How To Practice Meditation

Meditation is the most important practice for calming the mind. A calm mind can lead to a healthy, happy and successful life. It can cure diseases and speed up healing processes. We describe the simple technique below called prana-dharana. Prana in Sanskrit stands for the air that we breathe. It is the most basic act of life which starts from birth and goes on till death. But generally, we are not aware of the breath till our attention is drawn close to it. Dharana means its awareness. Prana-dharana means applying the mind to the flow of air when we breathe. The method is as described below:

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Sit in a posture suitable for meditation. The common postures are Siddhasana, Padmasana and Swastikasana. But if you cannot do this, just sit cross-legged. Your back should be straight and eyes closed. Your knees should be placed well on the ground. Do not stoop your shoulders back. The whole body should be relaxed and the whole frame steady without exerting any pull or pressure on the thighs, feet, knees, spine or neck. There should be no stretch on tension along the abdominal wall. Let the abdominal wall sway gently back and forth very smoothly and effortlessly with each respiration. Facial muscles should be relaxed and mouth closed with a small gap between the two jaws such that the upper and lower teeth do not exert pressure on each other. Your tongue should touch the palate with tip touching the back of the upper front teeth. Ensure that the lips, tongue or the lower jaws do not move. Your eyeballs and eyelids should be steady and the muscles of the forehead relaxed.

Your entire posture should be comfortable, steady and relaxed. You should not feel strain on any part of the body. Now start developing the awareness of breathing. The flow of air should be uniform, slow and smooth. Do not make any effort or exercise any control. Never hold breath. Do not utter any word or see any image. This will calm your mind and help you achieve peace.

How To Perform Yogic Exercises

When you have decided to start with your yoga practice, it is imperative for you to learn how to perform a pose properly. Thus it is advisable for you to find a right teacher who will guide you in the correct manner of performing these poses. Since yogic exercises involve the static and isometric contraction of the muscles, where the muscles are held in a state of tension without causing the corresponding body part to move; it is important to note that the stretching or contraction of the muscles should not be done abruptly or suddenly. You should endeavour to reach the final pose as slowly as you can, so that there is a steady rise in the tension of the muscles. Always reach the final posture slowly through the intermediate postures. Master all these postures slowly one by one.

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The movement of each body part should be done under complete control of the muscles exercised. This is achieved only after practicing for a certain period of time. There should be no jerks or violent movements. Each step should be executed easily, smoothly and gracefully. Initially, when you start learning the yoga, there is a tendency to use muscles not concerned with the specified movement. But over a period of time with due practice, you can eliminate the unproductive muscular activity. As you progress, you’ll learn to use only the specified muscles for contraction or stretching while the other muscles are kept relaxed.

Avoid rushing into the final position of any posture, unless you have thoroughly mastered the intermediate stages. Always proceed as far as you comfortably can and hold this pose for some time. This will train the required muscles in a few days and thus you can get smoothness and grace. Take caution not to overwork any muscles. Do not control or restrict your breathing. If you are sick or absent from your practice for a long time, start slowly and reach the previous level only after some time. At the end of the session, you should feel fresh and relaxed. You must experience the lightness and exhilaration at the end of every session.

You can adjust the duration of various techniques according to your capacity and there should be no exhaustion or tension.

Following all these practices will ensure you get a correct yoga session.

How To Meditate With A Mantra

These days whenever a politician repeats a promise over and over again commentators say that this promise has become a “mantra” for that politician. For the journalists, the word “mantra” means a meaningless phrase that is repeated endlessly. For yogis however, a mantra is a word or collection of words, which has the power of liberating a human being from all limitations.

How can the repetition of a word or a few words have the capacity to bring about such miraculous results? It is all based on a simple psychological principle, “as you think, so you become.”

If you someone tells you “You’re stupid,” that’s of course a bad insult and will hurt you. However if you start to think “I am stupid,” and keep repeating this phrase over and over, then that is far worse. When someone tells you that you are stupid, then this is a negative outer-suggestion. When you start to think about it, then you are giving yourself, a negative auto-suggestion. If you keep thinking in a negative way, then your personal development will be harmed.

Meditation mantras have a positive meaning. They remind you that your true nature is something great: pure consciousness and boundless love. If you start to think about the best part of your being, you will begin to have more confidence in yourself and this will become apparent in your actions.

However, many people have read philosophical, spiritual or self-help books explaining these ideas, and yet they never realize these great truths in their everyday reality. It is not enough to just think about a good idea once, and then close the book. You need to think in a concentrated and systematic manner over a period of time in order to get results.

Meditation mantras have a special quality that helps in the task of concentrated, positive thinking: their very vibration has the capacity to concentrate and focus your mind. Some sounds, such as power drill breaking a pavement, can upset you greatly, while other sounds, like soothing music, can transport you to another world.

The syllables and words used in meditation mantras have been chosen according their sonic capacity, and they greatly aid the task of concentration and contemplation, as well as carrying a positive meaning.

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In order to get the benefits from mantra meditation, you need to meditate regularly with a mantra that has a positive meaning and the capacity to help you concentrate. You need to do it on a regular basis, sitting silently two times a day for a period of 10 to 30 minutes.

It sounds easy, but the common experience of most people is that as you sit and try to think about one word or one phrase, your mind is quickly filled with many other thoughts; thoughts about work, financial problems, disputes with people and all kinds of other matters. When this happens, and it certainly will, then you have to bring your mind back to the mantra. Meditation is a process where you concentrate on the mantra and its meaning for as long as you can, and when you mind wanders, you bring it back.

Keep doing it, and you will attain an improved capacity to concentrate and deep inner peace.

It may still sound too good to be true, and some intellectuals scoff at the alleged power of a mantra. Once, a renowned Indian yogi came to America and delivered many lectures on this subject. In one of the lectures he was challenged by someone in the audience who said that it was not possible for a single word to deliver the results that the yogi promised. The yogi turned to the man, who was a distinguished professor and said “You fool!”

The professor turned red, and began to shout at the yogi, who calmly watched the professor unwind.

The yogi then addressed the professor and said: “Now can you understand the power of a single word? All I did was utter the word “fool” and your behavior was changed in an instant!

How to Improve Your Body, Mind and Spirit By Practicing Hatha Yoga

Hatha yoga is a 5000 year old system that is used to improve the health of your body, mind and spirit. Hatha yoga combines the stretching exercises of the asanas. Breathing techniques and mental concentration are included in hatha yoga.

The lotus position of the asanas is used in hatha yoga. The goal of hatha yoga remains the same as that of the other types of yoga. The goal of hatha yoga is to blend the spirit of the universe with that of the human spirit. The spiritual, mental and physical health aspects are improved amazingly with the practice of the Hatha yoga. It also gives you peace of mind and improves your concentration. Concentration is the root ingredient of any yoga and its success.

In some ways all the types of yoga are related. Preparing the body to give in is the main goal of hatha yoga. If the mind is relaxed and the spirit within you is enlightened you won’t feel the pain and the stress that you are experiencing. This is achieved with the practice of hatha yoga. You need to understand the relation between your body and the spirit. If you do not understand the relation between them you might get confused. You spirit is responsible to accomplish any task.

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If your body is not fit then your spirit may not accomplish what is wants. Hatha yoga helps you to maintain your body and the hence the spirit positively. This positive attitude keeps your mind healthy with good concentration. Hatha yoga comes to the mind of the people when they hear Yoga, since it is the popular branch of yoga. The other types of yoga that gave rise from hatha yoga are the Kundalini, Ashtanga, Bikram, and power yoga.

Hatha yoga is considered and known as the vehicle of the soul. Hatha yoga is so relaxing that it drives both you body and spirit into the universe. This feeling can be compared to a person floating with no gravity at all. Many people are easily distracted by the outward forces and may not be able to focus on a particular task. Such people can get benefited with the hatha yoga. By constantly practicing hatha yoga you can find the divinity in yourself. This helps you to become stronger, relaxed and flexible apart from enlightening you.

With harmony between your mind, body and spirit the spiritual energy will flow through the open energy channels. This is achieved only with Hatha yoga. A healthy body is necessary for you mind and spirit to be strong. This is done by the practice of hatha yoga. It is easy to handle stress and get relieved of your pain and passion with the constant practice of hatha yoga. If you are exhausted with your work, hatha yoga makes you relax.

How To Find The Right Yoga Teacher?

I am often asked by beginners about how to evaluate a Yoga Teacher?

The following is the “CALM check list.” These factors are basic criteria that your Yoga Instructor should meet before you continue on to a second Yoga class.

CALM gets it name from four main factors: Communication, Assist, Listen, and Modification. For the right Yoga teacher, you should be answering with a “yes” to all questions.

• Communication: Does your Yoga teacher talk to you, and other students, in a manner of mutual respect? Can you ask a question during class time?

Does your teacher show compassion for you and other students? Does your Yoga teacher take the time to lead you through a guided meditation or relaxation? Meditation and relaxation are major aspects of Yoga practice.

