Five benefits of practising Maharishi Yoga Asanas
In these times, stress is rife, and with that comes the desire to alleviate anxiety and cultivate wellness in times of hardship.
Many people practise yoga to relieve stress and improve well-being, but is it for you?
You may be hesitant to try yoga because the term conjures up images of studios with people in gym wear and people showing off how flexible they are.
But yoga doesn’t have to be like that.
You can practise the yoga asanas at home and at your own pace, and it doesn’t matter how flexible you are — in fact, yoga asanas help your flexibility.
In this article we’ll look at the five reasons why you should consider trying Maharishi Yoga Asanas, and how they can help you deal with the challenges that the world is facing today.
Editor’s Note: Learn all about the Maharishi Yoga Asanas when you join our upcoming online course, starting 10 October 2020.
1. They are easy to do
The Maharishi Yoga Asanas were brought out by Maharishi Maheshi Yogi, who founded the Transcendental Meditation programme. Just like the practice of Transcendental Meditation technique, they are designed to be effortless, without straining or forcing anything.
Flexibility is not a prerequisite. In fact, everyone can practise them, and they are easy to learn. Even though the poses involve stretching, it doesn’t matter ‘how far you can go’ — you should listen to your body and find what is comfortable, rather than straining. (Don’t worry if you can’t touch your toes).
Yoga asanas are not a conventional exercise where you exert energy and become exhausted. In fact, emphasis in Maharishi Yoga Asanas is just as much on rest as it is on activity. Half of it is on rest, half of it is on activity. You make a pose (asana) and then rest for about 30 seconds, until you perform the next asana. Although you will receive deep rest, you will also enjoy the movement and gentle physical activity.
‘It doesn’t matter ‘how far you can go’ — you should listen to your body and find what is comfortable, rather than straining. (Don’t worry if you can’t touch your toes).‘
2. They improve health
In order to attain and maintain good health, we all need some form of physical exercise in our daily routine. Yoga Asanas provide an excellent way to gain this aspect of health in an effortless and non-stressful way.
The obvious physical benefit of practising yoga asanas is flexibility — from this one benefit, all the other health benefits are supported. Particularly, the act of stretching regularly relieves tension in the body that might otherwise stay and express itself in other forms of stress, such as fatigue and anxiety. An additional benefit of stretching is gaining strength as the fibres of your muscles break down and repair themselves during rest.
The exercises in the yoga asanas can even be a means to prevent injuries in other physical exercises. As certain Maharishi Yoga Asanas involve movement, the body warms up and becomes better prepared for more vigorous exercises.
And despite not requiring much energy, yoga asanas have cardiovascular benefits, such as lower resting heart rate, resting breathing rate, and blood pressure. This is because the stretches in yoga asanas help to improve blood flow and circulation.
3. They increase happiness and well-being
There are many studies that demonstrate the impact a gentle yoga routine can have on your happiness and wellbeing. For example, the quality of sleep has been shown to improve, which is the foundation of a good well-being. This in turn decreases depression and makes the practitioners of yoga asanas happier.
You can experience these positive emotional benefits of practising yoga whether you are already healthy or not. This means that incorporating yoga asanas into your routine is a step in the right direction if you want to get your health back on track, as long as you follow the guidelines of practising safely.
A national survey done on yoga practitioners found positive trends for physical and mental health, including better sleep, social relationships, and energy levels. However, yoga asanas should not be considered as a magical fix-all, but rather as an aspect of a good health regime, as the conclusion of the study notes: ‘Individuals who practice yoga are not free of health concerns, but most believe their health improved because of yoga.’
4. They increase productivity
Many people report that Maharishi Yoga Asanas help them to be more productive. This benefit is linked to the aforementioned happiness and well-being benefits. With better sleep, you feel less groggy and more refreshed, which not only means you’re less likely to rely on your morning coffee to pick you up, but also that you have more focus in your work.
I myself have experienced increased energy levels after practising Maharishi Yoga Asanas. Even if I still wake up with grogginess, I know I can practise the asanas and feel much more refreshed and ready to take on the day. I would definitely recommend trying them if you don’t consider yourself a morning person.
5. They supplement your meditation practice
Many people believe that asanas are yoga, but in reality the asanas are just one aspect of yoga. Asana means ‘seat’ in Sanskrit, meaning the poses we perform in yoga. The word yoga is a Sanskrit word meaning ‘unity’, and refers to the union of the mind and body. Asanas are just one limb of Ashtanga Yoga (the 8 limbs of yoga); another limb is dhyana (meditation).
The Transcendental Meditation technique, which Maharishi Mahesh Yogi brought to the world, is a simple, effortless technique to bring the mind to quieter and quieter levels while cultivating higher states of consciousness. TM and Maharishi Yoga Asanas, along with the practice of pranayama (a breathing technique), form different limbs of Ashtanga Yoga and aid the journey to yoga, ‘unity’.
For those of you who practise the TM technique, you may have found that many thoughts can come up during the practice. While thoughts are no barrier to meditation, they indicate that stress is being released. Practising the Maharishi Yoga Asanas before meditation practice helps dissolve some of the bigger stresses, settling the mind and body before the practice begins to allow for clearer experiences of transcending.
I find when practising Maharishi Yoga Asanas that the asanas divert my attention to my body and away from distracting thoughts, which means when it comes to TM I’m more settled and able to have a more profound experience, and deeper rest.
One study by Sonja Gobec and Frederick Travis looked at the effect that Maharishi Yoga Asanas on the experience of TM and found that it indeed makes the experience deeper. They comment: ‘Practice of Maharishi Yoga Asanas is an optimal preparation for body and mind to transcend thoughts and mental processes during subsequent TM practice.
The study concluded that ‘with regular yoga practice, these momentary experiences [of happiness during and after meditation] could become more frequent and for longer periods, leading to greater balance, well-being, and success in life.’
‘With regular yoga practice, these momentary experiences [of happiness during and after meditation] could become more frequent and for longer periods, leading to greater balance, well-being, and success in life.‘
Join our upcoming Maharishi Yoga Asana course
This is just a selection of the many benefits of Maharishi Yoga Asanas. Each asana in the set of Maharishi Yoga Asanas has specific health benefits. This is why when they are practised together alongside your TM practice and pranayama, the benefits are exponential.
Are you ready to practise them yourself? You can improve your Maharishi Yoga Asana practice and find out more about all the limbs of Maharishi Yoga by joining MERU’s upcoming Maharishi Yoga Asanas 16-Lesson Course, starting online 10 October 2020.
Read more about the course here.
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