8 Limbs of Yoga
Eight limbs of Yoga are as follows:
- 1 Yama: Universal morality
- 2 Niyama: Personal observances
- 3 Asana: Body postures
- 4 Pranayama: Breathing exercises, and control of prana
- 5 Pratyahara: Control of the senses
- 6 Dharana: Concentration and cultivating inner perceptual awareness
- 7 Dhyana: Devotion, Meditation on the Divine
- 8 Samadhi: Union with the Divine
Yama / Moral Disciplines & Restraints
Practice Ahimsa (Yama one)- Non-Violence. The yogis believe there is no higher virtue than to do no harm. Violence isn't limited to killing or hurting another person or animal. It can take many other forms, such as selfishness, anger or negative words. The practice of ahimsa begins within. "If there is to be peace in the world, there must be peace between neighbors. If there is to be peace between neighbors, there must be peace in your heart." Self awareness is an important step for seeing how violence plays out in our existence, from the must subtle example such as self criticism, to the most obvious manifestation such as war and terrorism. Let's set our intention to always practice Yoga (asana) with AHIMSA.
Practice Satya (Truth)! This is our second Yama. What is truth? Truth is more than not telling lies. Practicing satya means being truthful in our feelings, thoughts, and words, and deeds. It means being honest with ourselves and with others. Satya also translates as avoidance or distortion or any fabrication of truth. Our yoga philosophy suggests that if truthfulness brings MORE HARM than good, our choice is to remain silent. Honesty is what we do when others are around and might judge our actions or words. To have integrity is to act in an honest manner when others are not around and will never know about our actions. Gossip is probably the worst form of communication. Remember that what anybody thinks of you, is none of your business. Be true to yourself!
Practice Asteya (Non-Stealing) the third Yama. This one is pretty self-explanatory. Asteya also includes the concept that you should try to be content with what comes to you by honest means. If you are always dwelling on things other people have and you don't have, eventually the thought of taking something that doesn't belong to you becomes more acceptable to the mind, which can in turn lead to actual theft. Most people aren't aware of it, but the idea of hoarding is another aspect to asteya. The idea is that you are keeping more than what you need for yourself instead of sharing or giving things away that you no longer need. Hoarding applies to many things such as food (eating too much), money, and possessions. When we choose to practice Asteya, we attract abundance in our lives because we no longer desire things that exist outside ourselves. We no longer feel the sense of entitlement that can drive us towards stealing and coveting behaviors. We learn through Asteya that everything we need in life is already within us. In essence, the word asteya is about integrity. It's about being honest and virtuous, upstanding, true to one's self and those around them.
Practice Moderation! Brahmacharya is the fourth yama (restrain) of yoga. As is often the case with yoga there are different ideas and opinions on the meaning of Brahmacharya. In the broad sense it means control of the senses. It is sometimes interpreted as celibacy or moderation in sexual activity. One of the many reasons is that practicing the higher limbs of yoga - dharana (concentration), dhyana (meditation), samadhi (enlightenment) - requires a tremendous amount of energy or prana. Sex is the one that will be the most depleting to the psychic and nervous system. Moderation whether it is in eating, drinking, sex, exercise, or anything else is advised. The old saying of ‘anything in moderation’ applies here.
Practise Aparigraha or Non Possessiveness (Yama five). The desire to buy or accept more than necessary clouds the mind. So what is truly appropriate for us to be happy, healthy and fulfilled? Ask yourself do you need all the clothes, toys or trinkets in your house. How much of it has become clutter? The more possessions we have, the more attached we become to our things, the more our environments and minds become muddled and busy. The key to Aparigraha is learning to let go of attachment to possessions, people, thoughts or ways of doing things. When we are able to let go of something, someone or some expectations, we create space in our lives for new energies to come in. Loosen your mental grip on material possessions and let go of the EGO - which is doing the gripping and gasping. Only when we let go of an idea of how life has to be can the moment naturally transpire.
Niyamas / Observances
The five niyamas are constructive tools for cultivating happiness and self-confidence. Niyamas help us to maintain a positive environment in which to grow, and gives us the self-discipline and inner-strength necessary to progress along the path of yoga. They are also referred to as Observances. Niyama one is Saucha which means self purification. Saucha refers to cleanliness and purity. During Yoga practice we purify our bodies with the poses (asanas), which tone the entire body and remove toxins and impurities. Breathing exercises (pranayama) cleanse the lungs and oxygenate our blood while purifying the nerves. Saucha is not only a foundation for physical health, is is also a way to cleanse the mind of negative emotions and thoughts. If the mind is full of mental garbage it must also come clean. Don't let dirty dishes, laundry, unread mail or garbage pile up. Bath once a day, and move your bowls once a day. If the system is slow, toxins stay trapped in your body, keeping anger, tension and slothfulness locked within the tissues. From a perspective of Aryurveda (sister science of yoga), the accumulation of internal waste is the primary cause of disease. With yoga in your life - you will be able to release waste (emotional/physical) and replace it with energy and light.
