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.

For Some People, Learning Yoga on CD-ROM is a Stretch

As if to lend weight to my contention that your computer can, in theory, teach you anything, along comes a pair of CD-ROMs called Wellness Yoga and Shiatsu Relaxation.

Lithe young women demonstrate these ancient Eastern techniques while mellow-voiced narrators speak over somnambulant music, the better to relax you and make you all well.

Most of us are familiar at least with the concepts of yoga, its slow stretching exercises and its often almost unattainable physical positions. Wellness Yoga is a nicely designed program that packages 74 asanas, or positions, into several packages such as the Quick and Easy Course, the Beauty Course and the Health Course.

The program consists largely of what it calls procedure screens, in which each position is demonstrated in one window while described textually in another. A narrator reads that same text aloud. In addition to the usual tape-recorder buttons to pause, stop and restart the action, there is a graph that displays the approximate duration of each segment of the routine.

The practical difficulties of using this CD-ROM are fairly obvious. The manual, dragged kicking and screaming into English from its Japanese roots, advises the user to First practice forming the pose while watching the screen and try memorizing the whole procedure.” This, unless you have a 24-inch monitor or keep your monitor on the floor, is likely to be difficult. Clearly the actual learning of the poses could be more readily done with a videotape.

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On the other hand, you can hunt around in the CD-ROM, choose from the positions you want to learn, and collect them into personal groups. And maybe you’ve got a really big monitor, and a cordless, long-distance mouse.

This is a nice program, well-made and instructive. My only complaint is that it does not emphasize clearly enough that unless you are as slender as the model executing the poses, you are not going to be able to do many of them — the Crow, the Heron and the Frog, for instance — correctly. On the other hand, we can all do the Corpse.

Shiatsu Relaxation, which teaches a massage technique clearly related to acupuncture, is another kettle of fish.

The theory is that rubbing, kneading or poking specific points on the body, called acupressure points, will make other parts of the body feel better. I am not prepared to argue that premise, but the entire procedure seems shiatsu yourself is not clear, either; the program initially suggests you find some of your own more accessible pressure points, but they are not all available to your own hands and all the demonstrations show one person ministering to another.

Fitness Yoga Accessories For Yoga Exercises

There are many accessories for Yoga exercises that will serve to make you more comfortable, and help you achieve the most benefit from every Yoga pose that you achieve. Some of the accessories are considered to be props, but there are various mats that will prove to be beneficial to. There are many books written on Yoga that would make perfect accessories to refer to while learning and practicing Yoga.

One of the most common accessories for Yoga will be the apparel and clothing that is worn when going through the various poses of Yogo. Since Yoga is for developing a zest for living through meditation and exercise, the apparel worn for Yogo must be comfortable enough to be worn all day long. Yogo wear is casual wear and for those with busy lives it can also be considered active wear.

There are spiritual charms that can be worn as accessories for yoga because the Yoga experience is based on developing the spiritual side of our being. There are Yoga T-shirts that are designed to make you feel good about yourself and the changes that are occurring in both your mind and your body at the same time. Many of the Yoga shorts are stylish enough for wearing out on the town.

The accessories for Yoga exercises include blankets that can be placed on the floor to make your body comfortable. There are benches that you can use while meditating that provide for comfort and the cushions that are on the benches will also mold to your body to provide a better barrier to lean against when any type of stretching or deep breathing exercises are needed.

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The straps used in Yoga are accessories for Yoga stretches, and when used correctly the straps will also help a person maintain a pose for a longer period of time than they would be able to if they did not use this type of accessory. Some people prefer to use sandbags during their workout because they find the added weight helps them to develop toned muscles at a faster rate.

The Yoga balls are often used by people at home for their own personal exercise program. Using the Yoga balls will be difficult at first because they do tend to roll when you least expect them to, but as with any Yoga exercise, controlling muscles takes time and with time, people are able to balance and stretch further with the balls than they ever have before.

All of the accessories used in Yoga will fit into a Yoga bag. These handy bags have been designed to accommodate the width of a Yoga mat and are equipped with plenty of space to store smaller objects. The Yoga mat will provide a center stage for all exercise and it will serve as a focal point during all Yoga meditations and routines. There are massage accessories for Yoga which often helps the body to relax too.

Finding Balance And Health With Yoga

Have you heard about the Gunas? No, they are not Disney characters! According to yoga there are three basic qualities or energies that make up everything. They are, rajas, tamas and sattva.

Rajas is the energy of action, change and movement. Rajas is the fuel of passion and fire. Rajasic energy is also associated with the day light hours. We obviously need rajasic energy to create energy to move successfully throughout our world and lives. When we have too much rajasic energy we might appear to the outside world as extremely busy, go go go, do do do! Does this sound like you? Maintaining a high degree of rajasic energy leads to burn out! When rajas is out of balance the mind and body are overstimulated, the mind becomes restless and you experience a lot of uncontrollable thoughts.

Foods that are rajasic include: spicy food, fried foods, coffee / caffeinated beverages/ stimulants/ fish, eggs, chocolate, foods that are very bitter, sour, dry and salty. Eating in a hurry is also considered rajasic

Tamas can be thought of as the opposite of rajas. Tamasic energy is associated with a state of inactivity and inertia, heaviness and darkness. When tamas is out of balance your ability to reason becomes clouded and you might experience the darker emotions such as anger or greed. Just as there is more rajasic energy present in daylight hours, tamasic energy is present during nighttime. People who are very tamasic might be depressed or appear lazy. Generally speaking disease states are tamasic.

Examples of tamasic food include: meat, alcohol, tobacco, onions, fermented foods – vinegar or strong cheese, stale food or over ripe food, overly processed food or chemically treated. Overeating is considered tamasic.

Sattva is energy that is in a state of harmony and balance. Positive mental and emotional states of joy and intelligence are associated with sattva. A person who was experiencing a lot of sattvic energy would appear very happy. Sattvic energy also is consistent with healing states and in Ayurveda (yoga’s sister science) sattvic energy is actively cultivated. Sattvic energy is most present during the times between light and dark- in other words dusk and dawn. A person on the yogic path is focused on developing sattva and for this reason yoga asana and meditation are classically performed at these times.

Foods that are sattvic include: whole grains, fresh fruits and vegetables, pure fruit juice, legumes, milk, butter, nuts, seeds, sprouted seeds, honey and herb teas.

It is important to realize that we all have all three gunas within us. And while this is true we tend to have a predominant guna. Based on the descriptions above can you figure out what yours is? It is good to be aware of this because once you are aware of your predominant guna then you can predict how might react to certain life circumstances as well know your strengths and weaknesses. You’ll know when you will tend to be thrown out of balance and what you will need to do to bring yourself back into balance.

You also might have times in our lives when one guna is more active then another. Perhaps you have very active time and very productive (rajasic). Or a period when you have been depressed (tamasic). Or a time when we are very balanced and in tune with your spirituality (satvic).

Another way the gunas show up in our lives and directly effect us is through the food we eat. Consider for a minute the average American diet with overly processed and chemically treated foods which are very tamasic. Modern science now confirms that these food items are directly linked to major illnesses including cancer, obesity, diabetes and heart disease. As mentioned above too much tamasic energy leads to disease states. We also know that foods in their whole form such as grains, fresh fruits and vegetables (sattvic foods) are life sustaining and bring health and energy.

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Do you practice yoga postures (asana)? How do the gunas show up here? Is your asana practice fiery and passionate? Was your practice was slow and lazy? Or was it balanced?

It is probably becoming clear to you by now that to be healthy, happy, and live a balance life it is important to cultivate sattva in your life. This can be done by:

Reducing rajas and tamas
Becoming aware of when you are out of balance- which guna seems most present?
Increase activities and environments that produce positive thoughts
Eating a healthy, sattvic oriented diet
Certain herbs (subject for another article)
The practice of yoga: pranayama (breathing practices), asana (postures), meditation

Find Your Way To Lose Pounds With Yoga

We all know that overweight along with obesity are for centuries no longer a fashion trend, instead it has even attracted many illnesses and problems to health. Yoga as a concept is simply “The art of living” that always provides us with solutions for mental concentration. A way to stay active and is also an opportunity to keep a positive force for the body and the mind. It provides us ways to lose weight.

Overweight issues have increased dramatically as our lives become faster, problematic and hard to handle, even considered by many an unavoidable state. Thanks to the increment of food our scrap paunch had increased and we spend a lot of energy to sustain it.

To adopt Yoga like atool to lose weight is a good option that considers all the aspects of obesity (mental, physical and emotional). It is agility and efficiency in the person and it can be for people of any age. It helps to obtain the control of our minds and behaviors including the feeding habits.