There are Yoga teachers who just want to get “their workout” done. Beware of Yoga teachers, who are so important, they don’t have time for you.

Some students love this air of superiority and, unfortunately, some people love abuse. If you want to learn Yoga, you need an open line of communication with your Yoga teacher.

• Assist: Does your teacher care about your form? Will your teacher give you a verbal or physical assist during your Yoga class? Are props encouraged in your Yoga classes?

Some students never have major problems with alignment and some do, but if your teacher doesn’t give verbal cues, what does that tell you?

• Listen: Does your Yoga teacher take the time to listen to your feedback? Is your teacher “in the moment” with the class?

Once in a while, there is a Yoga instructor who runs, “The-it’s-all-about-me-show.” You are not going to learn anything from this type of teaching. Beginners will be put at risk, trying to keep up with a seasoned Yoga teacher who doesn’t explain anything.

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• Modification: Does your Yoga teacher allow modifications and props? If your teacher discourages props, you are in the wrong place.

Some students will need props for life depending upon their range of motion. Just because a teacher can do a posture without props, doesn’t mean every student can.

Summary: Stay away from abusive Yoga teachers, and if you are attracted to abuse, there is always professional help. Some students crave “the stern, but loving parent” types. They will push you harder, but how much pushing do you really need?

Respect is a two way street, and you deserve as much respect as your Yoga teacher does. Let common sense be your guide. You should feel good after a Yoga class, and you might even feel muscle soreness days after a vigorous class.

Make sure your Yoga teacher meets the above criteria before making a commitment.

How To Choose The Best Yoga Videos

Finding the best yoga videos is not as easy to walking down to your local video store and wandering over to the exercise aisle. Not all such videos on the market are ideal for effective home practice. In order to make sure you get the best yoga videos for your home, consider a few things you should really look for.

Easy To Understand

First of all, a quality yoga video will be easy for you to follow. You should be able to understand what is being done, how the positions are achieved, how long you should hold each one, and how often you should do it. It should also be easy to follow into each subsequent move. If you cannot understand the video, then it has failed on its most basic level.

Secondly, videos should provide not only easy to follow instructions, but also easy to understand demonstrations. You should be able to, by watching, understand the basics of achieving each pose and each transition. You should also understand, from watching, the breathing patterns and focus. If you can understand the verbal instructions, but the demonstrations are unclear then your video is no better than a book on yoga.

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Next, there should be easy modifications offered in the best yoga videos. Yoga can be difficult, so beginners to it may frequently need modifications to their practice so that they can understand even that which they cannot complete. No matter what your ability level may be, you want your video to be able to apply to you. Once you buy a video, it should be of use to you at every stage as you progress further into yoga. Choose a video that will grow with you.

Teaching Qualilty

In a quality video, the yoga should be taught in a student centered manner. Though that seems like it should go without saying, you will see a number of yoga videos that are just a fancy way of showing off the instructor’s ability in yoga. Such videos do little if any good and in many cases may even be counterproductive for you. The idea of having the yoga video is to help your development, not to put you in awe of someone else’s level of flexibility or fitness.

Finally, high quality yoga videos should feature prominent and well qualified instructors. They should not only be practicing instructors, but should probably have achieved great success in their yoga education. You always want to learn from someone at as high a level as possible. By simply reading the back of the box, you will often get an overview of the teacher’s qualifications so that you can make an intelligent decision as to whether or not you want this person to help you practice yoga in your home.

Finding the best yoga videos really isn’t easy. However, when armed with the tools above, you can more accurately assess a video’s value. Look for something you understand visually and orally, that you can use at any level, and that features a successful teacher while staying student centered. When you find that you will have found the best of the best yoga videos for use at home and between private sessions or classes.

How To Borrow From Yoga For Weight Loss

Yoga is often praised in the mass media as the new fitness-craze promising weight loss, and increased strength and flexibility. However, when one sees a yoga practitioner curled up in a seemingly impossible pose, the natural tendency is to think: “Well this person has been practicing for years, how can Yoga help me lose the weight now?”

Through the acclaimed Sun Salutations, that’s how.

What are they?

These exercises are a combination of Yoga Poses, Breathing Exercises, Sun Bathing and Prayer. They have been practiced for centuries by Yoga Practitioners in India, Martial Artists and African Wrestlers and as a system to rejuvenate the body and soul are beyond compare. It’s been said in the Drugless Healing circles that one round of the Sun Salutations is much better than a week of exercises at the gym!

They are very simple to learn and just about anyone, regardless of their fitness or flexibility levels can learn these simple exercises. In actuality, if you are familiar with “burpies” (the calisthenics exercise), they do derive their origin from the Sun Salutations.

Here are some of their benefits:

-They alleviate disorders of the skin and waist.

-Flexibility increases and breathing is corrected, moreover, they mildly exercise the legs and arms, thus increasing the circulation.

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-They are the best way to burn calories and reduce weight and are often recommended for obesity and depression.

-They are an effective way of loosening up, stretching and massaging all joints and internal organs of the body.

-They stimulate and balance all the systems of the body including the endocrine, circulatory, reproductive and digestive system.

Technique:

1. Stand straight with the palms together as in a prayer position.

2. Inhale and stretch the arms above the head.

3. Exhale and bend forward while touching the toes.

4. Inhale and stretch the right leg away from the body in a big backward step and keep the hands and left foot firmly on the ground. Bending the head backward the left knee should be between the hands.

5. Inhale and hold the breath. Move the left leg from the body and, keeping both feet together and the knees of the floor, rest on the hands (arms straight) and keep the body in a straight line from head to foot.

6. Exhale and lower the body to the floor. In this position, only 8 portions of the body come in contact with the floor: the two feet, two knees, two hands, chest and forehead.

7. Inhale and bend back as much as possible bending the spine to the maximum.

8. Exhale and lift the body of the floor. Keep the feet and heels on the floor.

9. Inhale and bring the right foot along the level of the hands; left foot and knee should touch the ground. Look up, bending the spine slightly (same position as #4)

10. Exhale and bring the left leg forward. Keep the knees straight and bring the head down to the knees as in the third position.

11. Raise the arms overhead and bend backward inhaling. As in Position 2.

12. Exhale and drop the arms and relax.

You have now completed one round. Perform as many rounds as possible in multiples of 3. Ideally you want to aim for 6 rounds minimum and up to a maximum of 30. It only takes about 5-10 minutes, depending on your speed and intensity and is best practiced with as little clothing as possible before an open air window first thing in the morning.

You could do a search in Yahoo! Images for “Sun Salutations” to see a visual representation of these powerful exercises and be rest assured that with a sensible diet and a wise combination of these exercises-with any other fitness regimen you may choose-you are well on your way to attaining natural weight loss, increased strength and overall fitness with the help of yoga.
So don’t get intimidated when you see a seasoned practitioner in a seemingly tough pose. Yoga is for everyone and can help you lose weight.

How To Start Yoga At Home

You can get audio or video tapes that give breathing instruction and teach relaxation techniques at health food stores, bookstores, and by mail order. It’s probably fine to learn breath and relaxation from a tape or booklet, but don’t try the yoga exercises without a skilled teacher. He or she can make corrections, caution you when necessary, and help you to adapt poses, if you need to.

It will be worth it to you to spend a little time finding an instructor who is right for you. Your diabetes nurse educator or other health care professional may be able to recommend a yoga instructor. Get referrals for a yoga instructor as you would for any professional you might wish to consult.

Yoga instructors aren’t required to be certified, but many are, through many different programs. Ask prospective teachers if they are certified. A certified teacher isn’t necessarily better than someone who isn’t certified, but it’s something to consider.

Yoga is fun, healthy, and calming. It’s a wise way handed down over several thousands of years. There is little danger in yoga, and even a little progress brings with it freedom and peace of mind.

Although most people with diabetes can exercise safely, exercise involves some risks. To shift the benefit-to-risk ratio in your favor, take these precautions:

Have a medical exam before you begin your exercise program, including an exercise test with EKG monitoring, especially if you have cardiovascular disease, you are over 35, you have high blood pressure or elevated cholesterol levels, you smoke, or you have a family history of heart disease.

Discuss with your doctor any unusual symptoms that you experience during or after exercise such as discomfort in your chest, neck, jaw, or arms; nausea, dizziness, fainting, or excessive shortness of breath; or short-term changes in vision.

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If you have diabetes-related complications, check with your healthcare team about special precautions. Consider exercising in a medically supervised program, at least initially, if you have peripheral vascular disease, retinopathy, autonomic neuropathy, or kidney problems.

Learn how to prevent and treat low blood glucose levels (hypoglycemia). If you take oral agents or insulin, monitor your blood glucose levels before, during, and after exercise.

If you have type I, and your blood glucose is above 250 milligrams per deciliter, check your urine for ketones. Don’t exercise if ketones are present, because exercise will increase your risk of ketoacidosis and coma.

