Sceptics call it just another exercise fad while advocates call it a lifestyle – irrespective of your outlook on yoga, you cannot deny its popularity. Perhaps its popularity stems from the fact that, unlike other exercise regimes, it focuses on the harmony between the human body, mental health and the spiritual being. Yoga cannot be reduced to a few stretches and breathing exercises on a yoga mat – it is more of an ideology or a set of principles by whichone can attain a healthy and peaceful pair of mind and body. The yoga lifestyle would therefore be incomplete without a good amount of rest and a well-balanced diet.
Sound sleep and a sound mind
It is common knowledge that practicing yoga leads to better sleep. The reverse is even as important: a healthy sleep pattern leads to better results from yoga. The necessary 6 to 8 hours of sleep for an adult helps in brain development, memory power and better body functioning. A good amount of sleep enhances the results of yoga. Likewise, lack of sleep can inhibit the body from realizing the full effects of yoga.
Supplementing yoga with a good night’s sleep can heal damaged cells, boost the immune system and recharge the cardiovascular system. On the other hand, sleep deprivation can counter the effects of yoga. One of the benefits of yoga is easy weight control. Low levels of sleep can lead to energy deficiencies which, in turn, leads to increased cravings for junk food. The hormones which regulate hunger are also effected – this leads to overeating and obesity. Yoga practitioners who want to manage their weight would therefore need to pay attention to their sleep cycle.
Food for thought and food for yoga
Yoga anda well-balanced diet share a few common goals. Maintaining a proper diet ensures that the results of yoga are not compromised.
One of the goals is weight management. A well-balanced diet is the best source of energy required by the body to function properly. One should consume food which is rich in nutrients but low in calories. Healthy diets satisfy hunger, enhance body functions and prevent obesity as our body gets the required amount of nutrients at the expense of fewer calories.
Secondly, a well-balanced diet, like regular yoga, reduces the risk of chronic diseases and depression. Foods which are high in vitamins A, C and E, selenium, potassium, fiber and essential fatty acids protects the body from chronic diseases. The American Journal of Psychiatry mentions many studies where people who consume diets rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains and meats have lower risks of depression.
Practicing yoga without a well-maintained diet and sleep might reduce the benefits of yoga or, in worse cases, completely reverse the benefits. They provide the energy and stamina required for one to practice yoga regularly. Yoga is just one of the many steps we can take to ensure that our bodies go back to a state we would have enjoyed had we not consumed junk food and/or excessively stressed. We can use yoga to better adapt our mind and body to the changing times. Make sure to supplement your yoga exercises with a healthy dose of sleep and food, and make your life worth living.