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It is always advisable to study the reasons and the symptoms of obesity before beginning with the treatment. It provides us an advantage to have a better understanding of our body and to correct the frequent errors that we fight day by day.

The most common symptoms are clearly the increment of weight and feeding, frustration, emotional deficiencies and mental stress.

All those conditions mentioned before are the main causes people tend to quit their journey to lose weight, so try to keep in mind that Yoga can help you go through this conditions. Yoga has a very important role play in the treatment against the obesity and the technical effects of the internal glands as much as the mental conditions of a person.

Feel Great with Bikram Yoga

Hot Yoga or what is also known as Bikram Yoga is getting more and more popular. So what are the benefits of this form of Yoga?

Some of the many benefits of Bikram Yoga include, body strengthening, building endurance and emotional balance as well as improving your health. Some of these benefits can be contributed to the use of heat while performing the posture series.

With the help of a heated room, you are able to get into your postures better, and your muscles stretch more readily. In a heated room you will also find that you will lose weight more rapidly if this is your goal. Another advantage is that your metabolism speeds up and this helps to breakdown glucose and fatty acids.

The heat also helps to move oxygen to your body tissue and organs, which promotes healing as well as aids in removing harmful toxins. Another great benefit of Bikram Yoga is unlike many other forms of Yoga; it will raise your heart rate and promote cardiovascular health.
Beyond the obvious benefits of Yoga, this form has been known to actually help repair damaged tissue and ligaments as well as helping to cure those who are plagued with chronic ailments.

The health benefits alone may be a good reason to try Bikram Yoga, but this is by far not the only benefit to this form of Yoga. There are many others, including a means in which we can find balance in our lives.
Additional areas in which Bikram Yoga may be helpful include, relieving stress. This is important in maintaining a healthy lifestyle. Stress can be a killer and the better we learn to manage our stress, the better our health can be.
The endurance required in Bikram Yoga helps you to learn how to focus your energies. This is undoubtedly a good trait to master. The better we can focus in our everyday lives, the more we can accomplish and the better we will feel about ourselves.

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Though Bikram Yoga is not necessarily a highly spiritual form of Yoga, it can help in spiritual transformation. When we feel better about ourselves, it is easier to reach to a higher spiritual self.

Bikram Yoga is a wonderful form of Yoga, but it may not be for everyone. Essentially, the postures can be performed by most anyone of any age, though you may find it difficult at first unless you are in good shape and have a high tolerance for heat. It might be a good idea to begin with Hatha Yoga first and then move on to Bikram Yoga. Once you have mastered Hatha Yoga, you can be fairly certain you are ready for Bikram Yoga.
Once you reach the point that you feel you are ready to begin Bikram Yoga, you may be truly astounded by how good you begin to feel.

Facts About Chakra Awakening

Chakra awakening is highly a debatable topic, with two distinctly different schools of thought. The answer could be, “Yes” or “No”, depending upon which school of thought you are trained in.

Firstly, let’s cover the side that would say, “Yes” to helping you share the experience of Chakra awakening. There is no shortage of detailed information, made available by enlightened Yoga enthusiasts like Anodea Judith.

Anodea Judith has made a Chakra balancing kit available, which gives a tour of the seven main Chakra system, detailed exercises, meditations, a workbook, and the path to Chakra awakening. She also has more books available, confers with other enlightened Yoga enthusiasts, and teaches workshops on this very subject.

There are many other books and CD’s on this subject by a variety of knowledgeable authors and enlightened Yoga practitioners. All of this information is easy for the public to “get their hands on.” So, here is a school of thought that believes this information should be shared and has gone out of its way to mass produce this information.

On the other hand, some Yoga teachers do not want the negative and positive qualities, within each Chakra, to be casually explored by students, without a competent Yoga teacher present. This is with the student’s safety in mind.

Furthermore, the amount of previous Yoga experience a student has is a factor in being able to control emotions, such as fear, lust, anger, and depression that can come boiling to the surface as a result of a Chakra awakening.

When, or if, a student is ready for Chakra awakening, should be determined by the teacher; this is not for every student. Some students put pressure on themselves, which may lead to anxiety, causing negative qualities of the Chakras to surface, during an awakening.

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In summary: One of the results of steady Yoga training is that we can get a better handle on our emotions than most. We also realize that we are not enlightened or perfect all the time. If you want to experience Chakra awakening with an enlightened Yoga enthusiast, you should seek out a competent Yoga teacher, who is willing to help you.

You could also get similar guidance from a Reiki teacher or Reiki master. Reiki teachers are very familiar with the Chakra system and very helpful. If it is not possible to work with a Reiki master, and you have been regularly practicing Yoga for at least two years, the Chakra balancing kit, I mentioned above, gives you step-by-step guidance toward awakening the Chakras.

Lastly, this is not a race, and please don’t put pressure on yourself toward self-perfection.

Enjoying Yoga to Live Healthy Aging

Yoga is a sort of exercise. Yoga assists one with controlling various aspects of the body and mind. Yoga helps you to take control of your Central Nervous System (CNS) and more. Enjoying yoga on a daily scale will build you up, which you will notice changes (Good changes), such as a boosted self-esteem. Your body will feel stronger also. For more than 5000 years, people have enjoyed yoga. Yoga derived from the India nations, which many believed that the act has helped millions of American citizens take control of their body and mind. Yoga has proven to reduce stress, which promotes the nervous system helping it to stay strong. Yoga when enjoyed on a regularly scale is a great method to help you with many pressures. Yoga combines spirituality, exercise, positive thinking, breathing and so on to help you enjoy healthy aging.

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The Pros and Cons in Yoga:
Yoga is a valued practice for many people worldwide. Yoga incorporates fitness, health, gymnastics, and training in a set of rules. Yoga helps you to maintain or loose weight. Yoga is a stress reducing machine. Yoga will train your mind, since it teaches you to control your thoughts through meditation and breathing. Breathing right is essential to yoga’s creators. When you practice yoga, it keeps you in contact with your inner self. You learn to balance your mind and body, which leads to good health. Your emotions are controlled as well, which means fears, doubts, and other negative influences will not take control of your life. Rather you will have control. As you practice yoga, you will feel comfortable with you and the people around you. The world will become yours, since you learn to communicate effectively and stop sweating the small stuff. The cons in yoga, includes that some types of yoga training is not right for everyone. Another con inside yoga is that you sometimes have to modify the workouts to benefit your body type and to withhold the workout suited for your strengths. This is not a con necessarily, but it can be if you have to figure out where beginners start.

How to get started:
The first thing you should do is see your family doctor. Make sure you are able to enjoy the type of yoga you choose. When your doctor approves of your choice of yoga steps start out slowly. Guide your way into mediate exercising. Yoga will put you in connection with your spiritual side, so prepare to find a new you. When you first start yoga, perhaps you would benefit from joining groups that practice yoga. The group sessions may inspire you to continue your journey to healthy aging. Having support is essential for all of us, which yoga groups can become your support team. If you cannot find a group in your area, visit your local library. You can also purchase books that train you how to enjoy yoga. Videos are available as well.

Where do I go after I’ve trained in yoga?
After you have taking the steps to get started, you will need to find a quiet area that makes you feel comfortable. You want to avoid interruptions while practicing yoga.

When will I notice the change in me?
Like everything in life, you will not notice a change in you right away. It takes time to notice or feel the changes. If you do this like your suppose to do on a regular basis you will see some changes gradually. Keep in mind that yoga is teaching you how to control your mind, body and emotions. Work with yoga and yoga will work with you.

Eight Amazing Benefits of Teaching Yoga

Every challenging occupation yields some sort of satisfaction, but the fitness professionals industry had an amazing 85% job satisfaction rate according to an Idea Health & Fitness survey.

Job Satisfaction

In the same survey, 98% of those interviewed felt that “My work gives me a feeling of personal accomplishment.” Lack of personal satisfaction is the most frequent reason why people leave a job. These statistics make it obvious that this is an extremely harmonious atmosphere to work in.

For many of us who worked in the corporate world and shifted into the health and fitness industry, the energy felt in a health club, ashram, or wellness center is similar to being on vacation.

There’s always something to do, but the job itself is very gratifying.

Rewards of Helping Family, Friends, Students, and Co-workers

Your self esteem improves as you find solutions for the pain management of others, ailments, fitness, stress management, positive thinking, etc.

The list goes on, as you continue your own journey of self improvement, but the feeling of gratification you get from helping someone find the right path, is beyond words.

You will always remember: That student who reaches their ideal body weight, the physically impaired student who finds that they, too, can live a better quality life, and the student who leaves your class without the headache or backache they came in with.