Always warm up and cool down.

Don’t exercise outdoors when the weather is too hot and humid, or too cold.

Does Is Really Mean Hot Yoga?

There are a lot of yoga types and one of them is the famous hot yoga. The hot yoga is characterized by a series of yoga poses which is done in a heated room. The room where you perform the exercise is preserved at a temperature of 95-100 degrees. This kind of exercise gives off a lot of perspiration during a session because you are stuck in a heated room.

Hot yoga is advantageous because it cleanses your body and gets rid of the toxins inside your body. Since is makes your body warm, the more flexible it gets.

When doing the hot yoga, you should have some accessories like your yoga mat and towel. Since you will be sweating severely, you should have something to wipe up your sweat every other time.

Some people who practice hot yoga do not wear very thick clothes because it causes them to sweat more.

If you are going to practice hot yoga, you should be ready with your clothing. The clothes you should wear should be appropriate. You can wear shorts during the session.

Wearing of shorts allows your skin to breathe and give off heat. Students are the ones who usually wear shorts. They tend to wear small clothes because they are still vigorous and they sweat too much. If you are taking hot yoga sessions, make sure that you drink a lot of water. If you are in the class, you can also bring along your own bottle of water so that you can drink anytime you want. It is important to bring along a bottle of water so that you will not get dehydrated and so that the skin will produce more sweat. Before having a hot yoga session, you should take note that it is not advisable to eat two hours before the class starts. This is because your body is opt for a heavy exercise.

Bikram’s method is such a good yoga style. People who want to be slim can practice this type of yoga because their fats and cholesterol will be burned through sweat.

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Although it burns your fats, you should not be burning all of it because you still need some. Yoga started about 2500 years ago which was founded by Patanjali. After it’s discovery, it was then practiced and spread around the world. Picture yourself doing Yoga when you are suffering from illness like Fever where your body temperature is at 105 deg. Fahrenheit! I bet you couldn’t stand this kind of heat. If ever you will, you have over fatigued yourself.

At the compassion of the disagreement is Choudhury’s wish to put off anybody teaching yoga in a heated room from calling their class “Bikram Yoga.” He would like to put to one side this title only for those teachers who are qualified by his Yoga College of India and who stick to his arranged process precisely. This has been handled upon because there are a lot of people who imitate his teachings.

Now that you have learned the difference of hot yoga among all other styles, think again if it satisfies your desired to release your sweat and excess toxins. Remember that in doing hot yoga, all your energy is taken away. If your body has not a single energy to waste, then hot yoga is not the perfect yoga style for you.

How Hot Is Hot Yoga

The beginning of yoga goes back 2,500 years and was introduced by Patanjali of who we owe a debt of gratitude for helping us all in our quest to maintain stability in mind spirit and soul. Most importantly it is the healthy outlook on life. (mentally/physically) it gives. Hot of the press, word has it this form of exercise has taken the world by storm and still continues to do so and will for a long time to come.

Believe it or not hot yoga is a type of exercise people are practicing on such a high scale that it is becoming a craze. Hot yoga is a combination of different poses carried out in a special heated room of which the temperature is normally between 95-100 degrees.
Think sauna – think perspiration when this routine is performed. Having a towel handy is a good idea to wipe your brow or other parts of the body that needs attention in absorbing sweat loss.

Light clothing like shorts to practice hot yoga will make your experience a more comfortable one, no winter wollies please they are not needed.
Involving your self in hot yoga is a fabulous way of cleansing the body and ridding any waste toxins on the inside.
Be sure to drink plenty of fluid (water) during lessons. Bring your own thermos or bottled mineral water, by doing this you can quench your thirst thus stemming off dehydration. Before taking part in hot yoga remember that it is not advisable to consume food at least two hours before. The reason being is you have nominated your body to take part in a strenuous workout.

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Cholesterol and fat levels are lowered through sweat loss, so if slimming is on the agenda then it is certainly worth checking out the Bikram yoga method.

Moves and bodily posture movements differ greatly so choosing which class is for you could prove to be a problem. Do a little research or talk to a guru in the field of yoga who can advise you on what is best for your needs, whether it is a health matter, slim down or just to claim peace of mind.

Before enrolling in a hot yoga class make sure to delve more intimately into what it entails as it may not be your cup of tea unlike it is for others. Hot yoga can be exhausting but it does have its perks giving results. Your health is so very important thus making yoga a number one priority to be taken seriously to take claim of a fit mind body and soul.
Feeling good about your self is a step forward in leading a better life. Consult your doctor on any health concerns you may have before he points you in the right direction of easing your symptoms with a dose of yoga.

History of Yoga

Yoga is a union of body, mind, and spirit. The history of yoga is long and steeped in tradition. Yoga is an ancient system of health and fitness which originated in India. The word yoga has its first mention in the Rig Veda, the oldest of the sacred texts. Those that study Yoga estimate it’s age to be four thousand year.

The history of Yoga can be divided into four main periods which are the pre-classical period, classical period, post-classical period and modern period. In the history of yoga, the book is called the yoga sutras. The history of yoga would not have been completed in the classical stage of yoga.

The word Yoga literally meant the Yolk that joins something together, such as an ox to a cart. The idea is that yoga unites all aspects of being into one.

What most people envision to be Yoga, those contortionist postures, is really only one small aspect of a much larger field of practices. The methods of yoga includes ethical disciplines, physical postures, breathing control and as well as meditation.

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The 20th century witnessed a renaissance of yoga that caused a globalization of this ancient tradition. Modern approaches to yoga have created a clear delineation between the Hindu religion and the practice of yoga. Through the practice of yoga, an individual can gain information about physical, emotional, mental and spiritual well being.

Over the long history of yoga, different schools have emerged, and there are numerous examples branches and philosophies that have spawned. Ultimately, all agree on one common element the fundamental purpose of yoga is to foster harmony in the body, mind, and environment.

Today yoga is accepted as a comprehensive exercise to promote control of the body and mind. More than just a means of being fit and trim, yoga can help you live a healthy, whole, and empowered life. In recent decades, yoga has greatly and swiftly evolved. Yoga is the most diversified spiritual practice in the world. The living tradition of yoga now recognizes no borders as it continues to spread globally.

Here’s What Yoga Can Do For You

You want to have a full life. You want to feel well. You want lots of energy, vitality, power, and stamina. Am I right so far?

Well, the great news is that all these can be yours. Yoga applies age-old secrets to everyday life in a modern, fast-paced world. Its practical application can restore your lost youth, put new zest into your every step, and empower you to fully enjoy a sense of health, energy and creative living. All this will do wonders for your future happiness…

Sounds good, huh? Well let me tell you a little about yoga…

Yoga is an ancient health-art developed and perfected over the centuries by wise men in ancient India. Yoga is not a religion, a metaphysical doctrine, or a philosophy. It is not magic, although the amazing improvements it can make in your health, your appearance and your youthfulness may often seem magical, even miraculous…

There are many different types of yoga. Contrary to popular belief, not all types of yoga involve difficult positions and postures, uncomfortable exercises or strenuous diets…

Yoga can take years off your face and years from your body, and add years to your life. There are certain secret methods by which the Yogis keep the flexibility and “spring” of early youth in their joints and muscles and limbs well into the declining years…

It is a common sight to see, in the crowded, colorful streets of Bombay or New Delhi, Yogis well into their seventies and even their eighties, with the straight, graceful posture of a boy, walking with the elastic, springy step of youth… with firm, healthy bodies, their hair dark and glossy and un-streaked with grey. Firm, unlined faces … clear, un-dimmed eyes…

Not only does yoga make you look and feel years younger, and years healthier, but it lends your body superb health. It works like magic because it enables the body to realize its full potential of great health…

You know that Nature has built into your body certain certain “defense mechanisms” for self-repair, natural safeguards against disease. Well, modern yoga helps the body’s machinery function smoothly, efficiently, and at peak performance…

Yoga encourages your body to derive every last possible atom of nutritive value from the food you now eat (so different from the natural diet of your ancestors) … to get every second of refreshment and rest from your sleep … to attain regularity, relief from little aches and pains, the ability to sleep deep and wake refreshed that can make the difference from feeling “pretty good” to feeling “terrific”!

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Yoga assists all your muscles and bones and organs to operate at their maximum potential. Yoga stimulates into peak performance the hidden abilities of your body to throw off the attacks of disease that affect so many people we know and love…

Do you suffer from insomnia and stress? Have you lost your appetite? Do you find it hard to relax? Do you smoke too much, feel “worn out” by the afternoon, find as you grow older that you cannot enjoy full life and day to day vitality?

Yoga has the amazing power to relax and refresh you, soothe your nerves, calm your mind, give you the serenity and strength and inner stamina that is part of the “Magic of the East”.
Yoga prevents the premature grey in your hair, the ugly wrinkles in your face….

