Can Yoga Be the Answer to Modern Lifestyle Issues?
We might be living longer in the 21st century, but are we really living better? Experts don’t think so. According to the World Health Organisation, 60% of related factors to individual health and quality of life are correlated to lifestyle.
Millions of people follow this unhealthy lifestyle. Whether it’s sitting at their desks for too long, subjecting their eyes to uninterrupted hours of screen time on phones or desktops, ordering one too many takeaways for dinner, or not finding enough time to catch those precious 8 hours of sleep – all these factors have led to people encountering major health issues, that affects not just their physical wellbeing, but also mental health, causing intense stress and anxiety.
The fact that your health is directly proportional to the lifestyle you follow cannot be overlooked. And while exercising is an effective way to combat these health issues, the ancient practice of Yoga might actually prove to be a notch better in battling modern lifestyle diseases. Combine this with an improved diet and you will find within yourself a renewed energy and joy to live your days.
We bring to you a list of some of the most common lifestyle disorders and how you can tackle them with a proper combination of Yoga and nutrition:
The Desk Job
Umpteen reports and studies have now proven beyond a doubt how sitting on your desk for long hours is akin to smoking.
According to one of these reports, ‘sitting has been identified as a risk factor for early mortality, independent of the presence of a disease, such as cancer or diabetes. Up to 7% of deaths have been attributed to sitting alone.’
Considering how many of us are bound to our desks for 8-9 hours a day, we are all at a high risk of contracting lifestyle diseases. From acute lower back pain, eye strain to even more fatal issues like cancer – a lot of them can be attributed to our sedentary lifestyle.
How can you combat them? Taking short breaks every hour is essential. But for long-term benefits, incorporate these Yoga asanas into your daily routine.
Easy Yoga Poses for Daily Practice:
Fish Pose (Matsyasana) – The Fish Pose stretches the front of the body, strengthens your neck and upper back muscles, while also improving spinal flexibility and posture.
Standing Forward Fold (Uttanasana) – Very effective in relieving lower back tightness, relax your tired muscles and combating stress to a large extent.
Bound Angle Pose (Baddha Konasana) – This pose stretches your hips, groins, knees, and inner thighs, improves blood circulation, especially in the pelvis area that can also help combat menstrual discomfort.
Cobra Pose (Bhajangasana) – This is a very effective pose to energize your back, reduce stress and fatigue, and also your shoulders and abdomen.
What about Nutrition?
No exercise can be effective without a balanced diet. Here are some important tips to follow –
Get enough micronutrients and eat dietary-fibre rich food. Mainly found in fruits, vegetables, whole grains and legumes, it can help maintain a healthy weight and lower risk of diabetes and heart disease.
Cut down on your tea and coffee intake. Instead consume lots of water for improved metabolism and keeping overeating in check.
Take hourly breaks. Stand up and stretch. Go for short walks to release your back and shoulder of all the stress it has been accumulating.
Use the stairs instead of taking the elevator or escalator. It will keep your leg muscles active while also burning some much-needed calories.
Excessive Phone Usage:
A 24/7, always available digital lifestyle is a major cause of most of the lifestyle diseases we face. Although, smartphones have made our lives much easier and comfortable, excessive use can take a serious toll on our health.
Excessive Phone usage can cause a number of health issues, some of which can cause permanent damage or even be difficult to treat, including eye strain, poor sleep and neck pain. Overusing your smartphone can also increase your risk of stress and anxiety.
Yoga for your eyes:
Palming – Palming was originally invented by Tibetan yogis. You can do it too in the confines of your home or office by simply using your palms for cupping the eyes. It will help soothe your strained optic nerves.
Legs up the wall pose (Vipanta Karani) – This pose is the easiest to do and allows your body and mind to relax, relieving stress and tension.
Child’s pose (Balasana) – The child’s pose can not only help stretch your hips and thighs, but also relax the muscles of the back, while reducing stress and fatigue in the entire body.