Practice Santosha / Contentment, Niyama (2). We tend to think of contentment as the fulfillment of desires, but the yogis tell us that this kind of happiness is short lived. The yogic view of contentment develops from accepting whatever life brings us. Contentment is the mindfulness of living in the moment, something we naturally do when practicing yoga. Once you decide that what you have is all you need, Contentment/Santosha will always find a place in your heart. This requires a sense of inner acceptance, which begins when you stop comparing yourself with others. As long as there is comparison, accompanied by judgment, there cannot be contentment. Practice Santosha by remembering the blessings you have in your life. There are 1000 of extraordinary things around you, if you choose to look at them that way. In the yogic view Happiness, the feeling of contentment is a choice.
Niyamas are Observances - practice Tapas / the willingness to do whatever it takes to attain a necessary goal, Niyama (3). The word Tapas comes from the Sanskrit verb 'tap' which means to burn. Tapas is about austerity (meaning renouncing all forms of self-indulgence and practicing frugality), sacrifice and discipline and it's defined as 'heat' or 'fire'. When we describe somebody who is working very hard at something, we say they have the 'fire in the belly'. The fire that is created through yoga practice destroys pollution of one's consciousness and leads to the control of body and senses. In order to affect change on ony level, weather to lose weight, change jobs, achieve splits or attain enlightenment, we must constantly commit to tapas. How often do we really focus 100% on something? By practicing with 'Tapas', we change our intensity level to affect positive change. Where there is a will - there is a way! Life is a GIFT and tapas is stirred by the desire to make the most of it. Love yourself and your life exactly as it IS. Move with more and more presence and consistency. Be vigilant that your thoughts, actions and speech are rooted in love.
Niyama 4 is Svadhyaya, which means Study of Self. This practice refers to understanding of the self through sacred texts and to the skill of self-observation, which leads to yoga or unification. One method is to find writings, talks, groups or even movies that inspire us, where we feel the presence of the inner spirit. Svadhyaya help us observe moment to moment changes in our body and mind. How are you feeling in your body today? Is your mind present? What subject matter draws your mind in and what subject matter draws your mind away? This is a way for you to look within and connect to your own inner truth. Go inside when you practice your poses, pause, listen and learn. Challenge yourself to stay mindful. Become the observer, because every movement can be an asana, every breath pranayama and every thought meditation.
Ishvara - Pranidhara
Niyamas are Observances - practice Ishvara - Pranidhara - to practice with faith and dedication to the divine energy of the universe - Niyama (5). When you surrender your ego driven activities to divine spirit, doorways open for positive energy to flow into all areas of your life. By uniting your individual self with that of higher principle (call it God, Buddha, Jesus or Nature itself) all egotism, trivialities and selfishness are removed. Every action we take can be done with significance, every word we speak can be spoken with meaning and truth, and every thought we have can be thought with clarity. Ishvara Pranidhana focuses not on ego but on the sacred ground of being, it reunites us with our true Self. Taking direction from a guru, teacher, or someone with greater knowledge than our selves is a humble way to surrender and show respect. Letting go of your plans, projections, agendas and opening up your mind and heart and asking or praying for direction is a form of Isvara Pranidhana. Quieting the chatter of the mind during meditation and witnessing the beauty and silence within, is perhaps one of the greatest examples of all.
Practice Asana (Limb 3) - or Yoga Postures , which is a body position originally identified as a mastery of sitting still. In the context of Yoga practice, asana refers to two things: the place where a practitioner sits and the manner (posture) in which he/she sits. In the Yoga sutras, Patanjali suggests that asana is "to be seated in a position that is firm, but relaxed" for extended periods. Asana can also be defined as a physical Yoga posture or position that is designed to help master the body and enhance the body's functions. Yoga poses are, in essence, Yoga exercises creating strength and endurance, improving circulation and energy flow, cleansing organs and other systems, and expanding muscles and joints. Asana is a term for restoring and maintaining a practitioner's well-being and improving the body's flexibility and vitality, with the goal of cultivating the ability to remain in a seated meditation for extended periods.
Practice Pranayama (Limb 4) - Pranayama or Control of Breath. This technique is designed to gain mastery over the respiratory process while recognizing the connection between the breath, the mind, and the emotions. Yogis believe that it not only rejuvenates the body but actually extends life itself. Pranayama is wherein we can learn to still our restless monkey mind . This free relaxed mind can than connect toward the blissful soul & its everlasting communion with the eternal spirit. The seat of prana is in our heart. Prana means life force, Yama means control, together Controlling Life Force. With the practice of controlling breath and directing it to the area one needs it, lies at the heart of yoga. It has a amazing power to soothe and revitalize a tired body, a flagging spirit, or a wild mind. The ancient sages taught that prana, the vital force circulating through us, can be cultivated and channeled through different breathing exercises. In the process, the mind is calmed, rejuvenated, and uplifted. Pranayama serves as an important bridge between the outward, active practices of yoga—like asana—and the internal, surrendering practices that lead us into deeper states of meditation.