Yoga tightens those sagging muscles that give you that “tired look.” It puts new zest in your appetite, brings back the sparkle in your eyes, and gives that wonderful sensation of feeling “fit as a fiddle”…

If these benefits are important to you (and you’d be crazy if they weren’t) then its time you learnt about yoga!

Hatha Yoga – A Crowd Favorite

Increasingly, you may hear about your companions enrolling in Hatha classes at the local gym. In terms of pure popularity, Hatha yoga is number one in the yoga world. As a result, the poses are known well by both beginners and experts.

Hatha yoga poses are called Asanas. The Asanas are used in combination with meditation and the breathing techniques known as Pranayama. Together they work the body to improve strength and flexibility as well as overall health, which is one of the reasons it is so popular. Hatha is a hybrid of the Sanskrit words “ha” which means “sun” and the word “tha” which means the “moon.” Together, they refer to the way that Hatha’s yoga poses often bring together opposites currents in the system.

Of the eight limbs of yoga, Hatha focuses mostly on the third, which is Asana, and the fourth, which is Pranayama. These pose and posture techniques coupled with the breathing patterns are used to clear out your body’s energy channels, known as the Nadis. This, in turn, removes obstacles that could hamper other limbs helping to improve your well being.

Hatha History

Hatha has been around since 15th century India when a yogic sage, Swami Swatamarama, detailed Hatha Yoga Pradipika, one of the most important yoga texts. The original intent of this form of yoga was to help support relaxation of the body and to support the “contemplation of one reality.” Many of the classic Hatha yoga poses that were used at its inception, in fact, are still in use with it today. According to those first practitioners of Hatha, the postures can lead to the best in not only physical well being, but also the best state of mind you can possibly attain.

Your Hatha Path

Before beginning your journey into Hatha yoga, you need to be prepared just like with any other form of yoga. There are some basic tips that can help you have an easier, more effective, and safer experience as you begin this original yoga style.

First, remember to breathe normally while you are in and move between each of the poses. Your breaths should be deep and smooth. Try to feel your diaphragm opening and expanding as you switch from one posture to another. Hatha rarely, if ever, uses the shorter and harder yoga breathing, so stay smooth and deep.

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Second, do not force any of the stretch positions in Hatha. Start with the easier ones and make sure you are moving easily and naturally into each pose and that you are holding it for 15 to 30 seconds. This will ensure that you get the most out of your yoga and minimize your risk of injury. Be patient with your body and do not attempt the more difficult poses until you are sure you are ready.

Finally, concentrate on your breathing. One of the big focuses in this particular yoga is the breathing which leads to much of the mental health benefits. Use the exercise to relax and become at peace with yourself in the moment. That is what Hatha yoga poses are intended to do for you.

Hatha has been in practice for over 600 years. Longevity like that is rare even in yoga, and can be a sign of success and true belief. If you are considering this form of yoga as for yourself, then remember: never strain, take the time to make sure you are ready for a given pose, and to concentrate heavily on your breathing. Following these tips will help you to attain the superior mental and physical well being that Hatha is said to provide.

Have Some Hatha Yoga

Hatha yoga is known as the 5000 year old system which was used to increase the healthy body, mind and spirit. People who do Hatha Yoga combine the stretching exercises of asanas into their practice. It includes the mental concentration and breathing techniques.

The Lotus position from Asanas is being used in practicing Hatha Yoga.

The goal of applying Hatha Yoga is just the same as using other kinds of Yoga. It aims to blend the human spirit with the peaceful spirit of the Universe. With this practice, the person doing the Yoga exercise increases their spiritual, mental, physical and emotional health and aspect.

Doing Hatha Yoga gives you peace and keeps your environment and the world as one. In doing yoga, including all types of yoga, concentration is the root or main ingredient for a successful yoga

All other types of Yoga have some similarities in one way or the other. The main focus of Hatha Yoga is to prepare the body to give in so that the spirit will be able to absorb and accomplish its mission. The spirit is responsible in lifting and enlightening. When the spirit is enlightened, the mind is relaxed and it throws away all stress and pain. The body does too.

Too many people get confused because they do not understand that if your body is not healthy and unfit; your spirit cannot successfully accomplish the task. So the goal of Hatha Yoga is perfect to apply if your spirit is weak.

Hatha Yoga will help encourage your body to move and advance positively to a level in which the spirit will be able to work properly. Your spirit and body needs to respond positively so that the mind will be able to keep up with a good concentration.

When people hear of the word Yoga, Hatha Yoga will come to their minds first. Hatha Yoga is popular and it is the popular branch of Yoga. In fact, the other style of yoga such as the Kundalini, Ashtanga, Bikram and Power Yoga has originated from Hatha Yoga.

Hatha Yoga is known as the vehicle for the soul. It is responsible for driving the body and the spirit into the universe. Just imagine soaring to the universe and feel no gravity at all. That is just so relaxing and tempting.

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Concentration is something that is hard to maintain and recover. If you find yourself easily distracted by outside forces, Hatha Yoga might work to fight it.

The best thing about practicing Hatha Yoga is that it helps you find out for your self that there is a divine light that shines in you. Not only does it enlighten you but it can help you become stronger, relaxed and flexible.

The exercise involved in doing Hatha Yoga allows the spiritual energy to flow through the open energy channels. This will be possible if the mind, body and spirit is working good and has harmony. Of course maintaining a healthy body is the most important of all. If your body is weak, your mind and spirit is affected too

When you practice Hatha Yoga, you can easily cope up with stress and relieve some pain and tension. Sometimes, work leaves you wasted and exhausted so you need to relax once in a while. Hatha Yoga is the best remedy to release that pain and tension.

Hatha Yoga

Hatha yoga is an ancient hindu system of working with the human nervous system. Because it releases tension and endows one with renewed energy, far too many 20th century people, yoga teachers included, have come to look upon the venerable Indian physical science as solely an exercise for health and vitality of mind and body. It is that, but it is also much more. Hatha yoga practices are more spiritual than physical, more subtle than gross, more a means of understanding than an exotic way to relieve stress or limber up the body.

The sages who developed hatha yoga designed it as a way to gain conscious control of our life energies, a way to go within, to harmonize the external so the innermost Self could be encountered. To them, it was about states of consciousness, about living a divine life, and it was a preparation for meditation.

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As you perform the asanas, concentrate on feeling the energies within the nerve currents. Sensitize yourself to knowing when the body has been in each position long enough to tune the nerve currents involved. Then shift smoothly into the next asana. It’s like a dance, a deliberate, fluid dance. During all postures, inhale using the diaphragm, not the chest muscles. Do not stretch unduly or force the body. Relax into the poses. Don’t worry if you can’t perform them all perfectly. In time, you will find the body becoming more flexible and supple. Free the mind of thoughts and tensions. You will be more aware, more alive, more serene.

While there are many more complex hatha yoga routines, these twenty-four asanas provide a balanced system for daily use. For the simple purpose of quieting the mind in preparation for meditation, this is all you will ever need. For best results, hatha yoga should be taught personally by a qualified teacher. These instructions and drawings are meant only as a rudimentary aid. For more elaborate regimens, inquire at a recognized school specializing in hatha yoga.

The scene of hatha yoga has a spiritual purpose – to balance physical and physic energies in preparation for meditation. It is not only meant to make us young, beautiful or creative, but to aid us in quieting the mind, body and emotions that we may awaken enlightened consciousness & know the Self within.

Got Only 15 Minutes To Exercise? Then Try This From Yoga

We live in a sound-byte age where our daily demands leave us with little time for exercise, at least in the mornings when it may perhaps be most efficient.

However, Yoga offers a systematic combination of poses, deep breathing and meditation that you could practice in 5-10 minutes-or less depending on your choice-and will also leave you invigorated and eager to step into the day feeling more energized.

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So what is this quick routine I am talking about? It is known as the Sun Salutations.

They are very simple to learn and just about anyone, regardless of their fitness or flexibility levels can learn these simple exercises. In actuality, if you are familiar with “burpies” (the calisthenics exercise), they do derive their origin from them.

Besides being an exercise routine, they are quite indispensable as they do the following.

-They alleviate disorders of the skin and waist.
-They mildly exercise the legs and arms at the same time increasing the circulation and restoring flexibility to the limbs.
-They are one of the best ways to burn calories and reduce weight and are often recommended for obesity and depression.
-They are an effective way of loosening up, stretching and massaging all joints and internal organs of the body.
-They stimulate and balance all the systems of the body including the endocrine, circulatory, reproductive and digestive system.

For directions on how to perform them, study, memorize and practice the following:

1. Stand straight with the palms together as in a prayer position.

2. Inhale and stretch the arms above the head.

3. Exhale and bend forward while touching the toes.

4. Inhale and stretch the right leg away from the body in a big backward step and keep the hands and left foot firmly on the ground. Bending the head backward the left knee should be between the hands.

5. Inhale and hold the breath. Move the left leg from the body and, keeping both feet together and the knees of the floor, rest on the hands (arms straight) and keep the body in a straight line from head to foot.

