Bhujangasanam, Salabasanam, Pranayamam … Yoga helps towards healthy mind
Mental depression is an intimidating term. It’s one of the common words pronounced commonly. The mental depression has been happening without any discrimination, be it a school child or an old person. No day passes by without its presence. It’s highly essential in these days to keep our mind healthy the way we make effort to keep our body healthy.
There are many exercises available to keep our body healthy. But there are only yoga practices available to deal with mental depression. Yoga practices are essential to deal with negative thoughts like anger, aversion, sorrow, fear and inferiority complex. Daily practice of yoga will help us keep our mind healthy.
We can classify mental depression into two. One is eustress and the other is distress. They are general classifications. Eustress is a positive stress that keeps our mind healthy. That means, when a particular task is to be completed within a specific period a kind of pressure will develop in our mind. This is a healthy kind. It will help lead our life in a right way. It also helps us to be happy. This kind of stress is required for business development and to succeed in life. It will never affect our body in any way.
The next one is the distress. It will lead our body to ill health. We will be stressed due to unnecessary fear, anger and aversion. It cannot be diagnosed at the beginning. But day by day it will start affecting our body. It will destroy our peace of mind, making it unstable, and leading to mental ill health. It will lead us to an unhealthy situation causing callousness, headache, body pain and sleeplessness interfering with our work.
Most of the diseases we get into are related to our body and mind. This is termed as psychosomatic disorder. The natural functioning of our body will be affected if our mind is not healthy. When it continues to happen unnoticed, it will lead to a state of disease. If the mind is nurtured through essential exercises many diseases can be cured.
It is an art to keep our mind happy and healthy. It is better to prevent disease before it happens than to suffer after it. This will save time and also prevents loss of money. Yoga practices, pranayamam (breath exercise) and meditation practices can help us keep our mind healthy.
With regard to yoga practices, it’s the same practice whether to cure a disease condition or to prevent it. That is the uniqueness and great about yoga practices. Exercising yoga practices daily will help us keep our body healthy. Similarly, let us know about the exercises that help in keeping our mind healthy.
Each aasana (posture) practice should be carried out with closed eyes and in combination with breath exercise and with patience. Surya namaskaram, Thadasanam, Virukshasanam, Padmasanam, Vajrasanam, Pavanamukthasanam, Sethubandhasanam Pujangasanam, Salabasanam and Savasanam can be practiced.
Some aasanas that help towards mental health
There are twelve stages with Surya namaskaram. All the asanas related to Surya namaskaram postured in such a way that one is thanking or worshipping the sun.
The first stage is joining both the hands doing vanakkam. One should stand erect, join the hands, and continue inhaling and exhaling. Second stage is raising both the hands over the head and bending back. Third state is to bend forward and then try to hold the back of one’s heal with both the hands, keeping the face close to the legs. Fourth stage is to keep both the hands on the floor and keep one leg backwards as shown in the picture. Firfh stage is to keep both the hands on the floor and keep both the legs raised backward. Now bend both the hands slowly and bring down the body. Sixth stage is to keep the hind limbs on the floor and raise the thoracic region. Seventh stage is to remain in the sixth position but raising the head upwards. Eight stage is to raise both the legs and stand as shown in the picture. The last four stages should be done similar to the first four stages.
While progressing from the first to last stage, it will be an exercise to the entire spinal cord and all joints. Surya namaskaram strengthens bones and reduces unwanted fats.
Pavanamukthasanam is practiced while lying down. Posture should be as shown in the picture, with both the legs held together and continuing natural breathing for thirty seconds. It should be done thrice.
Doing breath exercises will reduce mental stress. Nadi suthi (purification) pranayamam and recitation of ‘Om’ mantra will help us concentrate our mind thereby reducing the stress.
Method of practicing Nadi suthi pranayamam: Keep the index and middle finger of your right hand folded and then close the right nasal opening with the thumb and left nasal opening with ring finger. Inhale through left nasal opening and exhale the air through right nasal opening. Then inhale through right nasal opening and exhale the air through left nasal opening. Repeat the same for twenty times.
This exercise will increase one’s immunity, helping in disease resistance. This will also increase the respiratory function. It helps our mind to concentrate. It can be practiced by all without any age limit. This can be practiced when one is angry. When there is difficulty in taking some important decisions, one can make oneself relaxed through this practice and then take a decision with clarity.
The word ‘Om’ can be recited while one inhales fully and then exhales. While inhaling and exhaling the recited word ‘Om’ should be of similar tone. If ‘Om’ is recited, it can be practiced 10 to 100 times daily. If it is practiced one can function briskly throughout the day. It will increase positive thoughts and will reduce negativities. That means it will minimize fear, worry and anger thereby facilitating better sleep. It will increase the functional capacity of our brain by way of influencing it at the subconscious level. There are researches happening on the recitation ‘Om’. What has now been found out through research was established by the Siddhas, about two thousand years ago.
People who suffer from sleeplessness can recite ‘Om” in lying posture to get deep sleep. It will also help to overcome mental depression. Yoga has to be practised with the help of a Yoga teacher to maximise benefits. Yoga is a complete solution to get rid of mental pressure and Pscychosomatic depression.
(This article written by Akil Sharmila in Tamil has been reproduced in English by V Amalan Stanley)