Category Archives: Yoga Essentials

Yoga for Beginners

11 Minute Yoga Workout for People Just Getting Started With Yoga

So, you’re wanting to start yoga. This is good. Yoga is great for the body, mind, and spirit.

Don’t be frightened, though. You aren’t going to be a pro yogi for a while so don’t allow yourself to get discouraged when you can’t touch your toes or keep your legs completely straight during some poses.

Doing yoga is a long journey, but the benefits will last you a lifetime.

Yoga Workout for Beginners

This workout is designed specifically for beginners. There aren’t any advanced moves in the workout and going from one pose to the next is supposed to be a smooth transition so you can have a flow throughout the duration of the workout.

Be prepared to feel a little burn. Yes, yoga works your muscles much more than you think it does.

If you can’t hold some poses for the entire 30 seconds, take a quick break, then go back into the pose for the rest of the time frame.

Here is the workout:

  • Forward Bend – 30 seconds
  • Garland Pose – 30 seconds
  • Plank – 30 seconds
  • Downward Facing Dog – 30 seconds
  • Warrior I (right on first set, left on second set)- 30 seconds
  • Crescent Lunge (right on first set, left on second set)- 30 seconds
  • Seated Spinal Twist (right on first set, left on second set)- 30 seconds
  • Cat-Cow Pose – 30 seconds
  • Camel Pose – 30 seconds
  • Child’s Pose – 30 seconds
  • Corpse Pose – 30 seconds

Do this routine 2 times to complete the workout.

Forward Bend

The forward bend is a great way to get started.

Bend forward keeping your back as straight as possible. Reach your arms down as far as they can go.

Make sure to take nice, deep breaths so you can get even deeper into the stretch. The deeper you can get, the better. This will make transitioning to the next pose much easier.

Garland Pose

You are now going to come up slowly, bring your hands together into a prayer position, and squat down as low as you can.

Hold this position for 30 seconds.

You’ll be feeling this pose in your legs (hamstrings and quads). Not only will you be opening your hips, you’ll be strenghtening your legs signifiantly.


From the garland pose, come back up to a standing position, bend forward until your hands are on the ground. Then you will need to walk your hands forward until your back is completely straight and you are holding yourself up with just your feet and arms.

You will be in a position as if you were about to start doing push-ups.

You’ll be significantly increasing strength all over your body, but more specifically, your core. Having a strong core can lay the foundation for many other yoga poses you will be trying in the future.

Downward Facing Dog

To get into the downward facing dog, all you need to do is start walking your hands back, try to get your heels to the ground while keeping your legs as straight as possible.

Now, if you don’t have flexible hamstrings or calves, it might be a tough challenge to get your heels to the ground.

Do the best you can. The flexibility will start to come in no time.

Warrior I

Getting into Warrior I shouldn’t be too difficult.

From downward facing dog, bring one foot forward, so you are almost in a lunge position. Bring your upper body up and hold your hands out (one forward, one backward).

To sink deeper into the pose, all you need to do is bend your front knee. Make sure you try to keep your back leg as straight as possible. It’s also important that your front knee doesn’t go past your toes.

Crescent Lunge

This is very similar to the Warrior I pose.

The main difference between the crescent lunge and Warrior I pose is the positioning of the back foot.

Instead of your back foot being turned sideways, you will bring your foot forward and come up on the ball on that foot. This should be an easy transition from the Warrior I pose.

You will be able to get a deeper stretch of your hips during this pose.

Seated Spinal Twist

There is no easy transition from the crescent lunge to a seated spinal twist, so the best thing you can do is come back to a standing postion, sit down with you legs straight out in front of you. From there, bring one knee close to your chest, put it over the other leg, put your opposite arm on the outside of that leg and twist as far as you can go.

Twists are great for realigning your body.

Cat-Cow Pose

Come up on your hands and knees.

To get into the cat position, round your back. When you’re ready to transition into the cow position, you bend your back the opposite way.

This is a position where you are constantly moving, so you won’t have to worry about holding a position for too long. You should change from cat to cow after each breath you take.

Camel Pose

Bring yourself up, but keep your knees on the ground.

You will then start to bend backwards and try to grab your heels.

If you have a back problem, this is a pose that you may want to skip because you could be putting a lot of strain on it.

Ease into this pose so that you don’t hurt yourself because it can be really easy to tweak something if you try to force too much in this pose.

Child’s Pose

A classic pose for any yoga workout, you will be giving yourself a break. You are going to give all of the muscles you just worked a significant rest that they truly deserve.

Try to sink your butt as close to your heels as you can to get the most benefits from the child’s pose.