6. Exhale and lower the body to the floor. In this position, only 8 portions of the body come in contact with the floor: the two feet, two knees, two hands, chest and forehead.

7. Inhale and bend back as much as possible bending the spine to the maximum.

8. Exhale and lift the body of the floor. Keep the feet and heels on the floor.

9. Inhale and bring the right foot along the level of the hands; left foot and knee should touch the ground. Look up, bending the spine slightly (same position as #4)

10. Exhale and bring the left leg forward. Keep the knees straight and bring the head down to the knees as in the third position.

11. Raise the arms overhead and bend backward inhaling. As in Position 2.

12. Exhale and drop the arms and relax.

You have now completed one round.

Perform as many rounds as possible in multiples of 3. Ideally you want to aim for 6 rounds minimum and up to a maximum of 30. It only takes about 5-10 minutes, depending on your speed and intensity and is best practiced with as little clothing as possible before an open air window first thing in the morning.

So when you’ve got little time to spare but need to be energized the way perhaps only physical exercise can, why not try the Sun Salutations. Your body will be glad you did and so will your mind.

Go Ahead And Relax-Yoga’s Way

If you go to the zoo or tune your TV to the Discovery channel, an observance of nature will show us that animals love relaxation and sleep. They often relax and get as much sleep as they want.

Rest and sleep are essential to recharge our nervous energy as our physical, emotional and mental balance depends on the quantity and quality of these vital necessities.

With the stress of our daily jobs, traffic while commuting to and from these jobs, schools, studies, parenting etc having a relaxation technique to fall back on will be indispensable for any and everyone.

Thanks to Yoga, such a technique is well within reach. It is known friends as the Corpse or Relaxation Pose.

It mostly involves lying motionless while applying a combination of deep square breathing and mental suggestions.

This following pose/exercise will show you how.

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Technique:

-Lay motionless on your back with the arms and legs slightly extended.
-Start off by breathing deeply in counts of 5 that being in a ratio of 5:5:5
(inhalation-retention-exhalation)
-After a few minutes of this, begin to make what is defined as auto suggestions
to the limbs starting from the toes by mentally affirming that “My toes are hereby relaxed, My feet are hereby relaxed” etc…working upwards to the head and internally through the internal organs.
-After several minutes of this, resume the deep square breathing for about 2-3 minutes.
-Next, begin to mentally chant this Yogic quote: “I am that pure consciousness or self” (You may substitute this with a verse from the books of your religious faith for example: “Those who wait upon God shall renew their strength” or any energizing quote for that matter like a simple “I am being relaxed and energized at this moment…”
-Continue mentally affirming this phrase for several minutes, then roll over to your right side and remain motionless while all the while maintaining the 5:5:5 breathing schedule for an additional minute.
-Finally, arise from the position.

Personally, I employ the use of a timed metronome or the steady tick of a nearby wall clock to keep time and sequence. Moreover, I often practice spurts of this technique during my yoga session and a full 15 minutes afterwards. At the office, I sometimes just sit back in the chair and apply the deep breathing and autosuggestions mostly with my eyes closed.

However, one truth remains, whenever one needs to relax, this simple Yogic technique does offer a safe and effective means of attaining this.

I always tell people: “Hey if it is said God took a break on the 7th day after making the world, who are we as humans not to take time out to rest?”
That said, empower yourself with the knowledge of this technique offered by Yoga whenever you need time to just relax.

Go Straight to Video for Yoga Training

The various postures of yoga have long been used as a basis for the stretching moves that are prescribed for athletes or used in other forms of exercise. It’s no surprise, then, that a flood of yoga tapes is hitting the market.

There are tapes for Olympic-level athletes and tapes for rank beginners. There are tapes that will challenge your strength and endurance, and tapes that will lull you into blissful relaxation.

Here’s a look at four yoga tapes, from the most difficult to the most basic. The only thing you need to get started is comfortable clothes and a non-skid surface like a sticky mat.

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Embracing Power Yoga
This tape, led by Los Angeles instructor-to-the-stars Mark Blanchard, is the yoga version of boot camp. It’s 85 challenging minutes of constant movement designed to build strength and endurance, with Blanchard leading a class of 13 men and women.

The tape is billed as appropriate for all levels, and there’s a 5-minute segment at the beginning that offers a quick summary of how to do many of the basic yoga poses in the tape.

But that’s not enough for novices, and the rest of the tape is far too strenuous for those who aren’t extremely fit. You can tell that Blanchard isn’t very interested in newcomers to yoga because he ignores the poor, fumbling fellow in the back row who has little flexibility.

Despite these deficiencies, this tape is wonderfully challenging and effective workout, judging by the sweat that pours off the members of the class. But unless you’re already in good shape — and by the standards of this tape, that means you can do push-ups, balance easily on one leg and have abs of steel — you’ll be better off with an easier tape.

Yoga Zone: Power Yoga for Strength and Endurance
This routine provides a great introduction to the strength-building postures of power yoga. It’s taught by Lisa Bennett, who leads two exercisers through the 55-minute class.

One exerciser is a beginner; the other is more advanced. Beginners will be heartened to see that Bennett devotes plenty of time to helping Gina, the beginner, find modified versions of the postures that allow her to complete every segment of the routine. And veterans can learn much from her work with Charles as she guides him into more challenging moves.

One of Bennett’s major strengths is her ability to provide clear, detailed descriptions of proper form, from the angle of a bent knee to the direction of an extended arm.

Though there’s hard work to be done in this routine, Bennett’s comforting tone and understanding demeanor make it pleasurable.

Give Yourself A Yoga Facial!

Your face is a hardworking part of your body. There are 16 muscles found in your face, and those muscles can benefit from Yoga techniques. Think about your face and the beating it takes. It is hit by sun, snow, sleet, wind, and rain. It is rubbed, has make-up applied, scratched, scraped and grit and grime are attacking it constantly.

Not only are there 16 muscles but also a dozen bones, arteries, blood vessels and veins that allows your face to do what it does. These parts of your face help you see, laugh, cry, chew, laugh, cry, kiss, sneeze, chew and much more. Your face absorbs much of your stress and tension. Unless you let those muscles relax, they will get hard and you will have a strained look. Tense muscles also can keep the proper amount of blood flowing to your face with the nutrients it needs by constricting the arteries. Facial tension can flow down your neck and your shoulders. Just a few simple Yoga exercises can help release the tension making you look and feel more relaxed. Seven Yoga practices will help your face. Let’s look at them.

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1. Eye socket massage is for releasing tension from around the eyes. It relaxes the eyes and surrounding facial features. This exercise needs to be repeated 3-5 times. This one is easy to do and will give your eyes a break. Place both the index and middle fingers of your hands on the sides of your nose just below the bridge. Rub your fingers up the bridge, across the eyebrows. You will feel a notch in your eye socket; rub that notch for a moment. Do it gently, and then follow the line of your socket and back to your original starting place beside your nose.
2. Improve circulation in your cheeks by grabbing bits of flesh and squeezing them.
3. Another good exercise to soothe your optic nerve and the muscles around your eyes is easy to do. Sit in a relaxed position; focus on breathing, in and out of your nose; cool air in and warm air out. Rub your palms together briskly and then cup them over your eye sockets. Repeat this several times for maximum benefit.
4. Here is a great one for relieving tension in your forehead and jaws, which could lead to headaches. Use the middle and index finger of both hands and place them in the middle of your forehead. Gently rub your forehead making small circles with your fingers. Continue to massage gently across your brow to your temple, where we hold tension and give that area a gentle massage. Move down from your temples to the hinge of your jaws. This is another place where we hold stress and tension. Continue with small circle movements along your jaw line and across your cheeks, up your nose and ending at your starting point. This works especially well for those of us who clench their jaws when under stress.

There are several other simple ways to loosen tension in your face, neck, and shoulders. These are just four of the simple ways to relax your face using Yoga techniques.

Getting Healthy With Yoga

People have always believed that yoga can do more for your body than just keeping it fit and flexible. Research now shows it can help weight control, lower back pain, insomnia and even heart disease. Studies indicate yoga helps with weight loss and maintenance. In a study of 15,000 adults, the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center found that those who did not practice yoga gained approximately 18.5 pounds more over a 10-year period than those who practiced for at least four years. There was also a study done at the Preventive Medicine Research Institute in Sausalito, California. This study found people who regularly practiced yoga and meditation, exercised and watched their diet lost more weight than those who exercised, and ate a balanced diet, but did not practice yoga.

Additionally Yoga can improve your range of motion in your hips, reducing lower back pain. A study done at The American College of Sport’s Medicine, suggest that yoga increases lower back flexibility and decreases pain. It was a small study conducted on older women age 44-62. Persistent back pain however should always be professional diagnosed before embracing on any exercise program including yoga. Yoga’s backbends and forward bends may exacerbate some back conditions.

