is not only essential to the practice of yoga but crucial for overall well-being. You'll be amazed at how calm & centered just a few deep breaths can make you feel.
Following are the many benefits of deep &
Physical: Allows more oxygen to enter the bloodstream & expels old, stale breath & toxic irritants. Relaxes
the adrenal glands & allows the body to redistribute energy in a more productive fashion. According to ancient yoga beliefs, we are allotted a certain number of breaths per lifetime-take your time & live long!
Mental: Reduces stress, anxiety & anticipation. Can shift states of mind (from one of panic to one of calm). Enhances concentration & focus. Reduces mind chatter &
enhances clear, creative thoughts.
Breathing with shoulder roll
Gently tuck in your belly & inhale
slowly, rolling your shoulders forward & up.
Exhale slowly, rolling your shoulders
backwards & relaxing them down.
Do this 3 times in a continuous motion.
Imagine your energy floating up your spine, thru your neck & to the crown of your head as you inhale & then back down
as you exhale.
Relax your jaw & the hollows under
your cheek bones.
Inhale deeply, filling your belly, lower
lungs, mid-lungs, upper lungs & chest. Slowly push the breath out of your upper lungs, mid-lungs, lower lungs & belly.
Breathing with head bowed
Keeping your eyes closed, bring your chin to your chest. Take 3 long breaths & then slowly bring your neck to its
upright position by uncurling it one vertebrae at a time. (Hint: There are 7 vertebrae
in the neck alone.)
Stay aware of your physical & emotional needs
throughout the exercises. Tuning in to the body is the only way to tune up the body.
Inhale slowly for 5 counts, hold
in for 5 counts & exhale out for 5 counts. Do 3 or more full sets.
Inhale slowly for 5 counts, exhale for 5 counts,
hold for 5 counts. Do 3 or more full sets.
Inhale slowly for 5 counts, hold in for 5 counts, exhale for 5 counts, hold
out for 5 counts. Do 3 or more sets.
Neck, Shoulders & Arms
Benefits: Loosens tight muscles, revitalizes the whole upper
body, improves alignment, relieves heaviness & fatigue & promotes clearer thinking.
Most people react to stress w/increased tension in the
neck & shoulders. This tension can cause chronic pain, headaches & irritability, adding to the stress. We can break
out of the cycle of tension & pain by stretching, repositioning the neck & shoulders into their optimum alignment
& bringing more circulation to the entire area.
Working at the keyboard, we may tend to hold our head
or shoulders forward for long periods of time as we type & look at the screen & that causes the muscles in the upper
back & neck to be chronically tight & sore. In this segment of exercises, we move the neck, shoulders & arms in
every direction,balancing & revitalizing the upper body. Without soreness & stiffness in the neck, shoulders &
arms, we can think more clearly & react to the challenges we meet w/a positive attitude.
Basic Neck Movements
Benefits: Stretches the neck muscles.
Setup: Sitting tall, pull your hips back on the seat of
the chair so that your lower back has a natural arch. Lift your chest gently, pulling your shoulders back & keep your
head erect. You can imagine that you are wearing headphones w/helium balloons attached that gently elongate your neck as they
Step 1: Look from left to
right, going slightly beyond the comfortable range, several times.
Step 2: Tilt
your head from side to side, ear toward your shoulder, while looking straight forward, several times.
Step 3: Look up & down
several times, making sure not to collapse your chest or round your shoulders forward as you move your neck.
Stretching Your Limits
by Carol Krucoff
Fitness Experts Place New Focus on Flexibility
America's fitness revolution began w/an era of
aerobics, when legions of runners & walkers laced up athletic shoes to exercise that most important of muscles -- the
Experts soon recognized that the body's other muscles
deserved equal time & the "iron age" of strength training began.
Today, aerobic activity & muscle strengthening continue
to be encouraged for optimum health. Now that America's aging baby boomers find themselves grappling w/stiffness, muscle aches
& joint pains, a once-neglected component of fitness is taking the spotlight.
"Flexibility is a critical factor in achieving peak physical
potential & preventing & treating injuries," says Mari Cyphers, a Northern California physical therapist. "But it
is often overlooked or misused."
Proper stretching is one of the more helpful ways to relieve
chronic pain, says Cyphers, who wrote the chapter on flexibility in the American Council on Exercise's manual for personal
"If you don't stretch, in a world where most of
us sit all day, your muscles get tight, which leads to pain."
For example, she says, "one of the main causes of back pain
is tight hamstrings. Yet most people don't make the connection between tight muscles in their legs & pain in their back.
Even some athletes pay little attention to their flexibility, until they run into trouble."
Growing evidence of stretching's many benefits prompted the
American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) to add recommendations for flexibility exercises to its most recent guidelines
for adult fitness.
ACSM's experts advise doing flexibility exercises that stretch
all the major muscle groups, a minimum of 2 to 3 days a week, to enhance performance, improve joint range of motion &
help prevent injury.
Yoga & tai chi classes, which teach proper stretching techniques,
continue to boom at health clubs & exercise studios around the country. And equipment manufacturers are creating devices
-- w/names like Flexmaster & Leg Stretcher -- designed to help people increase flexibility.
But devices aren't necessary, says Lawrence Golding, a professor
of exercise physiology at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas (UNLV). "Most people can improve their flexibility vastly w/simple
stretching exercises," he says.
Contrary to popular belief, "you don't have to lose flexibility
w/age," says Golding, who has collected data on nearly 1,000 adults who have taken the exercise class he's taught since 1975
Over time, exercisers in his program showed slight age-related
declines in strength & aerobic capacity, but not in flexibility.