Your Own Health

As a practitioner of Yoga, you have become more aware of your daily ups and downs. You monitor your breath, posture, moods, diet, and exercise on a daily basis.

As a Yoga teacher, you are setting an example to your students and teaching them to live a quality life. This path will enable you to live longer and live better.

There is no Shortage of Work

When the working world is in the “9 to 5” mode, you have many opportunities with Corporate Accounts, The Fitness Industry, Senior Centers, Medical Centers, Referrals, etc. This is when you to teach them, with any free time you have.

Once I became totally self-employed, there were more daytime off-site Yoga teaching opportunities than I had time for in a geographic area that has many active Yoga teachers and studios. One of my best students, who became a
Yoga teacher through our on-site program, inherited an area that I could no longer service due to time restraints.

The object is to contact them. This is where your post cards come in handy, if you don’t have a personal referral.

Continuing Education

Yes, learning new things keeps your mind stimulated and healthy. You will never tire of subjects to study, explore, and investigate. There are so many facets of Yoga, that one life span, is just not enough time to learn it all.

It’s not a race, but it is a journey. You will find friends, colleagues, and students who are on the same path. This makes giving, receiving, and sharing a wonderful thing along the way.

Time

You will have time to stop, think, breathe, relax, or meditate. You can always fill your plate beyond its limits, but you no longer have to.

You can determine whether or not you will be stuck in traffic during rush hour. You decide what hours you will work and what days you have off. You will come to the realization that your time is your own.

Independence

Everyone wants control of their own life, but very few achieve it. Being in business for yourself, can help you control your own destiny and that of your family.

Sure there are limits to what one person can accomplish, but it is better to try than to have never tried.

Success

No matter what you want, if you write down your short-term and long-term goals, you will make great progress toward them.

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You should keep these goals in a place where you can see them daily and visualize yourself accomplishing your goals. You should be specific about time frames and ethical methods used to meet them. You can even use them in meditation.

Review your long-term goals at least once every season and every year.
Review your short-term goals daily. You will see yourself make rapid success in this way.

Lastly, goals do not have to be material at all. For example: You may want to start teaching Yoga in a year, and the following year, get a part-time Yoga teaching position. This type of goal setting is realistic and beneficial to mankind.

That is the key – If you choose a goal that will benefit others, you will surely achieve it.

Effective Gain From Yoga

It is well known that Yoga aimed to integrate the mind, the body, and the spirit. Yoga is a science that has been practiced for thousands of years. Yoga is experienced by over 20 million Americans daily. Each day people are reporting their superb experiences with Yoga. The most essential benefit of yoga is physical and mental therapy. The aging procedure, which is mostly an artificial condition, caused mainly by autointoxication or self-poisoning, can be delayed by practicing yoga. For getting maximum advantage of yoga one has to merge the practices of yogasanas, pranayama and meditation. Yoga is all about feeling good; feel the blood surging through your veins.

Yoga helps us to get profound respiration which broadens the oxygen consumption to the system cells, together with the plump cells. Yogic exercises cause more continual and deeper respiration which slowly but surely burns. The loosening and drill components of yoga have a important character to beat in the handling and prevention of higher blood force hypertension. Yoga is supposed to cut pain by helping the mind’s pain centre govern the gate-controlling mechanism located in the spinal cord and the secretion of normal painkillers in the system. Breathing exercises used in yoga can too cut pain. Yoga’s inclusion of loosening techniques and meditation can too help out to cure pain.

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Effectiveness of yoga help to reduce pain due to its application on self-awareness. Regular rehearse of asanas, pranayama and meditation can relieve various ailments such as diabetes, digestive disorders, arthritis, arteriosclerosis, chronic fatigue, asthma, varicose veins and heart conditions. Following Yoga also results in greater reduction in anxiety scores than drug therapy. Back pain is the most common reason to seek medical attention. Yoga has constantly been used to treat and avoid back pain by enhancing strength and flexibility. Both acute and long-term stress can lead to muscle tension and exacerbate back problems.

Practicing yoga can identify chronic pain victims with helpful tools to dynamically deal with their pain and help counter feelings of helplessness and depression. Yoga is effective for all, despite of age, color, caste, creed or religion; from the healthiest to the sickest, from the richest to the poorest, from the whitest to the blackest. Regular yoga practice can help in weight management. There are several asanas, such as the shoulder stand and the fish posture, which are specific for the thyroid gland. Fat metabolism is also increased, so fat is converted to muscle and energy. Yogic practices that reduce anxiety tend to reduce anxious eating.

Easing the Pain of Arthritis with Simple Yoga Practices

Arthritis can be just an occasional pain in some fingers or joint to an incapacitating pain that keeps you from enjoying life to the fullest. Most doctors agree that some form of regular exercise can help by keeping our muscle tone intact and in helping to prevent stiffness in the joints. Whatever your level of arthritis is, it can be helped by the practice of Yoga.

When the pain of arthritis hits, it causes the rest of the body to stiffen up to keep the part that’s hurting from hurting more. Most of us would respond to that by doing even less exercise, but inactivity is the worse solution to combating the pain of arthritis. Inactivity weakens the muscles and can increase stiffness and pain. Yoga encourages you to keep moving, although gently, to allow your body to heal and preserve muscle tone. Yoga practice also helps you psychologically, it increases your confidence that you can still function as a normal person and do all the regular activities you do in a day. You don’t have to let arthritis confine you to a wheelchair.

Some gentle Yoga exercises begin with movements while sitting in a chair. These are adaptations of the regular Yoga poses, and help to loosen joints and relax muscle groups. With a regular breathing pattern, you will gradually increase the level of difficulty in your Yoga practice. Breathing helps bring fresh blood and the proper nutrients to muscle tissue. It also helps relieve physical and emotional tension. As you slowly start to loosen up from these gentler Yoga movements, you can gradually add standing poses to your routine. By adding additional Yoga poses, you are improving strength, flexibility, and balance. If it’s necessary, do your routine with a sturdy chair as a prop so you will feel safer and steadier. As time goes by and you become more flexible you can gradually stop using supports. If you can’t, don’t beat yourself up because of it that defeats the purpose of Yoga. The idea is to relax and loosen the muscles. Yoga will also make those joints less painful.

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Self-massage is also a way to bring improved circulation and warmth to the joints affected by arthritis. The American Yoga Association has instructional tapes and books to show you how to effectively massage the areas of pain.

Breathing, meditation and other relaxation techniques should be a part of your daily routine. They help improve respiration, ease anxiety, and help take your mind off the pain. Oxygen flooding the body gives relief for both physical and emotional tension and the best part of that is, you can do it anywhere! There are many books and tapes that are developed to help with coping with the pain of arthritis.

Arthritis doesn’t have to be a disease that will turn into an insurmountable disability. By practicing breathing, gentle exercises, and meditating every day you can rebuild your strength and pursue your daily activities with renewed energy, better health, and less pain.

Don’t Let Your Yoga Routine Become a Pain

The practice of Yoga has many ways of healing the body, increasing flexibility, strength, and breathing capacity. It’s widely recommended as part of a physical therapy, to condition the physical body, calm the mind and give peace to your spirit. However, what happens when you are practicing Yoga in a room with a group of competitive, average everyday westerner? Sometimes that defeats the purpose of practicing Yoga. If you are looking at other students and what they are doing, you’re not concentrating on your own body and spirit. Type A personalities can make a Yoga session less enjoyable by fretting over the good pose the person next to you is doing, or telling yourself you can probably do that pose a little better if you force your body a little more.

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This is not the intent of practicing Yoga and can actually hurt you instead of help. It’s not about trying to outdo the other guy, or making your Asana pose better than the girl in the front row. You are not competing when you are practicing Yoga. You aren’t even competing with yourself. Yoga sessions will be different every time you practice. It isn’t a big deal if you aren’t as flexible today as you were yesterday, or that pose you practiced for hours just won’t fall into place. Your body is different every day, sometimes you gain a few steps, and often you feel like you’ve fallen back a step or two. It’s all right, don’t let it become a tragedy or keep you from working your Yoga program. The focus is how your body feels right now, not yesterday or how it will feel tomorrow but how it’s feeling at this very moment. You can listen to your body, it will tell you how far it wants to go and how much it wants to do today. If you are trying to outdo someone else, or show off your magnificent Yoga postures, you are defeating the very purpose of Yoga. Yoga is getting away from the competitive nature of today’s world. It’s supposed to allow you to feel your inner strength and appreciate where your body is right now. Don’t be in a pose just willing it to be over so you can check your emails or get on with your busy day.

