Showing posts with label yoga exercises. Show all posts
Showing posts with label yoga exercises. Show all posts

Ethics is a Means to Yoga

1. All aspirants commit mistakes now in jumping to Samadhi and Dhyana all at once as soon as they leave their houses without caring a bit for ethical perfection. The mind remains in the same condition although they have practiced meditation for fifteen years. They have the same jealousy, hatred, idea of superiority, pride, egoism, etc. Meditation and Samadhi come by themselves when one has the ethical perfection.

2. Sadachara or right conduct is the foundation of Yoga. Yoga is rooted in virtue. Ethical discipline is very necessary for success in Yoga. Ethical discipline is the practice of right conduct in life. One should be well established in Sadachara to begin with. Sadachara is the practice of Yama-Niyama. Yama and Niyama are the two moral backbones of Yoga, which the aspirant must practice in his daily life. These correspond roughly to the ten commandments of Jesus or to the noble eight fold path of Lord Buddha. Practice of Yama-Niyama will eradicate all impurities of the mind.

3. Yama is the very foundation of Yoga, without which the superstructure of Yoga cannot be built. Yama is the practice of Ahimsa (abstinence from injury and killing), Satyam (truthfulness), Asteya (abstinence from theft or falsehood), Brahmacharya (continence) and Aparigraha (abstinence from avariciousness or greed). Patanjali Maharshi mentions the above five chief items for practice in Yama. In every religion you will find this to be the foremost. Great emphasis is given in every chapter of the Gita on the practice of Yama.

4. Niyama is the observance of the five canons, viz., Saucha, Santosha, Tapas, Svadhyaya and Isvara Pranidhana. According to Sandilya Rishi, the practice of Saucha, Daya, Arjava, Dhriti and Mitahara is included in Yama. Saucha is external and internal purity. Washing the hands, taking baths, etc., are for external purity. Filling the mind with pure divine thoughts is internal purity.

5. “The mind becomes pure by cultivating habits of friendliness, compassion, complacency and indifference towards happiness, misery, virtue and vice.” Whosoever shows friendliness towards all those who are found in the enjoyments of pleasures, the dirt of envy leaves him. When the mind shows compassion towards those who are suffering from pain and the wish to remove the miseries of others as if they were his own, the dirt of the desire to do evil to others is removed. Whoever shows complacency towards those who are virtuously inclined beings, the dirt of envy is removed from his mind. Whoever shows indifference towards the vicious and taking to the middle path and not taking sides, towards the viciously inclined, the dirt of the impatience is removed from his mind.

6. By this removal of the characteristics of the qualities of disturbing energy (Rajas) and inertia (Tamas), the characteristic of essential purity (Sattva) manifests itself. He becomes possessed of a very high manifestation of essential purity. His mind becomes inclined to the side of the restraint of mental modifications, because this enlightenment is natural to that state. When the mind becomes pure it attains the state of steadiness and becomes one-pointed. If these moral qualities are not cultivated, the means cannot lead to steadiness. Therefore, one should be well established in Sadachara if he wants to attain perfection in yoga. When one is established in it perfectly, then Samadhi or Nishtha will come by itself.

Top Five Yoga Exercises to Help You Sleep Well

Have you ever arrived home from work feeling stressed, tired or fatigued? When you feel like this it is tempting just to slump down in front of the TV, pop a pizza in the microwave for dinner and pray your children occupy themselves chatting to their friends on Facebook.

In the long-term this behaviour is detrimental to your health and family well-being. Apart from the fact you increase the likelihood of developing stress related illness, such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol and being overweight, your ability to unwind and have a restful sleep is affected.

Sleep is something your body can't very well do without. During sleep, your body relaxes and vital repair work is carried out.

Lack of sleep leaves you feeling ratty, short tempered and emotionally drained. On a physiological level, your immune system functions below par, which means you are more likely to feel run down, lethargic and pick up bugs quickly.

To counteract these negative effects of stress, you can practice yoga.

The following yoga exercises are ideal to practice at the end of a stressful day. They will help your mind to calm down and release tension and strain from your body. As with all forms of exercise, listen to your body and work at a pace which is comfortable for you.

Top five yoga exercises to help you have a good night's sleep
1. Bhujangasana (Cobra Pose)

Lie on your belly with your hands flat on the floor, under your shoulders with your legs straight out behind you and close together. Press your feet and toes firmly down into the floor. Have your forehead resting on the mat. Breathe in and slowly raise your forehead, nose and chest up from the floor, keeping your hands down and pressing your hips into the floor. Hold this pose for 3-5 rounds of deep breaths, then slowly exhale and lower yourself down.

2. Extended Child Pose

Start in a kneeling position, sitting back on your heels. If this feels uncomfortable, lace a folded blanket or pillow between your buttocks and your heels.

Breathe out and slowly lower your body forward until your head touches the floor. If your legs or back are stiff and you find it difficult to place your head on the floor without your hips coming up, make a fist with your hands, place them one on top of each other and rest your forehead on the top fist. If your stomach feels uncomfortable or gets in the way, just spread your feet apart.