"The stiffness many people
associate with age actually comes from disuse," says Golding, who at age 74 can bend over with straight legs & touch both
his palms to the floor. "If you stretch regularly, you can keep your flexibility."
Stretching is especially important for older adults, he says, because it can help prevent injury, relieve pain & avoid falls. "If you stumble & you're flexible," he notes, "you may be able to catch yourself."
Stretching also is essential
for people who sit all day, says Colorado stretching guru Bob Anderson, whose classic book Stretching
has sold more than 2 million copies worldwide. "The biggest promoter of inflexibility is sitting - especially sitting with stress," he says.
such as running & cycling, also can tighten muscles, notes Anderson, who advises stretching before & after exercise
as well as spontaneously throughout the day.
In our competitive culture many people have trouble stretching, he says, "because they don't know how to do things on an easy & moderate
level. Stretching should be as relaxed & natural as a yawn."
Yet some people turn stretching
into a contest. "They see the next guy touch his toes so they figure that's what they've got to do," Anderson says. "But stretching
isn't a race; it's a very individual matter. It's important to just be where you are & to stretch by a feeling, not by some predetermined idea that you've got to touch your head
to your knee."
While there is some difference of
opinion on the various methods of flexibility training, most experts agree on these guidelines:
- Stretch before exercise.
Warm up first with light movements, such as walking, then stretch gently to prepare for activity. Use rhythmic, easy motions
that suit the activity you'll be doing, such as light golf swings or arm circles.
- Stretch after exercise,
when your muscles are warm & more receptive to deeper stretching. Focus on the muscle you are stretching & move your body until you feel a mild tension in that muscle.
If you feel pain, you've stretched too far & need to back off. Breathe slowly & rhythmically while holding the stretch
for at least 10 to 30 seconds, then release.
- Don't bounce, hold your breath,
strain or push a muscle too far.
- Consider stretching gently while
soaking in a hot tub, after a shower or whenever you get up from sitting or lying down.
- Stretch daily. If time is
limited, stretching all the major muscle groups (neck, shoulders, arms, chest, back, hips,
groin, legs) 2 to 3 times a week will also provide significant benefits. At the very least, stretch for 5
minutes at the end of each exercise session.
Physical therapist Cyphers
offers this easy stretch for the hamstrings: Lie on the floor by a doorway with one leg up on the wall & the other leg
thru the doorway. Scoot your buttocks toward the wall until you feel a stretch in the back of your thigh.
As your leg muscles relax, scoot closer to the wall.
For more information about stretching & an illustrated brochure of flexibility exercises, send a self-addressed, stamped
American Running Association,
4405 East West Highway
Always check with your doctor before starting any new exercise program.
© Carol Krucoff, 2000. All rights
Ancient Art of Yoga is the Modern Man’s/Woman’s
Savior to Combat Stress
By Francine York
Problems in the modern world can best be alleviated by calling upon the ancient art of Yoga. The practice
has been around for thousands of years; but now, more than ever, we need its incredible powers. Just like the home remedies
of peoples living centuries ago, Yoga can be incorporated into revitalization of your mind, body and spirit for the 21st century.
“The ancient practice of yoga has long been regarded as an effective way of relieving emotional stress, curing bodily
ills, and achieving personal equilibrium.” 1
Whether you work at home or “out in the world” stresses
will get to you from all corners of your life. The trick is not to spend time trying to avoid them…you can’t…nobody
can; but, rather, we ALL must learn how to deal with the inevitable occurrences of life’s stressful situations.
is free/ inexpensive; can be done without props; needs no special clothing; can be practiced in the home/office; and anyone
of any age or physical ability can incorporate Yoga into their lifestyle and be able to reap the myriad benefits. “…yoga
helps with all these problems. At the physical level, it gives relief from countless ailments. The practice of postures strengthens
the body and creates a feeling of well-being. From the psychological viewpoint, Yoga sharpens the intellect and aids concentration
It steadies the emotions and encourages a caring concern for others. Above all, it gives hope.”2
I tried Yoga
on a lark because it was offered in my school district’s adult education program. Caring for my two little grandsons
while working from home had left me with fatigue, soreness and a general lack of stamina. What I found, was an enjoyable way
to “de-stress”, increase flexibility and feel a sense of inner peace. Though hard to believe, the practice of
a centuries old art can alleviate the stresses of today, it has helped me immeasurably with the many stresses we “modern”
people exhibit. My advice…endeavor to make Yoga a part of your life and your life will be enhanced much more than you
1. Yoga, The Iyengar Way by Silva, Mira and Shyam Mehta, back cover.
2. Yoga, The Iyengar Way by Silva,
Mira and Shyam Mehta, page`8
Francine York is the publisher of the Modern Opportunity newspaper
and website (http://www.modernopportunity.com). Both vehicles offer vital business information and are a source
of business opportunities, products and services for those desiring to go into business as well as new entrepreneurs. Ms.
York also hosts a business opportunity EXPO where exhibitors offering a wide variety of money making opportunities, services
and products come together in one venue to offer the public access to all aspects of this industry. For further information,
email her at firstname.lastname@example.org or call (631) 673-3208
Discover How a Commitment to Yoga Can Change Your Life Forever
By Jez Heath
While it’s true that you’ll get out of your practice only as much as you’re willing or able to put
into it, a committed approach to your practice can help you in ways that you’ve never expected. Indeed practicing yoga
could be the platform and motivation you need to completely transform your life.
