What makes a Yogic Lifestyle?
According to Swami Sivananda, a yogic lifestyle consists of regular posture practise (asanas), breathing exercises (pranayamas), relaxation (savasana), meditation (dhyana), a healthy vegetarian diet and positive thinking.
Postures - Asanas
The Sanskrit word asana means steady pose. A regular yoga asana practice helps to develop a finely tuned and strong body. It also promotes general health and vitality, encourages the systems of the body to work effectively and improves mental focus. During asana practice the whole body is worked. The internal organs are stimulated, stretched and massaged to aid functioning. Levels of oxygen in the blood are increased and circulation is enhanced. The muscles are lengthened, strengthened and toned which will correct posture, reduce body fat and help to reduce stress and tension within the body.
Breathing Exercises - Pranayamas
The Sanskrit word pranayama means control of vital life force. The benefits both physically and mentally of being able to control and utilize the breath are phenomenal. Yoga practitioners believe that by taking control of your breath, you have taken the first step towards controlling your life. The breath can be used to evoke deep relaxation, remove pain, and enhance meditation techniques. Pranayamas help to increase oxygen levels in the body and to expand the lungs which can improve lung capacity permanently.
Relaxation - Savasana
The ability to relax is not to be underestimated. So many people in today’s busy world struggle to relax properly. Life must be balanced, therefore moments of stress and tension should be followed with periods of deep relaxation. During relaxation the body and mind have time to recover, without this recovery time the body will gradually show signs of fatigue. If this fatigue becomes extreme illness may occur. When we relax our bodies use very little energy thus allowing mental and physical recovery.
Meditation - Dhyana
Developing meditation techniques and the ability to calm and still our minds takes a lot of time and practice but brings very many positive effects. Meditation helps strengthen the mind enabling clarity of thought and inner strength. Because no two people experience the same sensations during meditation it is impossible to universally define how one should feel when meditating.
The yogic diet is a pure one of a vegetarian or vegan nature. Of course, you do not have to be a vegetarian to practice and benefit from yoga, the important thing to remember is if you do eat meat consider the type of meat you eat, the conditions that the animals were kept in, how they have been fed and slaughtered and any emotional, ecological and environmental impacts that result from the life and death of the animals.
It is important to be positive at all times. A positive mind anticipates happiness, joy, health and a successful outcome to every situation and action. Whatever the mind expects, it finds. Positive thinking also helps to maintain mental balance and clarity which has many benefits.