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Yoga can also calm your body and your mind, which can help people who suffer from insomnia. Sat Bir Singh Khalsa, PhD., an instructor of medicine, division of Sleep Medicine at the Harvard Medical School recently published a study. He found a half hour to 45 minutes of daily yoga practice with a focus on meditation and breathing, helped chronic insomniacs sleep through the night. The subjects increased their overall sleep by 12%.

Yoga breathing can help lower your heart rate and calm your nervous system. The breathing techniques can help alleviate serious anxiety and depression and reduce stress. Practicing yoga for an hour and a half three times a week can make your heart healthier in just six weeks. A recent study out of Yale University School of Medicine had 33 men and women who practiced yoga at that rate. This lowered their blood pressure and improved their blood vessels’ ability to expand and contract by 17%. Researchers believe the improvements are based on the stress-reducing benefits of yoga.

 

Gentlemen, Guys Actually Do Yoga

Let’s face it, at its first mention; Yoga might not come off as the most masculine exercise. But that’s just it-at its first mention. When you delve deeper into it, you will realize nothing could be further from the truth.

More males are discovering this and consequently more American men are now flocking to the yoga mats where once, it seemed, only women dared to tread. However the irony is in India where it originated, it wasn’t until recently that women were even allowed to practice yoga-that with restrictions still applied at times.

Men now make up 25 percent of America’s 17 million enthusiasts and this figure is increasing steadily. Perhaps it may be because several successful men in various walks of life attest to Yoga’s efficiency and openly advocate its practice.

Take Hip-Hop entrepreneur, Russell Simmons for example, when I read he practiced Yoga (just like Sting, Quincy Jones and Woody Harrelson), it further increased my belief that in no time perhaps NOT practicing Yoga will be seen as strange.

Okay, maybe I overstated that, however, for Simmons (someone viewed as a pioneer in such a masculine and testosterone driven lifestyle known as Hip-Hop) to openly show off his Yoga Skills in a recent issue of the popular Yoga Journal Magazine, don’t be surprised if more ‘cats’ start following suit.

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This may happen a lot faster as I once read in an article online that the successful coach of the Chicago Bulls and Los Angeles Lakers, Phil Jackson,
often uses Yoga Philosophies in the training of both teams.

It had to have been effective if it led to the Bulls being 3-time Champions and the Lakers winning their first championship in 12 years back in 2000, both under his guidance.
Now most men who practice yoga tend to favor the more athletic, fast-moving styles such as Vinyasa and Ashtanga. Personally, I bow to the simple yet powerful Sun Salutations common to the Sivananda style of Yoga.
I showed this routine and some other balancing poses to a couple of friends once and these tough workout animals were shocked at how strenuous yoga can be.
They discovered that holding the asanas (or poses) such as the peacock pose, builds strength-not the brute strength of a power lifter but the tensile strength of a martial-arts master.
Several pro-athletes such as the Tennessee Titans running back Eddie George,
Broncos tight end Shannon Sharpe, Oakland A’s pitcher ace Barry Zito, NBA superstar Kevin Garnett and PGA standouts Ty Tyron and David Duval have all at some point attested to this fact.

Either way it goes, Yoga is being rediscovered on an almost daily basis by men as indeed being ‘the’ way to go as far as exercise; sometimes exclusively, oft-times in combination with more common forms of fitness regimens.

So fellas, if you are you stilled not convinced this isn’t just a ‘girl’s exercise, do this, go to your favorite search engine, type up one of the following: The Peacock, 4-limbed or wheel pose.

Try either one for a full minute and you will be shocked-like my hard as nails friend once said-to discover that “Yoga ain’t no joke!”

Gentlemen, ‘real’ dudes indeed do practice Yoga.

Gentle Yoga Exercises for Relaxation

Developed in India over 5000 years ago, Yoga is an old system of exercises and development of the body, mind, and spirit. It consists of gentle movements, long stretches, and deep breathing is perfect for a method of relaxation before going to bed. The stretches remind you of an animal preparing to bed down. The gentle form of Yoga is not strenuous so it doesn’t overstimulate your body and keep you awake. It does promote the slowing down of your body and mind and prepares both for a good nights sleep. Practicing the Asana, poses also help strengthen the nervous system and relieve anxiety.

Asana poses have an affect on both the mental and the physical works of the body.
Physically they heal, strengthen, stretch, and relax all parts of the body. This includes the digestion system, cardiovascular health, glands, and muscles. Mentally the poses help cultivate a quiet and peaceful mind, increase alertness, and increase concentration. They help spiritually by preparing your mind for meditation and letting you connect with God.

Whether you suffer from chronic insomnia or only occasionally can’t go to sleep, Yoga might be a way of overcoming insomnia without drugs. If you problem is falling asleep when you go to bed, try doing some gentle stretches and meditation for about 30 minutes before crawling into bed. This will enable your mind to rest and get rid of the worries and anxieties you are feeling.

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If you, on the other hand, wake up during the night and not be able to go back to sleep, try deep breathing exercises. Listen and concentrate on the sound of your breathing. Listen to the rhythm, feel your chest moving up and down. Start at your head and relax each set of muscles. Don’t go to the next set until you have finally managed to relax the ones you are working on. Another idea is to use a chant to block everything else out of your mind. OHM is the chant of choice for many Yoga enthusiasts, but your chant can be anything that is simple. A word or phrase will be fine. Concentrate on that one word or phrase until everything else has been erased from your mind.

A regular 30-minute practice session each day, maybe 30 minutes of practice will be a big help to your body, mind and spirit. After practicing for a time, when it becomes a habit for you, you will find you have a new peace of mind. You will also see an improvement in your body and get in touch with the spiritual side within you.

Many poses are difficult in some styles of Yoga. Choose the ones that don’t require you to twist your body into any position that doesn’t feel comfortable for you. The breathing exercises help clear your body of toxins and to relieve stress, depression, and other mental or physical problems. If you have the time and to do so, search for a Yoga class or a teacher that will teach you some of the Asana poses. If there aren’t any classes or teachers in your area, find a good book or video. Do the poses that seem suitable to you, and remember, never strain, always relax.

Frequently Asked Questions On Yoga

Yoga has been around for an incredibly long time and over that period different practitioners have added their own refinements and styles into the basic Yoga discipline. There are so many different styles now it is nearly impossible to count, but they all stem from the same core philosophy and methodology. Unfortunately the multiple different styles often lead newcomers to the exercise discipline to become very confused as to what they are doing and what they can hope to achieve with Yoga. In this article we answer some of the common questions.

What is Yoga?

This question is the most common from newcomers. Most people have a general idea but they are not sure where Yoga fits into the world. Is it an exercise? Is it a philosophy? Is it a form of physical therapy? Is it a spiritual process? The answer is that to different people Yoga is all of these things. At it’s core it is a group of exercises and poses which are very low impact and work by strengthening the body and increasing it’s flexibility through static exercise. This means that each pose will ‘stretch’ a certain area and the body benefits from this stretch by increased blood flow and energy release. Many of the exercises release tension from areas of the body that regular activities do not cater to. Because Yoga is performed slowly and with a strong emphasis on correct breathing patterns there is also a strong mental and spiritual element to the exercise. It is seen as a way of cleansing mind, body and spirit.

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Do I Need To Be Religious To Get The Most Out Of Yoga?

As mentioned above Yoga is different things to different people. There are many people in the world who perform Yoga purely for it’s spiritual benefits. There are many others who perform Yoga purely for the physical benefits associated with it. What you get out of Yoga will depend largely on your mindset, your openness to new ideas and your ability to let yourself fall fully into a meditative state. For some people this is very difficult at first, but that is still not going to prevent them from getting the physical benefits associated with Yoga classes. You will find that even if you do not have any strong spiritual base you will still benefit from an increase in your self-confidence and personal contentment.

Where Can I Do Yoga?

Practically anywhere. Many people practice Yoga in their homes every day. Others will go to the local park and practice Yoga with a group of friends. To begin with it’s a good idea to inquire at your local gym about Yoga classes, many of them will be holding Yoga every day. Even if they aren’t they will be able to tell you where the best place to learn Yoga is. Some local councils sponsor Yoga classes in their area in recognition of the benefits to people who exercise regularly. One of the big advantages of a Yoga based exercise regime is that there is no expensive equipment to buy and then store around your house. Some poses are assisted by cushions to support the body, but in general the only thing you need is your body.

I’m Not Very Fit – Is Yoga For Me?

Yes. Very much so. One of the fantastic things about Yoga is that the exercises and poses you will learn can be adjusted to your level. Fitness isn’t usually a problem because the exercises are slow and often static, but your body will become better at performing them over time as your strength and flexibility improves. Knowing your limit and ensuring that you don’t ‘ease up’ out of habit gain the best benefit.

Hopefully you will now have a good understanding of what yoga is and why you should be doing it. Remember that Yoga is something that once learned can be practiced anywhere you like and as often as you like. Indeed, this is one of the key components of Yoga’s popularity.

Want Some Free Yoga Exercises?

