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    Wednesday, July 3, 2013

    Yoga 123 Know Its ABC

    Yoga âbc" Know Its ABC
    (Written by: Balraj Trehan)
    What is Yoga?
    Most people understand yoga as physical exercises comprising bodily twists, bends, stretches and topsy-turvy poses, all together called asana.
    Although asana is an important part of yoga, it defines yoga only in a very general sense, and not in the complete sense.
    In fact, yoga is a way of life, a culture to live and live happily.
    "Yoga is the ultimate tool for evolution. It heals the body, and transforms it, and integrates the mind-body-soul factor. It does not just mean asana. It begins in thought, ideology and philosophy and goes into the physical form. It starts at the subtle, and ends at the gross, making it superior to any other discipline," says holistic health guru, Mickey Mehta.
    Yoga is one among the six ancient philosophical schools of thought in India, the other five being Vedanta, Sankhya, Nyaya, Mimansa, and Vaisheshika. It is a fully developed science based on the deep inner study of human body and intense self-experiments and practices of our ancient Rishis.
    Our body is nature's marvel, a master design having highly complex machinery with sophisticated monitoring, control and safe guarding systems.
    Bhagavad Gita defines yoga as the skill in work.
     "Yoga is not a physical, mental or psychic feat. It is life itself; not the kind of restless life swinging constantly between the two extremes of exhilaration and depression, indulgence and denial, sensuousness and asceticism, but the harmonious flow of the divine will along the wise middle path âbc.In gluttony there is pain, as also in abstention. Pleasure is invariably followed by pain. Vanity is accompanied by fear or injured pride. The yogi who pursues the middle path is blissfully free from all these," says Swami Venkatesananda.
    The greed for more and more has made us selfish, hardened our hearts, and corrupted our morality.  We need pills to go to sleep, laxatives to move our bowels, and tranquillizers to make life bearable. But we are living!
    Before we find ways to attain happiness, we must understand what happiness is?
    Happiness is a state of being in perfect harmony of body, mind and spirit, called holistic health.
    Holistic health is a combination of 3 Hs - Hands, Head and Heart. The hands refer to the physical or the bodily health; head, the mental health; and the heart, refers to the spiritual health.
    Yoga, undoubtedly, is the most practical, effective, and appropriate discipline, which can guarantee us this holistic health and happiness, amid all the turmoil of modern life. No other discipline of exercise, philosophy, medicine or health-care can achieve that. 
    Yoga keeps us healthy and happy in a number of ways:
    Yoga is not only twisting or bending different limbs here and there, as many people may think. It is a fully developed science of happy and long living that is based on deep inner study of human body, intense self-experiments, and practices of ancient Indian rishis.
    I always fancy in striking similarities between engineering and medical sciences while studying anatomy and physiology of various organs and systems of the body. I wonder whether God used his unlimited faculties of engineering, or medical sciences to create our body. Probably, He used commonsense which is the basis of all the sciences.
    And we too, need commonsense to understand how to maintain our body in the way He made it. This commonsense or awareness is the essence of all yoga. 
    Goals of Yoga?
    Though the ultimate aim of yoga is to provide spiritual enlightenment to mankind, so that he can obtain moksha - freedom or liberation from ignorance, from the cycles of births and deaths, it offers many opportunities in the form of smaller goals, and milestones to those who may not be interested in the spiritual path.
    The various techniques of yoga are helpful in realizing a variety of goals. What is your goal? What do you want from yoga?
    ·          An immediate goal for someone could be getting cured of any serious ailment(s) - he may be suffering from.
    ·          Many others may be looking for physical health and fitness.
    ·          Increasing one's energy level and efficiency at work, may be the objective for some.
    ·          Your objective may be to improve inter-personal relationships, or getting rid of your negative emotions that make you unpopular in the office, home or society.
    ·          Someone, tired of hustle and bustle of life may be looking for relaxation of body and mind.
    ·          You may be fed up with materialistic world, and may like to lead a peaceful and tranquil retired life.
    Further, your objective may not remain same over time.