Corpse Pose

The corpse pose is one of the best ways to close out any yoga routine.

This is the perfect pose for when you are trying to find your zen and get into the best state of mind possible.

If you weren’t already relaxed, this pose will put you in a relaxed state. Something you may need after really pushing yourself through the other poses.

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International Day of Yoga celebrations in South Africa

Yoga today is practiced and cherished in every part of the world and is truly a global heritage embedded with universal values of peace and harmony.

The United Nations, with the support of  177 countries has declared 21 June as International Yoga Day. This  initiative  was started by the Government of India and has received maximum support from Africa [46 countries] among the five continents.

In pursuance to the UN resolution, the Indian High Commission in South Africa and its Consulates in Johannesburg, Durban and Cape Town in collaboration with yoga schools and other stakeholders will be celebrating the 1st UN International Day of Yoga on 21 June in several cities in South Africa.  This UN declared International Day of Yoga is being celebrated worldwide in all capitals and cities and the day would see millions coming together to celebrate this gift of humankind.

All events being organised in South Africa are free and open to all. Leading South African personalities and institutions including Premier of KZN, Mac Maharaj [Struggle hero] Ahmed Kathrada Foundation, Ela Gandhi [grand-daughter of Mahatma Gandhi], Jonty Rhodes [cricketer] among others have endorsed this event with a call to all to come forward in support of healthy living and wellness. Endorsement and support from other leading personalities are expected several of whom will also be participating in the events.

In Durban the lead event is being held on the North Beach where 2,500 people are expected to participate. In Pretoria, the lead event will be held in Laudium and in Cape Town in Gatesville. In Johannesburg, along with the main celebration at The Summer Place, a yogathon is being organized at WITS University.

The Art of Living Foundation SA, Iyengar School of Yoga SA, ISHA Foundation SA, Gayatri Parivar, Incredible India, Zee TV, Zee World, Himalaya drugs, Dabur, Tech Mahindra, Bank of Baroda, State Bank of India and host of other partners are collaborating in the celebration in Gauteng, to which all yoga schools are being invited.

In today’s fast paced life, Yoga is helping people to stay healthy and fit and to balance mind and body, thought and action. It embodies a holistic approach to health and well-being and to live a life in harmony with nature and the world around us. Our modern world is truly a global space. It is propelled, more than ever before, by universal ideas, and Yoga very much belongs to this realm of universalism. Indeed, Yoga as a sustainable modern day life option has received popular global embrace and is helping people to nourish their lives not just in terms of physicality or health but as spiritual experience as well.

Yoga has a strong philosophical underpinning. It allows a person to understand one’s physical attributes and self within, which our outwardly oriented senses do not give an opportunity for. Yoga is about unity of body and mind so that there is total balance in one’s thought and action. Patanjali, the ancient Indian sage, who is considered the guru of Yoga, propounded unity of our imagination and existence as central to Yoga. Yoga may have been born from the womb of Indian philosophy and lives of ancient sages but its modern moorings are truly universal. Such an understanding is primal to a Rainbow Nation like South Africa or to a multicultural society like India which brings people from diverse backgrounds into their colourful fold.

The list of places celebrating this event:

PRETORIA 264, 13th Avenue, Laudium Contact: 3746354,


  • Summer Place, 69 Melville Road, Hyde Park, Johannesburg. The event starts at 8.30am until 12.30pm . Contact :; 0714733208
  • WITS University, Library Lawns, Opposite Great Hall
  • Lenasia: Alpha Primary School, Lenasia, (Contact : Mr. Mohan Hira: 0835011275)
  • [19 June : At Milpark School, Parktown – Closed event]
  • [23 June : At SBSM School, Lenasia – Closed event]

POLOKWANE 26 Agra Stret, Nirvana, Contact : Mrs. Anupama Shrivastav – 0825998224

MAFIKENG Mandir in Quickly street, Mafikeng, Contact : Mr. Rajubhai: 0829027074

NELSPRUIT Venue TBC, Contact : Sharita Patel, 0823305756

DURBAN: Durban Amphitheatre, North Beach, Opposite Elangeni Hotel, Contact: 031-3350333, 

CHATSWORTH: Aryan Benevolent Home, T N Bhoola Hall, Contact: 0313350333, 

PHOENIX: Stanmore Regional Hall, Unit 17, 213 Grove End Drive, Contact: 0313350333, 

PIETERMARTIZBURG: Raisethrope Secondary School, Chota Motala Road, Contact: 0313350333, 

STANGER Sabha Hall, Blane Street, Stanger, Contact: 0313350333, 

TONGAT:  Shree Veeraboga Emperumal Temple Cultural Centre, 7 Maharaj Street, Gandhi Hill, Contact: 0313350333, 

EAST LONDON: venue to be finalised, Contact: 0313350333,

BLOEMFONTEIN: venue to be finalised, Contact: 0313350333,


  • Samaj Centre, Gatesville
  • Ananda Kutir Ashrama, 24, Sprigg Road, Rondebosch East

Bring a yoga mat or a towel and join us in celebrating International Yoga Day.