Like everyone, you too would be interested in doing this set of free yoga exercises meant for just you!
These free yoga exercises will instruct you on how to practice yoga exercises; you just need to have a discipline and confidence to yourself in performing the exercises.

Yoga as a system of physical exercise it is designed to improve your body strength, increase the vital flow of energy and gives a peace of mind. This free exercise is performed by different poses and needs to be practiced correctly.

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The daily routine starts with having the a fixed procedure of practice everyday in three points; first, Japa meaning chanting some mantra over and over to maintain the same consciousness; second, study by reading some yoga scripts; and third, meditation which should be performed at a fixed time in a fixed place everyday.

The beginning pose of these free yoga exercises should be the Corpse pose, and be repeated between other asanas (yoga poses) and as a final relaxation. The easy pose which is the standard pose is also a good position for meditation while allowing your mind to gain strength and relax.

Start these yoga exercises with the warm up exercises to relax and prepare your muscles for the next exercises. After warm up you can perform the shoulder lifts the natural following exercise and the eye exercise, which can improve your eyesight and prevent tiredness. For the next exercises you can practice sun salutation which will stretch all your body muscles, this to prepare for the much more difficult exercises. Try also leg raise, which will tone your leg muscles, giving you more endurance and improved flexibility; head stand pose is also good for resting some of your organs such as heart.

Now prepare your mind and body for much more difficult yoga exercise.

Start with the bridge and plough poses; this will increase your back flexibility. It might look difficult to perform but this poses can easily reached by performing it gently. At first this exercise might not be perfect because it takes time to develop and execute them correctly. After that try forward bend pose to stimulate the nervous system and then fish pose, it tones the chest muscles and lungs.

Women who suffer from menstrual problems can try the cobra pose, it stimulates the pelvic and lower abdomen area, improving the circulation and massaging the internal organs.

The locust pose on the other hand can help strengthen the lower back. Locust pose is also known to help prevent constipation.

The bow is another pose that will help your back area remain strong and flexible at the same time and abdominal fat my also be reduced if proper diet is applied. Furthering this yoga exercise you can try the half spinal twist pose for your spines.

You can improve your joints and arm strength by the crow pose; this will give you more breathing capabilities. Then followed by hands to feet pose and the triangle, the pose requires your body’s strength and flexibility. For the final perform the corpse pose to regain any energy that has been lost during these free yoga exercise and also to rest your body.

Try these free yoga exercises and see which ones work the best for you! Use the ancient wisdom of yoga to keep you in a healthy and comfortable lifestyle.

Free Online Yoga – Is It Safe?

Yoga nowadays is very in demand especially the newest free online free yoga. Yoga practice and exercise can be learned in school.

There are a lot of yoga schools all over the world. Before, yoga was only applied and practice in India but now, looks like it has evolved. Almost all the people in the world know the word yoga although there are some who don’t have a clear picture of it. Yoga for the many people is an exercise and a means to concentrate with the mind and soul.

It is a great advantage that free online yoga was offered to the people. They say that the web is the easiest way to gain, search and acquire knowledge. Almost everything is learned from the web and it is no wonder why the people get hooked on it.

Free online yoga chooses no one in particular. Everyone is a candidate in learning yoga. All you need to do is to have your own computer and get hooked on to it.

If you want to learn from the basics, the net has the resources on how to learn it the easy way. As long as you know how to understand and read, you are capable of learning yoga.

It is an amazing breakthrough that yoga is taught in the web. Free online yoga saves you from going to a yoga class. It saves your time, money and effort. Plus, you can freely do it at home without any one looking at you if that is what you prefer.

If you want to have the free online yoga, there are some certain requirements that you need.

Now you will wonder if free online yoga is really advantageous. If it is, then why are all the people going to schools and bringing their mats on their backpack if they can acquire it at home.

Of course not everybody has their own personal computer. If you have a computer, it’s as easy as connecting to the web and browsing the net.

There are a lot of web sites that offered free online yoga. You can search from a variety of sites and be sure not to leave off any.

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Some sites that offer free online yoga will only ask you to register. You will just have to fill up some important information like your state address, name, age and gender. These information is important in giving you the information you need. The age is something they need to consider because not all practices are suitable for all ages. For example for the older ones, they cannot perform a lot of stretching and bending. This is important why you should fill up correct information.

In choosing the best site to have your online free yoga, you should make sure that the things they teach you are all correct because some yoga practices can lead to disaster and disorders.

There are some sites that do not really teach the right and recommended yoga. They just want to be part of the trend that is why they imitate the original sites. Practicing the wrong yoga poses and positions entail a lot of risk in your health. So this thing must be handled properly.

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Foundations of Yoga, Part 3: Satya (Truthfulness, Honesty)

Satya: truthfulness, honesty

(A continuation of an explanation of the aspects of Patanjali’s Yama and Niyama)

“Satya is said to be speech and thought in conformity with what has been seen or inferred or heard on authority. The speech spoken to convey one’s own experience to others should be not deceitful, nor inaccurate, nor uninformative. It is that uttered for helping all beings. But that uttered to the harm of beings, even if it is what is called truth, when the ultimate aim is merely to injure beings, would not be truth [satya]. It would be a wrong.” So says Vyasa.

Shankara says that truthfulness means saying what we have truly come to know is the truth-mostly through our own experience or through contact with sources whose reliability we have experienced for ourselves. Who but the most intuitive could be sure that they do not speak any inaccurate thing? Yet such is demanded of the yogi, and for that he must strive.

“Untruthfulness in any form puts us out of harmony with the fundamental law of Truth and creates a kind of mental and emotional strain which prevents us from harmonizing and tranquillizing our mind. Truthfulness has to be practiced by the sadhaka because it is absolutely necessary for the unfoldment of intuition. There is nothing which clouds the intuition and practically stops its functioning as much as untruthfulness in all its forms,” says Taimni regarding the most personal and practical aspect of satya.

Bending the truth, either in leaving out part of the truth or in “stacking the deck” to create a false impression, cannot be engaged in by the yogi. The Bible speaks of turning truth into a lie. (Romans 1:25) This is done by either not telling all the truth or by presenting it in such a way that the hearer will come to a wrong conclusion-or adopt a wrong conclusion-about what we are presenting. Regarding numbers it is said that “figures do not lie-but liars figure.” The same is true here. Equally heinous is the intentional mixing of lies and truth. Some liars tell a lot of truth-but not all the truth. This is particularly true in the manipulative endeavors of advertising, politics, and religion.

There are many non-verbal forms of lying as well, and some people’s entire life is a lie. Therefore we must make sure that our actions reflect the truth. How many people claim to believe in God and spiritual principles, but do not live accordingly? How many people continually swear and express loyalty and yet are betrayers? [“This people draweth nigh unto me with their mouth, and honoureth me with their lips; but their heart is far from me.” (Matthew 15:8) “And why call ye me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say?” (Luke 6:46)] Therefore Saint John wrote: “My little children, let us not love in word, neither in tongue; but in deed and in truth.”(I John 3:18) We must not only speak the truth, we must live it.

Honesty in all our speaking and dealings with others is an essential part of truthfulness. This includes paying our debts, including taxes. It is inexpressibly crucial that the yogi make his livelihood only by honest and truthful means. Selling useless or silly things, convincing people that they need them (or even selling them without convincing them), is a serious breach of truthfulness.

Trying to compromise the truth, even a little, making the excuse that “everybody does it” is not legitimate. For “everybody” is bound to the wheel of birth and death because they do it-and that is not what we wish for ourselves. We can lie to ourselves, to others, and even to God; but we cannot lie to the cosmos. The law of cause and effect, or karma, will react upon us to our own pain.

It is interesting that Vyasa considers that truthful speech is informative. By that he means that truthful speech is worthwhile, relevant, and practical. To babble mindlessly and grind out verbal trivia is also a form of untruth, even if true in the sense of not being objectively false. Nor is foolish speech to anyone’s gain. Sometimes also people lie by “snowing” us with a barrage of words intended to deflect us from our inquiries. And nearly all of us who went to college remember the old game of padding out whatever we wrote, giving lots of form but little content in hope of fooling our teachers into thinking that we knew the subject and were saying something worthwhile. This is one of today’s most lucrative businesses, especially in the advertising world.

Speaking truth to the hurt of others is not really truth, since satya is an extension of ahimsa. For example, a person may be ugly, but to say: “You are ugly” is not a virtue. “What is based on injuring others, even though free from the three defects of speech (i.e., not deceitful, nor inaccurate, nor uninformative), does not amount to truth” (Shankara). Our intention must never be to hurt in any way, but we must be aware that there are some people who hate the truth in any form and will accuse us of hurting them by our honesty. Such persons especially like to label any truth (or person) they dislike as “harsh,” “rigid,” “divisive,” “negative” “hateful,” and so on and on and on. We would have to become dishonest or liars to placate them. So “hurting” or offending them is a consequence of truthfulness that we will have to live with. The bottom line is that truth “is that uttered for helping all beings.” For non-injury is not a passive quality, but the positive character of restoration and healing.