Keep your buttocks on your heels. Stretch your arms out in front of you. Each time you breathe out let your chest go closer to your knees. Keep your shoulders relaxed and take your arms back so your hands are close to your feet.

Stay in this position for 10 - 15 rounds of deep breathing. Gently breathe out, slowly kneel up again and be aware of how you feel. Stay still for a few more moments before you get up from this position.

3. Practice Deep Breathing

Lie on your back, close your eyes, focus on your heart centre and take a full deep breath in through your nose. Feel your rib cage expanding and your lungs filling up with fresh rich oxygen then slowly breathe out through your nose. As you breathe out, allow your lungs to empty completely and abdomen to relax. Repeat this calming deep breathing at least 5 - 10 times. You will feel energised, calm and focused.

4. Rag Doll Pose

Simply bend at your waist and flop forward, keep your feet firmly on the ground. Allow your knees to be soft and make sure your head is soft and wobbly. Relax your jaw and allow your arms to swing and flop from side to side. Stay in this position for 1 - 2 minutes.

5. Legs up the Wall Pose 1
Lie on a soft blanket or yoga mat on your right side with your buttocks against a wall. Roll on your back and stretch your legs up the wall. Keep your buttocks against the wall and lie with your back on the floor and your legs elevated against the wall. Keep your legs together. Breathe slowly and deeply and feel your back relaxing and releasing into the floor, whilst gently stretching your heels upthe wall, away from your hips. Take 10 - 30 deep steady breaths.

So next time you come home from work, stressed, tired or fatigued, make time to practice at least 2 - 3 of the above easy yoga exercises before you go to bed.

Your mind will feel calmer and your body relaxed and ready for a good night's sleep.

Evaluating Benefits Of Yoga - American Council On Exercise (ACE) First

Today more than 11 million Americans pack fitness studios around the country seeking the mind-body benefits of yoga, including increased flexibility, strength, balance and muscle tone. But is yoga also a good calorie-burning workout? In an exclusive study, the American Council on Exercise (ACE), America's nonprofit fitness advocate, examined the aerobic benefits and calorie expenditure of Hatha yoga, the most beginner-friendly and widespread practice.

Lead researchers Dawn Boehde and John Porcari, Ph.D., FACSM, from the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse recruited 34 healthy but sedentary women (average age of 33) for the study. Before beginning the study, participants were given the same series of tests evaluating their flexibility, balance, aerobic fitness level and muscular strength and endurance.

The subjects where divided into two groups: a yoga group and a non-yoga control group. The yoga group participated in 55-minute Hatha yoga classes three times a week during the eight-week study period while the non-yoga group was barred from any form of exercise.

The study concluded that while the yoga group showed numerous improvements in strength and endurance as well as improved balance and flexibility, they did not burn a significant amount of calories. In fact, one 50-minute session of Hatha yoga burns just 144 calories, similar to a slow walk.

"Yoga is designed to relax the body and help improve musculoskeletal fitness. If you attempt to incorporate calorie-burning elements in a yoga session you may compromise the essential purpose and beneficial effects of the practice," said Dr. Cedric X. Bryant, chief exercise physiologist for ACE. "While the ACE study shows that a Hatha yoga session burns a relatively small amount of calories, yoga is still a valuable addition to any exercise routine offering the essential elements of flexibility, balance and relaxation; factors often neglected in traditional workouts."

Yoga group participants did show the following improvements:

-- Yoga participants' total body flexibility improved by 13 percent, with significant results in shoulder and trunk flexibility

-- Muscular fitness also improved in the yoga group enabling them to do an average of six more push-ups and 14 more curl-ups

-- Yoga participants experienced a 17-second increase in their one-legged stand time

Relax And Refocus With Yoga

The essence of optimal health is a healthy mind in a health body. Yoga, which has been practiced for more than 5,000 years, is a way to achieve both.

The November issue of Mayo Clinic Women's HealthSource offers an overview of yoga and its health benefits.

Rooted in ancient India, today's yoga is broadly understood as a system of relaxation, postures and breathing. Over the centuries, different forms of yoga have evolved. Some focus more on spirituality, others on mediation and mastering the conscious mind. Some are more physically challenging than others.

A number of research studies have been conducted on the potential health benefits of yoga. Some commonly acknowledged benefits include:

Relaxation and stress relief. Yoga's quiet precise movements focus your mind less on your busy day and more on movement as you breathe deeply and progress through a series of poses.

Increased flexibility and balance. As you learn and practice new poses, you'll find that each time you can reach a little farther.

Although evidence isn't definitive, studies have also shown that yoga may help manage certain chronic health conditions, such as:

Depression, anxiety and other mental health disorders
Cardiovascular diseases, including high blood pressure and high cholesterol
Chronic pain

If you'd like to try yoga, look for classes in your area. You also can learn from books and videos, but an instructor can help you adjust poses to your needs. Ask about the instructor's training and experience in working with your particular needs or health concerns.

At the end of the yoga class, you should feel invigorated yet calm. If that's not the case, talk to the instructor for suggestions. Otherwise, anotheryoga class may be better suited to your needs.