The basic benefits of yoga are widely
documented and have been extensively researched. Research into the more controversial benefits of yoga continue – at
the time of writing, pubmed.org (a Service of the National Library of Medicine and the National Institute of health) listed
more than 900 research papers investigating the benefits of yoga. A search on the internet typically reveals benefits which
- Increased fitness
- Increased strength
- Fat reduction and weight loss
- Relief of back pain
- Better relaxation
Individually these benefits sound like compelling reasons to
practice yoga and may be exactly what you are looking for. But yoga is an all encompassing approach to health and well-being
– the word itself literally means union, and when we look at the impact practicing yoga can have on our lives, we should
also take an all encompassing approach.
While yoga alone cannot work miracles, it may be the foundation,
along with some self belief, to help you:
Earn more money - Practicing yoga increases
your ability to relax and cope with your daily stresses. It also helps to develop a meditative ability allowing you to slow
or clear your mind of constantly racing thoughts. After a hard days work, these are exactly the techniques you need so you
can unwind, and recharge through longer and deeper sleep. If you can achieve that then you’ll feel more refreshed, energised
and motivated each day, improving your focus and concentration. You can channel this in what ever direction you want including
working towards a promotion, searching for your ideal job or starting your own business.
a book, learn to dance - As outlined above, regular yoga practice can help you increase your energy, motivation and
focus as well as improving your concentration – all of which can be used to develop your personal hobbies and interests,
whatever they may be, mental activities or physical ones.
Spend more time with your friends
& family - Promotion and money aren’t your motivators? How about using your increased energy levels to bring
greater balance between your work and personal lives, allowing you to spend more time with the people that matter.
A shot of self confidence – performing regular exercise, combined with the positive effects
yoga has on metabolism and appetite, can help with weight (fat) loss. Combine that slimming with the toning effect yoga has
on your muscles and you can start to develop the body you want in no time – and be feeling better about yourself just
as quick. What better boost is there to your self confidence?
– Yoga postures are designed to stretch, compress and massage your internal organs and glands. This stimulation is thought
to help balance hormone levels in the body, which can help to achieve a more balanced emotional state.
Quit smoking – As well as strengthening your resolve to quit through the increased motivation, energy
and focus, yoga breathing techniques (pranayama) are ideal to help you pass the cravings that at the biggest hurdle to quitting
As you can see, the benefits of yoga go far beyond simply improving your wellbeing – the benefits can
be channeled to help you to make fundamental improvements to your whole life. When the rewards are so great, it’s not
difficult to understand why people become so enthusiastic about yoga.
Author's Bio: Jez
Heath is helping real people to achieve the health benefits that yoga has to offer, even if they can't make it to yoga class.
To find out how online yoga video instruction can help you commit to a regular exercise routine necessary to improve your
health, visit www.TotalYogaPractice.com
Yoga vs. Pilates: Which is better?
By Deborah Harris
It seems that these days you can hardly turn on a television without hearing someone
mention Pilates or Yoga. Articles on Pilates & Yoga fill numerous magazines & it seems “everyone
who is anyone” is doing one or the other.
Why all the excitement? What is so special about these techniques? What are the similarities & differences between Pilates & Yoga?
as we all know it, is aimed to unite the mind, the body & the spirit. Yogis view that the mind & the body are one
& that if it's given the right tools & taken to the right environment, it can find harmony & heal itself.
Yoga therefore is considered therapeutic. It helps you become more aware of your body's posture, alignment & patterns of movement. It makes the body more flexible & helps you relax even in the midst of a stress stricken environment.
This is one of the foremost reasons why people want to start practicing Yoga - to feel more fit, to be more energetic, be happier & peaceful.
The Yoga movements are performed, mostly, in
a group setting on a special Yoga mat with an aid of a Yoga
The body’s own weight is used for resistance & a great deal
of focus is accorded to the flow from one posture into the other. There are many different Yoga
styles & they differ in their emphasis. No one style is better than the other. The Style you use is a matter of personal
preference or a matter of need.
Vinyasa Yoga, i.e., makes use of modified
Yoga Poses that are designed to meet the specific needs of an individual & to enhance healing, flexibility & strength of joints.
The poses also intend to promote the feeling of well-being & strength. Practices
may also include meditation, reflection, study & other classic elements, but the emphasis of this branch of Yoga
practice is on coordinating breath & movement.
As you can imagine, given the scope of practice, the inherent therapeutic applications
& the heritage of the lineage, the training requirements for teacher certification are extensive.
Pilates seek to reach much the same goals, also via a series of controlled movements. The major difference is that the Pilates technique not only has a full complement of matwork, but it incorporates work on the Pilates machines.
The emphasis of the exercises is to strengthen the abdominals, improve posture, stabilize
& lengthen the spine, improve balance & overall strength. Pilates gives you a longer, leaner, dancer-like line.
Unlike many other training programs,
Pilates works the whole body, emphasizing control, precision & concentration in both the mind & the body. Movements aren't
performed rapidly or repeated excessively instead, the focus is on quality not quantity.
The abdominal muscles, lower back & buttocks ("powerhouse") serve as the center
of all movement, allowing the rest of the body to move freely. This focus on core stabilization makes one stronger from the
inside out & is critical for the advancement of the client.
The low impact nature
of Pilates makes it ideal for injury prevention & rehabilitation. Its 6 principles:
train the body to move efficiently with minimal impact on the body. The balance between strength & flexibility creates a healthy, vigorous & symmetrical workout for all muscle groups resulting in a leaner, more balanced & stronger
If after reading about both techniques you're still left with a question of
which of these 2 fitness techniques is right for you then here's the answer: Do them both in conjunction!
The nature of the techniques makes it easy for them to complement each other. Get
the stretch from Yoga & keep it from Pilates. Strengthen your abdominals on the reformer & watch your poses improve.
the breathing techniques of Pilates & meditative aspect of Yoga into
your daily routine & see the stress of your everyday life, begin to dissipate. Both techniques are time-proven, established
& with the help of an experienced instructor, you'll surely reach the goals you set up for yourself!
