Do you want to become more aware of your own body and mind? Perhaps find some inner peace? A few gentle yoga stretches and breaths can get you that so why not give it a try?
18th to 24th November is Self-Care Week. Self-care is a term used a lot, but we are all busy and the term self-care can seem vague. To Dr Sakthi Karunanithi, Director of Public Health at Lancashire County Council and qualified yoga teacher, self-care means remaining active, eating, sleeping and working well. This all helps him to cope with stress better. He is a firm believer that the ancient practice of yoga with its gentle stretches, breathing techniques, relaxation and meditation has an important role to play in maintaining and improving our health and wellbeing.
Originating in India over 5000 years ago, yoga has become increasingly popular in the western world since the beginning of the 20th century. It offers a complementary set of approaches for remaining well, preventing and managing non communicable diseases and beating stress in the 21st century.
He says: “As a public health doctor and a yoga teacher myself, I have identified 5 key facts about yoga that can come in handy. Since taking up yoga practice regularly, I have personally become more aware of my own body. I am able to manage stresses of daily life better and think more creatively. I have even been able to lose a few kilograms of weight too, and stay there. As yoga is becoming more popular, it offers all of us an opportunity to get the most from it to remain healthy and happy.”
Yoga comprises of simple exercises, breathing, relaxation and meditation techniques. Here, Dr Karunanithi discusses the top five reasons for yoga being a great self-care tool for everyone, including doctors and nurses:
1. Yoga can be practised with very little (if any) side effects — yoga has remained part of our society for over 5000 years and It offers a natural, no nonsense, time tested approach that can be an adjuvant to modern day medicine.
2. It works! The growing scientific evidence is mind blowing — fundamentally, yoga helps achieve balance, strength, regulate inflammatory and stress responses in our body — the root causes of most modern day illnesses. From blood pressure, strength and flexibility, stress and anxiety, self-regulation, the list goes on…people who practice yoga regularly also report a sense of fulfilment, love and compassion towards others and the nature. It can’t get any better.
3. Yoga is low tech and low cost — you can practice those deep breaths at your desk, at the bus stop and anywhere in between, although there are digital tools to enhance one’s practice.
4. It can be easily learnt — simple asanas (yoga postures), breathing exercises and noticing your mind is all you need to learn from a qualified teacher, and practice regularly to experience the difference it makes.
5. It is for all ages and stages — contrary to popular opinion, yoga isn’t only for the fit and flexible people. Nor does one need to belong to any particular religion, faith or be spiritual. It offers such a wide range of choice to fit everyone’s needs and preferences. There are simple practices one can adopt across all ages, right until our last breath.
You can find all you need to know to get started with yoga, including the health benefits, yoga styles for beginners and finding a yoga class at https://www.nhs.uk/live-well/exercise/guide-to-yoga/