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

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.

Mudras Yoga For Your Hands And Fingers

Mudras are my new found love. They are now part of my daily life and the mudra I have chosen for this month promises to offer me calm, inner core strength and improved focus (yeah, no more distractions for me) plus a healthier flow of energy throughout my entire body giving me more vitality. My clever hands, thumbs andfingers have quickly got my mind into shape and the body has eagerly followed.

The ancient Indian wisdom of Mudras are definitely my new well being energy tool.

Mudras are simple and I love simple. They are gentle and gracious in their actions and can literally be done while you are standing, sitting or in meditation. All you need is five minutes.

The ancient Indian texts explain how they can support the healing of many illnesses along with balancing all your chakras and bringing harmony back into your body, mind and soul. Used as a remedy for disease they are generally practiced for 30 - 45 minutes.

What are mudras?:

Mudras are healing hand postures and are a powerful aspect of yoga. There are Indian texts which explain how mudras are an ancient science that have been used for thousands of years to restore health. Mudras are literally health in your hand. Our thumbs,fingers and the palms of our hands are constantly emitting electromagnetic currents of energy and by creating certain postures with your hands,fingers and thumbs you opening up energy channels to encourage flow and healing.

The most familiar mudra’s:

If you practice yoga or meditation you will definitely be familiar with the Gyan Mudra. This is when the thumb and index finger connect whilst the other three fingers are left open and spread. The benefit of holding this mudra while in meditation is that it increases the flow of energy to your astral self. On a physical level it improves concentration, focus and memory. This mudra I have used for many years to support my meditations

Another mudra which I have used often in certain yoga postures is to hold the hands in prayer pose over the heart chakra. For me personally this is a very nurturing and calming hand posture and tends to bring the energy of peace into my body.

My chosen mudra for this month is the Prana Mudra:

I have chosen just one mudra this month to practice and absorb myself into. The prana mudra or life mudra seemed the obvious choice for me as I can get easily distracted and felt I needed more internal stability.

When doing this pose I sit on my meditation cushion in a peaceful environment (the kids are at school) calm my breathing, focus on my breath and place my subtle awareness on the energy currents being created with this pose. I'll observe the sensations, the blocks and the lightness flowing to different parts of my body. I'll do my best to just let thoughts float by and stay calm and centred. My intention is to repeat this pose twice a day for five minutes at a time. I’ll keep you posted with my progress and share my experiences before I move onto another mudra next month . All mudras will be filed under healing mudras.

The benefits of the prana mudra:

This particular mudra is said to benefit and increase the life force energy within you. Strengthen immunity, muscles, eyes and remove nervousness.

Nervousness or anxiousness can be an indication of weakness and reveals itself by being easily distracted due to lack of internal stability. This mudra strengthens the base chakra which will in turn strengthen and calm your inner core. The finger positions stimulates the nourishing energy in the pelvic flow and gently increases vitality and assists in reducing fatigue.

Keen to learn more about mudra’s:

My research, reading and study of mudra’s is in full swing. I’ll be featuring once a month a specific healing mudra that I am personally working with.

In the meantime I’ve ordered a book, DVD and a card set from amazon which I must say looks absolutely fabulous by Sabrina Mesko. She was taught sacred mudra techniques by a Master of White tantricyoga ; Yogi Bhajan who then gave her the responsibility to share it with the western world. She is also an executive member of the worldyoga council in India so I figured her books and DVD was a great place to start.

I’ve also enquired about her practitioner training program which looks like being held in 2008 in America. Now that is something I would definitely be keen to put on my schedule for 2008.

Yoga poses you can do anytime, anywhere

Even if you don't have hours to spend in a studio each week, you can still get the benefits of yoga practice. In our video below, yoga expert Tara Stiles demonstrates five easy poses that can be done anywhere to soothe tense muscles and stressed-out minds (you can read detailed instructions on each pose in my blog below).

1. Deep Breathing

If you're stuck in a stressful situation (like endless traffic), Stiles says the easiest way to reduce tension on the spot is through a focused breathing meditation. Close your mouth, and breathe deeply and evenly through your nose. This simple technique calms your mind and nervous system and can be done absolutely anywhere.

2. Eagle Arms

For those who spend a lot of time sitting at a desk, Eagle Arms can help improve your posture and reduce tension in your shoulders and spine. Bringing your arms out in front of you, place your right elbow on top of your left elbow. Keep twisting your forearms around each other until your palms come together. If you can't bring the palms of your hands together, don't push it; just let the backs of your hands touch. As your breathe deeply in, lift your arms up. Take five long deep breaths in this position.

3. Prayer Behind the Back

Time spent in the kitchen hunched over a cutting board can lead to tension in your wrists, shoulders, and back —all of which this pose helps alleviate. Bring your fists together to touch behind your back at about waist-level. Begin to slide your hands up your spine, bringing palms together to touch in a prayer position. If this hurts your wrists, don't force it. Instead, stay with your fists joined together. Hold this position for five deep, slow breaths.

4. The Hamstring Helper

If you are going for a walk or jog, try what Stiles calls the hamstring helper. Come into a low lunge, bringing your fingertips on either side of your front foot. Slowly start to straighten both legs. If your fingertips don't touch the ground when your legs are straight, slightly bend your front knee. Keep
your hips squared and breathe deeply in this position for a minute or two. Repeat on your other leg.

5. Pigeon Pose

When practiced before bedtime, Stiles says Pigeon pose will help reduce tension in your hips and lower back. This relaxing posture can also help calm your mind and set you up for a restful night of sleep. Gently come into a low lunge with your right leg in front. Slowly inch your right foot over toward your left hand. Ease your knee down toward your right hand. Your calf should be perpendicular to your torso. If you can't lower your hips to the ground, bring a pillow under your right hip to support it. Fold your torso over your leg, resting on your forearms. Stay in this position for a minute or two. Repeat on your left leg.

Thanks for watching this episode of Real Life Makeover! We’ll see you next week with more simple, everyday solutions to enrich your life.