Category Archive Yoga

ByAnxious Minds

Ashtanga Yoga

Another style of primordial religious practice from India, ashtanga yoga was taught by a certain Pattabhi Jois who was a former student of Tirumalai Krishnamacharya; a teacher was known to have lived more than a hundred years old. The sequences of this yoga classification are primarily based on the book entitled Makaranda. This old spiritual approach is a vigorous exercise initially intended for the teenage boys. However, things have changed and is now performed by individuals of all ages.

The term ashtanga yoga actually means eight limbs namely yama, niyama, asana, pranayama, pratyahara, dharana, dhyana and samadhi.

Yama has five parts such as aparigraha (non- covetousness), Brahmacharya (celibacy), asteya (not robbing), Satya (honesty) and ahimsa (non- violence).
Asana is a posture that focuses on breaking free from the tensions.
Pratyahara provides internal strength by getting rid of different manner of interruptions that will lead to the development of will- power.
Dharana begins with concentration which is integrated with meditation finishing off in samadhi.
Samadhi has four impediments namely abhinivesha (fondness of the world), Asmita (egoism), avidya (ignorance) and raga- dvesha (all likes and dislikes).
Dhyana proposes that real attachment, gluttony, slothfulness and subtle yearnings are considered as obstacles.
Pranayama is an examination of the outgoing inclinations of the human brain.
Niyama has five canons such as ishvarapranidhana (self- surrender), svadhyaya (devotion), tapas (austerity), santosha (contentment) and saucha (purity).

Defined as the wise combination of things, vinyasa sets apart ashtanga yoga from the rest of the primordial religious practices. This method is done whereby the student budges in and out of the routine through suryanamaaskara, a group of movements that are well- defined. The very purpose of this is to generate high temperature in the body for purification to occur which can be realised through sweating and circulation. Aside from that, flexibility is also improved that reduces the threat of injuries.

Origins of ashtanga yoga are said to have come from the old account of Korunta authored by Vamana Rishi. Tirumalai Krishnamacharya was able to obtain a copy which was given to him by his Guru Rama Mohan Brahmachari at the mountain of Kailash. Later on, Pattabhi Jois was able to have one in his hands. Until this time, this yoga classification has remained to be very faithful with the principles introduced by Krishnamacharya. Aside from Jois, he was also able to educate other great instructors in the 20th century such as Indra Devi and B.K.S. Iyengar.

ByAnxious Minds

An All-Around Yoga Exercise: 12-Step Salute to the Sun

One of the all-around yoga exercises is the 12-step salute to the sun. Do it once or twice when you get up in the morning to help relieve stiffness and invigorate the body. Multiple repetitions at night will help you to relax; insomniacs often find that six to 12 rounds help them fall asleep.

1. Stand with your feet slightly apart, palms together, thumbs against your chest.

2. Inhale deeply while slowly raising your hands over your head, and bend back as far as possible, while tightening your buttocks. Hold for three seconds.

3. Slowly exhale and lean forward, keeping your knees straight, until your fingers touch the floor outside your feet. (If you can’t reach the level, go as close as you can.) Bring your head in toward your knees.

4. Slowly inhale, bend your knees, and if your fingertips aren’t outside your feet on the floor, place them there. Slide your right foot back as far as you can go, with the right knee an inch or so off the floor, (a lunge position). Now, look up as high as possible, arching your back.

5. Before exhaling again, slide your left foot back until it is beside the right one, and with your weight supported on your palms and toes, straighten both legs so that your body forms a flat plane. Make sure your stomach is pulled in.

6. Slowly exhale, bend both knees to the floor, bend with your hips in the air, lower your chest and forehead to the level.

7. Now inhale slowly and look up, turning your head back, then raising it, followed by your upper chest, then lower chest. Your lower body – from the navel down – should be on the floor, and your elbows should be slightly bent. Hold for three to five seconds.