Adapted from : 

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Why We Need to Slow Down and Live in Slow Motion

I went to a yoga class with mom the other day called “Yoga Therapy.” It was a sweet experience of many basic movements, but what I appreciated even more was the very very slow pace of the practice.

In our fast moving culture, even much of yoga has jumped onto the bandwagon of high speed. Slowing down in my body was so soothing, it built ample heat, and it brought so much increased awareness to various parts of my physical structure.

Many people find a slower practice much more rigorous on both their body and mind as their ability to remain attentive and present is challenged. But what a powerful challenge it can be.

Why We All Need to Slow Down

Carl Honore, author of In Praise of Slowness, was inspired to challenge the cult of speed after he found himself about to buy a collection of one-minute bedtime stories for his kids.

Our rushed culture is obsessed with productivity, which leads to overwork, ramped consumerism, and an often false perception of true gratification.

With the hunger not satiated, the cycle continues and the faster it gets, the less people are able to step back and evaluate whether this model of living is even working or meeting any of their deep seated needs.

The obsession with speed creates lower quality products which can threaten our safety (think car recalls), superficial connections that only skim the surface and less time to connect with family, friends, and partners.

As a culture, we get 90 minutes less sleep per night than those living a century ago and our entanglement with activity has reduced the pocket of time for people to simply be.

What happened to gazing out the window of a car or train or staring at the night sky to remember how we fit into the grand scheme of things?

Slow, Mindful Movement vs. Fast, Mindless Motion

Fast is not inherently “bad” as there are examples of conscious rapid movement which makes sense and has intelligence and consciousness behind it. The problem occurs when mindless fast takes the reins and we find ourselves overly busy, controlling, aggressive, hurried, overly analytical, stressed, superficial, impatient, and valuing quantity-over-quality.

When we turn down the speed we can become more spacious, carefree, receptive, composed, intuitive, relaxed, unhurried, deep, patient, reflective, and value quality-over-quantity.

As a result of these states, we can increase immune functionality, have healthier digestion, feel less guilt, live with a more honed and toned nervous system, increase our time spent in “feel good” states, have more moments of gratitude and appreciation, and boost the level of intimacy present in the day-to-day.

We can choose when to turn up the pace in a conscious way instead of letting speed overrun our lives

How you do anything is how you do everything. So especially if you have a regular yoga practice, explore slowing it down and observe what shifts.

Also, look into the slow food or slow money movement, go for a slow motion walking meditation, and next time you make love with your beloved — yes its hard to believe but people are now replying to texts or checking Facebook even during this activity — carve out a large chunk of time, slow it down, and savor more!

Take back the reins! It’s time, before this high speed world takes your life for an unwanted ride.

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80% of Top Business Leaders Meditate

80% of top business leaders meditate, at least according to entrepreneur and author Tim Ferriss who has interviewed over 200 world-class performers for his weekly podcast The Tim Ferriss Show.  Ferriss said that the number one common thread these top performers had in comparison to most other people is that more than 80% of them were using some form of daily meditation practice to get better results in business.

Ferriss himself practices Transcendental Meditation and said, “I find that meditation is very very helpful for avoiding anxiety and it’s the reset button for the rest of the day… it’s basically a warm bath for your brain.”

Ferriss admits that he was initially a little reluctant to learn to meditate himself saying,

“Rick Rubin and Chase Jarvis convinced me to bite the bullet on the cost when I was going through a particularly hard period in my life. I’m glad they did.  The social pressure of having a teacher for 4 consecutive days was exactly the incentive I needed to meditate consistently enough to establish the habit,”

Meditation has become popular on Wall Street in recent years with thousands of Wall Street professionals taking up the practice.  Most prominent among those is Bridgewater Associates founder Ray Dalio who has been meditating for 40 years and 8 years ago introduced the practice to his 700 employees.

Dalio credits Transcendental Meditation for his billion dollar success, saying, “Meditation more than any other factor has been the reason for whatever success I’ve had… It’s the ability to be centered and to approach things in a calm, centered way without all those fears, just analyzing what’s true.”

Meditation has gone coast to coast in America, with Silicon Valley adopting the practice as a means to increase creativity, reduce stress and improve health.  Recently Google invited Meditation teacher Bob Roth to speak at their Google Zeitgeist event where Roth spoke about the numerous scientifically documented benefits of meditating.

