yoga poses, check with your GP or healthcare practitioner.
Share your favourite yoga pose in the comments box below
You can read this story and more in our spring 2016 finding your flow issue here