Anulom Vilom Pranayama Benefits

I was introduced to Anulom Vilom when I was searching on Youtube on how to cure sinus and relieve oneself of a stuffy nose. I had come across Anulom Vilom without knowing it was Anulom Vilom, I had merely thought it to be a way to cure sinuses. It was only after I attended YTT that I knew its name. 

Improves Respiratory Endurance

I had physically experienced the benefits of Anulom Vilom and it had helped clear my stuffy nose. And indeed, one of the benefits of Anulom Vilom is that it boosts our respiratory system. As we are able to inhale more oxygen in this pranayama, it expands our lung capacity and increases our respiratory endurance. It may also help prevent issues such as asthma, allergies, or any blocked pulmonary disease.

Improve Blood Circulation and Heart Function

Anulom Vilom also helps improve the blood circulation in our body. As we breathe in and out deeply, more purified and uninterrupted oxygen gets circulated to our heart and brain. This helps maintain our blood pressure, as well as purify the nerves and veins in our body. This gives us lesser risks of any blocked arteries or heart diseases. 

Lowers Stress and Improves Mental Health

Another benefit of Anulom Vilom is that it can lower our stress levels. As the enhanced oxygen flow improves our blood flow and reaches our brain, it helps rejuvenate our brain cells and improves our memory, concentration, attention and helps stabilise our mood. This helps improve our overall mental health, and helps decrease anxiety, depression and reduces our stress. 

Improves Digestion and Helps Weight Loss 

As oxygen reaches our stomach and intestine, it helps flushes out any toxins and allows us to reduce our weight. The improved flow of oxygen also improves metabolism and balances hormones, which help us maintain our weight. Our digestion is improved and we can prevent any stomach-related infections.  

Treats Snoring Issues

Anulom Vilom helps to thoroughly clear out our nasal passage via alternate breathing through our nostrils. This prevents any blockages and allows smooth and constant passage of oxygen even when we are sleeping, eliminating snoring. 

Poses to activate our Chakras

One of the topics we had learnt during YTT was our ‘Chakras’. Although I had practised yoga on and off for 4 years, I actually did not know that Chakras were related to Yoga. I found the Chakra topic very interesting and decided to write this blog post to share a bit about the poses that activate our different Chakras. 

Muladhara Chakra 

Because Muladhara Chakra is the root Chakra, we can activate it by doing poses that are “grounded”. This includes poses such as Uttanasana (Standing Forward Fold), Malasana with hands in prayer position in front of our chest, Sukhasana (Cross-Legged Sit), Child Pose, Butterfly Pose, and Savasana. Additionally, more advanced poses  such as Virabhadrasana B (Warrior 2) and Utthita Parsvakonasana (Extended Side Angle Stretch Pose) may also help with activating Muladhara Chakra. 

Swadhisthana Chakra

Swadhisthana or Sacral Chakra is known as our ‘creativity’ and ‘sexual’ Chakra. To activate this, it usually involves poses where we stretch the muscles around our inner thigh, hips and pelvis areas. Some poses to activate this include Frog Stretch, Malasana, Supta Baddha Konasana (Lying Butterfly Pose), Utkata Konasana (Goddess Pose). Additionally, Low Lunge, Virabhadrasana B, and generally moving your hips around will help. 

Manipura Chakra

Our Manipura Chakra is related to our self-confidence. As this Chakra is located in our Solar Plexus, core poses or and poses with a slight arch-back activates this Chakra. This includes Cobra Pose, Bow Pose, Plank Pose, Virabhadrasana B and C, and Parivrtta Trikonasana (Revolved Triangle Pose). 

Anahata Chakra

Our Anahata Chakra is our heart Chakra which regulates our emotions. Thus, chest-opening poses can activate this Chakra. Such poses include Cobra Pose, Upward-Facing Dog, Bow Pose, Camel Pose, Marichyasana C, Wheel Pose and Reverse Plank Pose. We may also do Cat and Cowl Poses to activate this Chakra. 

Vishuddha Chakra

Lastly, our Vishuddha Chakra is related to our communication, and purity of mind. It is our throat Chakra, we should ensure this Chakra is activated and balanced in order to prevent health problems such as thyroid. To activate this Chakra, we usually do poses which stretched our neck area. Such poses include Bow Pose, Cobra Pose, Fish Pose, Camel Pose, Sarvangasana (Shoulder Stand). And we may simply also rotate our necks clockwise and anti-clockwise,  

I hope this post will be useful for all who are looking to activate and balance their Chakras. ☺ 

My Yoga Journey

I started Yoga back in 2017 because I had minor back pains due to my physically demanding job as a flight attendant back at that time. I signed up for a 1 year package at a yoga studio, in hopes of stretching my muscles and preventing any more back problems. I attended mostly stretch and beginner yoga classes around 4 times a month for a year. It was useful, and when coupled with more proper movement precautions when working, my back pains decreased. With yoga, I was able to increase my range of motions and flexibility. I also gained more body awareness and with some core control, I was better able to protect my back while working. 