“I’m data driven. I don’t want to have to believe in anything on face value… You don’t have to believe in anything, you can be 100% skeptical. It’ll give your body deep rest, it’ll wake up your brain.”

Sounds like something we can all use.


Editor’s note:  This is a guest post by Gregory Lyons. Gregory is a teacher of Transcendental Meditation in Brighton, UK. To find out more about TM in Brighton visit Transcendental Meditation Brighton.

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Yoga is to Running as Yin is to Yang

Many of us who love both running and yoga know how important it is to balance both activities in our lives.  Not a simple thing to do since running and yoga require time and dedication to become proficient at either.  Even those who practice a fairly vigorous form of yoga have likely learned from experience that it’s a long climb back aerobically after those periods of time when they take a break from running.

I’m not sure you can ever have too much yoga, but too much running without enough yoga (or a good stretching routine) can create a lot of issues for those of us with the genetic predisposition of a two-by-four.  Instead of popping advil like candy after your next long run, why not take 20 minutes to balance out your running muscles with the following yoga sequence crafted by Callah at my yoga life:

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Can You Challenge Yourself To Master The Uncomfortable?

Yoga is about finding a balance between the comfortable and the uncomfortable.

Do you struggle with a specific posture in your yoga practice? When I first started practicing yoga back in 2014, I was terribly afraid of crow pose. I could not balance myself on my hands. Crow pose was hard and uncomfortable and scary at the same time. I was so afraid that I was going to fall flat on my face each time I lifted my feet off from the floor.

That fear of falling on my face made me seriously uncomfortable when we were asked to do crow pose in our yoga classes.  However, I was someone who loved challenges. I wanted to do crow pose so badly! So I decided to master the uncomfortable. I practiced crow diligently in each and every single one of my yoga classes. After a few months I was able to lift both my feet off from the ground! I was so happy!

Then, I decided to become a certified yoga instructor. I pursued the 200-hour yoga teacher training in 2015. And during my teacher training, I was asked to teach a whole class of beginners how to do crow pose! I was so nervous because my crow was not perfect. And even though I was told that my crow didn’t have to be perfect for me to teach people how to do crow, I wanted to be able to hold crow pose for at least 5 seconds.

I practiced crow so many times during my teacher training that I had bruises on my triceps. I challenged myself to master the uncomfortable. I challenged myself to still the fear in my mind of falling down. I worked on improving my focus and concentration because this is a very important factor in crow pose.

I no longer fear crow pose now. Because when you set your mind to challenge the uncomfortable, you will eventually be able to fly. Crow pose helped me improve my focus and concentration. It also helped improve my core strength over the years. But most of all, it gave me the courage to master the uncomfortable.

Do you have the courage to master the uncomfortable in your life?

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Yoga for Depression: 5 Effective Poses That Can Curb the Negativity

Yoga for Depression: 5 Effective Poses That Can Curb the Negativity

At some point of time in our lives, we have all felt low and depressed. We have often questioned who we really are and whether we are good enough or not. It is very natural to be happy at some point in time and sad at the next. However, the concern arises when these changes in your mood persist for a fairly long period of time and interfere with your daily life. An individual with depression often finds himself spending long hours isolated from family, friends and others who matter. Disturbed sleep patterns, changes in eating habits and excessive mood swings are some of the characteristic symptoms of depression.

While there is medical help available to enable one to tackle with depression, another means of bringing in positivity is yoga. According to a study done by Boston University School of Medicine in the US, joining yoga classes can help patients experience significant reduction in symptoms without the side effects associated with antidepressants. The power of yoga has cured innumerable health problems since time immemorial. With depression too, yoga comes to the rescue of individuals. Often known to improve physical health, yoga works wonders in the case of your mental health and well-being as well. It is a natural and simple way of helping you overcome fears and improving self-esteem and self-worth.

“This study supports the use of yoga and coherent breathing intervention in major depressive disorder in people who are not on antidepressants and in those who have been on a stable dose of antidepressants and have not achieved a resolution of their symptoms,” explained corresponding author Chris Streeter, Associate Professor at the University. The findings, published in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, provide support for the use of yoga-based interventions as an alternative or supplement to pharmacologic treatments for depression

Yoga is believed to relax the mind and lower the heart rate thus reducing anxiety, which comes along with depression. It is built on the philosophy of helping one live in the moment, mitigating negative thoughts and focusing on all good things that life sends our way.

Lamya Arsiwala, The Yoga House Mumbai, suggests several yoga Asanas that could be practiced to enhance one’s state of mind in case of depression.