    You may have different goals as you grow in age or maturity. I remember when I started practicing yoga 20 years ago, my objective was to get relief from the chronic backache, which was troubling me a lot and affecting my professional career. At that time physical fitness was my primary concern, and any talk of meditation and spirituality etc. looked absurd. But over the period of time, my outlook to life has changed. Now spirituality and other higher level yogic practices look very relevant and interesting. Yoga, if practiced regularly and sincerely, can fulfill any goal that you may have.
    Your Approach To Yoga
    In the present materialistic world, very few people have spiritual end in view.
    For most, maintaining health and well being in the increasingly stressful environment is the primary objective. Verily, every one may usefully practice yoga to achieve this objective.
    Yoga, when practiced as a science of health and healing, should have the following three components to get maximum benefits:
    ·          Hatha Yoga: Hatha yoga consists of practices of asana, pranayama and relaxation. These practices make the physical body strong, agile, flexible and relaxed. They increase self-awareness of any disharmonies and imbalances in the body. The increased awareness helps us overcome these imbalances through attention to correct postures, breathing, and relaxation while going about our daily activities. We become more faithful to our body, our best friend.
    ·          Diet and Life-style: This concerns with the regulation of diet and daily habits of sleep, recreation, and work etc. To some extent, one becomes aware of the need for such changes automatically after practicing Hatha yoga for a couple of months.
    ·          Meditation:  Meditation or dhyana makes the mind calm, and improves our mental faculties - thoughts, emotions, and memory etc. Harmony and balance is restored in the various psycho-physiological functions of the body. This brings in a feeling of love, compassion, friendship, sharing, and other positive changes in our attitude and behavior.
    Beginners often confine yoga to an hour's practice of asana and prayanama generally done in the morning, and forget its relevance for the rest of the day. But as we continue our regular practice for a few months, our awareness about the environment, and ourselves increases, and we learn to apply the skills learnt from yogic practices throughout the day. Then yoga becomes a way of life, not a mere practice. If you undertake yoga in this spirit, you will find that yoga not only gives you relief from your problems, but also opens up new ways of enjoying your life. The Animal-man transcends to Man-man, Super-man and finally the Divine-man.
    How do you measure the progress of a person on the path of yoga?
    The signs of progress are health, a sense of lightness, steadiness, radiating face, beautiful voice, and sweet odor from the body, and freedom from craving.
    Always peaceful and poised, contended, unselfish, friendly and ready to help others, are some behavioral changes that come in a person who practices yoga sincerely.
    You will find similar changes in you after you practice yoga for a couple of months; this is our promise to you. 
    Yoga Risks
    Yoga, overall, is considered safe if you're generally healthy. Some yoga positions can put significant strain on your lower back and on your joints. See your doctor first if you have any joint problems or a history of low back or neck pain. You might want to avoid certain yoga positions depending on your condition.
    Also see your doctor before you begin a yoga class if you have any of the following conditions, as complications can arise:
    ·          High blood pressure that's difficult to control
    ·          A risk of blood clots
    ·          Eye conditions, including glaucoma
    ·          Osteoporosis
    If you're pregnant or nursing, yoga is considered generally safe. But avoid any poses that put pressure on your uterus, such as those that require you to twist at the waist. Some yoga classes are specifically tailored for pregnant women. Check with your obstetrician if you have any questions whether yoga is right for you and your baby.
    How To Safely Start A Yoga Practice?
    Everybody can do yoga. If you're starting out or just curious about this more than 2,000-year-old exercise tradition, here are some tips to help get your practice in swing.
    Talk To Your Doctor
    Grab a book with pictures of the yoga poses - called "Asanas" - you plan to do, and show it to your doctor. Some yoga poses are difficult to describe verbally, but a picture's worth a thousand words - and aches and pains!