Holding on to Prana (life force) is essential of keeping the Nadis, the body's subtle energy channels in good health. The breath is the most significant way to bring more life force into our bodies. We also receive Prana from food, from sleep and from positive emotions such as Love & Happiness. We have to step away from negative situations in order to stay healthy. If you are worried and stressed out about things, you have Prana bursting out of you in 10 different directions - that's when people get sick. In order to keep more Prana in your body you need to let go of people, situations and drama that is draining to your system. Stay centered by accepting whatever you are doing - Prana follows thought.
Store Your Prana
Store Your Prana! Through controlled and regulated breathing practices during yoga, we can absorb prana or life force. We can store and use prana where and when we need it. We stockpile prana just as storage battery can store electricity in our solar plexus or third chakra, Manipura. Located at the navel, this is the chakra of the life force. It is associated with the element of fire and vibrates to the color yellow, and spins clockwise. Within this chakra we develop strength, willpower and courage. Each inhalation draws in an expansive supply of prana from the universal supply. Each exhalation radiates strength and energy to all the parts of the body. This vital energy is distributed to every organ, every muscle, every bone, every vain and every cell, from the top of your head to the soles of your feet. We are able to take risks, we feel a sense of inner power and self confidence and we are able to make positive lasting changes in our life's.
Returning to the Self (Limb 5): The practice of Pratyahara (Withdrawal of Senses) - Use Pratyahara to withdraw from negative influences of our external environment, and turn ‘inward’ toward ‘Higher Consciousness’. Visualization is the simplest means of creating inner impressions to create a positive foundation of meditation. By withdrawing our awareness from negative circumstances, Pratyahara strengthens the mind’s powers of immunity.
Practice Concentration (Limb 6) - Dharana Dharana is the practice of Concentration. Focus on one thing at a time. Most minds lack Dharana to a greater or lesser degree and our thoughts are scattered, we are agitated, distracted, foolish and dull. Without the ability to concentrate and focus, nothing can be mastered. The two most reliable techniques for achieving Dharana is concentration upon the symbol AUM, and upon the breath using the optional silent mantra of So-Ham with each breath (Sooooo... is the sound of inhalation, and is remembered in the mind along with that inhalation. Hummmm... is the sound of exhalation, and is remembered in the mind along with that exhalation. This mantra unconsciously is repeated each time we breathe, inhaling ' So', exhaling 'Ham'. It means 'I am That', beyond the limitations of mind and body, at ONE with the Absolute.). Focus on what you are doing 100%. Concentration to prepare your body for meditation. You can also think about a candle flame, a picture and devote your mind to just one thing. The power of concentration is freedom from tyranny of mind. Thoughts have energy and Ajna chakra (third eye gland) will be activated.
Practice Dhyana (Limb 7) - or Meditation. Dhyana, as far as it can be described with words, is an unbroken stream of concentration, whereby very little sense of self remains. At this level, it becomes increasingly more difficult to use words and the reasoning, conscious mind to describe the experiences of yoga. Much preparation is needed before one is capable of experiencing this powerful, yet very subtle state of meditation. Patanjali places Dhyana as the final step of yoga. So much preparatory work needs to be done, like exercises in concentrating and focusing the mind must be perfected. Only then is one able to even speak of meditation, let alone experience it. Practices of Dharana or concentration is needed to let the mind flow into Dhyana or meditaion.
Samadhi (Limb 8) is a spiritual state of consciousness. When a Yogi has awakened the Shakti (female) Kundalini Energy at the base of the spine, than Prana moves through the Sushumna (main nadi) and up through all Chakras to reach the Sahasrara Chakra at the top of the head. Kundalini awakening is said to result in deep meditation, enlightenment and bliss. Many systems of yoga focus on the awakening of Kundalini through meditation, pranayama breathing, the practice of asana and chanting of mantras. BKS Iyengar said: "Samadhi is an experience where the existence of 'I' disappears. Explanation can only come through the presence of 'I', so Samadhi cannot be explained." "We see that our individual soul is part of the universal soul." "Samadhi can only be experience by the heart." Samadhi is the last or ultimate stage of meditation, when the person is out of physical consciousness. In Samadhi the mind and soul are in equal balance. It is meditative absorption, attained by the practice of Dharana (Concentration). In Samadhi the mind becomes still, one-pointed or concentrated while individual awareness remains present.
Why 108 Sun Salutations?
108 has long been considered a sacred number in Hinduism and yoga
- 108 is the number of “Upanishads” comprising Indian philosophy’s “Vedic texts”.