8. Exhale slowly and raise your hips until your feet and palms are flat on the floor, and your arms and legs are straight in an inverted V position.

9. Inhale slowly and bring your right foot forward as in post 4. The foot should be flat on the floor between your fingertips. The left leg should be almost straight behind you, with its knee slightly off the floor. Raise your head, look up, and arch your back.

10. Slowly exhale and bring your left foot forward next to your right one. Straighten your legs and stand, trying to keep your fingertips on the floor, and try to touch your head to your knees as in position 3.

11. Slowly inhale, raise your arms up and stretch back as in area 2. Don’t forget to tighten your buttocks. Hold for three seconds.

12. Slowly exhale, lowering your arms to your sides. Relax. Repeat the series.

ByAnxious Minds

And you thought Yoga Was Just Stretching

While on the way to spot a friend of mine at the local YMCA, he asked why I didn’t just join the gym and I explained to him that I practice Yoga and occasional callisthenics at home for my exercises and really didnít feel the need for a gym membership. His response was predictable: Yoga isn’t just stretching

I smirked at the familiarity of the question and proceeded to explain to him the theme of this article. As I told him and for those who may not know otherwise: No, Yoga is way more than just stretching or getting into supposedly awkward looking poses and positions.

It is a combination of stretching, breathing exercises, meditation and perhaps the most overlooked limb, adherence to a proper diet.

The word yoga, from the Sanskrit word, means to yoke or bind and is often interpreted as a “union” or a method of discipline. Its ultimate goal is the union of man with God or the universe in one breath. Furthermore, it aims to liberate the spirit as the mind and spirit are equally involved in its practice.

Yoga is indeed the oldest existing physical-culture system in the world. Besides being a systematic and scientifically proven path to attaining physical fitness, it delays ageing, rejuvenates and improves oneís appearance, maintains suppleness and increases vitality and the creative part of life.

With its core warm-up exercises known as the Sun Salutations (which are somewhat similar to the callisthenics exercise known as burpees the inversion poses, forward and backwards bending poses, balancing exercises for the arms and building focus, the average practitioner will attest to the fact that for attaining fitness, Yoga can stand its own.

Think Yoga can’t help with building strength? Think again. Heck, I challenge the most adept body-builder to hold the simple yet powerful peacock-pose for 90 seconds straight. Bet you they who crash half-way in its execution-if they make it that far.

Yoga also offers unique breathing exercises which are lovely for patients with respiratory disorders and even singers and public speakers, moreover, with its unique relaxation pose, oft times practised during, and after its execution, Yoga offers a systematic means of profoundly relaxing the entire body perhaps the way no other exercise can. (Keep in mind of course that several of the poses give a deep body massage, not unlike the ones received in salons just thought I should throw that in.)

With countless books, and  DVD videos and classes being offered for all ages, levels of fitness and experience (some of them being actually free for the first couple of lessons to try Yoga out), I suggest you give it a trial and see for yourself what it can do.

One thing I promise you is this; you will walk out of your class and nod in agreement that indeed: yoga is way more than just stretching. It is exercise.

ByAnxious Minds

An Introduction To Bikram Yoga

Most people have a passing knowledge of what Yoga is or think they know about what it sets out to achieve. But until you have tried Yoga, it is impossible to tell whether you have the type of personality that can truly excel under its influence. Yoga quite simply can be a life-changing experience, and the discipline and mental strength that result from it can completely change your perspective and worldview.

One method of Yoga which is currently very popular is known as Bikram Yoga. Bikram Yoga, often referred to as ‘hot yoga’ follows the Bikram Yoga Method. As with all Yoga, it has multiple goals – to build your inner strength as well as your outer physical strength. A vital component of Bikram Yoga is the flexibility and balance required to perform the exercises, and it is believed that this comes from mental toughness as much as physical practice. The roots of Bikram are in Hatha Yoga, which is a healing form of Yoga that strengthens both body and mind.