Author's Bio: Deborah Harris runs her own Pilates & Yoga NJ studio - Premier Pilates & Yoga in Warren, NJ.
Check out www.Yoga-n-Pilates.com or call us at (908) 754 5901 for further information on Pilates
& Yoga & for tips on picking the right studio for you.
7 Common Misconceptions About Yoga
By Dada Vedaprajinananda
Although the practice of yoga has become widespread
during the last 30 years, there are still quite a few misconceptions about this ancient method of self-transformation.
Here's a brief survey of the most common myths about yoga
& a look at what yoga is really all about.
Yoga is a sport: One of the important components of yoga is the practice of physical postures, known as asanas in Sanskrit. Due to this physical aspect of yoga, some people think of yoga as a sport or an activity akin
to body building. In this sense, yoga is seen as a casual pastime which one can take up
& practice now & then like any sport.
The fact is that yoga is the art & science of physical, mental & spiritual development.
Although the yoga postures may look like the stretching exercises found in some sports. The exercises in yoga are one part of an all-around program of personal development. The postures are
not an end in themselves, but are meant to help prepare one’s body for mental & spiritual development.
2. The physical side of yoga is the most
important part: Although the practice of yoga postures is the most commonly known
aspect of yoga, it isn't the most important part.
In fact, the ancient system of yoga begins with
the understanding & practice of moral precepts & living a life in harmony with self & society.
foundation of yoga lies on the observance of principles such as not harming others, acting
in the spirit of welfare, non stealing, non accumulation of excessive physical wealth, viewing all things as an expression
of Consciousness, purity of mind, contentment & selfless service.
If you can learn
how to live in harmony with those around you & at the same time work on your own inner development, then the other components
of yoga (postures, concentration & meditation)
can be practiced with the best possible effects.
3. Yoga is only for women: In some parts of the world the majority of yoga
students are women & some men may have gotten the idea that yoga isn't for them.
The fact is that all people are searching for inner peace & all people wish to
avoid disease & live a healthy life. Yoga offers something for anyone who wishes an
effective method of physical, mental or spiritual development & shouldn't be thought of as a discipline reserved only
for women or only for men.
4. Everybody must practice the same postures: In most
yoga classes around the world you'll find that several
people at a time are practicing the same postures.
Despite this widespread convention, the needs of individuals vary according to their
physical structures & it's best to perform yoga postures that are individually suited
to a particular individual.
i.e., a young man suffering from asthma will need postures that are
quite different from an older woman with heart problems.
If you want to practice yoga postures correctly it's best to find a teacher who is able to prescribe the postures that
are best suited to your particular needs.
5. You have to be extremely agile to practice
yoga: It's true that some yoga postures are a bit difficult
to perform & require an agile body.
However, just as postures should be selected according to the ailments that a person
suffers from, a good yoga instructor will be able to show you postures that are within your
When performing yoga postures, you should try to do them
to the best of your capacity & you shouldn’t worry whether you look like the picture in the book.
Often, just the effort that you make in trying to perform the posture is enough to
reap the benefits of that posture.
6. It's good to practice yoga
postures out of doors: When you perform yoga properly your body becomes very sensitive to shifts in temperature.
If you practice outside your house even a slight breeze may be enough to make you
uncomfortable or even catch cold. It's best to practice indoors.
The windows may be open but you should stay away from drafts. In summer it's best
to turn off fans while practicing yoga postures.
should be burned when practicing yoga: Although yoga comes
from India & so does much of the world’s incense, it isn't a good idea to burn incense while performing yoga postures or doing meditation.
Yoga postures should be done in a smoke-free area: this includes cigarette smoke
& also the smoke of incense. During meditation the smoke of burning incense will cause disturbance & hinder the process
of going within.
Incense can be used before doing meditation
or before practicing postures in order to create a nice atmosphere, but there shouldn't be smoke in the air when the actual
If you practice yoga regularly
& do so with a proper understanding of its holistic nature, you'll surely realize great benefits in all spheres of life.
Author's Bio: Dada Vedaprajinananda has been practicing & teaching yoga & meditation
for the past 34 years. He's currently a senior teacher with the Ananda Marga society & is based in Athens, Greece. Dada
is the author of "The Wisdom of Yoga", numerous magazine articles & composer of spiritual songs. His articles & songs
can be found on the websites http://www.dadaveda.com & http://www.yogaweightlosssecrets.com
Healing Addiction with Yoga
By Galina Pembroke
Thru various types of addiction therapy, there's one central component:
Finding new, healthier ways to deal with daily stresses while maintaining
a clear perspective.
Perhaps because this mindset is an important part of yoga
practice, researchers are testing yoga’s efficacy in treating addiction.
Medical experts are theorizing that yoga may actually
break the addictive cycle. Yoga therapy works in contrast to most therapies for addiction,
which isolate either the psychological or physiological element, by treating the body & mind simultaneously.
The peaceful poses of yoga rest both our brain
& body. It's here that our energy can be harnessed toward changing unhealthy habits.
to a greater or lesser extent, all of us have addictions. Some are minor enough that they'll never impact us other than on
a superficial level.
Nail biting is an example. Other addictions are accommodated by society enough to
be considered part of daily routine - our morning cup of coffee is one example. It's when a behavior or attitude threatens
our path to a positive future, we owe it to ourselves to change.
Addiction is a symptom. Often, uncovering its’ causes requires an introspective breakthrough.
Until we examine our inner-dialogue, our life will feel out of balance.
This is where yoga & its sister component of
mindfulness, can help.
Mindfulness is the practice of suspending judgement. This requires holding
& focusing on each thought until its emotional impact is lost.
