Tongue Scraping

Tongue Scraping 2

Older research suggests that using a tongue scraper twice daily can improve your sense of taste. Tongue scraping also improves the appearance of your tongue, removes bacteria, reduces bad breath and improves overall health.

 

First of all, we should all brush our teeth before we eat breakfast – not only after! Otherwise, you will be eating with a foul mouth. You can start with oil pulling, then brush & floss your teeth, and finish with tongue scraping.

Yes, using a tongue scraper is a good habit to implement in your morning and night routine to scrape your tongue after brushing your teeth. Bacteria don’t only accumulate on your teeth – what about the rest of your oral cavity? Your gums, tongue and throat, for example, all house bacteria. Cleaning the surface of the tongue is an important part of daily oral hygiene.

Gently scraping the tongue from the back to the front five to ten times, first thing in the morning after brushing the teeth can reduce the accumulation of toxic and bacterial substances that can lead to bad breath and disturbed digestion.

Using a stainless steel or copper U-shaped scraper, this quick and easy ritual can eliminate the white and sometimes yellowish coating found on the tongue, as well as enhance the function of taste buds, which stimulate the oral enzymes (the key sensory organ in digestion). When the brain and mind accurately perceive ‘taste’, only then does your food digest properly. Scraping the tongue stimulates this process, the digestive tract and your digestive fire.

A healthy tongue should be pink in colour and free from any coating. Your tongue is a map of your digestion, and it can really tell you what is going on in your gut. So, next time you wake up and go to brush your teeth, check out your tongue too. Is there stickiness or a coating? If so, then it’s definitely time to add tongue scraping to your morning routine.

Tongue scrapers are inexpensive and now widely available, but a good-quality copper one will last a lifetime – copper is a non-toxic metal and has healing properties of its own, including healing mouth ulcers.

 

Neti Pot

Neti Pot

A neti pot is a container designed to rinse mucus from your nasal cavity. You might use a neti pot to treat symptoms of nasal allergies, sinus problems or colds. Perform a nasal cleaning every morning with a neti pot and see the difference!

 

What is a Neti Pot

According to recent research, the human nose isn’t just able to smell 10,000 scents but has the ability to differentiate between at least a trillion different scents. There are millions of microglands in your nasal passages that have a direct connection to your nervous system. Living in an urban environment means that we can lose our sensory sharpness. So why would we not nurture and protect our nasal senses?

Nasal cleaning is becoming one of my favorite daily rituals. It really feels good! The traditional yogic practice of nasal irrigation using warm sterile saline water and a neti pot is truly amazing. A neti pot, which looks similar to a teapot, flushes out mucus from your nose. You can buy a neti pot at your local pharmacy.

 

Benefits of using a Neti Pot

  • It clears the sinuses and helps clear blockages
  • It helps to prevent allergic reactions
  • It relieves cold symptoms (and possibly snoring)
  • It pulls out toxins from inner mucosa

 

How to use a Neti Pot

Cópia de Cópia de Cópia de Cópia de Copy of Instagram Post – Untitled Design (1)This practice is best done once a day, in the morning, usually after your oral cleansing practices. Using comfortably warm sterile water, mix with 1/4 tsp powdered rock salt in your neti pot. Tilt your head forward and tilt to one side and, using the pot, allow half of the water to trickle in one nostril and out the other. Take a breath and repeat on the other side. Blow your nose to clear the solution, along with the excess mucus.

Neti pot irrigation can be followed up where appropriate by oil cleansing of the nostrils, known as pratimarsha nasya. You can use a medicated oil such as any thailam, but sesame oil or ghee are just as beneficial. To perform nasya at home, you can take a slightly warm liquid ghee, tilt your head backward and administer 1-2 drops in one nostril, while closing the other. Take a deep inhalation, and repeat on the other side. You will feel the oil in your throat, which you can spit out.

Nasya protects the eyes, nose and throat against diseases. It has also been said to prevent premature greying of the hair and hair loss. It can nourish the facial skin and strengthen the voice, so it is a great practice for vocalists and public speakers.

Lemon Water

Lemon Water

Drinking warm lemon water stimulates the digestive system to absorb nutrients and eliminate waste, and it boosts your immune system and helps your skin to glow with Vitamin C, amongst other benefits. Learn more about it here!