The founder of Bikram Yoga was Bikram Choudhury, a yoga practitioner and innovator. After a weightlifting accident, Bikram Choudhury was determined to recover and set about investigating the healing ability to practice certain types of exercise. The result was Bikram Yoga, which so many people found to be an effective method of healing that it’s tenants were recorded and passed on as a new form of Yoga. Those who practise Bikram Yoga purely for it’s healing benefits are plentiful, but there is also a robust, holistic component, which is a crucial reason behind using Bikram Yoga for many of those who are regular users.

They key to success with Bikram Yoga is to develop the mental strength required to discipline yourself in its use. If you can master this side of the Yoga, then the physical benefits will be forthcoming. They have been proven by scientists including a group from the Tokyo University Hospital. The medical benefits are beyond question and have been shown to improve chronic ailments as well as greatly assist in the treatment and recovery of tissue injuries.

At the 1972 International Medical Conference the findings were presented, and it was concluded that Bikram Yoga could assist in the recovery of internal tissue. The explanation given was that the positions practised by Bikram Yoga replenish cells and help in the lymphatic system flushing toxins from the body. In addition to the toxin drain, the cells are assisted by higher oxygen flows during and after exercise.

Bikram showed that to get the best benefits from the exercise a healthy and well-balanced body was significant. Where the body is weak Bikram Yoga will have less effect in the healing process, which relies on correct balance and circulation.

Bikram demonstrated 26 exercises and recommended a regime, which was to be practised every single day to best treat the body. Each posture exercise was developed based on a background of both Eastern and Western Yoga disciplines. They all focus on the movement and pressure on muscles, nerves, ligaments glands and organs. The exercises are meant to be performed together and in sequence, because they are all inter-related to each other.

Bikram Yoga is low impact and can be performed by people of all different ages. The critical component is the discipline required to perform the posture exercises every day for maximum benefit.

ByAnxious Minds

About Yoga

Yoga is a system of philosophy that originated in India 5000 years ago that is focused on the attainment of enlightenment and the liberation of one’s self from those burdens that can have adverse effects on the mind, body, and spirit. The practice of yoga was brought to the Western countries, like the United States, after it gained popularity because of the many touted benefits.

However, most teachers of the philosophy place the most emphasis on the physical poses and less on the meditation aspect. Yoga and Pilates have both become favourite additions to the fitness routines of many people around the world, and for a good reason, which is why people are learning about yoga and its many benefits for the mind and body.

To find a comprehensive introduction to yoga basics, including a glossary of yoga terms and an introduction to favourite types of yoga and basic poses visit www.yoga.about.com. There are also many other sites that feature a compilation of essays and articles about yoga including information about yoga, exercise, mind-body workouts, healthy eating, and exercise tips.

Learn about yoga from a beginner’s perspective about meditation, yoga cleansing methods, pregnancy yoga, and other yoga techniques to improve your health at www.healthandyoga.com. The first impression many people have of yoga, is that to practice it, one must comfort their body into impossible uncomfortable positions, but this just isn’t true. Yoga focuses on the breath with each posture, which is an essential component of the healing applications of yoga, and yoga as an alternative therapy.

To learn more about yoga, from its origin to how to benefit from it, visit www.hinduism.about.com. Beginners can also find a wealth of yoga information such as frequently asked questions and answers about yoga practice, including the mysterious chakras, or primary energy centres in the body, and what yoga postures activate them at www.yogabasics.com.

In addition to yoga exercises for body and mind, many online retailers like www.yoga.com, carry products for yoga, massage, homoeopathic medicine, meditation, and practice, as well as demonstrations of stretches and strategies to help you strike the perfect pose. The benefits of yoga are many, and if you haven’t tried it already, you owe it to yourself to liberate your soul and reach the next level of enlightenment, physically, mentally, and spiritually. Anyone can do yoga, at any age, and in most any physical condition. Vinyasa move with the breath.

