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Welcome to My Yoga! (from ivillage.com)

Important! Read this before you begin.

This sequence of exercises is designed to help heal & energize those of us who spend much of the day at our desks.

When we're absorbed in our work, we're ignoring our bodies. Slouching in the desk chair may feel relaxing, but in fact our muscles & joints gradually tighten up from the lack of movement.

As a result, our bodies suffer.

Our bodies are made to move & it's never too late to start. You may think, as many people do, that you're too tight or stiff or out of shape to do yoga, but that's exactly the right reason to try it.

This series of exercises is safe & easy for people of all levels of fitness & physical ability. Yoga will help to bring the body & mind into balance; if you're agitated & tense, yoga will relax you & if you're tired & foggy, yoga will energize you & sharpen your mind.

If you have an injury, you should consult your health care practitioner before beginning this program. Chronic back, neck, shoulder or arm pain can be dramatically reduced by stretching, especially if you work carefully & respect your body.

You can pick just a few exercises to get started, then add more when you feel ready.

Be aware of your own capabilities & limitations, which may be different from day to day. Your sensations will be your guide, & you will become more & more skilled at interpreting them. It's important not to strain but to do the exercises with full attention & commitment.

Find the place between under-doing & overdoing.

You may feel some discomfort from both stretching & strengthening, but you'll soon be able to tell the difference between the temporary discomfort of doing something new & the discomfort of pushing too hard. Never continue an exercise if you feel a sharp strong pain in your joints or muscles.

The best way to prevent strain & get the most out of exercising (for the mind & the body) is conscious breathing. Holding your breath creates tension & fatigue, so try to keep breathing comfortably & steadily while stretching.

It'll really make a difference.

A few more tips: Drink plenty of water. Most of us don't drink enough. And most importantly, think positive - especially about yourself. You're worth it.

And always have fun!

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Proper breathing 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 & mindful breathing.


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.
Acknowledge your thoughts, feelings & emotions as you inhale & then release them as you exhale. Stay conscious & aware.

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Deep breathing
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.)

Breath retention
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.

Step-by-Step Instructions

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 float up. 

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

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 heart.
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 trainers.

"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 at UNLV.

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.

Certain exercises, 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 envelope to:

American Running Association,
4405 East West Highway
Suite 405
Bethesda, MD 20814

Always check with your doctor before starting any new exercise program.

Carol Krucoff, 2000. All rights reserved.

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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.

Yoga 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 can imagine.

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

Author's Bio

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 fran@modernopportunity.com or call (631) 673-3208

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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 include:

  • 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.

Write 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?

Depression relief? – 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 smoking.

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

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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?

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 instructor.

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:
  • concentration
  • control
  • centering
  • breathing
  • flow 
  • precision

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 body.

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.

Join 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.

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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.

1. 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.

The 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 reach.
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.

7. Incense 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 practice begins.

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

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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.

Either 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.

Though 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 are inseparable.
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.

Addiction works 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. We
tell ourselves “I’ll diet tomorrow.” This same feast-or-famine mentality also characterizes
perfectionism. 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 one minute.
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
2. Bedi, Rajul. “Rehabilitation in Rajasthan.” BBC News Online. May 16, 2000.
3. 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

Yoga Definitions

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.

What is stress?

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

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.
Take walking, i.e.. Yoga improves flexibility, strength & posture, 3 factors that are important for proper walking technique.
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 life.

yoga techniques for stress relief...
new source!
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.
Some custom made yogic techniques include Sudarshan Kriya by Sri Sri Ravishanker, Sahaja Samadhi by Ma Anandmayee & Kriya Yoga by Paramashansa Yogananda are 3 widely practiced techniques of yoga devised by 3 epoch making spiritual gurus.

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:
  • asthma
  • poor digestion
  • insomnia
  • low energy
  • high blood pressure
  • anxiety
  • 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 body organs.

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 blood.

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.

Increased oxygenation 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 & relaxation.

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 everybody.
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 nerves.
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.

Method 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 process.

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.

yogic meditation
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 ailments.

In the postmodern age various mediation techniques are increasingly being used for relaxation as well as therapeutic benefits.

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.

The 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 during practice.

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 click here

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 both spheres.

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.

There are 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.

Headaches, unusual cravings for food, bloating & a host of other unpleasant physical symptoms often accompany PMS, besides anxiety & sustained tension.

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.

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Yoga vs. Pilates: Which is better?

Seven Common Misconceptions About Yoga

Healing Addiction with Yoga

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