- SANSKRIT ALPHABET: There are 54 letters in the Sanskrit alphabet. Each has masculine and feminine, shiva and shakti. 54 times 2 is 108.
- 108 is the number of names for Shiva (Hindu god).
- According to yogic tradition, there are 108 pithas, or sacred sites, throughout India. And there are also 108 Upanishads and 108 marma points, or sacred places of the body.
- 108 is the number of names for Buddha.
- SUN AND EARTH: The diameter of the sun is 108 times the diameter of the Earth.
- Renowned mathematicians of Vedic culture viewed 108 as a number of the wholeness of existence. This number also connects the Sun, Moon, and Earth: The average distance of the Sun and the Moon to Earth is 108 times their respective diameters.
- DESIRES: There are said to be 108 earthly desires in mortals.
- LIES: There are said to be 108 lies that humans tell.
- DELUSIONS: There are said to be 108 human delusions or forms of ignorance.
- 9 x 12: Both of these numbers have been said to have spiritual significance in many traditions. 9 times 12 is 108. Also, 1 plus 8 equals 9. That 9 times 12 equals 108.
- 108 is the number of beads on a Catholic rosary.
- ANAHATA (HEART) CHAKRA: The chakras are the intersections of energy lines, and there are said to be a total of 108 energy lines converging to form the heart chakra. One of them, sushumna leads to the crown chakra, and is said to be the path to Self-realization.
- 108 is the number of beads on a Tibetan “mala” (prayer beads, analogous to a rosary).
- 108 may be the product of a precise mathematical operation (e.g. 1 power 1 x 2 power 2 x 3 power 3 = 108) which was thought to have special significance.
- 108 is the number of Sutras in the Yoga Sutras. 1 stands for Higher Truth, 0 stands for Emptiness and 8 stands for Infinity.
For those of you who suffer from insomnia, here are some interesting websites on Research on Meditation and Sleep, and How Sleep Recharges Our Creative Capacity. Here is A List of Apps For Guided Meditation. For more information about the website and such, please email Kellen: email@example.com.
18 Amazing Benefits of Yoga
Yoga is becoming more mainstream in western cultures as those who practice it realize the numerous physical, mental, and emotional benefits that come with the ancient art. Science has proven that yoga can have a transformative effect on the body, resulting in everything from lowered blood pressure to disease prevention. Here are 18 Amazing Benefits of Yoga, According to Science. At the end of every yoga class, stay for Savasana (Corpse Pose), a pose of total relaxation but making it one of the most challenging. For more information about these articles please email to Jenn: firstname.lastname@example.org.
A great inspiring movie, a palindrome that reads the same backward as forward. Not only does it read the opposite, the meaning is the exact opposite. This is only a 1 minute, 44 second video and it is brilliant: Lost Generation.
Never Give Up!
For Yoga lovers all over, enjoy this inspirational transformation: Never Give Up! Do one step at a time ~ even if they are small. Believe in yourself!
The Autumn Equinox is between September 20th and 23rd in the Northern Hemisphere and March 20th and 23rd in the Southern Hemisphere. It is the balance point when day and night are equal in length. The Earth is also balanced between the two extremes of the year: the Midsummer Solstice, the longest day, and the Midwinter Solstice, the longest night. At this point the Earth is poised before it moves into the Yin cycle and the darkest time of the year. The Autumn Equinox is a point of union and balance between the Light and the Dark, between Fire and Water, between Shakti & Shiva, the Yang and the Yin. We have all been encouraged to become disconnected from our Yin, the intuitive 'feeling' parts of ourselves, when in reality both our yin and yang aspects create the whole self and, if they are not blocked, flow in a continuous holistic motion of unity and equilibrium. The alchemy of this is seen when we join up the dots in the Yin Yang symbol to reveal the continuously flowing symbol of infinity. The Autumn Equinox reminds us to balance all parts of ourself, the active and the passive, the known and the unknown, the outer journey and the inner journey, the seen and the unseen, the logical and the intuitive, the conscious and unconscious. From this place of Unity new doors open, new directions and new possibilities are revealed.
Add Turmeric to your diet!
Turmeric helps the body to destroy mutated cancer cells, so they cannot spread through the body and cause any harm. A primary way in which turmeric does so is by enhancing liver function. It's a healing spice and I add some turmeric powder and plain yogurt for anti-inflammatory help and wrinkle reduction around my eyes.
