Sunday, April 7th, is World Health Day. The goal of this annual global campaign is to promote access to good health and healthcare for all people, all over the world.
Part of the campaign is focused on helping individuals and health care providers understand more about protective factors for good health, including nutrition, exercise, lifestyle and stress reduction.
So to raise awareness of this important campaign and help you experience better health, here are 3 protective practices from yoga, meditation and pranayama. Without any complicated equipment and with zero cost.
1. Sun Salutations (Surya Namaskara)
This is a sequence of asanas (postures) connecting movements and breath which are often included at the beginning or end of a yoga practice. The flow includes full body stretches and strengthening postures as well as downward facing dog or child’s pose for inner reflection and breath awareness.
There are a range of modifications and variations which mean that sun salutations can be adapted to suit any body. Surya Namaskara can be a dynamic flow or a gentle, restorative sequence.
The flow of sun salutations is easy to learn with a little practice, and once learnt it provides a complete stretching and strengthening routine with movement connected to breath. 10 sun salutations would take around 15 minutes to practice at a steady pace.
Including asana in your day like this provides several benefits. It increases physical vitality, strength and flexibility, protecting against illness and injury. It lowers stress hormones and
calms mind and body. And it offers an opportunity for self-learning, which enhances your ability to take care of your body in a mindful manner. Read more about the importance of asana.
2. Yoga Nidra
I know, I talk about Yoga Nidra a lot. But with good reason!
This deep relaxation practice has an incredibly positive effect on physical and mental health. Many people struggle to truly relax, particularly with lifestyles and practical or social pressures being so endlessly demanding.
But Yoga Nidra allows you to relax fully. To sink into a state of calm in which your body can be rejuvenated; your immune system soothed; and in which your mind and body can process thoughts and emotions so that you feel a profound sense of clarity and peace.
Yoga Nidra is practiced lying on your back. If you’re ready to experience this wonderful practice for yourself, head to this blog post on Yoga Nidra for Stress Relief and Finding Peace. There you can learn more and download a FREE audio practice to use at home.
3. Breathing Practices (Pranayama)
The breathing practices often included with a yoga practice are called Pranayama. They allow you to learn how to direct, control, and harness the power of your own breath. In turn, this expands your experience of the deep life force energy within you.
Pranayama practices range from very simple and accessible to beginners — such as Natural Breath Awareness — to more complex techniques which you can build up to gradually.
The benefits of pranayama for health include reducing tension (both physical and emotional); managing stress and anxiety, and by extension, the long-term negative effects of prolonged stress; and increasing lung capacity.
I did a Facebook live introducing the fabulous power of pranayama which will guide you through the practice of Natural Breath Awareness. Click here to watch and breathe! Practice starts around the 40 second mark.
Yoga for the Soul Retreats wishes you wellness on World Health Day and beyond. Health is a personal and a public journey; and it is my privilege to work in a field that promotes holistic well being.