If you have a competitive spirit, it’s closely related to impatience. Perhaps your Yoga instructor wants to stay in a pose for an extra few minutes. They want you to explore the pose, examine your breathing, and trying to perfect the pose, you are working on. Yoga is meant to be an active exercise both of your body and mind. Maybe the pose is uncomfortable, stop for a minute, and analyze why it’s causing you to be impatient to get it over with. Maybe just a subtle change in your position can help you focus better and relax into the posture. Check your breathing; are you actively working on taking deep breaths and exhaling deeply to rid your body of toxins?

If you are actively working on a posture, time goes by a lot faster and you will enjoy your session much more.

Does Yoga Normalize 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 or 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 to 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 practicing 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 normalize 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.

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

5. Yoga leads to genuine inner contentment and self-actualization. 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. Regular daily practice of all three parts of this structure of Yoga produce a clear, bright mind and a strong, capable body.

Discover Yoga’s Healing Power

There are several medical conditions that can be improved by practicing yoga. It can be used to lessen the negative effects of infertility, lung disease, Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis, insomnia, cancer, high blood pressure, and joint pain. The beneficial effects of yoga practices are well recognized not only by the yoga community but also by medical doctors.

One of the main elements that lead to an illness is stress. Being responsible for a huge number of sicknesses, this item, which we develop in our minds, can be reduced through a good usage of yoga techniques. Here are just some of the problems that are related to an over active stress response: depression, anxiety, obsessive-compulsive disorder, some types of diabetes mellitus, cardio-vascular disease, several autoimmune diseases, irritable bowel syndrome, colitis, reproductive problems, and an aggravated suppression of the immune system.

The response of the sympathetic nervous system can trigger stress in our metabolism. The reaction to various outside stimuli is also known as the “fight or flight” response – the mind and body, faced with an endangering or disturbing element, prepare for one of the two options. Physically, this is manifested through an instantaneous heart rate increase, together with a high ascent of blood pressure. Breathing gets shallow and the muscles tense in anticipation to the following action. Internally, this response reduces the blood flow to internal organs and processes that are not essential in that particular moment (such as digestion and elimination) are shut down. This state of increased awareness and readiness is beneficial on a short term, preparing our body to react to the outside interventions and stimuli. Both in a “fight” and in a “flight” situation, the body is physically and mentally prepared to act. The problem arises when long-term exposure to similar stress takes place. This “fight or flight” response is only meant to help on short periods of time – the longer it is activated the less resources will the body have to function normally.

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There is a natural countermeasure for the “fight or flight” response. It is called the parasympathetic nervous system or the “relaxation response.” It is automatically activated when the elements that caused the stress are gone but it is also possible to increase its effects by breathing deeply and relaxing your muscles. By increasing the length of this process we allow our body to recover faster, enabling it to eliminate the harmful effects of stress in a prompt and efficient manner.

Yoga highlights the idea that by using breathing and relaxation techniques you can reduce the harmful effects of stress factors on your body. A lessened “fight or flight” response can also be achieved by looking at adverse factors as challenges rather than threats. This approach allows your mind to focus on finding a solution, rather than creating an abrupt response. Another concept employed by this technique is that of acting versus reacting, of taking initiative versus responding to outside factors.

The positive effects of yoga during a healing process are undeniable. However, these techniques should only be used as a form of support and the healing shouldn’t rely solely on them. The best results are achieved by combining yoga with traditional and modern medicine and by addressing a problem both from a mental and physical point of view.

 

Discover How Yoga Will Help You Reach Your Goals – Part 2

At this point, let’s break down the major components of a typical Hatha Yoga session, and see how each one will enable you to reach your goals. There are nine main styles of Yoga in India, but most of the popular styles, outside of India, are variations of Hatha Yoga. Hatha Yoga classes tend, among other things, to emphasize physical mastery.

Asanas are the physical postures, but depending upon the class, the postures may be held for different durations, such as: A half breath (an exhale or inhale), a few breaths, or a few minutes. Some classes are very active, with flowing movement, heated studios up to 105 degrees Fahrenheit, and others are tranquil at around 70 degrees Fahrenheit, all year long.

So there is a style of Yoga for every person, and you should be aware of what you are getting into before you start. You should also be aware that the doors are not locked, and if 105 degrees is too much heat, it is your call.

This past summer, in Arizona, a number of people died, due to excessive heat. If your body temperature reaches 105 degrees, you could possibly have heat stroke. What is your natural climate like? Please know your temperature tolerance and know that people are different.

The Yoga postures release tension throughout your body, regardless of which style you choose. The added surge of endorphins, as a result of this exercise, is another benefit.

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Pranayama, sometimes called the Yogic science of breathing, is cultivation of air – our most vital resource. Therefore, you can increase the amount of oxygen in your bloodstream without classic calisthenics, but when you combine it with the postures; you have a very powerful combination for stress relief.

Meditation is known for its stress management, focused concentration, and conscious relaxation benefits. In fact, there are so many meditation benefits, that after more than 2,000 studies, scientists still research for more.

How will all this help you achieve your goals? Simple: Once you are armed with the ability to relieve yourself from the burdens of stress, negative obstacles, and needless worrying, you then have the ability to prioritize and learn from your mistakes.

If you make a mistake, so does everyone else. Nobody is keeping track of your mistakes, except you. Everyone wants to be recognized, so grab every opportunity you can. Make sure you don’t forget to write your goals down and review them often. You will see them come to pass.

Discover How Yoga Will Help You Reach Your Goals – Part 1

Time is valuable and there are a number of successful methods for goal realization. Yoga will cross train your mind and body for maximum potential.
Imagine being able to optimize your attitude in one hour, per day, or less.
Every day, people attend Yoga classes for physical or mental health, and walk away with the tools, to be masters of their own destiny.

How is this possible? Regular attendance to Yoga classes, will result in a positive attitude adjustment for the student. Many of us walk around with a “perceived handicap.” We blame everything for our set backs and lack of opportunities. Society, your boss, and your family, are all easy targets to blame, for lack of opportunities.

It is true that age, financial status, gender, and ethnic background, are factors in success. However, these factors can all be overcome by working toward your goal on a daily basis, and taking life one-step-at- a-time.
Remember, that if you think you situation is a disability, it will be.

How can Yoga do anything for you? For one thing, you will appreciate life to it’s fullest. You will stop wasting time, by letting daily opportunities go by.
Many of us have opportunities, but we think it won’t work, we don’t have what it takes for success, or we lack the drive to carry a plan through.

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Yoga and meditation teach you to supervise your mind. Your mind has been allowed to work against you. Much like a “back seat driver,” the mind is good at “second guessing,” fearing, doubting, and discouraging new ideas. The mind would prefer to stay in one place, and let the world go by. Leaving you in a deeper state of frustration, by worrying about making a mistake.

You have to cultivate a positive relationship with your mind, through practicing Yoga postures (asanas), breathing techniques (pranayama), and meditation. You can find all this, and much more, in your local Yoga class. All you have to do is make it a regular routine. Yoga classes are everywhere, from corporate health clubs to senior centers. Whether you practice before, or after, work is not important, and you will start to feel the mental benefits, right away.

Many Yoga students walk away from their first class feeling guilty, that it took so long to start. They anguish over the fact they procrastinated so long.
However, the important part is to start and continue your Yoga practice.
There is also a common feeling of euphoria during and after Yoga classes.
The group support, classroom atmosphere, and the endorphins, will make your day a much better one.

Different Yoga Poses and Asanas

Classical yoga has developed over time to include many different styles for a range of situations, needs and preferences. However the majority of Yoga styles still fall neatly into either the therapeutic or the meditative category. Both categories have many hundreds of different Asanas,(poses or positions) and all of these are designed to benefit both the body and the mind.

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Yoga takes the five ‘prayer’ positions and uses a corresponding yoga position to activate the seven chakras in the body. A Chakra is a type of energy field or is sometimes thought as a key position in the flow of energy throughout our body. Each different type of Yoga and each different Yoga position will have a different chakra as it’s core emphasis. All of these positions, which we tend to think of nowadays in Western Yoga as exercises, were in fact originally the preparation for the Yogi to enter a state of meditation.

The actual positions or poses of Yoga are known as Asanas and they may seem complicated or difficult to a new Yoga student. It’s important not to forget that all of the basic positions of Yoga are designed to improve the bodies strength and flexibility, and as these characteristics are improved it also makes the positions more comfortable and easier to settle into. The deep stretching that is the basis of most Yoga positions is beneficial for trauma disorders, tendonitis, carpal tunnel syndrome and tennis elbow amongst others.