The Only Constant Is Change
A Yoga Story: There was a farmer who had a beautiful stallion. He wanted to sell the horse for a huge profit to a wealthy businessman in town. The night before the transaction, a storm came through the countryside and destroyed the barn where the stallion was held, and the horse run off. The farmer's wife said: "Oh what bad luck." The farmer said: "Good luck, bad luck, let's wait and see". A few days later, when the farmer, his wife and son repaired the barn, they saw a herd of horses galloping toward the farm. It was their stallion bringing 4 wild horses with him. The farmer's wife said: "Oh, what good luck." The farmer said: "Good luck, bad luck, lets wait and see." The farmer and his son were training the wild horses. At one point, the son fell off one of those horses and broke both of his legs. The farmer's wife said: "Oh what bad luck, we should have never let those horses in." The farmer said: "Good luck, bad luck, let's wait and see." The farmer and his family lived in a country, where the king had declared war. The soldiers came to the farmer's house to draft all the young men into the army to fight in the war, but when they saw the son laying there with 2 broken legs, they left him at home. The farmer's wife said: "Oh, what good luck." As expected the farmer said: "Good luck, bad luck, let's wait and see." This story illustrates, that the farmer was a yogi, who was able to detach himself from the up and downs of life. He understood that "Change is the only thing we can be sure of, so why not accept it?" Let's accept and be thankful what we can do with our bodies today and know that change can only be a breath away.
Accepting Change! So how can you work with the yoga of change? Practice mindfulness. Develop conscious awareness through yoga, meditation, any contemplative practice or activity that quiets your mind, restores the connection to your body, and opens your heart. And make a plan, with simple, incremental steps, heading in the direction you want to go, perhaps working with a supportive friend or mentor, someone to mirror you back to yourself. Let your actions be specific, measurable, time-bound, and wondrously delicious. Don't simply take away behavior - give to yourself that which you are really longing for. Take a retreat! Huffington Post Article
"Letting Go" A Yoga Story: Two monks were walking toward a river with the intention of crossing it. The monks saw a women at the riverbank waiting for someone help her get across. This was centuries ago, and those days, monks were forbidden any contact with women. The first monk said to the second monk:" This women needs help, should we take her across the river with us?" The second monk angrily replied: "We can't do that, we would be breaking our sacred vows." The first monk thought about what his friend has said, than took the women on his back and carried her across the river. After traveling and walking for a long time, the second monk who was very distraught about his brother's monk contact with the women, went on and on about how the vows were now broken and what they were to do? How would they explain this back at the monastery? The first monk stopped, looked at the second monk and said: "Brother, I left that women two miles back, why are you still carrying her?" When we hold on to our outdated ideas, our way of doing things, we hold on to things we no longer need to carry. The next time you feel yourself attached to an idea of how things should be, notice what effect attachment has in your body. Do your muscles tighten, does your breath feel stifled, is your face tense? Think of your yoga mat as a sacred place where you can unearth your buried baggage and give it over to the universe. Only by letting go, forgiving and letting guilt and anger fade away can we live in the moment and let the possibilities of life lead us.
Om Namah Shivaya
Om Namah Shivaya mantra is sung by devotees in prayers and recited by yogis in meditation. It is associated with qualities of prayer, divine-love, grace, truth and blissfulness. This powerful healing mantra beneficial for all physical and mental ailments. Soulful recitation of this mantra brings peace to the heart and joy to the Soul. The nature of the mantra is the calling upon the higher self; it is the calling upon shiva, the destroyer deity, to aid in the death (destruction of ego) and rebirth achieved during meditation. Om Namah Shivaya is a very powerful mantra. It has been said about this mantra that if this mantra vibrates continually in your heart, then you have no need to perform austerities, to meditate, or to practice yoga. To repeat this mantra you need no rituals or ceremonies, nor must you repeat it at a certain time or in a particular place. This mantra is free of all restrictions. It can be repeated by anyone, young or old, rich or poor and no matter what state a person is in, it will purify him.
Repeat during meditation Ham Sa. This is a short but potent mantra, 'Ham Sa' originates from the ancient practice of Kriya Yoga. Ham (I'm) and Sa (That) - meaning 'I'm That' (pronounced hum sah) are the natural sounds that your mind produces when you breathe in, and breathe out. Breathing in with 'Ham', breathing out 'Sa' helps you to concentrate your mind on one thing - that's the first step to learn meditation. Repeating this mantra will make you feel heavenly.
Hari Om Tat Sat
Hari Om Tat Sat is a very ancient mantra from the Vedas. ‘Hari Om’ is one mantra and ‘Om Tat Sat’ another. ‘Hari’ represents the manifest universe and life. ‘Om’ represents the nu-manifest and absolute reality. By the word ‘reality’, I mean total existence. You may even use the word God. Reality, existence, God, Brahman, the absolute are all synonymous terms pointing to one being, but they do not really define it.
Open Your Heart!