 

Drinking fresh lemon with warm water on an empty stomach after your morning cleansing practices can enhance digestion, reduce any sluggish and bloated feelings and aid daily elimination. I am a firm believer in learning from first-hand experience – so go on and try it!


Benefits of drinking warm lemon water

Benefits of warm lemon water

 

Oil Pulling

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Oil pulling is an ancient Ayurvedic dental technique that involves swishing a tablespoon of oil in your mouth on an empty stomach for around 20 minutes. This action helps drawing out toxins in your body, to improve your oral and overall health.

 

Benefits of Oil Pulling

There are some daily health rituals that you can follow on a day-to-day basis for the benefit of the self-development of both the mind and the body. Oil pulling is one of those simple little things that can help you to bring balance to your life.

Once you get Oil Pulling into your routine, you’ll wonder how you ever started the day without doing it. In the morning, most of the people usually only brush their teeth after they have breakfast, before leaving for work. The problem is that you are eating with a foul mouth, and it just doesn’t feel right! You should take care of your oral hygiene before food, right after you wake up.

Traditionally, in the ancient days, teeth were cleaned with the fingers or with a twig, using herbal powders and oil. I’m not suggesting you go back to chewing sticks, but there are a few subtle adjustments that can still help you improve your oral health. Not only for removing bad smells but to prevent diseases of teeth, mouth, ears, eyes, digestive and respiratory systems, and in some cases even of the heart.

Brushing in the morning before food prevents metabolic toxins accumulated overnight in the mouth from being reingested by your system, which cannot be further broken down by the liver.

 

Oil Pulling in 5 Easy Steps

oil pulling

Asanas & Sun Salutations

Surya Namaskār

Surya Namaskar, or Sun Salutation, is a series of postures that warms, strengthens, and aligns the entire body. Read this post to learn how to make the postures!

Benefits of Yoga

Movement is a crucial part of our daily life. Our lives have become more and more sedentary, so planned and purposed exercise has become a necessity. Life used to be much more active, and incidental exercise was sufficient, as people worked on farms and walked long distances to work.

Our bodies are designed for movement and movement is a crucial element to our vitality. Listen to your body and honor how you feel. Regular movement can increase your strength, stamina and resistance to disease. The more you move, the more energy you will generate!

Nowadays the mysticism of yoga has been removed and the stigma that was attached to it as some cult-like practice has disappeared, every third person walking down the street has a yoga mat, and there are yoga studios popping up in cities everywhere. It’s a phenomenon!

However, as a yogi (male) or yogini (female), you should know that the practice of yoga extends far beyond the practice of asanas. When your mind, body and spirit are truly in union, you are really practicing yoga.

In the ‘Yoga Sutras‘, Patanjali focuses on ashtanga yoga – literally meaning ‘eight limbs’ – to reach enlightenment. Starting with ethical living and self-discipline (yama and niyama), then performing asanas to connect with yourself, creating freedom through your breath (pranayama), freedom from sensory engagement (pratyahara), practice of focused concentration on one point (dharana), uninterrupted contemplative meditation (dhyana) and finally a pure blissful state (samadhi).

This post will be focussed on asanas. Your practice should be to move with mindfulness and bring focus to your breath in each pose, this is the essence of yoga. Yoga directs and channels prana, your life force energy, as you engage your body.

Yoga postures are designed to help stretch, massage and tone the body muscles and organs. With regular practice, you can build strength, stamina, flexibility and awareness. Yoga is now widely recognized for its health benefits, such as bringing down high blood pressure and high blood sugar, reducing the risk of heart disease alleviating depression and anxiety. My simple yoga practice really enables me to connect with my body and keeps me grounded and stable so that I can face challenges that come my way.

So maybe it’s time to get in on the action!