Before you begin you may find it beneficial to attain a basic knowledge of the philosophy and theory behind Yoga, however this is not a requirement or essential to your success. It does assist with being comfortable settling into and performing the poses associated with Yoga, and it should be remembered that if you cannot do this then you will probably not benefit from Yoga.

There is a common misconception about Yoga that it is only for the tremendously flexible who can contort themselves into weird and wonderful positions. Chanting is often also associated with a Yoga class in people’s preconceptions. Neither of these ideas is true. The Yoga positions are generally quite easy to get into but they do have several different depths in many cases. This means that a completely beginner can move into a position and still benefit from it at a great level after many years of Yoga. There are some advanced positions that a beginner should probably not bother themselves with. Just as you are not going to compete with top marathon runners on your first day jogging, but can still get benefits, you are also not going to be able to ease into some of the positions that an instructor is capable of. Likewise if you are pregnant or perhaps have an injury such as a bad back you should inform your Yoga instructor before you begin. There are some positions that can actually be detrimental to certain conditions. Twist exercises with a recurring back injury is one of these.

Yoga is something that is most beneficial in a comfortable environment, as the muscles will stretch better when they are still warm. It’s important to learn the discipline to enter and leave each new pose or position slowly. Not only does this help avoiding injury but also the movement from one pose to another is often part of the program. Don’t hold the poses and positions longer than is natural for you either. As you become more used to practicing the Yoga positions each day the benefits will allow you to hold a position with more ease for longer periods of time.

When practised correctly the benefits of Yoga are many. Lubrications of the joints, ligaments and the tendons will result directly from performing the exercises best suited to you. Posture will increase dramatically and you will also experience a sense of wellbeing. There is also a deeper spiritual level to Yoga (it actually has it’s own philosophy and code of ethics) that you will move closer towards and enhance each time you stretch and go through the breathing exercises.

Dhyana Yoga (meditation) For Soul Awakening

A human life is a priceless gift of God. The Lord does not have a greater gift than this to give his beloved creatures. Its specialties and potentials are so extraordinary that its results can only amaze us. This gift has been given to us to fulfill divine goals. But it is our ill-fate that we have forgotten our divine nature, God’s gift and the goal/ importance of a human life. Neither do we know our divine potential, nor the Lord’s goal, wisdom or meditation. We are straying far away in this dark, gloomy world. This forgetfulness is strange. People generally forget objects and also what they have read, heard etc. A person whom we had known in the past is now a stranger for us, since we have forgotten him. But it is rare to find a person who forgets himself. We think ourselves to be a body with name and form. We desire what our mind desires, we look upon the body’s needs as our own need. The body and mind are the 2 wheels of the chariot of our life. But we have totally forgotten that we are the soul and not the body. No doubt we hear time and again that the body is different from the soul. But it is very rare that someone actually experiences this fact. And even if we experience it, it is in a very hazy manner. If we understand true reality and the difference between the life-force and peripherals that manifests in our consciousness, we will give prime importance to soul well-being. We would give only that much importance to material objects as is required. Today we are walking with feet devoid of shoes and decorate our cars with frills of gold. We are dying of hunger and give clarified butter to vehicles. “We” means the soul and vehicle means body or mind. The Lord is serving his servants. It is indeed strange that he has forgotten his responsibility.

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ATTAINING THE SOUL’S GOAL

The goal of life is to attain self-fulfillment. This self-fulfilled state can only be at the level of divinity. In order to attain God, the mind should get concentrated on him. Before constructing important buildings, their maps, plans and models are designed. An engineer, architect etc. will build buildings based on these models. An image of God with his qualities, activities and nature is carried out for the purpose of meditation. As a result one experiences nearness, oneness and a sense of merging of God. This is the true nature of meditation.

The goal of true meditation is to regain our lost memory regarding our real nature. If someone happens to regain it, it is definitely akin to a man coming out of a very scary dream. It is only then that one experiences a condition akin to a child being lost in a massive crowd or like that of a man who has lost the memory of his identity. Those undergoing such anguish, experience a great loss and they hurt their near and dear ones. Since we have lost our memory (that we are the mighty soul and not the body), our condition is as demeaning as a baby lion being brought up in a family of goats. As a result we are giving pain to our true nature, which is divinity.

The goal of Yoga of meditation is to overcome loss of memory i.e. to awaken to the fact that we are the soul and not the body. In that one remembers God and one experiences one’s soul nature. The memory of the union of a living being (Jiva) and God (Brahman) is re-activated and one experiences, that this very Divine Power contact was broken by us, is in reality our Divine Mother and Benefactor. Not only this but like the proverbial wish-fulfilling cow (Kamadhenu), it is so powerful that by drinking its nectarine milk, we attain divinity. By sitting in the shade of a wish-fulfilling tree (Kalpavriksha) one can attain anything. After contacting, coming close to that Divine Centre, one does not lack anything and thus we can overcome all types of poverty. Thus Yoga of Meditation helps us attain this goal.

CONCENTRATION

It is not something great to attain Divine Powers. It should be protected from any type of wastage and should never be misused. The benefits of attaining Divine Powers are encountered when they are gathered in a safe place and that they are utilized only for sacred tasks.

As a result of heat, a lot of water of the oceans gets converted to steam. So much steams rises into the atmosphere from cooking gas, fire etc. All this goes in waste. But in an engine, a little bit of water is converted to steam. This steam is not allowed to stray in the atmosphere and is in fact collected in a tank. Later its energy flow passes out of a small hole and reaches the piston. As a result of this small process, the engine of a train starts functioning. Not only does it move but it runs at a great speed. Its movement is so powerful that it tugs alongwith it many other compartments at a high speed.

If tons of gun powder are spread out on the ground and lit with a match-stick, it will show a little light for a flash of a moment and then get burnt to ashes. This is a total wastage and is of no use to us. But if it is enclosed in a small area of a gun and by pressing the trigger a little, sparks of fire touch the gunpowder, this infinitesimal gunpowder gives amazing results. The bullet runs at a mammoth speed to its target. Wherever it lands, it topples that object. One can thus clearly note the difference between just lighting up tons of gunpowder with a matchstick and on the other hand, lighting up a minute amount of gun powder in a gun.

The rays of sun light are scattered all over the earth. Daily the sun rises and then sets in the evening. This sunlight can give only a little heat and light to us. But if a few sunrays are concentrated on paper using a special lens, the paper starts burning. If it is thrown in a huge jungle, a forest fire ensues which destroys that entire area to ashes.

During Draupadi’s Swayamvar (choosing you own groom), the condition for getting married to her was that the prospective bridegroom should pierce the eye of a bird placed at a distance with an arrow. Dronacharya was helping his students to master this art. Before his students aimed an arrow, Dronacharya would ask them as to what they were seeing. On an average the students would say that are seeing a bird on the tree. As a result Dronacharya would declare that such students would never succeed. When it was Arjun’s turn, he answered that I can only see the bird’s eye and nothing else. Thus Dronacharya declared that Arjun would definitely succeed. Truly at the Swayamvara ceremony of Draupadi, Arjun pierced the eye of the bird with one single arrow and thus got married to Draupadi.

It is said that a flying creature called a buzzing bee catches hold of a caterpillar and continues to buzz in front of it. As a result of continuously hearing the buzz of the bee and visualizing the bee’s form, the mental state of the caterpillar becomes that of a bee. The caterpillar starts thinking itself to be a buzzing bee. As a result the body of the caterpillar takes the shape of a buzzing bee instead of a grown up butterfly. Zoologists may doubt this but it is a definite fact that whenever man concentrates/ focuses his mind on a particular name and form, his mind too takes up the name, form and characteristics of that object. As a result of focusing her mind on beauty and youth, a prostitute regains her beauty to a great extent at an advanced age too. On the other hand, many young men and women look aged because their minds are all the time thinking of hardships and dire circumstances. All this is a result of focusing one’s mind on a particular good/ bad thought. This could be intentional or unintentional.

Spiritual concentration means to stop the mind from straying away from its center and that after focusing one’s Divine Powers at one central focal point, one should utilize the same for sacred endeavors only. This is called control of mind or focusing of the psyche in spiritual texts. A lot of discussion takes place regarding Yoga of Meditation. It should be surmised as an art of concentrating one’s mind. When we hear about it, its success seems mediocre but in reality, it is a great achievement. When one masters this art, man by focusing his scattered conscious energy in one place, utilizes it for some sacred purpose and thus attains amazing success.