The Buddha says: "Teach this triple truth to all: A generous heart, kind speech, and a life of service and compassion are the things that renew humanity." The heart is the temple of the soul. The heart holds the secret of self knowledge. Unlike the brain, the heart center doesn't use words to express itself, rather the heart is about sensation, feelings and emotions. To know something by heart suggest that it comes from within, without the energy of thought. Every one of us prospers without our heart's love embrace. Love is both the source and the seed that brings life. When we connect with our heart center through yoga practice, the transformational powers of Yoga extend beyond ourselves. They extend out into the universe. OPEN your heart! Feel the heart come alive, and beam with the glow of harmony that is within you! (page 193 from my favorite book: Guiding Yoga's Light).
Keep your mind in the Present
The Buddah says: "Do not dwell in the past (you can't change the past anyway), do not dream of the future (you really don't know what the future is bringing), concentrate the mind on the present moment (this is the only true MOMENT you always will have)." Choosing to live in the past or the future not only robs you of enjoyment today, it robs you of truly living. The only important moment is the present moment. Here are 10 great tips to achieve that goal.
Repeat your healing Mantras! Mantras are words of power. When verbalized or internalized, they become vibrations of power. The person repeating these mantras eventually feel these vibrations flowing through the body, resulting in a peaceful state of mind and peace of heart. All words produce an actual physical vibration. Since anything in our lives that is worth having, from wealth, health, a bank account and other assets to love and satisfying our personal desired, requires a measure of discipline. The more you repeat your own personal mantra - the more it becomes a reality. The Gayatri Mantra is probably the most known one.
Practice Savasana! It is one of the most challenging yoga poses. No yoga session is complete without the final pose – Savasana. The body needs this time to understand the new information it has received through practicing yoga. Even though Savasana is a resting pose, it’s not the same as sleeping! You should stay present and aware during the five to ten minute duration of final relaxation. Savasana can be the most difficult pose to master and the most intimidating posture to hold because it requires you to simply be. Savasana boosts mood and relieves stress and anxiety, but it also has just as many physical benefits. This posture reduces headache and squashes fatigue. It can also lower blood pressure and cure insomnia. Even though in most classes you are only in this pose for a few minutes, savasana is often as refreshing and rejuvenating as a night of sleep.
Learn about your Dosha's! Considered the oldest medical science in the world, Ayurveda is a form of holistic healing that has been practiced in India for more than 4,000 years. Derived from the Sanskrit roots of "Ayus," meaning life, and "vid," meaning knowledge, Ayurveda literally translates to the "Knowledge of life." According to Ayurvedic principles, every aspect of life-the physical, emotional, mental and spiritual-contributes to your overall health. By balancing these elements and addressing the body as a whole, Ayurveda restores equilibrium when you're ill and keeps your body's natural defense system strong when you're healthy.
Practice Nadi Shodhana - alternate nostril breathing. Two of our main nadis are your nostrils. The right nostril is called Pingala and has a warming effect on the body. It is associated with the sun, masculine red, hot energy and goes to the left brain side, which is your analytical side. The left nostril is called Ida and has a cooling effect to the body. It is associated with the moon, feminine, cold, white energy and goes to the right brain side, which is your creative side. They meet in the middle, where the third eye center is located. The third eye is the Pineal gland and responsible to control your circadian (or biological) rhythm and regulate reproductive hormones. A few minutes of Nadi Shodhana pranayama keeps the mind calm, happy and peaceful. It clears blocked energy channels in the body, releases tension and helps with insomnia issues. The best part is that it gives you lots of wonderful pranic energy.
Shakti & Shiva
Shakti & Shiva... Shakti symbolises the feminine power, the activating power and energy. Shiva symbolises consciousness, the masculine power. For example, Ida controls the left nostril and represents Moon or Shakti (female) energy. Pingula controls the right nostril, or Sun or Shiva (male) energy. Sun Salutations are Shiva, Moon Salutations are Shakti. Hatha Yoga = Ha means Sun, Shiva (male energy), That means Moon or Shakti (female energy) To Yoke together, Sun & Moon, a dance, a union of male & female energy, an awakening of consciousness and energy. Together in union, Shiva and Shakti merge and create the universe in all its glory. You can open to this joyful dance between Shiva and Shakti in your yoga class, while you move with the flow of breath and movement. Shakti gives birth to stars, to the heart of the cosmos to creation itself, while Shiva, universal consciousness is the source of it ALL. Balanced and integrated, our inner Shiva and Shakti experience life as a dynamic whole. We move forward without pushing, forcing or controlling events to letting the universe take care of our daily dilemmas. Through practice and with clear vision, we are more willing to trust and flow with whatever life brings us. As we become more whole, our need to look outside of ourselves for love falls away. We learn to love ourselves and experience the sweetness of this union of our inner masculine and inner feminine. From this place we can create more harmonious relationships and more joy in our lives.