Popular Yoga Asanas (Poses)

Adho Mukha Svanasana (downward-facing dog pose)

Downward Facing Dog

Vrksasana (tree pose)

tree pose

Malasana (garland pose)

Garland

Dandasana (staff pose)

Dandasana

Uttanasana (standing forward bend pose)

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Virabhadrasana I (warrior I pose)

warrior I

Virabhadrasana II (warrior II pose)

warrior II

Marjaryasana (cat pose)

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Bitilasana (cow pose)

Cow Pose

Balasana (child pose)

child pose

Bhujangasana (cobra pose)

cobra pose

Dhanurasana (bow pose)

bow pose

Setu Bandha Sarvangasana (bridge pose)

bridge pose

Parivrtta Utkatasana (revolved chair pose)

revolved chair pose

Ustrasana (camel pose)

ustrasana

Viparita Virabhadrasana (reverse warrior pose)

reverse warrior

Utkatasana (chair pose)

chair pose

Savasana (corpse pose)

savasana


Sun Salutation – Surya Namaskar

Surya Namaskar

This ingenious twelve-posture yoga sequence know as Surya Namaskar can be tailored to suit your constitution by adapting the pace. It is a fluid warm-up sequence that is performed at the beginning of the day. Unlike aerobic exercise, this sequence is done slowly, purposefully and gently with a focus on your breath. This sequence helps stimulate blood circulation, regulate the nervous system, clear the brain and bring shine to the eyes. You will simply glow!

Tantra Yoga

Tantra Yoga


 

In October I decided to start doing yoga. My friend Delite recommended me this place called Ananda Marga Yoga & Meditation Malta. He said that the teacher was very nice and that the classes were not ‘gym yoga’ style, they were more spiritual and mixed with meditation, which is what I was looking for.

Ananda Marga Yoga Center is located in Gzira. The classes take place in a house with a super cozy room. It makes us feel at home right away. The energy in this place is magical and you always leave yoga a big smile on your face.

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I like the fact that the schedule is super flexible and we can just stop by whenever we want – Dada, the teacher, is always there. Sometimes I go at 5.30pm after work, other times I go later. The classes usually last about 1h, but if you get there in the middle, Dada always lets you in anyway.

Dada Shubhacetanananda, our teacher, is truly an amazing human being. Learning meditation and yoga from someone who truly believes and lives by what he says was truly the best experience. Dada not only teaches yoga… he takes care of people and gives a lot of teachings, advice, and suggestions about life and helps us to have a good lifestyle.

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Dada comes from India. He has a calm and good-tempered personality and through his yoga and meditation makes you see life in a really different and positive way. He cares about each person individually and shares experiences and guides you in a healthier way of living. Sometimes I go to his classes and he gives me vegetables for free, to make sure I’m eating healthy, and he always asks about how I feel and offers me water to make sure I keep hydrated. He is a very kind human being.

Tantra Yoga

Tantra Yoga, as interpreted by Shrii Shrii Anandamurti, is the practical philosophy that serves as the foundation of Ananda Marga. Tantra controls the mind through mental exercises (meditation) with the help of the body (postures and massage). This type of yoga is focused on stress relief and health (physical and mental) with relaxation sessions, guided visualization (short meditation) and good advice for your health mostly based on naturopathy.

Tantra Yoga is less physical than Hatha yoga. It is very suitable for aged persons. It is good to learn how to control our emotions and rediscover oneself. However, this type of yoga is not different from Astaunga yoga. We technically practice Astaunga yoga, but only a part of it is presented in these classes.

Yoga Asanas

In the West, we have come to equate the term “yoga” with yoga postures, but in fact, they form only a small part of the whole system. The term “yoga” in fact implies a whole way of life which includes yoga postures as one of its many facets.

In Sanskrit, yoga postures are called ‘asanas’. Asana means ‘a posture giving physical comfort and mental composure’. Asanas affect the glands, nerves, muscles and all the organs of the body. Yoga asanas were developed over a period of thousands of years. At first, yogis watched the postures of different animals and then imitated them – hence the existence of several asanas with animal names.

Doing asanas brings many physical benefits, but the most important effect is on the mind. The practice of asanas places pressure on the endocrine glands, and this results in the regulation of hormones secreted from those glands. The hormones affect the emotions, and the resultant emotional balance facilitates concentration and meditation. So asanas help prepare the mind for meditation.

Benefits of Asanas

  • Balance the hormone secretions from the glands;
  • Give flexibility to the body;
  • Improve respiration, as well as blood and lymph circulation;
  • Massage the internal organs;
  • Detoxify the joints;
  • Relax the nerves and muscles;
  • Cure diseases.

