How Healthy Eating, Walking and Yoga Can Provide Lifelong Balance
Continued from Part 2, Walking
Healthy eating and fitness through walking provide a strong foundation for the body and mind. At the apex of this triangle is the practice of Yoga, which unites the body, mind and spirit.
The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines Yoga as:
- Hindu theistic philosophy teaching the suppression of all activity of body, mind, and will in order that the self may realize its distinction from them and attain liberation
- A system of exercises for attaining bodily or mental control and well-being
If we look closer at the Sanskrit word yoga, we find the root word “yuj” means “to unite.”
Yoga has been practiced for several millennia but has increased in popularity after BKS Iyengar introduced the practice of yoga to the West in the 1950s. Over the past few decades, yoga has become more mainstream due to its many health benefits. Current research suggests that a carefully adapted set of yoga poses may reduce low-back pain and improve function. Other studies also suggest that practicing yoga might improve quality of life; reduce stress; lower heart rate and blood pressure; help relieve anxiety, depression, and insomnia; and improve overall physical fitness, strength, and flexibility.1
Yoga is near and dear to my heart, and I am passionate about recommending it to others. I started practicing yoga 18 years ago and it has helped with all aspects of my life. When I was going through a challenging time at work about nine years ago, I realized that I slept better on the days that I did yoga, so I decided to make it a daily practice. This increased commitment helped improve my strength, health, balance and the way I react to stress. The best thing about yoga is that it can be incorporated into a daily routine for little or no cost. While there are many wonderful yoga studios in most areas, you can practice yoga in the comfort of your own home by following yoga routines on DVD, or via YouTube.
With all the life stresses of jobs, family and illness, it is reassuring to know that with the simple habits of healthy eating, walking and practicing yoga, one can enjoy equanimity of the body, mind and spirit. Step-by-step and day-by-day, you can make progress by replacing the bad habits with good ones. While it might be easy to cheat on any of these activities, you will only be cheating yourself in the long run. Consider this a tried-and-true “Mindfulness Manifesto” which may help you avoid a lifetime of chronic diseases and stress, while ensuring a balance of good health, vitality and overall wellness.
The article above concludes my three-part series that I wrote for a research paper last year. I make no claims of being a health care expert. I am sharing these practices in mindfulness because I found they work best for me. I feel better when I eat real food. My mind is at ease when I’ve had a good long walk every day. My spirit is at peace and my heart is open when I do yoga.
I practice what I preach. I made the decision to begin yoga teacher training this year to deepen my practice and to be able to share it with others as a certified yoga instructor. After sampling a few Bay Area yoga studios for teacher training programs, I decided to go with YogaKula studio in north Berkeley because they have the best schedule and vibe. The 200-hour yoga training was rescheduled to begin in May 2016 . I’ll miss the first sessions as I’ll be on the Camino then. That’s okay, I already made up some hours by attending their Spring Yoga retreat on April 10 at the beautiful Green Gulch Farms and Meditation Center. The training postponement also allows me to attend the Wanderlust 108 Festival in SF on April 24th! I signed up to volunteer with AIReal Yoga, so if any of you yogis are planning to attend, stop by the hammock zone and say hola, or Namaste. 🙂
Disclaimer: Always consult your physician before beginning any exercise program. This general information is not intended to diagnose any medical condition or to replace your healthcare professional. Consult with your healthcare professional to design an appropriate exercise prescription. If you experience any pain or difficulty with these exercises, stop and consult your healthcare provider.
- National Institutes of Health (NIH) website “Yoga For Health”