Open the Heart! When Anahata chakra is balanced, we are able to give and receive love, we are caring, compassionate, accepting, and we have a peaceful spirit. The color of this chakra is emerald green and the heart's element is air - so it can spread the goodness. To open the heart more, practice gratitude. Realize how much we have to be thankful for. Keep a gratitude journal and write down each day 5 things you are grateful for. Give of yourself, call someone who is lonely, spend time with others that need companionship and do a favor for someone without expecting anything in return. But most and for all forgive. Forgiveness doesn't mean you forget or that you even have to involve the other person ever again. It's simply a method to accept your past, to get on with your life and let the heart energy moving.
Yoga & Equinox
The Autumn Equinox is between September 20th and 23rd in the Northern Hemisphere and March 20th and 23rd in the Southern Hemisphere. It is the balance point when day and night are equal in length. The Earth is also balanced between the two extremes of the year: the Midsummer Solstice, the longest day, and the Midwinter Solstice, the longest night. At this point the Earth is poised before it moves into the Yin cycle and the darkest time of the year. The Autumn Equinox is a point of union and balance between the Light and the Dark, between Fire and Water, between Shakti & Shiva, the Yang and the Yin. We have all been encouraged to become disconnected from our Yin, the intuitive 'feeling' parts of ourselves, when in reality both our yin and yang aspects create the whole self and, if they are not blocked, flow in a continuous holistic motion of unity and equilibrium. The alchemy of this is seen when we join up the dots in the Yin Yang symbol to reveal the continuously flowing symbol of infinity. The Autumn Equinox reminds us to balance all parts of our-self, the active and the passive, the known and the unknown, the outer journey and the inner journey, the seen and the unseen, the logical and the intuitive, the conscious and unconscious. From this place of Unity new doors open, new directions and new possibilities are revealed.
Practice Tonglen. With each in-breath, we take in others' pain. With each out-breath, we send them relief. Breathe in feelings of heat, darkness, and heaviness. Breathe out feelings of coolness, brightness, and light, a sense of freshness. Breathe in completely, taking in negative energy through all the pores of your body. When you breathe out, radiate positive energy completely, through all the pores of your body. If you are doing tonglen for someone you love, extend it out to all those who are in the same situation. Make it bigger than just that one person. You can do tonglen for people you consider to be your enemies, those who hurt you or hurt others. Do tonglen for them, thinking of them as having the same confusion and stickiness as your friend or yourself. Breathe in their pain and send them relief. Tonglen can extend infinitely. As you do the practice, your compassion naturally expands over time, and so does your realization that things are not as solid as you thought, which is a glimpse of emptiness. As you do this practice, gradually at your own pace, you will be surprised to find yourself more and more able to be there for others, even in what used to seem like impossible situations.
The Only Constant is Change
A Yoga Story: The only constant is change! There was a farmer who had a magnificent prize-winning stallion. The farmer planned to sell the horse to a wealthy businessman for a large profit. One week before the horse was to be sold, a hurricane swept through the farmer's land. It tore down the barn where the horse was kept, and the stallion ran off. "What bad luck!" the farmer's wife said. "Good luck, bad luck, who knows? We'll have to wait and see," said the farmer. The next week, the farmer and his family saw a herd of horses galloping toward the farm. It was their stallion, leading five wild horses behind him. "What good luck!" said the farmer's wife. "Good luck, bad luck, who knows? We'll have to wait and see," said the farmer. Soon the farmer and his son were training the new horses. One day the son was thrown by one of the horses and broke both his legs. The farmer's wife was very upset. "My only son! We should have never let those horses in. This is very bad luck," she said. "Good luck, bad luck, who knows? We'll have to wait and see," said the farmer. The next week, soldiers came to the farm. Their king had declared war, and the soldiers were drafting every young man in the country. After seeing that the farmer's son had two broken legs, the soldiers left him at home. The farmer's wife was relieved. "Oh, what good luck we have!" she said. As expected, the farmer said, "Good luck, bad luck, let's wait and see . . ." This story illustrates that the farmer was a yogi in his understanding of change, staying detached from life's ups and downs. Change is the only thing we can be sure of, so why not accept it? Let's accept and be thankful for what is true in our bodies and in our minds at this moment on this day. Know that change can be just a breath away. Nothing last forever. You can find this story here: Guiding Yoga's Light - Nancy Gerstein
Turn off Cell Phone
(Limb 9) Turn off your cell phone and take off your watch! Why do we do that? As soon as we take off our time device or put away the smart phone, we know intuitive that something good is happening. We usually take it off going to bed, going into the shower, going on vacation...Make a habit out of this even before you enter the studio. This is your time for yourself to turn inward without looking constantly outward, and who send another message and/or what time it is!
How to stay young!
- Try everything twice. On one woman's tombstone she said she wanted this epitaph: "Tried everything twice. Loved it both times!"
- Keep only cheerful friends. The grouches pull you down.(Keep this in mind if you are one of those grouches!)
- Keep learning: Learn more about the computer, crafts, gardening, whatever...Never let the brain get idle. 'An idle mind is the devil's workshop.'Andthe devil's name is Alzheimer's!