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Silence can also be a form of untruth, particularly in dealing with the aforementioned truth-haters. For truth is only harmful when “the ultimate aim is merely to injure beings.” But if some people put themselves in the way of truth, then they must take responsibility for their reactions to it.

Will Cuppy defined diplomacy as “the fine art of lying.” Sadly, it often is. So we must be sure that we do not deceive under the guise of diplomacy or tactfulness.

Self-deception, a favorite with nearly all of us to some degree, must be ruthlessly eliminated if we would be genuinely truthful.

“Therefore let one take care that his speech is for the welfare of all.” (Shankara)

Next: Brahmacharya (continence) and Aparigraha (non-posessiveness)

Foundations of Yoga, Part 2: Ahimsa (Harmlessness)

Ahimsa: non-violence, non-injury, harmlessness

In his commentary on the Yoga Sutras, Vyasa [Vyasa was one of the greatest sages of India, author of the Mahabharata (which includes the Bhagavad Gita), the Brahma Sutras, and the codifier of the Vedas.] begins his exposition of ahimsa: “Ahimsa means in no way and at no time to do injury to any living being.” Shankara expands on this, saying that ahimsa is “in no capacity and in no fashion to give injury to any being.” This would include injury by word or thought as well as the obvious injury perpetrated by deed, for Shankara further says: “Ahimsa is to be practiced in every capacity-body, speech, and mind.” We find this principle being set forth by Jesus in his claim that anger directed toward someone is a form of murder (Matthew 5:21,22), and by the Beloved Disciple’s statement that hatred is also murder.(I John 3:15)

Even a simple understanding of the law of karma, the law of sowing and reaping (Galatians 6:7), enables us to realize the terrible consequences of murder for the murderer. As Vyasa explains: “The killer deprives the victim of spirit, hurts him with a blow of a weapon, and then tears him away from life. Because he has deprived another of spirit, the supports of his own life, animate or inanimate, become weakened. Because he has caused pain, he experiences pain himself…. Because he has torn another from life, he goes to live in a life in which every moment he wishes to die, because the retribution as pain has to work itself right out, while he is panting for death.”

Ahimsa is interpreted in many ways-which is to be expected since Sanskrit is a language that abounds in many possible meanings for a single word. But fundamentally ahimsa is not causing any harm whatsoever to any being whatsoever, including subhuman species. (Ahimsa is not usually considered in relation to plant and mineral life, but certainly wanton destruction of such life would be an infringement of ahimsa, partly because it would eventually have a detrimental effect on animal life as well.) To accomplish this ideal it is self-evident that violence, injury, or killing are unthinkable for the yogi. And as Vyasa immediately points out, all the other abstinences and observances-yama and niyama-are really rooted in ahimsa, for they involve preventing harm both to ourselves and to others through either negative action or the neglect of positive action.

“The other niyamas and yamas are rooted in this, and they are practiced only to bring this to its culmination, only for perfecting this [i.e., ahimsa]. They are taught only as means to bring this out in its purity. For so it is said: ‘Whatever many vows the man of Brahman [God] would undertake, only in so far as he thereby refrains from doing harm impelled by delusion, does he bring out ahimsa in its purity.'” And Shankara explains that Vyasa is referring to delusion that is “rooted in violence and causing violence.”

Ahimsa includes strict abstinence from any form of injury in act, speech, or thought. Violence, too, verbal and physical, must be eschewed. And this includes any kind of angry or malicious damage or misuse of physical objects.

Ahimsa is a state of mind from which non-injury will naturally proceed. “Ahimsa really denotes an attitude and mode of behavior towards all living creatures based on the recognition of the underlying unity of life,” the modern commentator Taimni declares. Shankara remarks that when ahimsa and the others are observed “the cause of one’s doing harm becomes inoperative.” The ego itself becomes “harmless” by being put into a state of non-function. And meditation dissolves it utterly. However, until that interior state is established, we must work backwards from outward to inner, and abstain from all acts of injury.

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In actuality, we cannot live a moment in this world without injuring innumerable beings. Our simple act of breathing kills many tiny organisms, and so does every step we take. To maintain its health the body perpetually wars against harmful germs, bacteria, and viruses. So in the ultimate sense the state of ahimsa can only be perfectly observed mentally. Still, we are obligated to do as little injury as possible in our external life. In his autobiography Paramhansa Yogananda relates that his guru, Swami Yukteswar Giri, said that ahimsa is absence of the desire to injure.

Although it has many ramifications, the aspiring yogi must realize that the observance of ahimsa must include strict abstinence from the eating of animal flesh in any form or degree.

Though the subject is oddly missing from every commentary on the Yoga Sutras I have read, the practice of non-injury in relation to the yogi himself is vital. That is, the yogi must do nothing in thought, word, or deed that harms his body, mind, or spirit. This necessitates a great many abstensions, particularly abstaining from meat (which includes fish and eggs), alcohol, nicotine, and any mind- or mood-altering substances, including caffeine. On the other side, it necessitates the taking up of whatever benefits the body, mind, and spirit, for their omission is also a form of self-injury, as is the non-observance of any of the yama or niyamas. It is no simple thing to be a yogi.

Next: Satya (truthfulness, honesty)

Foundations of Yoga, Part 1: Yama and Niyama

Prerequisites for yoga

“Knowledge (Jnana) does not come about from practice of yoga methods alone. Perfection in knowledge is in fact only for those who begin by practice of virtue (dharma). Yet, without yoga as a means, knowledge does not come about. The practice of yogic methods is not the means by itself, yet it is only out of that practice of yoga that the perfection in knowledge comes about. And so it is said by the teachers: ‘Yoga is for the purpose of knowledge of truth'” Thus wrote Shankara.

All things rest upon something else-that is, all things are supported by another. This is because a foundation is needed for anything to exist. Being Himself the Ultimate Support of all things, God alone is free from this necessity. Yoga, then, also requires support. As Trevor Leggett says in his introduction to Shankara’s commentary on the Yoga Sutras: “This is yoga presented for the man of the world, who must first clear, and then steady, his mind against the fury of illusory passions, and free his life from entanglements.” Patanjali very carefully and fully outlines the elements of the support needed by the aspirant, giving invaluable information on how to guarantee success in yoga.

The first Yoga Sutra says: “Now the exposition of yoga,” implying that there must be something leading up to yoga in the form of necessary developments of consciousness and personality. These prerequisites may be thought of as the Pillars of Yoga, and are known as Yama and Niyama.

Yama and Niyama

Yama and Niyama are often called “the Ten Commandments of Yoga.” Each one of these Five Don’ts (Yama) and Five Do’s (Niyama) is a supporting, liberating Pillar of Yoga. Yama means self-restraint in the sense of self-mastery, or abstention, and consists of five elements. Niyama means observances, of which there are also five. Here is the complete list of these ten Pillars as given in Yoga Sutras 2:30,32:

1) Ahimsa: non-violence, non-injury, harmlessness

2) Satya: truthfulness, honesty

3) Asteya: non-stealing, honesty, non-misappropriativeness

4) Brahmacharya: sexual continence in thought, word and deed as well as control of all the senses

5) Aparigraha: non-possessiveness, non-greed, non-selfishness, non-acquisitiveness

6) Shaucha: purity, cleanliness

7) Santosha: contentment, peacefulness

8) Tapas: austerity, practical (i.e., result-producing) spiritual discipline

9) Swadhyaya: introspective self-study, spiritual study

10) Ishwarapranidhana: offering of one’s life to God

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All of these deal with the innate powers of the human being-or rather with the abstinence and observance that will develop and release those powers to be used toward our spiritual perfection, to our self-realization and liberation.

These ten restraints (yama) and observances (niyama) are not optional for the aspiring yogi-or for the most advanced yogi, either. Shankara states quite forcefully that “following yama and niyama is the basic qualification to practice yoga.” Mere desire and aspiration for the goal of yoga is not enough, so he continues: “The qualification is not simply that one wants to practice yoga, for the sacred text says: ‘But he who has not first turned away from his wickedness, who is not tranquil and subdued, or whose mind is not at rest, he can never obtain the Self by knowledge.’ (Katha Upanishad 1.2.24) And in the Atharva text: ‘It is in those who have tapas [strong discipline] and brahmacharya [chastity] that truth is established.’ (Prashna Upanishad 1:15)And in the Gita: ‘Firm in their vow of brahmacharya.’ (Bhagavad Gita 6:14) So yama and niyama are methods of yoga” in themselves and are not mere adjuncts or aids that can be optional.

But at the same time, the practice of yoga helps the aspiring yogi to follow the necessary ways of yama and niyama, so he should not be discouraged from taking up yoga right now, thinking that he should wait till he is “ready” or has “cleaned up his act” to practice yoga. No. He should determinedly embark on yama, niyama, and yoga simultaneously. Success will be his.