Water is filled in dams. But when it is ejected from a small opening, a stream of it flows at break neck speed because of water pressure generated by the dam. This flow has extraordinary energy. Its influence aids the movement of wheels of many machines and as a result these machines start moving. The construction of huge electric powerhouses takes place near gigantic dams. It is very expensive to generate electricity using engines and machines but hydroelectricity is cheaply operated near dams. Near smaller waterfalls, you have water mills. The resultant energy is not due to the stream of water but it is due to its concentration. By focusing a widespread area in a smaller area, you generate power.

The aim of Yoga of Meditation is to concentrate mental thought scattering in one small area of thought. The more an individual succeeds in concentrating his mind, the more his psyche will radiate with power. Like an arrow of word, it is easy for him to attain his goal. If spirituality is his aim, he will advance spiritually and his psyche will radiate with Ridhi-Sidhi or what are called Divine Powers. If the aim is material progress, we will attain this goal too. In whichever appropriate direction this energy is used, it will reap good dividends.

Concentration/ focusing means overcoming the wasteful scattering of the thought waves of our mind. By obstructing the water flow of a small stream, a dam is created and thus a small pond, lake is created. Then artificial streams are created from this lake which give water to far off arid regions. If this stream were not converted into a dam, it would have lashed at the shores and caused wasteful flooding in surrounding regions. This would lead to material destruction in that region. One should not look upon the thought flow in our mind as less important when compared to a hydroelectricity generator. The power of an electricity powerhouse is limited and can transmit electricity to a very limited region in its vicinity. But this cannot be said about the mind. Its potential of today can be augmented infinite fold in the future. Its area of influence which is today limited to the family and friends will in future encompass the entire world.

Generally people of great authority like scientists, philosophers, artists, scholars, sculptors, authors, managers, leaders etc are like ordinary laymen. Their body is very ordinary and their minds lack a magical wand. Whatever difference one perceives in them alongwith the miracle of their greatness, is a result of their inner special qualities which in turn are related to the focusing capacity of their mind and their steadfastness in reaching the desired goal. Everybody possesses infinite amount of intellectual energy. To the extent that weak brained individuals too have a lot of radiance. The difference only is this that some have activated this radiance and the rest have not done so. Even a very wise person is like a dead corpse when he is in deep sleep. But on waking up, he manifests his intellectual brilliance. This holds true for the brain too. Due to certain circumstances, the intellectual powers of some people remains latent and thus look weak intellectually. But if their intellect is activated with effort, not only will they be as brilliant as other wise people but sometimes they will march ahead of them too.

Everyone knows that many threads unite together to form a strong rope and many broomsticks join together to form a broom. Many drops of water constitute a jugful of water. This example is given to accept the fact that by obstructing the wayward scattering of the intellect, one can focus/ concentrate one’s thought waves at a focal point. One can easily understand that wayward scattering of thoughts in various directions diminishes our mental prowess and that if these thoughts are concentrated at one single point, it will give us miraculous mental strength.

By advancing mental concentration, great scientists, Yogis, philosophers etc. enter the deep ocean called the mind and thus collect priceless jewels. Those who just float on the surface of the sea, attain nothing but those who dive deep into it, attain priceless materials. Superficial thinking is like a wayward blade of grass moving aimlessly here and there. On the other hand focusing one’s thought waves at a single point in the psyche via meditation gives miraculous results.

Depression Treatment: Pick Yoga over Medications for Anti-depression

I have been practicing Yoga for close to 5 years now. Prior to this time, my life had been a day-to-day existence erected by symptoms of depression and low self-esteem. Aggravated by marring acne and burdensome Asthma symptoms, not feeling depressed was usually a rare occurrence. A rare occurrence that is; until I discovered Yoga and how it could help with depression treatment.

It’s not a surprise that I was not alone during this time as research has shown that some form of depression treatment medication is offered to over 20 million Americans annually. However, what should be the main cause of concern are the many side effects common to these anti-depression drugs. Effective as they may be for a while, it’s been noted that these depression drugs have several side effects which may include nausea, fatigue, insomnia and some sexual dysfunctions.

Thankfully, as with nearly any human ailment, at least in its not fatal stages, drug-free healing is not limited to curing any discomfort-including depression and this without these side-effects. One standout alternative for depression treatment my friends will be the incomparable Yoga.

How is this so? Well, first of all, with Yoga and its gentle movements and poses,
Alpha waves (relaxation) and Theta waves (unconscious memory, dreams and emotions) tend to increase significantly after its execution. This finding is based on a Scandinavian study conducted by Eric Hoffman, Ph.D., that measured brain waves before and after a two-hour Yoga class.

As a result, you tend to have more contact with your own subconscious and emotions. Moreover, after its use, alpha waves increases in the right temporal region of the brain as other studies have shown that people with depression tend to have more alpha activity in the left frontal-temporal region, while optimistic, extroverted people have more alpha activity on the right.

Moreover, with the execution of Yoga, a noted reduction in the hormone known as cortisol and increase in the hormone prolactin occurs—which is believed by many professionals to be the key in producing the anti-depressant effect of electroshock therapy

If this all sounds a bit advanced, perhaps a simpler illustration of how Yoga works effectively for depression treatment may be that it exercises the motor centers of the brain, making the blood flow away from the emotional activity center; consequently one becomes more receptive to positive thoughts.

Although this can be accomplished by the use of several Yoga poses, I will narrow the wide array of choices down to three simple yet very effective ones namely the Sun Salutations, Shoulder Stand and Relaxation poses.

Depression Treatment: Choice of Yoga Poses for depression help

1. The Sun Salutations:
The sun exercises stimulates and balances all systems of the body including the endocrine and nervous systems that have marked effects on our emotions, furthermore they induce deep breathing, which has been known over the ages to help alleviate many a stressful situation. Performed in rounds of 3, they actually are a combination of very simple movements executed in a flowing motion. Although they are usually a warm up to other Yoga poses, they can stand on their own as a Yoga session so you may not have to spend too much time to reap Yoga’s benefits as an alternative treatment for depression.

2. The Shoulder- Stand:
In spite of what its name may suggest, no worries, this pose is indeed very easy to execute and is the one pose that both old and new Yoga Instructors and writers view as near panacea for most human ailments including depression. It is essentially a very easy inversion pose that I see most kids practicing unknowingly…most of us have at some point, so again, it’s really easy. Being that you’re inverted, everything is turned upside down, throwing a new light on old behavioral patterns. Working together with its counter poses, you will see for yourself what this pose can do for depression treatment.

3. The Relaxation Pose:
Daddy of them all! As the name suggests; it involves lying motionless on one’s back with emphasis on deep, even breathing and meditation. It is usually performed for several minutes to alleviate stress and mental tension and positive affirmations such as helpful verses from religious books could be mentally repeated during its execution.
Being a Christian myself, one of my favorite verses while executing this pose will be a personalized derivative of Rom 12: 2-“I am being transformed by the renewing of my thoughts.”

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Depression Treatment: Closing Thoughts on Other Factors.

No one is saying that Yoga POSES alone will be the end all be all of your depression. No. Poses alone DO NOT constitute Yoga. Breathing exercises (known as pranayama), Meditation, (which could be rooted in your religious or spiritual beliefs) and a proper diet-all being important limbs of Yoga, should be used in your use of Yoga for depression treatment.

These limbs will be subjects of other articles to save space; however, for a depression treatment alternative without unwanted and oft times harmful side effects, dare I say drug-free healing using simple Yoga principles and natural methods might be your best bet, it did work for me.

So the next time depression sends you to the doctor, you may do well to ask for a new prescription for depression treatment-Yoga. I believe it won’t hurt and possibly could help you immensely.

Deep Breathing and Yoga – What are The Benefits?

Since Yoga began and followers started practicing the postures, breathing and meditation methods, they discovered longer life spans and better health. It has also been said to increase the chance of reaching super conscious states, making them aware of the even the tiniest movement or sound.

One of the most important lessons learned focused on breathing. Not just breathing but breathing correctly. This can be practiced while doing Yoga postures or even practice breathing techniques to just unwind and rid your body of stress at the office. If you are breathing fast and shallow you might be suffering from insomnia, anxiety, stomach upsets, dizziness, visual problems, and heart palpitations. You can also mistake heart disease in a patient when they’re only suffering from improper breathing techniques.

It’s important to remember to breathe through your nose. That seems like such an obvious activity but many people regularly breathe through their mouth. Let’s look at the reasons you should practice breathing in through the nose and out through the mouth. First, the nose has defensive mechanisms that keep impurities, small insects, dust and other articles that can cause infection or other injury to the lungs. The air is warmed as it passes through the first screen consisting of hair, and then winds through passages lined with mucous membranes and even finer dust particles are collected. Inner nose glands fight off bacteria that may have slipped through the other screens. The nose is our sense of smell, and detects poisonous gas that may harm our body, or even kill us.