1. Baddha Konasana (Butterfly/ Bound Angle Posture)

It is often referred to as the “Cobbler pose”, named after the position cobblers sit in while working. The asana helps strengthen the thighs, knees, hips and the back. It is a great anti-depressant pose and improves emotional stability.

How to do: Sit with an upright back, knees bent and holding your feet tightly together. Deeply inhale and flap your bent legs up and down like a butterfly.

butterfly pose

2. Supta Baddha Konasana (Supported Bound Angle Posture)

Supta means reclining. It is often referred to as the “reclined cobbler pose”. This asana helps one become calm and instills a sense of relaxation.

How to do: Lie down straight on the ground with bent knees on either side of the body. Join your feet and bring the heels closer to your groin. Place your palms next to your hips, facing downwards. Slowly exhale and inhale.

yoga 620x350

Photo Credit: pranamayayogamedia/instagram

3. Ananda Balasana (Happy Baby Pose)

This asana relieves fatigue and relaxes the mind. Since it is called the baby pose, the individual practicing the asana really feels the happiness of a baby in that moment.

How to do: Lie down on your back, bringing your knees closer to your stomach. Inhale and hold your feet with your hands. If you have difficulty holding your feet then hold on to your ankles in the beginning and progress towards heel as you continue to do the pose daily. Breathe gently and rock from one side to the other if you feel comfortable.

happy baby pose

4. Setu Bandhasana (Bridge Pose)

It is a great asana for reducing stress and anxiety. It takes the shape of a bridge and hence the name. It also helps maintain normal blood pressure.

How to do: Lie flat on the ground, face up and hands on either side. Slowly lift your hips upwards while inhaling. Bring it back down and repeat.

bridge pose

5. Child’s Pose

An extremely soothing posture, the child’s pose helps achieve peace and is a great relaxation technique.

How to do: Sit on your knees. Slowly exhale and bring your torso down between your thighs. Place your hands on the floor alongside your torso and release the fronts of your shoulders toward the floor

child pose

Practicing these asanas on a regular basis will help overcome depression and improve mental health and well-being tremendously.

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What to Expect in Your First Yoga Class

By Tieja MacLaughlin

We’ve all been there, our first yoga class.

Are you nervous? Don’t be. Even the most confident of us were.

First things first though – congratulations on making it this far! It takes courage to try something new, and you should be proud of yourself for stepping outside of your comfort zone.

So what should you expect in your first class, and what do you need to know before stepping into a yoga studio?

This list should help you out.

What to Wear

You don’t need to be outfitted in the latest, high-end yoga brands to fit in. When it comes to your threads, just make sure they’re comfortable, light, and breathable. This is especially important if your class is in a heated studio. Also remember, yoga is practiced in bare feet – make sure you take your shoes off in the lobby!

What to Bring – Tools of the Trade

A mat is really the only essential item you’ll need. As you develop your practice, your mat becomes a sort-of extension of yourself. If you don’t want to invest in one right away, that’s OK, there are rentals available.

A mat towel and water bottle are other items you are encouraged to bring. Mat towels are slightly different than shower towels. They are lighter and more absorbent. You can also rent these.

Depending on the type of class you take, blocks, straps, blankets, or therapy balls may also be used. These items are free for you to use.

Yoga hack: If you’re in a pinch, a shower towel or even an extra layer of clothing can serve as a mat towel to give your sweaty hands some grip.

Pre-Yoga Grub

Staying hydrated is the most important take away here. A light snack and glass of water will prevent you from feeling faint, and also help your body keep up with the physical demands of your practice. Stay away from heavy carbs though – your stomach will thank you.

Arrive Early

No, really. Get to class early. Yoga is all about escaping the chaos and tuning out the hustle and bustle of everyday life, and instructors take this very seriously. The instructor is always the final person to enter the studio, so simply put, don’t expect to sneak into a class late. It won’t happen. Arriving early also affords you prime real estate when selecting your mat space. 15 minutes should do the trick.

Yoga hack: Usually, beginners set up their mats towards the back of the room. But this isn’t mandatory, so don’t let it deter you from going front and center!

Photo: Tieja MacLaughlin

What if I Can’t Do a Pose?

Then don’t. Yoga is a personal journey, and the studio is a judgment-free zone. That’s the cool thing about it. If you don’t feel comfortable in a pose, simply hang out in child’s pose or downward dog. When you’re ready to continue, jump back in with the rest of the class.

Savasana, Namaste and other Yogi Lingo

You’ll likely hear words throughout your practice that you won’t necessarily understand. Don’t worry though, you don’t need to take a Rosetta Stone course to translate them.