ByAnxious Minds

7 Important Tips for Yoga Success

1. Talk to your doctor and explain what type of yoga poses you intend to practice. Show your doctor pictures of the poses for illustration. Your doctor may rule out specific poses if you have high blood pressure, glaucoma, a history of retinal detachment, or heart disease. Make sure you follow your doctor is recommendations.
2. Find a yoga class that best fits your abilities. Talk to prospective teachers, and decide whether or not you can handle a program before you sign up. Itís very important to take it one step at a time. Try a few beginner classes before you attempt more vigorous classes. Don’t move ahead too quickly. Allow your body to adjust to your exercises.

3. Listen to your body and be aware of your physical abilities. You don’t want to hurt yourself. Make sure the instructor understands your level of experience and any limitations you may have. Don’t allow anyone to push you ahead too quickly. Remember, this is supposed to be fun and relaxing.

4. If you can’t find a class that meets your needs, you can always practice yoga at home. There are many books, programs, and tapes available to help you get started. Search for the best products on the Internet and read reviews. Talk to others for recommendations.

5. Why not try private lessons? You can book some one-on-one sessions with a teacher in your area. Most yoga instructors offer private classes or can help you design your own program. This is an excellent way to get started. You can always take group lessons or practice at home after you have had private lessons and learned the basics.

6. Find a yoga buddy. It is nice to practice with someone, and it will help reduce injuries. It is also a great way to keep up your enthusiasm and interest.

7. Eat lightly before practice. Wait at least two hours after meals before yoga class or workout. An empty stomach is best, but don’t let yourself get too hungry to think. You won’t be able to focus on the poses or enjoy yourself during the relaxation or meditation exercises.

Now it’s time to grab your mat and a towel and get the most out of your yoga exercises.

ByAnxious Minds

3 Ways Yoga can Benefit the Business person

The life  of a modern business person is a stressful one, and there is always so much to do. It would take a pretty compelling set of reasons to convince a successful business person (or even an unsuccessful one) to add something else to an already packed schedule, so why would he even think about regular Yoga classes. In this article we examine the three main benefits of Yoga and how they apply to the busy business person.

Benefit Number One: Physical Health

All business-mans ultimate goal is to become wealthy isn’t it? Have you ever heard the saying that your health is your wealth? Believe me it is true. No matter how much money you have you cannot benefit from it if you are dead and personal health is often neglected in today’s busy corporate world. But the question is not whether one can afford the time for exercise to become healthy; it is whether they can afford not to. Health is a shifting scale – you are not either healthy or dead. It’s important to think about how much your level of health affects your work. A healthy body will allow you to concentrate more, work harder and increase the time you spend productively.

Yoga is the perfect way for a businessperson to look after their physical wellbeing. Because the exercises are so incredibly low impact they can be performed even by the most out of shape person, and the more regularly they are performed the better that person’s health will become. Yoga is a very efficient method of releasing tension and stress. During a workday certain blockages develop around the body, and many of our vital organs do not get the full amount of oxygen and nutrients that they need to function at peak efficiency. Yoga stretches different muscles groups in certain ways that will lead to these blockages being released and the blood flow bringing the bodies organs all the oxygen and nutrients they need.

Yoga’s health benefits are both immediate and long-term. In the short term blood flow is increased and the body functions better because it is achieving the nutrients it requires. Tension is also released from muscles and the bodies lymphatic system is able to more effectively deal with waste products. In the longer term these will be ongoing benefits and the digestive system will also function more efficiently, which has innumerable health benefits. The general balance, co-ordination and flexibility will also be greatly enhanced.

Benefit Number Two: Mental Health

Have you ever considered the importance of a breath? We know that when someone stops breathing, they die, and even this simplistic understanding should tell us how important it is to breath. But breathing correctly is often ignored. It is vital not only for the numerous health benefits, but also for the strong mental advantages it allows us.