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Deep breathing as practiced with Yoga will give your lungs and rib cage increased flexibility. This will in turn allow you to take in even more oxygen and many benefits are received by deep breathing other than when exercising.

Deep, controlled breathing can become a habit. How do you stop breathing through your mouth? Keep your mouth closed!

What are some benefits from deep breathing? Here is a list of just a few.
1. Aids in removing toxins from the body.
2. Helps in digesting food.
3. Calms the nervous system.
4. Is good for glands in our body, especially the pituitary and pineal glands.
5. Moving the diaphragm during deep breathing massages the heart and helps blood to circulate better.
6. Makes the lungs more powerful.
7. Reduces the workload for the heart.
8. Aids in weight control. Extra oxygen burns up excess fat more efficiently.
9. Reduces wrinkles and skin becomes smoother.
10. Relaxation of the body and mind. More oxygen in the brain helps to reduce anxiety and stress levels.

Deep slow Yoga breathing is valuable for the heart. It reduces the workload for the heart which will be healthier and last longer. The lungs are expanded and then deliver more oxygen to the heart so it isn’t working as hard to get oxygen to the rest of the body tissues.

Yoga and deep breathing have so many benefits that if you only pick one or two of them to focus on in the list of ten, you will be leading a healthier life.

Dahn Yoga For The Soul

Yoga is widespread and is continuously being developed today. Millions of people around the world are into this activity. Its influence is vast and is constantly increasing. Of the so many forms of Yoga, hatha yoga is by far the most common form.

It involves both the breathing control mechanism and the physical exercise and postures combined. This exercise allows optimized blood circulation and improves one’s flexibility, stamina, strength and vitality.

Moreover, it is also a form of peaceful mediation that contributes to self-awareness and gives an extra energy that makes you have a warm perspective of life. Various centers are located and established on cities to promote awareness.

However, one may not need a tutor or a teacher in order to learn or perform Yoga. One can simply look for a book or find an appropriate DVD or video to suit your need. Aside from hatha Yoga, there exists another kind of Yoga. it is known as Dhan Yoga.

It is also referred to as Dahn Hak ot Dahnak. It started as an early form of Korean instruction program that aims to teach the people on how to expand and widen both the body and mind. For a certain period of time, it has been discovered that it had vanished but was later on rediscovered and its first center was established on Korea.

It was in 1991 that Dahn Yoga was brought into the United States. There are also existing centers there that have been established as time went by. Dahn Yoga does not only focus on the fitness aspects of Yoga.

It also educates the person on the principles and concepts on how the energy acts or moves in the body. It also teaches that ageing and weakening of the body is caused by stress. And removing stress will definitely improve one’s health and prolong his life. They believe that one should know how to improve and develop that energy flow inside the body.

Through this, health is efficiently monitored and safeguarded. With Dahn Yoga, one must know how to communicate and correspond to his physical body.

They also believe that our body has its natural healing power. And this natural healing ability can only be achieved when one has stimulated that certain energy that connects the body to the conscious mind.

Through deep stretching, breathing methods and meditation, Dhan Yoga promotes physical, mental, and spiritual healing and to connect us into our spiritual selves. It promotes body relaxation and the discovery of inner consciousness.

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It gives a life away and free from stress and anxiety and a life which has self-control and enhanced concentration.

Through meditation and breath work, energy is accumulated in the body. As a result, the functioning of the internal organs and systems in the body is enhanced.

Moreover, the toxins and possible threats of disorder is hindered in a way. Then the feeling of better physique and well-being is achieved. This, in turn, boosts self-confidence and positive thinking. A new self is realized and released from addictive behaviors.

By the integration of the body and mind, latent abilities are realized and goals are set. In addition, Dahn Yoga practitioners sometimes volunteer teaching and training without payment. Dahn Yoga is altogether a group that is willing to promote healthy well-being, a happy mind, and a peaceful community.

Background of Yoga

Have you heard all the hype about Yoga yet? If you are interested in get fit, reduce stress or reach into your deeper, spiritual side, Yoga could be just right for you. Where did Yoga come from? What are all those strange words and chanting? Let’s look into the history of Yoga and why people practice it. You don’t need to know all the words or their meanings to practice Yoga. It does help to have a little knowledge about the subject. Yoga can give you the sense of satisfaction that only meditation and physical exercise combined can give you. The beauty of that is it can be carried out all in one exercise program!

Yoga is a discipline. It offers a chance to have true union between your mind, body, and spirit. Yoga is right in the middle between physical exercise and meditation. In hard physical exercise, the body is physically taxed and is tuned up. It doesn’t take much thinking to go through an exercise routine.

Meditation on the other hand, the body does nothing; it is all with stilling your mind and reaching in for your inner spirit. In today’s stressful society, people are looking for a way to become physically as well as spiritually fit. It’s becoming popular because it ties the two, physical and mental, together into a comfortable package in the middle.

Yes, it does take physical discipline to sit in one position for long periods. The mental discipline used in quieting your mind and shutting out the world quiets the mind and brings you a serenity that regular physical exercise can’t give you. A good session of Yoga can give you a spirit of calm and serenity that physical exercise can’t. It also brings you a sense of well since meditation on its own can’t give you. It’s in the middle and maybe the practice of Yoga is what you have been looking for to enhance your physical well being and bring serenity to your world.

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So where did this practice come from? It originated in India over 5,000 years ago. The strange words come from the Sanskrit language. No one knows who invented Yoga; it’s one of those mysteries like who invented the wheel. The facts we do know are that it became a tradition and was practiced regularly around 500 B.C.

Hatha Yoga is the style of Yoga that westerners practice today. The slim, serene young lady, leading a class of students through poses is what we think of when we think of Yoga today. When it originated, all students were searching for the divine inside of them. They were all looking for God and the Divine meaning for their life.

It’s the same today with students of yoga searching for their spiritual inner self and guidance from the Divine. Most modern forms of Yoga are traced back to the Yoga Sutras. Patanjali wrote them somewhere between 300 B.C. and 100 A.D. No one is certain exactly when they were created, but the practices and philosophy are explained and they are just as valid today as they were then.

Yoga – Cure for Modern Day Stresses

Yoga is a 3,000-year-old, Hindu discipline of mind and body that became known in Western society with the hippie generation of the Sixties and early Seventies. Its image as a mystic practice is disappearing as fast as the stressful aspects of the Eighties are appearing.

As an effective method of stress management, yoga is spreading into the business world, the helping professions, nursing and old age homes, and is used in the treatment of alcoholics, hyperactive children and youngsters with learning disabilities. Yoga centers are getting stiff competition from adult education classes of community colleges, boards of education and parks and recreation departments.

The meaning of yoga is union of the body, mind and spirit with truth. There are many kinds of yoga to study, and there can be endless years of practice for the willing student.

Hatha Yoga is among the most popular forms in the west. It emphasizes the practice of postures, which stretch and strengthen the body, help develop a sense of balance and flexibility, as well as body awareness and mental concentration. All forms of yoga incorporate the practice of proper breathing techniques for relaxation, to rest the mind from its constant chatter, to experience an internal calm, and to energize and purify the body.

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As stress levels in society reach new heights, Raja Yoga, the yoga of meditation, is growing in popularity in Western society, while others, such as Krya Yoga, the yoga of cleansing, and Mantra Yoga, the yoga of chanting, not surprisingly, have little appeal for newcomers.

Stretching and toning, though beneficial, aren’t the primary reasons people turn to yoga. Newcomers are hoping that yoga will provide them with a means for handling stress and diffusing tension. The difference between exercise and yoga is that yoga has a meditative quality.

A lot of people are exercising for the psychological benefits and trying many of the Eastern activities, like yoga and tai chi. Yoga seems to have a calming effect on people.

And the techniques work on children as well as adults. When your children are quarreling, ask them to stop what they’re doing, raise their arms over their heads, lean forward and breathe deeply to help diffuse their anger. It definitely helps them to cool it.

Spine Twisting Pose – Ardha Matsyendrasana

Ardha Matsyendrasana asana is also known as the Spine Twisting Asana. It is one of the essential poses which make the body healthy and fine. It is a basic pose which should be done by everyone, if their body is capable to do it. If done correctly it becomes a value addition in your day-to-day life. It may seem hard at the first attempt but you can do it in stages. By doing it in stages the asana proves to be very easy and simple.

The twist in the asana is a blessing for the adrenal glands, kidneys, liver and spleen. It is also very beneficial for people who suffer from asthma, indigestion, constipation and obesity. If you are a person with good height but stooping shoulders, this asana can correct it. It also improves the back and corrects a faulty posture. The twist stretches every muscle and ligament of your back.

