Practicing yoga, which can improve physical and mental health, may also help men become better fathers, suggests new research. The three-year study with 14 different groups of male inmates took place at Chelan County Regional Jail in Wenatchee, Washington.
The programme was advertised among the jail population. Volunteers, who had to be parents of young children and pass a security screening, were recruited.
“We would have a class on a specific topic, like child development or setting limits,” said researcher Jennifer Crawford from Washington State University.
“That would last about an hour, then a yoga instructor would come in and give a guided yoga class,” Crawford noted.
The results showed that inmates demonstrated being more aware and accepting of their vulnerability and responsiveness to children, among other benefits.
The instructor started every class with a centering exercise, then taught simple sequences that focused on standing poses; more complicated poses were not used due to potential health issues among the inmates.
Outside of the class setting, the inmates did journaling exercises such as writing about their own upbringing or ways they communicate with their children.
“Yoga can be physically demanding, and the initial responses we got from the participants confirmed that,” Crawford said.
“I believe the yoga practice helped participants become ready to learn and increased their willingness to try new ideas, absorb new information and begin to apply these in their lives,” Crawford noted.
The study was published in the California Journal of Health Promotion.
There are times when everyday stress gets too much to handle and you just can’t wait for a vacation to de-stress. Good news is there are some relaxation exercises for immediate relief, that you can do
anywhere, anytime if you have few minutes at hand.
Dr Bhavna Barmi suggests relaxation techniques that will help you improve your overall mental well being.
01 2-Minute Meditation
Switch your thoughts to yourself and your breathing. Take a few deep breaths, exhaling slowly. Mentally scan your body. Notice areas that feel tense or cramped. Quickly loosen up these areas. Let go of as much tension as you can.
Move your head to your right shoulder, then to the left shoulder, move your head forward from your chin to your chest and then backwards. Roll your shoulders forward and backward several times. Let all of your muscles completely relax. Recall a pleasant thought for a few seconds. Take another deep breath and exhale slowly. You should feel more relaxed.
02 Mind Relaxation
Close your eyes. Breathe normally through your nose. As you exhale, silently say to yourself a short word such as “peaceful” or a short phrase such as “I feel quiet” or “I’m safe”. Continue for ten minutes. If your mind wanders, gently remind yourself to think about your breathing and your chosen word or phrase. Let your breathing become slow and steady.
03 Deep Breathing Relaxation
Many individuals under stress experience rapid shallow breathing from the upper chest as if preparing for flight or reacting to fear. This type of breathing intensifies anxiety. To reduce stress, take several deep breaths and practice slow, abdominal breathing every chance you can. Imagine a spot just below your navel.
Breathe into that spot and fill your abdomen with air. Let the air fill you from the abdomen up, then let it out, like deflating a balloon. With every long, slow breath out, you should feel more relaxed.
During a break or after lunch, try this relaxing posture. Sit somewhere quiet. Comfortably round your shoulders so they feel relaxed. Drop your arms to the sides. With the palms up, rest your hands on top of your thighs. Bend your knees comfortably while extending your legs. Allow your feet to fall outward, supported by your heels. Next, let your jaw drop, close your eyes and practice your deep breathing for several minutes.
Sometimes we are not able to change our environment to manage stress – this may be the case where we do not have the power to change a situation, or where we are about to give an important performance. Visualisation is a useful skill for relaxing in these situations. Imagery is a potent method of stress reduction, especially when combined with physical relaxation methods such as deep breathing. One common use of visualisation in relaxation is to imagine a scene, place or event that you remember as safe, peaceful, restful, beautiful and happy.
05 Physical Exercises
Physical exercises are one of the best methods to prevent you from any kind of stress related problems. One of the best ways to look after your physical and mental health is to follow a rule of 4 for Physical Exercises. The rule of 4 states that the exercises should be done either for 40 mins or 4km, 4 times a week.
It builds up our Good hormones (endorphins) and helps make our immune system strong, further helping us to develop a de-stress shield around us.
You could do the exercises taught in school, go to gym, take brisk walk or indulge in any sport of your choice.
Inhale beauty walk: Go for a nature walk and breathe deeply and appreciate the harmonious and symbolic relationship humans have with plants, as we inhale pure air and exhale impure air.
By Dr Barmi (Senior Clinical Psychologist, Fortis ESCORTS Heart Institute.)
Source: Indian Express