While practicing asanas the body should be cool and calm. The stomach should not be full. The room should be clean and warm, and there should be no smoke in the air. Except for the meditation postures, asanas should not be practiced during menstruation or pregnancy.

Different Asanas & Benefits

Shoulder stand: regulates the thyroid gland, as it puts pressure on it. When the posture is released, the flow of blood rushing into the throat ‘massages’ the gland and helps it to achieve the right amount of secretion.

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Yogamudra: Sit cross-legged. Hold your left wrist with your right hand behind your back. Slowly lower your chin, then your neck, bend down as far as you can go, breathing out as you go down. Stay there for 8 seconds with your breath held out, then rise up breathing in. Practice eight times.

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Cobra: Lie on your stomach. Place your hands facing down on the floor beside your ears. Supporting your weight on your palms, push up and raise the chest, looking up towards the ceiling. Breathe in while rising, and hold your breath in that position for 8 seconds. Come down to the original position while breathing out. Practice eight times.

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Long Salutation: Kneel down with your buttocks resting on your heels and your toes pointing forward. With your palms together, extend your arms up vertically next to your ears. Slowly bring your arms and head down as one, first bending your neck, then the whole upper body, until your fingers hit the floor, keeping your buttocks as close to your heels as possible. Now stretch out with your forehead and nose resting on the floor. Breathe out as you go down, and stay there with your breath held out for 8 seconds. Then rise up breathing in. Practice eight times.

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Other asanas include:

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Kaoshikii Dance: at the end of our asana routine, we do this dance while we sing ‘Babanam Kevalam’, which means ‘I am surrounded by the infinite consciousness and I merge into it thus experiencing infinite bliss and happiness’. The kaos’ikii dance is a psycho-physical exercise that benefits the mind by developing mental stamina and strength. The name Kaoshikii comes from the Sanskrit word kosha, meaning “layer of mind”. Kaoshikii develops the subtler layers of mind, cultivating the feeling of mysticism – the endeavor to establish a link between the finite and the infinite – in one’s consciousness.

Skin Massage

After the asanas, we always do a skin massage and then lie down in deep relaxation for at least two minutes. The skin massage helps in the absorption of sebaceous oils which are naturally secreted onto the skin surface. Deep relaxation gives the body a chance to assimilate the positive energy gained from the asanas.

Benefits of the Skin Massage

  • Increases the luster and suppleness of the skin;
  • Relaxes and revitalizes the nerves;
  • Increases the blood and lymph circulation;
  • Harmonizes the vital energy (prana) of the body.

First, rub your palms together a few times to warm them up. Start at the head and face and work down, rubbing the entire surface area of the skin. Pay particular attention to the throat, under the chin, the armpits, groin, and behind the knees. In these regions, there are collections of lymph glands that also benefit from the massage.

Deep Relaxation

After the skin massage, we lie on our back with the arms by your side, making sure that your breathing is calm and relaxed. Now go through your whole body, starting at your feet, consciously making sure that each part is completely relaxed – with no muscular tension at all.

Go from the feet up the legs, consciously checking each part, into the groin area, into the abdomen (also feeling that your internal organs are relaxed), into the chest and shoulders, from the fingers and hands up the arms, then into the neck and up into the face, relaxing the facial muscles, including the eyes, and finally to the top of the head, feeling that your brain is also relaxed. Check once more that you are breathing calmly, and stay like that – fully relaxed – for a few more minutes.

Benefits of Deep Relaxation

  • Induces the “relaxation response,” similar to hibernation;
  • Relieves stress;
  • It lowers the blood pressure;
  • Strengthens the heart;
  • Relaxes the nerves and muscles;
  • It decreases the need for sleep.

Meditation

After the self-massage, we do some more meditation, where we connect with ‘supreme consciousness’. At the end Dada always repeats ‘you are happy, you are peaceful…bring your mind back… open your eyes… Namaskar!’.