Mindfulness provides a neutral outlook that conquers the knee-jerk reactions of addiction. Dr Karel
Nespor; a psychiatrist with the Department of Addictions in Prague Czech Republic, sometimes uses yoga
to treat patients struggling with addiction.
He states: “Yoga teaches slow, controlled
movements instead of reflexive, automatic behavior. This may be useful also during normal daily activities when coping with
stimuli which triggered addictive behavior before.”
(1) Mindfulness also works in this manner. This slow-motion thinking
acts as a natural tranquilizer. In Nespor’s yoga-therapy, mindfulness functions as
both a component & complement to yoga’s peaceful postures.
When patients experience a craving, he asks them to observe their feelings, as much
as possible, without emotional response. This is also how he ends his yoga sessions. This
therapeutic contemplation, traditionally known as yogic relaxation, is mindful thinking.
Nespor’s treatment is distinct, it is not unique. Experts worldwide are using yoga
to conquer even the most severe of addictions.
In Rajasthan, New Delhi, former schoolteacher Narain Singh uses “light yoga
exercises” along with group therapy to ease the pain of opium withdrawal.
His first detoxification camp was instituted in 1979. BBC News reports that of the
16 opium addicts who converged, all left cured. "The basis of cure here is love, brotherhood & affection," states Singh,
who reports a 70% success rate with his method.
(2) This parallels the percentage boasted by the more costly of American rehabilitation
clinics. Perhaps in the spirit of love & brotherhood, there's no charge for Singh’s program.
American medical experts are also seeing that yoga may break
the addictive cycle. New York City addiction psychotherapist Mary Margaret Frederick, Ph.D. states:
"Yoga treats the biology & the psychology
of an addict. The will & determination yoga requires, helps people regain control over
their body & their mind."
(3) Peter Stein; a drug counselor at the North Charles Institute for Addictions in
Somerville, Massachusetts, uses Hatha yoga in combination with methadone & group therapy. In 1997, Stein contributed to
a study for Harvard Medical School.
The results found no “meaningful differences “ between the Hatha yoga
approach & conventional group therapy.
(4) When we slow down our physical body our mind also decelerates. Thru this process
yoga calms our entire being, reducing the internal restlessness that can cloud judgement.
This objectivity is an integral aspect of mindfulness. Though some may practice yoga solely for the physical rewards, mindfulness & yoga
Here-&-now focus is the only way we can maintain the balance & alignment
needed to perform postures without injury.
Mindfulness has other, far less visible rewards. By sustaining this state we activate deep-relaxation in which our
brain produces alpha waves. These produce a condition known as picture-thinking.
In this awareness we see ourselves act without feeling the emotions attached. As the practice of mindfulness teaches
non-judgement, over time, images of past behavior can be acknowledged with a degree of neutrality.
This helps us to forgive ourselves & ultimately, others. Describing mindfulness, author John Kabat-Zinn, observes:
“Paradoxically, this inclusive noting of thoughts that come & go
in your mind can lead you to feel less caught up in them & give you a deeper perspective on your reaction to everyday
stress & pressures.”
(5) One of the benefits of mindfulness is the ability to see our mistakes in perspective.
Otherwise it's like we are putting a bag over our head to hide one blemish. The pimple is hidden, but so are we.
All forms of yoga facilitate a balanced approach to life. It's
been said that yoga is meditation in motion. Indeed it is. However, yoga is also moderation in motion.
Consequently, yoga is an antidote to the extremism
that characterizes addiction. Yoga serves as a model for compulsive behavior, by integrating
control & release behaviors; a proper forward bend starts with pushing & ends with yielding.
In daily life, compulsive behavior leads to dividing these approaches. Through yoga
we can experience the control & release actions simultaneously, and is able to feel the virtue in their fusion.
Yoga corrects through sensation. We risk injury if we fail to rely on subtle, internal cues for feedback. This demonstrates
through direct bodily experience, how ignoring limitations can result in harm. Learning to trust this dialogue of the body
is particularly useful for compulsive eaters, who aren’t attuned to hunger or healthy cravings.
like pulling an elastic band until it snaps. We may be extremely focused
while seeking our craving ; walking two miles
in a downpour for a cigarettes, bottle or
calorie-rich treat. However, we feel powerless once the coveted object is obtained.
tell ourselves “I’ll diet tomorrow.” This same feast-or-famine mentality also characterizes
Unrealistic, self-imposed pressure can lead to addictions, because of the
anxiety it generates. Yoga’s non-competitive
nature balances us and encourages looking beyond conventional definitions of achievement. Our success is dependent on effort
instead of result. The philosophy of yoga is to embrace your capabilities instead of cursing your limitations. This allows
us to move forward by looking at how far we’ve come, instead of how far we have to go.
Most addictions, in some
way, are a substitute for what we really desire. How often have we reached for a chocolate bar as a substitute for touch?
Subconsciously, we may not pursue heartfelt ambitions because we are fearful, either of failure or success. Perhaps, deep
down, we feel unworthy of the wellbeing we truly deserve. The introspective nature of yogic mindfulness invites discovery
and appreciation of authentic self. This invites peace, stability and genuine self-love. After experiencing these rewards,
unhealthy substitutes lose their flavor.
Examples of Hatha Yoga Exercises for Addiction*
Hatha Yoga combines active
poses with mental relaxation. This results in a balancing of mind and body. Hatha yoga differs from devotional yoga, in its
accessibility to people of various belief systems. Due to this, it is a practical complement to traditional therapy. To treat
dependency, addictions specialist Dr.Nespor recommends a program that progresses from posture to breath-work to meditation.
The following is an example:
1. Marjarisina(cat ): While on your hands and knees, you inhale as head elevates and
your stomach drops. Pause briefly.