As I transitioned to a corporate job, my life became sedentary and I was looking for a way to keep myself active, Yoga once again came to my rescue. I had  signed up for a classpass package and started exploring different exercises and studios. I tried boxing, spin and barre, but decided I still preferred yoga the best. I dislike cardio exercise, and I found yoga to be the only exercise that could increase my heart rate, and make me break out a sweat without realising I am ‘sweating’. Thus making me do cardio which I dislike and normally cannot maintain doing. It was a great way for me to keep fit in a way that I like. 

After practising yoga for a while, I also realised that I usually walk out of yoga class being in a better mood than I was walking in. This was especially helpful when I attended yoga class after a busy and stressful day at work. I find that the 1 hour physical practice allows me to practise dharana. As I fully concentrate on doing the asanas, and focus on my breathing, I was able to keep my mind off any distraction, and immerse myself in practice for that hour. After practice, I usually find my mind to be clear and relieved of stress. I feel refreshed, calm, peaceful and happy. I find this amazing because I had expected myself to feel ‘tired’ after the physical workout, but instead, I feel less tired than before the class. I always walk out of the yoga studio to the bus stop with light steps and feeling thankful that I came to practice. 

During the Circuit Breaker period in Singapore last year, I found myself practising yoga daily using the ‘Downward Dog’ application on my iPad. It helped me keep fit physically, gave my day structure and was something for me to look forward to. It helped keep my mind clear. 

As the pandemic affected my job, I found myself out of a job and being lost as to what to do, yoga and this Yoga Teacher Training (YTT), once again, came into my life and gave me a daily purpose for this month of joblessness. This YTT surprised me with the amount of Yoga theory and philosophy that we learn. I was surprised as I had expected it to be more focused on asanas. However, I am also surprised as these unexpected teachings and knowledge seemed to have come at an extremely timely period of my life. I am very grateful for this.

This is my yoga journey so far, and I know I will be happy wherever yoga brings me next.

My Hunched (or Rounded) Shoulders

I suffer from hunched shoulders due to my poor habit of being lazy to stand up straight. I am unsure if my hunched shoulders caused my mild scoliosis when I was younger, or if my mild scoliosis caused my hunched shoulders. I am inclined to think the former as I started slouching in Primary school, and only got diagnosed with scoliosis in Secondary school. 

Nevertheless, as I grew older and entered the working world, I found my own hunched shoulders unsightly, and motivation came from within to correct this. I turned to doing some simple Yoga poses to correct my posture. 

Before I begin sharing the poses, let me talk about the muscles involved in hunched shoulders. Hunched shoulders usually occur when a person does not have strong enough muscles in their upper back and shoulders to resist gravity. When we round our shoulder, our front chest muscles such as Pectoralis major and minor become shorter, while our back muscles such as our Trapezius, Rhomboideus and rotator cuff muscles (Supraspinatus, Infraspinatus, Teres minor and Scapularis) become lengthened and weak. 

Next, our bones (skeletal system) are  also involved in hunched shoulders. Hunched shoulders usually occur when an exaggerated hyperflexion of our thoracic vertebrae occurs. This curvature of the spine is called Kypnosis, and a person with Kypnosis is said to have a Kyphotic spine. Bad posture can cause Kypnosis. However, depending on the severity of the curvature, this can be corrected by strengthening the correct muscles. 

Strengthening the muscles and stretching the muscles are slightly different. Basically, we need to stretch our muscles to increase our range of movements (i.e. increase our flexibility), before we proceed to strengthen our muscles (via holding weights such as our body weight). This will make our muscle-building exercise more effective, as well as help our muscles to grow faster.

Lastly, allow me to share the following poses which I find helpful to both stretch and strengthen my muscles at the same time, to improve my hunched back, as well as overall posture. They are:

  • Low Lunge (Push my palms against the floor to hold my body weight, and look forward.)
  • Side Plank 
  • Wheel Pose (Try to straighten your legs, doing push-ups in the position if possible)
  • Hold in plank or Chaturanga Dandasana
  • Purvottanasana