Reaching Heights with Yoga!

Reaching Heights with Yoga!

“I’m not small! I’m fun-size!” Throughout our daily life, whether we intentionally acknowledge it or not, there are always constant reminders about our height – our placement in a queue at school, reaching for something placed in a high cabinet or shelf, buying long pants and skirts which seem to cascade to the floor (and could potentially double up as a mop!), and for those who drives, adjustment of the seat in the car when needed to drive.

Many parents are concerned about their children’s height (mainly the lack of) and have been trying all sorts of remedies, mostly old wives’ remedies, to help their children ‘grow’. In fact, some parents may have discreetly or indiscreetly suggest to their children to hang on the monkey bars in hope that gravity will work its magic and bestow them with added height of a couple more inches.

Although our biological built-up and physical attributes are gifts from our parents and ancestors, a research in Britain suggests that attaining a good height is not only about genes. Our lifestyle – the food we eat, the way we live and the way we think are also important factors to our growth as well. Other than exercises, the state of our minds is also important. Heard of the word ‘psychosomatic’? The Oxford Dictionary defined it as ‘a physical illness (or other conditions) caused or made worse by a mental factor such as stress’.

A relaxed and stress-free mind allows the body to produce the Human Growth Hormone (HGH), also known as somatotropin, easily. The growth hormone is secreted by the pituitary gland which is also the master of all glands as it controls the functioning of the other endocrine glands. This hormone stimulates growth, cell reproduction and cell regeneration in human. Hence, it is important in human development.

As we would already know, the word ‘Yoga’ is instantaneously associated with its therapeutic effects, particularly for personal physical, mental and emotional health. It integrates the psycho-physiological systems. Through the various practices of Yoga such as asana, pranayama and meditation, Yoga strengthens the body, calms the mind and nurtures the emotions these are the essentials for healthy growth. A consistent yoga routine can help to revitalise the body system, allowing it to grow healthily and make the mind calmer and balanced.

Yoga asanas which can help in promoting height are mainly poses which allow your spine to become upright and those of lengthening movement, such as:

Tadasana (Palm Tree Pose) – an ideal pose to lengthen and straighten the spine to improve posture and increase height by stretching the muscles and ligaments, enabling bones to grow longer. Tadasana also helps to develop physical and mental balance.

Chakrasana (Wheel Pose) – while increasing the elasticity of the spinal cord, this pose influences all hormonal secretions.

Trikonasana (Triangle Pose) – when performing the Trikonasana, the torso is being lengthened, giving it a refined posture.

Majari-asana (Cat Stretch Pose) – in this pose, the spine receives complete extension in both forward and backward directions, enabling the expansion of the cartilage discs in the spinal column.

Surya Namaskar – important routine for a whole body workout. Various parts of the body including the abdominal organs are stretched and compressed, warranting optimum functioning of the organs, while the spine is alternately flexed and stretched resulting in better spinal flexibility.

As mentioned earlier, being relaxed and stress-free are the best conditions for the production of HGH, and two of the most effective ways of arriving to a relaxed and stress-free mind is through the practices of deep breathing and meditation. Breathing releases the built-up stress and tensions which clouds the mind and tenses up the muscles. Deep abdominal breathing is the best to rejuvenate the whole body with oxygen, and the gentle pace throughout the breathing practice allow the body and mind to ease into a calm and relaxed state.

The physical, mental and emotional systems are interconnected, and each aspect nourishes the other. Our emotional state and mental faculty prominently influence our health and growth. A healthy mind is the key to a healthy growth. Meditation calms the mind and promotes mindfulness. Above that, the practices of meditation further integrate the body and mind to achieve goals set by the individual, and keeping the mind positive and clear of its direction leading to success.

While Yoga can help in healthy growth, the rate of growth differs from one individual to another. Other than Yoga practices, another apparent contributor of healthy growth is nutrition. Always remember to eat well and eat food which nourishes the body and mind, and be mindful when eating – put away all gadgets and switch off the television during meal times. Replace artificial flavouring with spices and herbs which are natural in origin. Natural herbs are known to nourish and nurture the body, giving it a strong and healthy foundation in which to grow.

Yoga addresses the whole person as an integrated unit. It incorporates all aspects of the person through the various practices and grants long lasting effects to the practitioners. So, practice often and with full awareness. While children are highly recommended to adopt a Yoga routine, teenagers and parents are also encouraged to include Yoga in their schedules. In fact, it will be most beneficial for the whole family to practice Yoga together. A family who practices Yoga together, grow healthily together.

This article was featured in YogaMail Apr-Jun 2016 issue.

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