2. 2. Ushtrasana (camel): Begin by kneeling. Reach back towards your calves. Gently
return forward if there is too much discomfort. Those more experienced may rest their hands on their ankles. Return within
3. Full yoga breath (complete breath): Sit down with legs seated comfortably and shoulders back. Inhale as
deeply as you can while maintaining smooth breath. Note your belly expanding. As you exhale, feel your belly sink and lungs
empty. Do not force-yield. Continue for five minutes. (This exercise should be performed in an area with fresh, clean air).
4. Shavasana (corpse): Laying on the floor with your legs comfortable apart and arms limp by your side. Observing your
breath, your thoughts are directed towards detecting and discarding any remnants of tension. Thoughts are regarded then thoughts
are released. This is the birth of mindfulness.
1. Nespor, Karel. “Yoga and Coping with Harmful Addictions “Yoga Magazine,” 2001. Also website: http://www.yogamag.net/archives/2001/5sep01/adds1.shtml
Bedi, Rajul. “Rehabilitation in Rajasthan.” BBC News Online. May 16, 2000.
Stukin , Stacie “Freedom From Addiction.” Yoga Journal, 1999.
Author's Bio: Galina Pembroke is the publisher & editor-&-chief of New View magazine online. New View features
a broad range of articles on alternative therapies, as well as lifestyle info. Visit us at http://www.nuvunow.ca
What is yoga?
Yoga is a physical & spiritual
practice with roots in ancient India but with relevance to daily life in modern times. Many people are introduced to yoga
thru hatha yoga, the part of the practice that involves exercises to stretch & strengthen the physical body.
There are many different styles
of hatha yoga, some more meditative, some more physically vigorous. Yoga can be practiced to enhance overall health, to heal
& prevent injuries & to strengthen & open the body for meditation.
Yoga's increasing popularity
is proof that many people value an exercise system that engages the mind, body & spirit in equal measure. This yoga program offers exercises that are accessible for people
of all ages & of all levels of experience & ability.
If you've never done
yoga before, give it a try & have fun!
What is meditation?
Meditation is a completely natural process that doesn't have to be associated with any religious ritual, dogma or philosophy.
Anyone can do it. It's the
process of directing the mind to a given focus of concentration in order to transcend ordinary thought & experience deeper levels of consciousness.
The focus of concentration
we use to reach these deeper states of consciousness can be an image, a thought or a word, or a sound or a feeling. There are many roads to one destination; use the one that works for you. Consistent practice helps & so does an open mind toward what the experience might be like.
We can trust that there's a source of peace, wisdom & happiness inside, if we make the commitment to turn our attention there.
These guided meditations will give you a way to start & if you want to pursue meditation further, you can seek out a meditation teacher. You can meditate for any length of time you choose, from a few minutes to 1/2 hour or more. At first, try it for a short time & then gradually
increase the duration as you practice more.
It's best to practice sitting
in a quiet place & you can review the section called Posture & Breath Awareness before you start.
Stress comes from thinking that we aren't able to deal with what's at hand, whether it's a task, a person or a situation. We feel an urgency, a
demand with no easy solution.
Typically the mind becomes
agitated, spinning thoughts & feelings at a fast pace. The body is stimulated in the flight or fight response, which increases muscular tension & speeds up
the rhythm of the heartbeat & the breath.
Stress can easily become a vicious cycle, compounding itself. The techniques offered in this program will help to stop the cycle
& alleviate the stress.
Lose Weight Yoga-Style
by Liz Neporent, M.A.
Lately, some yoga enthusiasts have touted it as the ultimate
weight-loss exercise. But can yoga really help you lose weight?
One hour of yoga burns a modest 244 calories per hour.
That's about the same number of calories you burn by walking briskly, but walking stresses your heart & lungs & burns
significant amounts of fat. Yoga is not a great cardiovascular or fat-burning activity.
However, although yoga doesn't pack a major calorie-burning punch, it can help you burn more calories during other types of activities.
The more flexible you are,
the more strength you have & the more upright your posture, the longer & faster your walking stride. The longer & faster your walking stride, the better walker you are & the more calories you burn.
Your metabolism will also
get a boost from yoga because it helps build muscle. The
more muscle you have, the more calories you burn, even while at rest.
Furthermore, according to
Yogic philosophy, your thyroid gland (an organ that directly
affects metabolism) is stimulated by performing yoga on a regular basis;
certain poses are believed to balance the function of the thyroid thus assisting in weight management.
For emotional eaters, there is another, not-so-obvious way that yoga can help weight loss efforts. If
you tend to reach for a candy bar or bag of chips every time you feel emotional, try a yoga class
instead. Yoga helps calm your mind, slow your breathing & reduce feelings of depression & anxiety.
Learning to relax & deal with your feelings may help you avoid bingeing & overindulging.
So can yoga be useful in your efforts to slim down? Absolutely. Should you abandon your cardiovascular & weight
training routine & give up your sensible eating plan to pursue a yoga-only weight-loss regimen? We wouldn't recommend it.
Even if you're not trying
to budge fat, yoga is an incredibly smart addition to your exercise routine. Who wouldn't
look & feel better with stronger, suppler muscles & improved posture? Who couldn't benefit from a little relaxation
& stress reduction?
Yoga can be a wonderful
compliment to the rest of your exercise routine & a welcome antidote to all of the pumping, pounding & stress of more traditional forms of exercise & everyday
yoga techniques for stress relief...
Stressed out individuals carry a great deal of physical tension in their bodies. In these cases the natural unblocking effected
by yoga postures are helpful.