Savasana is how you begin and end your practice – laying on your back on your mat with your eyes closed.

Namaste translates loosely to, “the light within me bows to the light within you.” It’s said aloud collectively at the end of practice, while sitting cross-legged with your palms pressed together at your chest.

Yoga hack: If you get stuck, just take a peak around the room and copy the poses you see others doing.


Talking in the studio is a major faux pas. There is also a strict no cellphone policy. So no, you won’t be able to snap a pic for Instagram. What you will leave with though, is clarity and a renewed sense of stillness.

I think you’ll find yoga to be a highly spiritual personal journey, and even a bit of an addiction.

Welcome to your first day of class.


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3 Simple Yoga Poses After Dinner That Can Boost Digestion


3 Simple Yoga Poses After Dinner That Can Boost Digestion

Who hasn’t heard of the far spreading glory of  yoga? This ancient form of exercise, which focuses a lot on breathing, is known to bring about various health benefits if performed regularly. It comes equipped with all kinds of asanas for all kinds of issues. There’s something for everyone. Of course the best time to perform these exercises is early morning, but not all of us can stick by it. So then we resort to alternate means. There are also yoga asanas that you can perform at other times of the day, including after dinner.

Yoga poses after dinner are said to help one digest the food better, making it less heavy for the stomach. It empowers your body’s digestion and improves the health of your organs. When we eat, the food goes down into the stomach, wherein digestive enzymes are secreted that help in the breakdown of the food. While performing yoga, there are poses that focus on stretching, strength and flexibility that can be quite strenuous. Now if you perform such exercises post dinner, they can end up hampering your digestion process. So one therefore needs to be careful.

According to Zubin Atre, the founder at AtreYoga, “there are a bunch of micro asanas we can do when it comes to our lower body because after dinner the food is still there in our torso.”

They include:

  • You can do some hand rotations, stretching of fingers and arms, ankle rotation as well.
  • You can also do some swift basic movements of the neck, sit on a chair facing the wall and imagine that there is a ball between your chin and the chest and squeeze the ball as much as you can. This is to stretch the muscles of your back and the neck along the spine.
  • Another movement of the neck involves moving it in all the directions north, south, east and west, and stretch the muscles.
neck exercise 625

Yoga Asanas Post Dinner

 1. Gomukhasana

 Gomukhasana or cow face pose is an asana which “helps in stretching the spine and the stomach muscles which helps in making the digestion process easy,” says Abhishek, a yoga expert at Mystic Yoga Café.

How to do: Fold your left leg and place your ankle near to the left hip, now place your right leg on the left leg such that both the knees touch each other after this take both the hands at the back such that the right-hand holds the left hand. Keep your spine straight and take deep breaths for about 1 minute. Repeat the same process after changing the position as well.

2. VajraasanaAlso known as Adamintine Pose, Vajraasana is the most beneficial yoga pose after dinner. Experts suggest that any movement which helps in stretching the upper body and abdomen and relaxes your breathing is a good posture after dinner. It is often advised to practice yoga with an empty stomach but this is one such exceptional asana which is more beneficial when practiced after a meal because it promotes digestion.

How to do: Sit by folding both the legs and placing them on your hips, now keep your palm on the knees. Keep your spine straight and take deep breaths and concentrate fully on the breath. Stay in the same position for about 10 minutes.



3. Ardha Chandraasana

 Ardha Chandrasana or half-moon pose is another good yoga pose to try after dinner as standing and side stretching (to stretch the stomach and abdomen) help in digestion, suggests Abhishek.

How to do: Stand straight on your yoga mat; lift your right hand to bend side ways to your left side and try to touch the ground from your left hand. Repeat the same by changing the hand position for about 10 minutes.



 The opinions expressed within this article are the personal opinions of the author. NDTV is not responsible for the accuracy, completeness, suitability, or validity of any information on this article. All information is provided on an as-is basis. The information, facts or opinions appearing in the article do not reflect the views of NDTV and NDTV does not assume any responsibility or liability for the same.

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Meditation and Aging

By Aditi Dave, MD, and Jim Larsen

What happens in the body that causes aging? Scientists have discovered a fundamental process of aging in our cells that occurs on the strands of our DNA. This discovery won the Nobel Prize in medicine in 2009. This discovery is important to everyday life because we now know the speed of aging can move faster or slower and we have some control over the process. Aging can be seen to literally speed-up from stress and slowdown from meditation.

We have known for decades that meditation improved health by reducing stress, anxiety, improving cardiovascular function. Even beginning meditators report they feel calmer, happier, sleep better and have more energy. These benefits should be enough to encourage everyone to meditate as the cost and time involved is minimal compared to the rewards.