Cat/Cow pose – This posture improves balance, stretches the spine and hips, helps create emotional balance, and relieves stress to calm your mind.
And some nutrition for your precious eyes:
For healthy eyes, Vitamin C and E are the most beneficial nutrients as it helps protect them against damaging radicals.
Leafy green vegetables are rich in Lutein and Zeaxanthin that help maintain healthy eye cells.
To reduce use of phones, simply delete all the unnecessary apps to prevent mindless scrolling.
Over-snacking or Binge-eating:
Although eating two to three snacks a day between meals is often considered healthy and can help curb hunger pangs, constant snacking, particularly on unhealthy snacks, can lead to overeating. It is important to draw the line between snacking in small amounts and over-snacking.
Over snacking can lead to sudden weight gain and obesity, ultimately affecting your heart and causing other diseases like Diabetes. Not only that, over-snacking is the root cause of all bloating related problems as well.
Yoga poses to curb hunger and keep your weight in check:
Cow Pose or Gomukhasana - This pose will stretch almost every part of your body, while opening it up to correct posture and regain balance, both physically and mentally. When your mind achieves balance, you automatically stop craving unhealthy foods all the time, thus reducing your tendency to over-snack.
Seated Forward Fold (Paschimottanasana) – This pose provides a deep stretch for the entire back, and calms your nervous system and stressful emotions, making you crave unhealthy foods less.
Extended Triangle Pose (Trikonasana) – This pose not only relieves lower back pain and stress, but also helps improve sluggish digestion.
Healthy diet tips to combat over snacking:
Whenever you have the urge to snack, go for dry fruits instead of other junk food. Dry fruits are full of healthy fats and will keep you satiated longer to avoid excessive eating.
Don’t miss your three meals of the day. We tend to overeat whenever we deprive our bodies of food for more than 4 hours.
Drink plenty of water to keep yourself full. Sometimes, we misread thirst for hunger.
Keep yourself busy throughout the day so that you don’t eat out of sheer boredom.
A High-stress Environment:
Today, most jobs come with pre-packaged stress. In the short-term, it could mean pressure to meet a deadline, or complete a challenging project. In the long-run though, these pressures can add up to become harmful to your health.
Stress is often marked by emotional exhaustion and negative attitude towards others and yourself, ultimately leading to depression and anxiety.
Along with its emotional toll, stressful environment affects your physical health as well. It results in weight problems, high blood pressure and cholesterol level.
Fortunately, there are ways to help you manage all that stress. Here are some Yoga poses to help you work in that high-stress environment.
Yoga to reduce stress:
Easy Sitting Pose (Sukhasana) – The benefits of this easy pose might be subtle, but are actually powerful. Sukhasana can be used for meditation, especially early in the morning, to relive your mind of any stress that it may have.
Reclined Bound Angle (Baddha Konasana) – This calming pose can help reinvigorate your entire body and recharge your mind to help you tackle any stress you may encounter throughout the day.
Thunderbolt Pose (Vajrasana) – Too much stress tends to affect our digestion, throwing the entire system out of gear. This pose is very effective in overcoming the problem as it digestion, and can relieve indigestion and gas.
Health tips to manage stress effectively:
Drink herbal tea as it can help you unwind, boost your immune system, reduce pain in the body, improve digestion and put your mind and body at ease.
Consume more of Omega 3 fats such as Avocado and high fibre food to improve your digestion and overall immunity.
Citrus fruits and strawberries contain Vitamin C, which are proven to fight stress, while also providing your body some much-needed antioxidants.
The importance of sleep can never be overstressed. Try and get at least 6-8 hours of sleep for a healthy mind and body. Get enough sleep.
Try deep breathing exercises to calm your mind, relax your body and relieve it of any stress.
The modern world is full of lifestyle disorders, but small, conscious changes to your lifestyle can go a long way in overcoming these problems. Yoga is possibly the most gentle and effective practice ever designed, and by regularly following its principles, you can easily strengthen yourself, develop positive health, and enable your mind to face modern diseases with renewed vigour.