Namaskar’ is a traditional Indian greeting or gesture of respect, made by bringing the palms together before the face or chest and bowing. The difference between ‘Namaste’ and ‘Namaskar’ is that the first one means ‘I bow to you’ while ‘Namaskar means ‘I bow towards your existence’. The word ‘Namaskar’ is used to show more love and respect towards a person.

My Experience with Tantra Yoga

Tantra Yoga and meditation have been helping me a lot lately to calm down my busy mind and to appreciate life the way it is. Doing it correctly is very important, that’s why I definitely recommend this place. Dada through meditation and yoga helped me to understand what is important in my life. Thank you!

 

Breathing Exercises

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When we are born, our life starts with a breath, and when we die, our life ends with it – prana (our life force energy). Our breath influences mental faculties and physiological health. If our breath is able to sustain our very existence, why would we choose not to nurture it? Learn some breathing exercises techniques also known as pranayama here.

What is Pranayama

In today’s sedentary and stressful lifestyle, most of us live on a shallow and quick breath, using only a fraction of our total lung capacity and living on just enough energy supply for the body to function. This way of breathing limits our vitality and our resistance to diseases, and potentially starves our brain of essential oxygen, creating tiredness, irritability, and disturbed sleep.

Pranayama is not only a deep set of breathing exercises but one of the 8 branches of yoga:

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Prana is the subtle energy form that governs all functions of your body and mind, taking responsibility for the coordination of breathing, the senses, and the mind.  This profound knowledge of careful direction and circulation of prana through pranayama exercises aims to manipulate the respiration rate, deepen and elongate the breath, and therefore sustain life. Try it for yourself – you’ll see that you will feel the calm, peace and physical benefits, even after just a few minutes!

Deep inhalation and exhalation of breath increases the level of oxygen being supplied to the blood and as a result, it improves the quality of your bodily tissues. Many studies highlight the positive effects of breathwork on medical conditions such as type 2 diabetes, heart disease, migraines, obesity, asthma, and high blood pressure, as well as many stress-related conditions, such as depression, anxiety, and insomnia.

Preparation for Pranayama

Setting up the right environment will enhance the clarity and focus of your mind during the practice of pranayama and meditation. Set up your space so that it is clean, clutter-free, noise-free, with plenty of ventilation so that fresh air is able to enter the room. Keep some comfort provisions, such as cushions and blankets, nearby in case you need extra support, padding, and warmth.

When you practice pranayama, you should sit in a comfortable position, ideally seated on the floor or on a chair, with the spine erect, chest open and the focus on your breath.

For all breathing exercises listed here, start by sitting comfortably on the floor with legs crossed (siddhasana / padmasana) or sitting on your knees (vajrasana), or on a chair with your back straight and feet firmly flat on the floor. 5-6 minutes each morning is sufficient as a starting point. Ideally breathing exercises should be done on an empty stomach.


Pranayama Breathing Exercises

Bhramari Pranayama (Bumblebee Breath)

Bhramari-1

Benefits

A technique that helps promote restful sleep and helps overcome insomnia. It is great at silencing the mind. The vibration of this breath does not allow any thoughts to enter your mind.

Technique

Take a normal breath in, then let go and relax. Then cover your ears with your thumbs and your eyes with your fingers to block out external disturbances and enable you to go inward. Take a deep inhalation to your natural full lung capacity, then, as you slowly exhale, make a low humming sound in your throat until your breath is complete. Repeat at your own pace for 2-3 minutes. This is a great exercise pre-bedtime.

Nadi Shodhana Pranayama (Alternate Nostril Breath)

Alternate_Nostril_Breathing-1

Benefits

This breath is designed to cleanse the channels of the physical and subtle body. Alternate nostril breathing will help you to balance the left and right side of the brain, the sympathetic and parasympathetic activity, helping you to bring your awareness to the breath and stimulating a grounding sensation.

Technique

Using your right hand (reverse, if you prefer left), place your right thumb beside your right nostril and your ring and little finger beside the left nostril. Gently close the right nostril with your thumb and exhale out of your left nostril. Inhale with the left nostril while you count to four. Then close the left nostril and breathe out through the right. Inhale with the right nostril, close the right nostril and exhale from the left. This completes one full circle, but you can continue for 4-5 minutes. Ensure that you take a moment to pause between each inhalation and exhalation – this will help you to keep your breath slow, steady and just slightly deeper than normal.