Yoga sessions will usually begin with a standing, breathing exercise. The simple process of taking in a deep breath and releasing it slowly is incredibly calming and the basis of the breathing exercises that are a vital backbone to the Yoga discipline. The key to this breathing is that it draws our attention to the one simple action of breath. We become acutely aware of the life giving benefit of a deep and controlled breathing cycle and can achieve a level of calmness that we often don’t seek out in our everyday lives. That calmness itself is a stepping-stone to achieving focus.

The ability to focus is probably the single most crucial primary skill in a work environment. There is always so much going on around us and so much that needs to be done that it is difficult to focus on the single task we are doing because of the multitude of things ‘in the back of our mind’. Regular Yoga teaches techniques to quickly clear the mind of all these other distractions and then focus our mental efforts on a single task. It is also a great provider of personal discipline. The self-discipline that is learned from focusing on the body and becoming master of oneself is a crucial benefit of Yoga.

Benefit Number Three: Happiness

Happiness is a goal that is often sacrificed in the short term in exchange for some mystical point in the future when everything will come together and be okay. Yoga doesn’t move you any closer to that mystical time, but because you develop such a strong sense of self and connection with yourself, it is common to become more content with your current situation. You will find that the more you practise Yoga the more you will be comfortable spending time alone as well as amongst other people. Your sense of self worth will increase and you will perform better in social situations. This is perhaps the most important gift that Yoga will give to you.

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ByAnxious Minds

Does Yoga Normalise Body Weight?

Many people are first drawn to Yoga as a way to keep their bodies fit and supple. Others come seeking relief or help for a specific ailment like tension a Backache. Whatever your reason is, Yoga can be a tool in giving you both what you came for and more.

Though the practice of Yoga is closely associated with ancient texts, beliefs, and values, it also yields benefits useful for people’s practical daily lives. Here are some reasons why more and more people are practising Yoga:

1. Yoga relaxes the body and the mind. Even in the midst of stressful environments, Yoga helps control breathing and clears the mind of cluttered thoughts, leaving only deep physical and mental refreshment.

2. Yoga can help normalise body weight. For people who are either overweight or underweight, Yoga Exercises can help achieve the desired weight. The principles of balance and moderation in physical activity and diet under Yoga can also lead to a healthier lifestyle.

3. Yoga improves your resistance to disease. The postures and movements in Yoga massage the internal organs, enhancing blood circulation and functionality, thus, lessening the risk of illness.

4. Yoga increases your energy level and productivity. For as quick as 20 minutes, Yoga can replenish the mind and body with the precious energy needed to respond to daily tasks and challenges.

5. Yoga leads to genuine inner contentment and self-actualisation. Meditation -one of the aspects of Yoga- focuses the mind, taking it away from the distractions of the highly-materialistic world and leading it to genuine happiness.

Yoga is a method of learning that aims to attain the unity of mind, body, and spirit through these three main Yoga structures: Exercise, Breathing, and Meditation. The exercises of Yoga are designed to put pressure on the Glandular Systems of the body, thereby increasing its efficiency and total health. The body is looked upon as the primary instrument that enables us to work and evolve in the world, a Yoga student; therefore, treats it with great care and respect. The Breathing Techniques are based on the concept that breath is the source of life in the body. Yoga students gently increase their breath control to improve the health and the function of both body and mind. These two systems prepare the body and mind for Meditation, making it easier for students to achieve a quiet mind and be free from everyday stress. The regular daily practice of all three parts of this structure of Yoga produces a clear, bright mind and a strong, capable body.

ByAnxious Minds

Benefits of Chair Yoga – Part 4

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Chair Yoga can easily work in harmony with most physical rehabilitation prescriptions. Many physical therapists have knowledge of Yoga or are teachers of Yoga. Many doctors, physical therapists, and medical professionals recommend Yoga to patients who are making a “come back.”