New research shows that the benefits of meditation are far greater than previously thought as it produces changes at the deepest level of our brain, cells, and DNA. In addition to living healthier and happier from meditation, the deeper changes could bring dramatic improvements in longevity and cognitive function in old age.

Meditation also helps us stay healthier throughout life, not just live longer. Our cells are always aging and the faster they age the more susceptible we become to disease, so the benefit of slowing the aging process also helps us remain healthier when we are young. The sooner we begin meditation the better, but research has found measurable changes in the brain after only 8 weeks of meditation, so it’s never too late to start. Studies on meditation have used many different methods of meditation and all were found to bring measurable benefits.


A stress response is triggered by an overwhelming experience or perceived threat. If you need to run away from danger a stress response will help you run faster and farther, but at a cost. A stress response is also triggered by simply thinking of something that worries or disturbs us. We don’t have to actually face a threat, just imagine one. The physical release of stress hormones is the same whether the trigger is from a real event or an imagined one.

There has been a revolution in medicine… recognizing the interactions between the body and the mind, the ways in which emotions and personality can have a tremendous impact on the functioning and health of virtually every cell in the body.”

~Dr. Robert M. Sapolsky, neuro-endocrinologist, professor of biology, neuroscience, and neurosurgery at Stanford University, in Why Zebras Don’t Get Ulcers

Studies have found long-term activation of the stress-response can disrupt almost all the body’s processes and puts us at increased risk of numerous health problems. A 2002 press release from the National Institutes of Health states: “Stress hormones continue to wash through the system in high levels, never leaving the blood and tissues…[and] can have a hazardous, even lethal effect on the body.”


Scientists found that aging can be measured by the length of a protective cap on the ends of our chromosomes called “telomeres” and by the presence of “telomerase,” an enzyme that protects the telomeres from the wear and tear of cellular division. In 2009, Dr. Elizabeth Blackburn won the Nobel Prize for her discovery of telomeres.

The length of telomeres indicates the remaining lifespan of a cell, the amount that a cell can continue to divide and replicate normally. Telomeres naturally become shorter with age, but research shows this aging process doesn’t happen at the same speed for everyone. Shortened telomeres are associated with weakened immune system function, heart disease, and degenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s and osteoporosis. Many diseases previously common only in the elderly are now affecting many young people.

Telomerase is an enzyme that prevents telomeres from becoming shorter. Plus it can also add length back to the telomeres, which increases cell longevity. Telomerase activity is a predictor of the long-term viability of cells.

A 2008 study showed that the stress hormone cortisol inhibits the activity of telomerase. The oxidative stress and inflammation which is the physiological fallout of stress appears to erode telomeres directly. Meditation is known to reduce cortisol.

A 2004 UC-San Francisco study led by Dr. Elissa Epel, that also included Nobel prize recipient Dr. Blackburn, found a significant correlation between shortened telomeres in subjects who lived with a lot of stress. The participants in the study were all pre-menopausal mothers caring for a child, including a group of caregivers who had a higher level of objective stress because of caring for a chronically ill child.

The greater amount of telomere shortening in the high-stress group indicates they had aged the equivalent of 9–17 additional years, compared with the low-stress group.

A 2013 Harvard Medical School study led by Dr. Elizabeth Hoge found relative telomere length was longer in women who practiced a loving kindness meditation compared to a control group that didn’t meditate. The longer participants had been practicing meditation the longer their telomeres were.

A study by Dr. Mary Armanios, MD at the John Hopkins School of Medicine, looked at the telomere lengths of over 2,000 Native Americans. Those who had the shortest telomeres were more than twice as likely to develop diabetes during the following five and a half years.

Dr. Elizabeth Blackburn, the scientist who won the Nobel prize for discovering telomeres, states, “If people could see the impact of stress on their telomeres, they would have the motivation to change their lifestyle and be more willing to embrace a yoga or meditation practice.”


Studies show that after the age 35 there is a steady loss of brain volume, beginning at about 0.2% per year and accelerating to about .5% at age 60. After 60, the loss per year is even higher. This loss of brain volume contributes to early cognitive decline and premature death.

Those who meditate have been found to gain brain volume instead of losing it. In a 2007 study, neuroscientist Richard Davidson at the Center for Healthy Minds at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, found an increase in grey matter and cortical thickness in key areas of the brain in meditators. Increased activity was also seen in brain regions used for paying attention and making decisions.

