Yoga is a holistic exercise system that originated in India. The first references to yoga and can be found in the Vedas, the most ancient holy scriptures of India. Besides physical exercises (asanas) and breathing techniques (pranayama), philosophy and meditation play an important role in the classical yoga traditions.
Yoga is not the only tradition that teaches includes meditation. Today there is a multitude of well-known meditation techniques from different cultures and traditions.
As different as the various yoga and meditation styles are, they all have a similar purpose: the main goal is to bring body and mind into harmony and to experience inner peace. The benefits of yoga and meditation have been scientifically proven in many studies.
As part of ourSelf-care January, we would like to introduce you to a few techniques and exercises that you can easily integrate into your everyday life.
Meditation is an effective technique for stress relief. It can help you to feel more serenity, inner peace and joy in everyday life. The positive effects of meditation have been scientifically proven in various studies.
The techniques differ according to tradition. Known meditation techniques are Transcendental Meditation (TM), Zen Meditation (Zazen) or Vipassana Meditation.
If you want to make your first experiences with meditation, you can use a meditation app. Apps likeThe Mindfulness App orHeadspaceoffer guided meditations with audio explanations. There are also a number of other meditation apps that can help you relax and reduce stress.
Of course you can also start without an app or tools, but experience shows that it is easier to get started with guidance as the mind starts wandering easily otherwise.
2. Sun Salutation (Surya Namaskar)
One of the most famous yoga sequences is the sun salutation. It consists of a total of 12 asanas (physical exercises), which are repeated several times as a dynamic sequence.
Sun salutations are a great way to energize and strengthen the entire body. The lungs, digestive system, as well as muscles and joints will all benefit from practicing Sun Salutations. In addition to that Surya Namaskar is immensely beneficial for losing weight, skincare and hair care. Quite impressive, isn't it?
If you would like to learn the sun salutation on your own, you can find many helpful instructions on Youtube. However, there are many variations and modifications. A good starting point for beginners are videos in the tradition of Sivananda Yoga or other classical Hatha yoga traditions. Look for a video where the postures are done slowly so that you can get used to them.
3. Golden milk
In Ayurveda, the sister science of Yoga, turmeric has been considered an important remedy for thousands of years. Turmeric tastes especially delicious in Golden Milk, also known as Turmeric Latte. Golden Milk from turmeric strengthens the immune system and keeps you fit, which is why it has become a hit especially among yoga practitioners.
Turmeric Golden Milk (2 servings)
- 2 ½ cups unsweetened almond milk
- 1 ½ teaspoons ground turmeric powder
- ½ teaspoon ground ginger
- A tablespoon of coconut oil (or ghee)
- A pinch of black pepper
- Maple syrup to taste (optional)
Heat the milk, curcuma powder (or curcuma paste) with ginger in a pot. Then add some pepper and let all ingredients steep for about ten minutes. Add a little coconut oil and pour the warm turmeric latte into a cup or mug. The result is a golden yellow milk with a sweet and spicy aroma. Enjoy!
4. Yoga exercise Cat-Cow
This popular back exercise makes the spine flexible, mobilizes your back muscles and helps to release tension.
This is how it works:
Start on your hands and knees with your wrists directly under your shoulders, and your knees directly under your hips. Point your fingertips to the top of your mat. Place your shins and knees hip-width apart. Center your head in a neutral position and soften your gaze downward.
The next time you inhale, lower your stomach towards the ground and pull your shoulder blades backwards (like a cow). At the same time, lift your head so that you can look forward. Be careful not to overstretch the neck.
Repeat a few times.
5. Yoga Nidra
Yoga Nidra is often called the sleep of the yogi. It is a guided meditation for deep relaxation. Unlike a sitting meditation, Yoga Nidra is performed while lying down on the back. The aim is to reach a state between being awake and sleeping. Through the guided instructions the mind oscillates back and forth between alpha and theta state without reaching the deep sleep state.
The advantages are manifold. It is said that 30 minutes of Yoga Nidra is as relaxing as 4 hours of deep sleep. Yoga Nidra can also help you sleep better, be more relaxed and improve your concentration.
If you want to try Yoga Nidra for free, you can find good videos on Youtube. Many yoga teachers offer guided Yoga Nidra meditations.
Find a quiet place where you can relax without disturbance. The room should not be too bright or too dark. Lie on your back and relax. Your eyes remain closed during the entire exercise.