When one rests between postures,
abdominal tension is released from the body promoting deep breathing. The benefits of yoga postures (asana), breathing
(pranayama) & meditation (dhyana) include increased body awareness, release of muscular tension & increased coordination between mind-& body. It helps in better management of stress & ensures an overall feeling of well being.
yoga breathing techniques
The ancient therapeutic
traditions as well as modern medical research speaks about the intimate relationship between our breathing patterns &
our physical, emotional, mental & spiritual health.
They've shown how natural
healthy respiration not only increases longevity & supports our overall well-being & self-development, but also helps
in medical conditions such as:
- poor digestion
- low energy
- high blood pressure
- panic attacks
- heart ailments
- & many other problems
How Stress Affects Our Natural Breathing Pattern
With each inhalation, oxygen
(pure air) enters into our body & triggers off the transformation of
nutrients into fuel. With each exhalation carbon dioxide (toxic air) is
eliminated from our body.
Presence of oxygen purifies
the blood streams & helps invigorate each cell. Sufficient amount of oxygen is required to maintain the vitality of our
In normal conditions the body
follows a natural breathing pattern that is slow & regulated. Under stress when the body shows symptoms such as tightening
of muscles, distractions, anxiety, hyperactivity & angry reactions et al, breathing becomes quick & shallow.
One tends to hold one's breath, frequently. With restricted breathing inflow of oxygen is restricted. Lungs are unable to exhale
the stale airs & residual toxins build up inside the body. Under stress the stiff muscles restrict the circulation of
So, even less oxygen comes
in & fewer toxins are removed. It affects the healthy regeneration of cells. Medical studies show that the oxygen-starved
cells are the major contributing factors in cancer, immunity deficiency, heart disease & strokes.
Breathing also affects
our state of mind & consequently makes our thinking either confused or clear.
When breathing is slow,
deep & full, the lungs work more, the diaphragm moves well, the intercostals, back & abdominal muscle work, drawing
in extra oxygen to the blood stream.
purifies blood & stimulates healthy functioning of cells, glands & muscles.
Hence, a regulated &
mindful breathing pattern has been held vital to maintaining the highest level of physical health by yoga.
Another positive result of conscious breathing is its calming effect on the emotions, reducing fear & anxiety in the nervous system.
Regulated & mindful breathing,
dynamic movement of the head, shoulders & arms during the practice of breathing & meditation promote concentration
Yoga offers many breathing skills for stress-affected individuals.
These yogic breathing techniques are termed as 'pranayama' (prana+ayama).
Roughly 'prana' can be explained as the vital life
force that regulates all activities in this universe. 'Ayama' has a wide range of meaning; the most appropriate here
is 'control or regulation'.
According to yoga, pranayama consists of various ways of inhaling, exhaling & retention of prana. This prana is inter-linked w/consciousness
(citta) both at the cosmic & individual levels.
Pranayama is devised by yoga to create a synergy between the self-energizing
life force & individual mind-body-spirit by scientific regulation of prana.
Perhaps the simplest form of
pranayama is nadi shodhanam (channel purification), which consists alternate nostril breathing, suitable for
Nadis are subtle nerve channels through
which prana flows. In Sanskrit, Shodhana means 'cleansing'. According to yoga there are 14 major nadis
& prana flows in & out of them controlling all our mind-body functions.
Nadi shodhanam works to unblock tensions
& resistance in the energy-conveying channels of the gross & subtle bodies, thus calming & strengthening sensitive
Conscious breathing through cleansed nadis allows more
oxygen inflow & effective excretion of toxins from within. This brings about a healthful state both in body & mind.
of Nadi Shodhanam
Hold your right hand up & curl your index & middle
fingers towards your palm.
Place your thumb next to your right nostril. Close the left
nostril by pressing gently against it w/your ring finger & inhale through the right nostril. The breath should be slow,
steady & full.
Now close the right nostril by pressing gently against it w/your thumb & open your left nostril
by relaxing your ring finger & exhale fully w/a slow & steady breath.
Inhale though the left nostril, close
it & then exhale through the right nostril.
(That's one complete round of Nadi Shodhana - Inhale
though the right nostril, Exhale through the left, Inhale through the left, Exhale through the right)
Begin w/5-10 rounds & add more as you feel comfortable.
Remember to keep your breathing slow, easy & full Nadi Shodhana can be practiced just about any time & anywhere.
Nadi Shodhana helps control stress & anxiety. If you start to feel stressed out, 10 or so rounds will help calm
you down. It also helps soothe anxiety caused by flying & other fearful or stressful situations.
For the details about nadi shodhanam & other pranayama
techniques click here.
Important points to remember before going for pranayama:
Pranayama should always be practiced w/a
suitable asana (asanas that increase the volume of the lungs & free the muscles of the ribs, back &
diaphragm can help prepare one for pranayama ) or yogic posture for its effectiveness.
It should be practiced
under the guidance of an able teacher.
Those who suffer from chronic shortness of breath or other breathing disorders
should not attempt pranayama until they are ready for it.
The practitioner shouldn't exhaust himself in the
Breathing should always be done in an almost empty stomach.
Breathing shouldn't be done in haste, nor
should it be jerky or irregular. Breathing should always be smooth & steady otherwise the whole purpose of pranayama
is lost. Uneven exhalation is held to be a sign of present or impending illness.
Meditation, one of the eight limbs of yoga outlined in Patanjali's
Yoga Sutra, is the final step before attaining spiritual bliss.
The great seer has described yoga as yogaschittavrittinirodhah,
which means completely shutting out all kinds of mental fluctuations.
When such a stage is reached, meditation (dyana) is
perfected, resulting in yoga (union of individual consciousness w/the cosmic consciousness). That is the zenith of meditation.