    If you have certain medical conditions, they may rule out specific poses. If you have high blood pressure, glaucoma, a history of retinal detachment, or heart disease, for instance, your doctor may object to inverted poses such as hand-, head-, or shoulder stands, because they increase blood flow to the head and could aggravate any of those conditions. If your physician has no objections, you may proceed.
    Find A Class That Fits
    Once you've got medical clearance, decide on a class that best fits your abilities. Look for those billed as "senior" or "gentle" classes, and talk to prospective teachers before your first session. You need to know whether you can handle the program before you jump in.
    If you enter a class where everyone else is doing the poses and you can't, you may be discouraged from coming back. So find a level you're comfortable with and stick with it.
    There are many different types of yoga, and some may be more appropriate for you than others.
    You should build up gradually before attempting classes in Bikram yoga, named after Beverly Hills yoga expert Bikram Choudhury, whose classes are conducted at room temperatures of between 90 and 100 degrees Fahrenheit. Choudhury believes that the heat prepares muscles for intense stretching. Or get a few beginner classes under your belt before trying classes in ashtanga yoga or "power" yoga, which are vigorous, athletic forms.
    Listen To Your Body And Be Realistic
    Be aware of your physical ability. "You want to push yourself so you're doing the work, but you don't want to hurt yourself."
    Alert the instructor to your newcomer status. "When you first walk into class, tell the teacher you've never done yoga before." "Sometimes we're afraid to admit that we're new. When our ego gets in the way and we're not careful, we get hurt."
    The At-Home Option
    If you're shy, extremely weak, or can't find a class you're comfortable with, there are many books, programs, and tapes you can use at home. These provide excellent verbal descriptions of the poses for beginners.
    Try Private Lessons
    Although it's an expensive option, you may want to book some one-on-one sessions with a teacher in your area. Most yoga instructors offer private classes or can help you design your own program.
    Bend With A Buddy
    Even though you can practice by yourself at home, having a yoga buddy can't hurt. As with any fitness program, injuries can happen. And it's always nice to have someone to give you encouragement along the way.
    Eat Lightly Before Practice
    Wait at least two hours after meals before yoga class. An empty stomach is best, but if you're too hungry to think, you won't be able to focus on the poses or enjoy yourself during the relaxation or meditation exercises.
    All that said, it's time to grab your mat and a towel -- and don't be late to class!
    Yoga - Stress Relief And Other Health Benefits
    Yoga offers a good means of relaxation and stress relief. Its quiet, precise movements focus your mind less on your busy day and more on the moment as you move your body through poses that require balance and concentration.
    Other health benefits of yoga include:
    ·          Increased Flexibility. As you learn and refine new posesâ€" such as touching your toes â€" you'll find that each time you practice, you can reach a little farther. More range of motion means you'll be less likely to injure yourself in other physical activities.
    ·          Management Of Chronic Health Conditions. The breathing and relaxation methods used in yoga might help you if you have asthma, carpal tunnel syndrome, depression, low back pain, multiple sclerosis, osteoarthritis of the knees or memory problems. Yoga can also be helpful when combined with other therapies for heart disease and high blood pressure. Yoga, when combined with a vegetarian diet, aerobic exercise and medication, has reduced cardiovascular disease rates and blood pressure levels.
    ·          Weight Loss. If you're overweight, yoga may help you make the healthy lifestyle changes necessary to drop those extra pounds.
    ·          Balance. Yoga classes tailored for elderly adults can help them stay steady on their feet and avoid falls and hip fractures.
    ·          Coping With Cancer. People with cancer and their caregivers who practice yoga may improve their quality of life and sleep better at night.
    ·          Alzheimer's Caregiver Stress And Fatigue. Yoga practice may help family caregivers by boosting their mood and ability to cope and manage stress.
    While you shouldn't expect yoga to cure you, it can help some health conditions when combined with treatment recommended by your doctor. And if you're perfectly healthy, yoga can be a good way to supplement your regular exercise routine.

    Weight Loss Yoga Challenge for Beginners

    Do this routine 4 times per week, drink lots of water, eat healthy
    watch the video

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