In a 2009 study published in the journal NeuroImage, researchers at UCLA used high-resolution MRI imaging to scan the brains of people who practiced various forms of meditation compared with a control group. All the meditators in the study showed significantly larger volumes in regions of the brain known for regulating emotions. The control group did not show any areas of the brain with significantly larger volumes or more gray matter than the meditating group.

In 2011, a team led by Harvard-affiliated researchers at Massachusetts General Hospital reported the analysis of MR images taken 2 weeks before and after an 8 week meditation program. They found increased gray-matter density in the hippocampus, known to be important for learning and memory, and in structures associated with self-awareness, compassion, and introspection.


DNA is the blueprint of our physiology, and epigenetics is the field of study of how genes turn on or off in response to environmental and lifestyle cues. For all physiological and pathological processes, gene expression determines the final state of cells and their function.

A study on SKY Breathing Meditation found the practice immediately affected gene expression. This study compared gene expression after a session of SKY Breathing Meditation compared to a control group that went for a walk in nature and listened to classical music.

The findings showed four times more genetic expression in the SKY Breathing Meditation group than the control group and about 85% of the genes that were turned on or off were different than the control group. These genetic expression changes seemed to be global changes occurring very rapidly (within 2 hours of the SKY practice) and were associated with a 2.5 times longer life span in the white blood cells studied.


Another impressive finding was how quickly SKY Breathing Meditation achieved physiologic boosts in the cellular anti-oxidant defense system that protects us from “free-radicals” that accelerate cellular aging. Free-radicals are generated in the body naturally from essential metabolic processes and also from exposure to the environment (air pollution, x-rays, industrial chemicals and ozone to name a few).

Antioxidant enzymes such as superoxide dismutase, catalase, and glutathione are the body’s way of scavenging free-radicals before they damage cells. A balance between free-radicals and antioxidant enzymes is essential for proper physiologic function. Stress increases free-radicals and if they exceed the body’s ability to regulate them, oxidative stress ensues, leading to altered lipids and proteins and damaged DNA, which can then trigger pre-mature cellular death leading to accelerated aging and disease.

One study on SKY Breathing Meditation looked at 42 practitioners who had practiced SKY for 1 year versus non-practitioners. The study took blood samples of each group and narrowed in on a particular white blood cell (the lymphocyte) and its antioxidant enzymes, as well as cell longevity.

The results showed a significantly better anti-oxidant status for all these antioxidant enzymes studied and an associated prolonged life span of the white blood cell, suggesting a powerful, positive effect on improving the antioxidant mechanisms of anti-aging in the body through SKY Breathing Meditation.

Another promising study looked at 24 healthy males from Police Training College Delhi, India. The study evaluated antioxidant levels in practitioners of SKY Breathing Meditation as compared to non-practitioners. The results found significantly improved antioxidant enzyme levels in practitioners of SKY Breathing Meditation at 5 months as compared to non-practitioners.


When stress responses are triggered chronically, less and less of a trigger is needed to set-off another one. When meditation is practiced regularly, the opposite trigger can be cultivated in the system. When a stress response occurs, a meditator might simply take a deep breath, or consciously bring their attention to their mind or body and a calming response is spontaneously triggered thereby quickly reversing the stress response.

Long-time meditators show less activity in an area of the brain known as the “default mode network,” which is linked to self-centered thinking. A brain imaging study at Yale University found people who regularly meditate switch off areas of the brain linked to such states as daydreaming and anxiety.

An EEG study at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology studied an effortless form of meditation where there was no attempt to control the content of the mind. They found marked changes in electrical brain wave activity associated with wakeful, relaxed attention when comparing the same subjects resting without applying any specific meditation technique.


In a wide spectrum of meditation studies a large variety of techniques were found to reduce stress to some degree. The most effective techniques bring a deep state of rest to the mind and body as shown by reduced cortisol in circulation, and a decreased sympathetic overdrive of the nervous system and brain. Depending on the technique, the meditative experience of a person and the regularity of practice, the depth of the immediate rest, and long-term benefits could be significantly varied.

Many simple techniques can bring a degree of relaxation while other meditation techniques take one well beyond relaxation to a state of deep meditation where the mind is quiet and may even have moments of no thoughts. Just a few minutes of such a deep meditative state can bring enormous benefits in rejuvenating the mind and body.

Many folks give up meditation because the hyper-stimulated mind interferes with quieting down. This is driven by the chronically sympathetic-driven nervous system, which is fueled by our demanding lives, constant multi-tasking, and over-stimulated environment.

If you identify with this, and are inspired to either learn meditation or deepen your current meditation practice, one user-friendly and highly efficient program is SKY Breathing Meditation. Using the breath is a naturally efficient and easy way to shift the nervous system and mental activity into meditation because of the direct connection between breath and mind.

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