Ujjaya Pranayama (Victorious Breath)

Benefits

This breath helps remove the heat from the head, as it cools the back of the throat. It is a great way to draw oxygen into the lungs, helping you to expand, deepen and lengthen your breath. It helps remove phlegm in the throat and relieves the symptoms of asthma and other pulmonary diseases. Ujjaya increases resistance to diseases of nerves, dysentery, dyspepsia, enlarged spleen, coughs and fever.

Technique

Sitting comfortably, inhale a slow breath through the nose that travels down the back of the throat and into the lungs, to a full but comfortable lung capacity (sounds like a Darth Vader-like breathing noise), then slowly release it in the same manner as inhalation.

 

Shitali Pranayama (Cooling Breath)

Cooling_Breath-1

Benefits

This breath is a cooling breath, so if you are feeling agitated, angry and overheated, this one is for you. It helps quench thirst and appeases hunger. Shitali pranayama cools the physical body, especially the back of the mouth and throat. It reduces the inflammation of chronic diseases, fever, and indigestion.

Technique

Protrude your tongue and make it like a tube/ straw. Draw air in through your tongue to your natural lung capacity with a hissing sound, and exhale slowly through both nostrils – 2-3 minutes is sufficient for this exercise.

Sheetkari Pranayama (Hissing Breath)

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Benefits

Sheetkari pranayama has similar benefits to shitali pranayama. It is known as the hissing breath.

Technique

Touch the tongue to the roof of the palate and gently clench your teeth. Open your lips widely so the teeth are exposed and breathe in through the mouth to your natural full lung capacity from the abdomen through to the chest, and then slowly release through the nose. Repeat for 2-3 minutes.

Kapala Bhati Pranayama (Skull Shining Breath)

Shining_Skull_Breath-1

Benefits

This vigorous, energizing breath helps to stimulate and strengthen your abdominal muscles and diaphragm. It also massages and improves the function of your digestive organs, purifies the channels of the body and clears the lungs, bringing clarity to the mind and warmth to the body.

Technique

Since this is an energizing breath, it is best to do this in the morning only. You can do this when you are cold or when you are feeling sluggish. Start by exhaling your breath and then, in quick motions, take a passive breath in through the lower abdomen, then forcefully exhale the breath while pulling the navel towards the spine. The emphasis is on the exhalation while you contract your abdomen. Take a cycle of 15 breaths and repeat 3-4 times, with a short gap to rest between each cycle.

Bhastrika Pranayama (Bellow Breath)

Bellows_Breath

Benefits

Another energizing breath that will increase your prana and purify the subtle channels. This exercise will help stimulate your digestive power, giving you improved appetite and metabolism. The below breath brings clarity to the mind and warmth to the body. The stimulating nature of this breath helps to combat phlegm and reduce diseases of the nose and chest, including asthma.

Technique

Sitting comfortably with your eyes closed and body relaxed, inhale deeply and exhale deeply using the belly. This is similar to kapala bhati, but with an emphasis on both inhalation and exhalation from the abdomen. Go to a steady pace. You can do 3 rounds of 20 breaths, with a short break in between.


 

After your Practice

Take some time to rest after each breathing exercise to observe the sensations that you are feeling in your mind and body. You are not trying to orchestrate any experience, you are simply allowing the body to be free in the moment. Use this time to let go of your awareness and be present in the body. You might like to direct your attention to different parts of the body. Just observe what you are experiencing in that part of the body for a while. You’ll see your awareness expanding. This is a perfect opportunity to lead into your meditation practice.

 

Benefits of Pranayama

  • It increases the lungs capacity to energize the body with a fresh supply of oxygen
  • It reduces your breathing rate, which can reduce hypertension
  • It expels toxic waste from the respiratory system
  • It improves the health of your heart
  • It strengthens the respiratory and nervous systems
  • It helps increase metabolic activity and digestion
  • It reduces stress, and calms the mind and nervous activity
  • It increases awareness and concentration
  • It increases energy and vitality by providing stimulation for the internal organs
  • It reduces negative emotions, such as anger, irritability, depression, greed, arrogance, and jealousy