Yoga gives these patients the strength to move ahead, when many would be discouraged. The comebacks that I have personally witnessed are inspiring to me as a Yoga teacher. Over time, I have seen come backs from strokes, heart attacks, and car accidents.

It touches me that they thanked me for teaching them Yoga or Chair Yoga.
The courage to go on came from within their minds, but Yoga became a significant part of their lives. As a Yoga teacher the inspiration was mutual and made me feel helpful. After all, being of help, and being appreciated, are prime motivations for teachers of any subject.

Muscle tone is a result of stretching and flexing any muscle group. Active muscles display themselves on anybody that chooses to use them. This is also a good way to relieve oneself of anxiety, stress, tension, and prevent depression. Like the other benefits, previously mentioned, this results in whole body health. A healthy body does, indeed, compliment a healthy mind.

For those clients who are confined to a chair, it is wise to include some form of a weight bearing, or weight resistance, exercise program. For those who can stand, Chair Yoga is another weight bearing exercise that will stimulate bone building.

With progressive weight resistance, you use free weights or machines, but with Yoga you bear your own body weight. The end result of these exercise programs would be increased bone density and prevention of Osteoporosis.

Seniors spend more time alone, than any other age group. Sometimes, we all need a little solitude, but too much solitude can lead to depression, in some of us. Living life like a monk is not for everyone.

Chair Yoga classes offer a social activity that helps to stimulate the mind and body in a positive way. This becomes an uplifting activity that participants look forward to. Regular attendance, and socializing in Chair Yoga classes, is a healthy activity that leads to building strong relationships.

It also exposes seniors to the many activities that are going on within the community center. Participants of chair Yoga classes are exposed to whole health and gain a nutritional education as a member of a senior, community, or wellness center.

Lastly, all participants in Chair Yoga classes learn to relax and quiet the mind, through breath awareness, meditation, stage-by-stage relaxation, a combination, or another method. The end result being that these Yoga students can control their minds, focus on the good things in life, and prevent depression.

ByAnxious Minds

Benefits of Chair Yoga – Part 3

Flexibility is considered to be a “by product” of Yoga practice, but in the case of Chair Yoga, it is often “down played” or taken for granted. Since most Chair Yoga enthusiasts are seniors, the true value of flexibility is mobility.

When you consider that mobility for seniors can be the difference between dependence and independence, flexibility is now of extreme value.

The following is an observation I have made after working with groups from assisted living complexes, adult day care centres, nursing homes, and seniors centres. The average mobile senior citizen is much more flexible in the hips, spine, wrists, and shoulders, than his or her dependent counterpart.

Just crossing the legs can be difficult for the clients I work with in a nursing home. Students in Chair Yoga classes learn a variety of exercises that will “free up” many of the major joints. Many students also remark how pain, from a variety of ailments, is much more manageable, after practicing Chair Yoga.

Increased range of motion makes a difference, when reaching for anything. It also helps to prevent injuries that can occur from strain or a possible fall. If a senior falls, there is certainly the potential that the results could be life threatening.

Chair Yoga offers a significant number of balancing exercises. Although balance can be affected by medication, inner ear problems, and more, many seniors show much improvement in balancing their bodies within weeks of their first Chair Yoga class. Therefore, flexibility and balance are a significant part of an injury prevention package that can improve, or enhance, the quality of life for seniors. This fact has been realised by seniors who flock to Chair Yoga classes on a daily, or weekly, basis.

Most of us realise that physical conditioning is not the only factor involved in dependence. There are a number of disabling diseases that can affect any one of us and have nothing to do with lack of flexibility. Lack of flexibility is not the single overriding factor involved in independence for seniors.

However, it is a fact that less mobile, and frail, seniors will become confined.
Hence, most seniors should make an effort to stay flexible, for what is ultimately their own dignity at stake. You could look at your physical condition as an insurance policy for independent living. After all, who really wants to impose on their children or relatives for the sake of existence?