- Laugh often, long and loud. Laugh until you gasp for breath. And if you have a friend who makes you laugh, spend lots and lots of time with HIM /HER.
- The tears happen: Endure, grieve, and move on. The only person who is with us our entire life, is ourselves.LIVE while you are alive.
- Surround yourself with what you love: Whether it's family, pets, keepsakes, music, plants, yoga, hobbies, whatever...Your home is your refuge.
- Cherish your health: If it is good, preserve it. If it is unstable, improve it. If it is beyond what you can improve, get help.
- Don't take guilt trips...Take a trip to the mall, even to the next city, state, to a foreign country, but NOT to where the guilt is.
- Tell the people you love that you love them, at every opportunity. Forgive now those who made you cry. You might not get a second chance. Remember! Lost time can never be found.
- Be kinder than necessary, for everyone you meet is fighting some kind of battle.
Every day is a gift
Every day is a gift - that's why the call it the 'present'. Yoga & meditation is your tool to keep your mind less agitated, you will experience less anxiety and sleep better. When you have clearer perception, your confidence increases as you make fewer mistakes. Your relationships become more fulfilling as you take more emotional risks and connect with others from a place of knowing yourself more deeply. When you are more connected with your own needs and tendencies, you can take better care of yourself, whether that means eating more healthy, finding a new job, or getting enough rest. Living is appreciation is a great way to become the yogi or yogini you always wanted to be. Be grateful for what you have and start a 'Gratitude journal', which is a fantastic way to record how much you appreciate everyday occurrences and experiences. It can be as simple as this: "I'm grateful for the sunshine and blue sky." Take nothing for granted. Slow down and process everything that is going on around you. Engage your senses hourly. 'Did you take time to smell to smell the roses?' The art of appreciating your everyday comes from slowing down, making conscious choices and taking time to be grateful in the very small often overlooked things, which can bring you so much joy. There are 1000 of extraordinary things around you, if you choose to look at them that way.
What to do about Insomnia
So many people suffer from Insomnia. If you habitually do not get a good night's sleep, chances are that you may be aging faster than you should be, in addition to not feeling well our thinking pattern can get confused. When we sleep, our body repairs on a cellular level and removes toxins. It is therefore necessary to get at least 6 to 8 hours of sleep daily. The following yoga poses can help you to relax and enjoy a peaceful sleep:
- Forward Bend (Hastapadasana)
- Cat Stretch (Marjariasana)
- Child Pose(Shishuasana)
- Butterfly Pose (BaddhaKonasana)
- Legs-up-the-wall Pose (ViparitaKarani)
At this time of the year, we are taught to count our blessings and to be grateful for what we have. But gratitude, like everything else is a choice. Bring your hands in anjali mudra (namaste) and focus on the rising and falling of the chest as your breathe in and out. Think about all the things in your life that fill you with happiness and joy. Your friends, family, pets, your work, a yoga class or whatever you are grateful for. As you focus on these things, you begin to feel warm, calm and content. You are NOW in a state of gratitude. Send these healing energies to someone who needs them today.
Ingredients to Avoid:
As Yoga Teacher, I try to do my part to inform my students to avoid following ingredients to live a more healthier and happier life.
- High Fructose Corn Syrup (yogurt, fruit juice, ice cream,everything that is sweet)
- Partially hydrogenated oils (processed food, trans fatty acid, will give you cancer)
- Hydrogenated oils (frozen food, chips, cookies, crackers...)
- Margarine (Margarine is but ONE MOLECULE from being PLASTIC)
- Sodium Lauryl (or Laurel) Sulfate SLS (toothpaste, detergent)
- Germall II and Germall 115 (cosmetic preservatives, releases formaldehyde at just over 10 degrees)
- Stearalkonium Chloride (hair conditioners and creams)
- Propylene glycol (in shampoo, soap, salon products)
- Butylene glycol (stabilizer used in cosmetic and food preparations)
- Methylparaben (deodorant, personal care, which is linked to cancer)
- Propylparaben (deodorant, personal care, which is linked to cancer)
- Dimethicone (silicone, which is in cosmetics)
- PVP/VA Copolymer (hairspray, wavelets and other cosmetics)
- Synthetic Fragrances (cosmetics)
- Artificial/Synthetic colors (processed food, dips, guacamole dips...)
- Mineral oil (cosmetic products, moisturizers)
- Petrolatum (linked to breast cancer, lip stick, Vaseline, cosmetics)
- Triethanolamine (cosmetic products, skin lotion, eye gels, moisturizers)
- Diethanolamine (shampoos, lotions, creams and other cosmetics)
- Lauramide Diethanolamine (personal care products...)
- Aluminum chlorohydrate, aluminum zirconium tetrachlorohydrexgly or any aluminum compounds (deodorants)