A lot of people like Japanese green tea, and a lot of people like yoga, but not many people realize that the two share a lot in common. Although the green tea ceremony comes from Japan and yogic exercise is an ancient practice that comes from India, they have a lot of similarities. Below are ten surprising facts about how these two cultures connect.
1. They are both ancient practices based on ceremony.
Yoga was developed in India over five thousand years ago as a means toward achieving spiritual enlightenment. Previously, only religious leaders could practice it, which included mantras, hymns, and religious rituals. Only in recent years did yogic practice take on the health significance that it has today. The Japanese tea ceremony is a traditional Japanese ritual that originated when tea (called matcha by the Japanese) was first brought to Japan from China in the eighth century. Like yoga, it originated as a religious ceremony but quickly spread to the public as people became more aware of its health benefits.
2. They both focus on harmony.
Yogic practice originated as a method of achieving spiritual enlightenment, which is a state of harmony with the gods. It is now practiced as a method to achieve harmony between mind and body. Harmony is also an integral part of the tea ceremony. For example, the ritual always includes serving sweets in order to balance out the bitter taste of the green tea.
3. They both help keep you relaxed.
Yogic exercise is a series of slow-moving stretches and exercises that encourage you to focus on your breathing and posture. It pulls you out of the stresses of your day and teaches you to meditate on the present moment. Also, few things are more soothing than a hot cup of aromatic green tea. Following your yogic practice with Japanese green tea will enhance the relaxation benefits.
4. They both help your energy levels.
Physical activity gets your blood flowing, improving circulation to your brain and lungs so you stay more alert and energetic. Green tea also boosts your energy levels because it contains a small amount of caffeine.
5. They both keep your heart healthy.
The benefits of physical activity on your heart health are well known, so it stands to reason that practicing yogic exercises regularly will keep your heart healthy. Green tea also has its documented benefits to your heart health. It helps improve your blood circulation, which in turn lowers your blood pressure and keeps your heart healthy.
6. They both keep your joints healthy.
Yogic practice employs gentle stretching to improve flexibility and keep your joints healthy. It also includes body-weight strength exercises, which increase bone density. Green tea also helps reduce inflammation in the joints, making it an excellent treatment for pain caused by arthritis. Following your yogic practice with a cup of green tea helps keep joints flexible and ache-free.
7. They both help with pain relief.
Yogic practice has been shown to relieve many painful chronic conditions such as multiple sclerosis, cancer and certain auto-immune conditions. Furthermore, the anti-inflammatory agents in green tea help reduce pain not just in the joints, but in the entire body.
8. They both keep you young.
The collectively improved circulation, heart and joint health, and mental health benefits that come from a regular yogic practice all combine to help you live longer and feel younger. Green tea also has its anti-aging benefits. The antioxidants in Japanese green tea once again play a positive role in your body, protecting your skin from sun damage and wrinkles when ingested and topically applied. This keeps you looking younger for longer. (Read more about topic on my another article - How to Fight Against Anti-Aging by Consuming Japanese Green Tea Daily)
9. They both keep you fit.
The strength and flexibility training in a regular class help burn fat and calories, but it’s important to know that there are many different types of yogic practice to suit your different fitness needs. Some focus more on strength, while others include cardio elements. The emphasis on mindfulness meditation also carries over to your dietary choices—being mindful of your thoughts and actions helps you to be more mindful about the foods you are putting into your body. Green tea, on the other hand, is commonly used as an ingredient in dietary supplements for its fat-burning qualities. It specifically boosts your metabolism, meaning that your body burns calories and torches fat more quickly. (Read more about Japanese Green Tea and Diet in my other article)
10. They both fight cancer.
Stress, poor diet, excess body fat, and a weakened immune system are all risk factors for developing cancer. Regular yogic practice helps reduce your cancer risk by lowering your stress levels and keeping your body and immune system fit. Green tea can also reduce your cancer risk due to the cancer-fighting properties of antioxidants. By now it is well known that antioxidants are important in protecting your body from forming dangerous cancerous cells. (Read more about this topic on my another article - Cancer and Japanese Green Tea - Why It is Good for Treatment and Prevention)
In short, yogic practice and the green tea ceremony have more in common than one might originally suspect. They both promote harmony and relaxation, they keep your body healthy, energized, fit, young, and pain-free, they fight cancer, and their positive effects actually work in tandem to enhance physical and mental well-being. More and more yogis have caught on to the benefits of adding green tea as a complement to their own personal yogic practice, and have even started including green tea as a part of their classroom instruction. Some simply recommend green tea to their students after class to enhance the positive benefits of practice and keep them going throughout the day, but more modern practices are increasingly leaving time at the end of class for the instructor and students to drink green tea together. This communal activity is reminiscent of the original tea ceremony, in which green tea and its well-known health benefits were meant to be enjoyed with company rather than alone. Although centuries ago they were separated by time and distance, both of these ancient traditions now benefit from being practiced together in the modern world.
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What do you really know about Gyokuro and Tencha? This article is a reply to some of your questions and a challenge for you to expand the world of tea that you currently enjoy. Let’s take a few moments to dive into gyokuro and tencha and find out what differences and similarities are out there!