On a lower plane, meditation has proved helpful in reducing
stress & anxiety, lowering blood pressure, improving concentration & creativity besides bringing relief from stress-induced
In the postmodern age various mediation techniques are increasingly being used for relaxation as well as therapeutic
The Transcendental Meditation technique made popular during
the 1970's by Maharishi Mahesh Yogi was aimed at ushering in perfect health & happiness.
The technique is specifically designed to relieve man of his
modern day trappings & the resultant mind-body disorders by helping him to access the boundless cosmic energy field.
words of Maharishi aptly describe TM: "Transcendental Meditation opens the awareness to the infinite reservoir of energy,
creativity & intelligence that lies deep within everyone."
TM is a simple, natural & effortless procedure practiced
for 15-20 minutes in the morning & evening, while sitting comfortably w/the eyes closed.
During the course of the meditation, the fluctuating mind gradually
becomes still & the individual experience a unique state of 'restful alertness'.
The body becomes deeply relaxed; the mind transcends all mental
activity to experience the simplest, purest & highest form of Consciousness.
Numerous researches on TM in institutes & universities all
over the worlds have shown that its practice benefits all areas of an individual's life. The researches claim TM develops
the individual's latent creative potential while dissolving accumulated stress & fatigue through the deep rest experienced
This experience enlivens the individual's creativity, dynamism,
orderliness & organizing power, which result in increasing success in daily life. To learn more about Transcendental Meditation
Hypnomeditation believes in the Freudian theory of the origination
of ailments from deep impressions of emotional traumas etched in our subconsciousness. The idea of hypnomeditation is to use
the body's own inherent energy to holistically treat the individual being.
As one practices it the mind reaches the state of minimal
fluctuation through mild self-hypnosis. It effects deep mental & physical relaxation, which is useful in relieving stress
& anxiety including many other ailments. Though the method of hypnomeditation is difficult to practice, it hasn't hampered its popularity as
a stress buster.
Yogasanas & Mudras
The Hatha Yoga Pradipika, an authentic treatise
on Hatha Yoga, says, "From asana arises steadiness of body & mind, freedom from disease & lightness of limbs".
It has long been established that yogic asanas
or physical postures and mudras combined w/ pranayama & meditation have a tremendous therapeutic effect on the body, mind & spirit.
Asanas are regarded as the most important
system of physical culture ever invented, considering its amazing understanding of how the body works.
Yogic asanas constitute a physical science
that also comprehends all aspects of consciousness. The purpose of asanas is to create a free flow of life energy in
& out of the body in order to perfect its functioning.Mudras are the most ingenious innovations of yoga.They help to reduce physical stress & energize
the whole body. The most welcoming aspect is that these mudras can be done anywhere & at any time w/out any specific
rules of breathing or sitting or standing postures!
Wrong postures create various stresses & cause contractions
inhibiting circulation of energy & nutrients in the body.
This allows toxins & waste materials to accumulate inside
body. As mind & body are interconnected, physical blockages combined w/mental blockage result in pain & disorder in
Anyone who works sitting at the office desk for long hours or people who, generally, have one type of
physical activity tend to acquire a fixed body posture. This declines flexibility & accumulates vata (waste/stale
air) in the bones.
Even people who do a lot of traveling or frequent flying tend
to aggravate vata dosha (fault) in their stressed out bodies. Sitting or resting (while working, watching TV or sleeping
et al), in incorrect posture for long, can stress one's body without one's knowledge.
Such habitual acts can lead to an increased fixation of the
body, & rigidity of the mind & emotions. All kinds of body aches? backache, shoulder aches, lower back pain, pain
or numbness in feet & legs, are generated by built-up stiffness & tension in muscle & bones.
meticulously devised yogic asanas (postures), mudras and breathing techniques for reduction
of all these stresses & their disease potentials.
The corpse pose (shavasana), the crocodile (makarasana) & the child's pose (balasana) are simple relaxation postures particularly
helpful in relieving anxiety and nervous irritability. (for details about these asanas go to)
Yogic asanas, meditation & breathing can help stress affected persons in many ways such as:
- Improve muscle tone, flexibility, strength & stamina
- Reduce stress & tension. They help in the cure of
depression & obsessive-compulsive disorders. They calm the frenzy, clear mental clutter & allow us to get back in
touch with ourselves.
- Mindfulness meditation helps stress reduction, improving
physical & mental health. Many patients undergoing yogic stress-cure techniques show dramatic changes in attitudes, beliefs,
habits & behaviors.
- They help boost self esteem in patients, imbibing a sense
of purpose in their life. They help in giving us control of ourselves.
- Improve concentration, creativity & above all a sense
of well being & calm.
- Yogic techniques have the potential to cure various stress
related diseases & symptoms, as it lowers body fat, improves blood circulation, stimulates the immune system.
- Yoga breathing shows promising results in the treatment of
pulmonary & autonomic function in asthma patients.
PMS & Yoga
The makarasana (crocodile posture) is helpful for women who experience severe cramping during menstruation or are unable to relax lying
on their backs.
It relieves the mind from all distractions as the head faces downward & the body kept still like a crocodile concealed underwater.
The child's pose (balasana), which is a fetal-like posture, relaxes the body completely. It focuses the breath on the organ systems in the abdomen pelvis,
which massages & tones them in a subtle way.
The gentle inversion of head, neck & torso relaxes the back
muscles, thus easing low back pain, a common premenstrual complaint.
cravings for food, bloating & a host of other unpleasant physical symptoms often accompany PMS, besides anxiety &
Dietary changes/ supplements,
massage & yoga postures are found to be helpful in such cases. These methods provide both immediate
relief for the discomforts & an opportunity for renewal in the inner body.