Ardha Matsyendrasana is the only asana which twists the spine to achieve a healthy and toned body. Every movement of the asana assists in strengthening the spine and its muscles. It strengthens the spine which gives you a healthy back. The body becomes flexible with the twisting pose. A flexible body also helps in creating an agile and fit body.

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Your back, hips, neck and shoulders get stretched very well. The digestive process of your body is rejuvenated by performing the asana. The asana can be a boon for many women as it alleviates the menstrual trouble many go through month after month.

People having problems like sciatica can also be provided help. It is very therapeutic for problems with infertility. It is known to cure many diseases and improve your appetite. This asana gets rid of all the toxins from your body to have a fresh and clear body. It is a great help for the bronchial muscles and rib cage. Abdominal muscles are also toned by this asana. Chances of slip disc can be erased. The pancreas are also massaged which helps the diabetes patient.

Hernia problems can also be treated by regularly doing this asana. Arthritis patient can find a relief due to the asana. The circulation towards the spinal nerves, veins and other tissues improves drastically. It also cures the lumbago and rheumatism of the spine due to the twists of the asana. By regularly performing this asana your abs are improved. You can use props or modify the asana to make it easier. A wall can be used as a prop while doing this asana.

Warning: The reader of this article should exercise all precautions before following any of the asanas from this article and the site. To avoid any problems while doing the asanas, it is advised that you consult a doctor and a yoga instructor. The responsibility lies solely with the reader and not with the site or the writer.

Let The Kids Join In Your Yoga Routine!

A shocking statistic was given on the news yesterday. The report says 50 percent of our children will grow up to be obese adults. Inactivity and junk food are making our kids unhealthy. Children sit in front of the television set, or watch movies or play video games instead of getting outside and playing like the adults of today did. The result is children who are couch potatoes and are in real danger of health related problems. The study also went on to say that children could benefit from Yoga. Sure, you say, how do you get a 2 year old to sit in one position for more than 30 seconds?

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Yoga classes for children are offered and if you have ever watched one, you would be amazed at what they can do. No, it’s not your traditional quiet, meditative Yoga routine for a small child, but Yoga can be fun as well as healthy for a toddler or child. Classes designed for children offer the fun of barking like a dog while doing the Downward Facing Dog pose. Jumping around like Kangaroos is another fun part of a child’s Yoga class. The idea is to get them used to moving around, make it a part of their routine and we can only hope they will continue that habit for life.

One Yoga instructor practices with his small son and when he is doing the Bridge Pose, the toddler crawls under him and makes noises like a boat. So how is that helping the adult? It’s keeping them in the present, which is one of the goals of Yoga. Showing his son that Yoga and proper breathing will help him to become an active productive adult.

When introducing your toddler or child to Yoga, don’t make them be little grown-ups. Remember to get down on their level. Have fun with them; make it a fun activity time. You can’t really expect a child to be as serious as an adult. The short attention span of a young child makes it impossible for them to sit in one pose as an adult would. Explore the poses with your child, let them flow naturally and center your attention on them and what you are doing now. Again, that’s one of the reasons to practice Yoga, to keep you in the moment and help you enjoy the time you have right now.

A child is just that, a child, if we think on their level and allow them to go at their own pace they will reap the benefits later in life. With you as an example, they will look forward to your time together two or three times a week, and encourage them to keep active. Avoiding obesity as a young adult, and stiffness and soreness when they’re older is a benefit to start Yoga with them when they are small. You can make Yoga and quiet times an intricate part of their lives.

So, help your child grow into a healthy adult while helping yourself at the same time.
Show and teach them by practicing with them and oh; have fun doing it!

Perfect Truths About Yoga

Turbaned gurus, sing-song mantras and bodily contortions . . . the promise of true enlightenment and omphaloskepsis (contemplation of the naval) completes the cliche. But don’t knock yoga till you’ve tried it, and then only with respect.

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Yoga means to bind together — variously joining sun and moon, left and right, male and female, and any number of yins and yangs — through ascetic techniques of meditation and exercise. The goal is physical and mental balance.

Indian Hatha’ yoga is best known to Westerners. Double-jointedness isn’t a prerequisite, but the classic lotus position, cross-legged on the floor, soles-up on the inner thigh, either comes naturally or doesn’t.

Then there are more magical/mystical varieties of yoga for which people quit jobs and polite society and retreat to the Himalayas. But not everyone follows a spiritual guide beyond the Beltway; they’d rather take up the discipline at a local ashram or the Y.

Committed practitioners claim yoga leads to intuitive awareness, spiritual harmony, perfect concentration. Others use it to lose weight or quit smoking. Some just like the lift they get from yoga asanas (positions) better than breaking into a sweat with pushups. In any case, it can’t hurt, if done in moderation and with proper guidance.

Need Power? Try Core Power Yoga

Core power yoga is an energetic yoga exercise that physically and mentally challenges to help connect to inner power without stopping and accompanied by a heated, climate controlled Vinyasa. It heals, detoxifies and stimulates the body and mind through balance and intention.

Power yoga has created a dynamic, challenging program that combines strength, sweat and spirituality. It recognizes power in diverse levels; first is the physical power which develops the body’s strength and improve health; second is the mental power or the will to contemplate on the practice; and last the spiritual power which is the power behind the physical and mental power.

Core power yoga is the Western version of the Indian Ashtanga Yoga. The term was given by Beryl Bender Birch, an Ashtanga Yoga teacher. It has been brought to the west by followers of Sri K. Pattabhi Jois, a renowned Sanskrit scholar who inspired Western Yogis with his Ashtanga Yoga Style and philosophies.

There are three programs in power yoga. “Core Power” is designed to strengthen abdominals and back and includes both abs-focused Vinyasa power yoga poses and variations of muscle-toning moves. “Unlocking Athletic Power” will expand flexible strength with an emphasis on abs, back, hips and pelvis. “Soul of Strength” on the other hand is a fast-moving power yoga program with a distinct “mid-body” emphasis and some very challenging moves.

Yoga sessions are done in a heated room and composed of different cardiovascular exercises intended to develop strength and flexibility, increase stamina, improves the ability to focus, release tensions and remove toxins through sweating.

Core power yoga practice also requires the implementation of yoga poses. Poses are done in a fast pace, some poses are even held longer than the required five breaths. This practice can augment physical endurance and ability to focus on any task for a long time without breaking the concentration.

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What is the difference between core power yoga and other exercises?

Core power yoga is a vinyasa style that has a unique program offering and focuses on core strength, balance and flow to build a solid practice based on strength and spirit. It offers diverse classes like Hot Yoga, Yoga Sculpt, Bootcamps, Yoga Teacher Trainings and Mat Pilates. Moreover, it provides better instructors that are personally involved in students’ progress, strong and forceful leaders who pays more attention to the students needs. Also the teachers of this exercise work with the students to personalize their programs and creating a sense of belonging and community. And lastly, it provides quality amenities equipped with a unique top tier amenities and a balance aura.

This exercise also offers great health benefits; this lengthens and stretches the muscles and at the same time it builds stamina, strength and lean muscle and mass. It also increases body heat that kills some bacteria and creates a finely tuned state of consciousness of the workings of the body. The focus of core power yoga is on the coordination of the breath movement, connecting the body, mind and spirit to the warmest level.

Core power yoga is finest to those who want to improve their performance in their chosen sports like cycling, football, swimming, skiing, surfing, running/athlete, martial arts and other team sports. Some training grounds in sports practice this exercise in transition for aerobics.

Core power yoga can reshape your body and mind!

Cure for Asthma Through Yoga

Yoga breathing exercises could help sufferers of mild asthma and may help reduce their use of low-dose drug inhalers in wheezing attacks.

Researchers from the Respiratory Medicine Unit, City University, Nottingham, call for more studies of ways of improving breathing control which they say have been largely ignored by Western medicine.

While yoga practitioners have long believed in the benefits of pranayama breathing exercises for asthmatics, this has been hard to study formally. But, using a Pink City lung – a device that imposes slow breathing on the user and can mimic pranayama breathing exercises – it was possible to measure the effects of controlled breathing in a hospital trial.

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Two simulated pranayama exercises were tested: slow deep breathing and breathing out for twice as long as breathing in.

In asthma, the airways become restricted making breathing difficult. It is increasing in the UK, with more than three million children and adults affected, and are responsible for 2,000 deaths annually.

The doctors used standard clinical tests to measure the volume of air patients were able to blow out in a second and to test the irritability of their airways. After yoga, their airways were two times less irritable,

Though asthma patients should not stop their medication, they should experiment with breathing exercises.