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Yoga is a 5,000 year old scientific technique for spiritual development. Yoga is a Sanskrit word meaning "union," thus its goal is the unification of body, mind, and spirit. This state of union is called samadhi or enlightenment, where we experience the unity of not just our mind-body-spirit, but also of the whole universe as one interconnected whole. Yoga is not a religion, but a scientific methodology of the experience and integration of the mind-bodyspirit. Yoga is a toolbox for spiritual, mental and physical health and well being.
Types of yoga:
The science of yoga has developed a vast amount of techniques which all lead to the same point of unification of the mind-body-spirit.
the way of right action, serving without the motivation of obtaining the results of labor.
Bhakti Yoga: the
way of devotion, devotion to a supreme being absorbing the emotions and self in pure love.
Jnana Yoga: the
way of knowledge, studying god and learning to discriminate between illusion and the reality that all is god.
Hatha Yoga: the
physical path, using the body through asana and pranayama to control the mind and senses.
Tantric Yoga: the
feminine path, worshiping the goddess energy and seeing the body as the temple of the divine.
Kundalini Yoga: the
path of energy, arousing the energy stored in the chakras through breathing and movement.
Raja Yoga: the
path of meditation, controlling the mind from wandering and obtaining mastery over thought.
Hatha Yoga (ha="sun" tha="moon") attains this union of mind-bodyspirit though a balanced practice of Astanga, the eight limbs of yoga.
1 Yama - observances to others 2 Niyama - self purification 3 Asana - the physical postures 4 Pranayama - breath/energy mastery 5 Pratyahara - inner focus 6 Dharna - concentration 7 Dhrana - meditation 8 Samadhi – absorption.
The integration of these practices produces feelings of bliss, ecstasy, well being, inner peace, and self worth.
Benefits of hatha yoga: Relaxation
Yoga exercises, such as gentle stretching, breathing, meditation and guided relaxation, release body tension and calm the nervous system and emotions.
Focus, attention and concentration are promoted by a yoga practice of mindful movement and body awareness. The practice of balancing postures, in particular, builds concentration.
Holding yoga postures creates isometric exercise which tones every part of the body, including the internal organs.
Yoga exercises the glands, organs and endocrine system, massaging, toning and increasing circulation to stimulate, heal, and eliminate toxins from the body.
Yoga postures gently stretch the muscles in the body, increasing the flexibility and lengthening the muscles, tendons and ligaments.
Slow, gentle movements with deep breathing energize the body rather than tire it. This, in combination with yoga’s relaxation and healing benefits, allows daily renewal and nourishment of the body-mind-spirit.
The seven chakras
The chakras are the seven main energy centers in the body. They are located along the spine, starting at the base and running upwards to the crown of the head. The chakras are described as "whirling disks of light", and each chakra radiates a specific color and energy. As each chakra relates to specific spiritual, emotional, psychological and body issues, conscious awareness and balancing of these energy centers leads to well-being.
The first chakra:
The first Chakra, Muladhara (root), is located at the base of the spine. Its color is red and its issues are survival, stability, and self-sufficiency.
May I be able to nourish and nurture my self, be grounded, stable, and feel connected to the oneness of life/universe.
staff posture bound angle bridge crab half wind relieving full wind relieving locust child half warrior
The second chakra:
The second Chakra, Svadhisthana (sweetness), is located at the lower abdomen (between belly button and pubic bone). Its color is orange and its issues are sexuality, creativity, relationships and emotions. May I be at home and at ease in my body, and find balance in my relationships between myself (or my self) and others. cobra boat seated forward bend supine bound angle dog cat puppy seated angle balancing bear frog
The 3rd chakra:
The third Chakra, Manipura (lustrous gem), is located at the solar plexus(between belly button and bottom of rib cage). Its color is yellow and its issues are personal power, self esteem, willfulness and energy.
May I be able to honor myself, be who I am in the world, and express that power without fear.
bow seated forward bend upward boat inclined plane warrior I warrior II half circle
The 4th chakra:
The fourth Chakra, Anahata (not struck), is located at the heart (center of the chest). Its color is green and its issues are love, compassion, acceptance, and trust.
May I be free to feel my true feelings, desires and passions, and be at home in my heart.
fish standing yoga mudra pigeon camel standing backbend prayer twist
The 5th chakra:
The fifth Chakra, Vissudha (purification), is located at the throat. Its color is bright blue and its issues are communication, inspiration, expression, and faith. May I be able to express my feelings with ease, and be balanced between heart and mind. fish half shoulder stand plow standing backbend camel
The 6th chakra:
The sixth Chakra, Ajna (to perceive), is located between the eyebrows, just above the bridge of the nose. Its color is indigo blue and its issues are psychic, emotional and mental intelligence, and intuition. May I see and perceive clearly on every level, and seek only the truth child seated head to knee pyramid/runners stretch side seated angle meditation
The 7th chakra:
The seventh Chakra, Sahasrara (thousand petaled), is located at the crown (top) of the head. Its color is white or violet and its issues are devotion, inspiration, selflessness, and spiritual understanding. 4
May I have a clear and open connection with source energy (spirit), and live in the present moment. seated yoga mudra head stand mountain meditation
Asana / posturs:
Asana is defined as "posture;" its literal meaning is "seat." Originally, the asanas served as stable postures for prolonged meditation. More than just stretching, asanas open the energy channels, chakras and psychic centers of the body. Asanas purify and strengthen the body and control and focus the mind. Asana is one of the eight limbs of classical Yoga, which states that asana should be steady and comfortable, firm yet relaxed. When holding a yoga posture, make sure you can breathe slowly and deeply, using Dirga or Ujjiayi Pranayama. Go to your edge in the posture, holding where you feel a good stretch and/or your body working, but don‚t feel pain, strain or fatigue.
Pranayama are breathing exercises developed by the ancient yogis for purification. Prana translates into "life force energy" and Yama translates into "control or mastery of". Thus, Pranyama is used to control, cultivate, and modify the Prana in the body, “Control of Life Force Energy”. Prana is taken in through the air we breathe, and since the Pranayama exercises increase the amount of air we take in, they also increase our intake of Prana. For all Pranayama (except Kapalabhati), the breath is slow and steady, breathed in and out of the nose and down into the belly. Always sit with a straight spine and a relaxed body. While you are practicing Pranayama, let go of any thoughts by focusing on the breathing involved with the Pranayama.
the 3 part breath or complete breath calming and relaxing
Dirga Pranayama is called the three part breath because you are actively breathing into three parts of your abdomen. The first position is the low belly (on top of or just below the belly button), the second position is the low chest (lower half of the rib cage), and the third position is the low throat (just above the top of the sternum). The breath is continuous, inhaled and exhaled through of the nose. The inhalation starts in the first position, the low belly; then moves to the second position, the low chest; then to the third position, the low throat. The exhalation starts in the low throat, moves to the 5
low chest, and finishes in the low belly.Rest your hands on the individual positions to feel the breath rising and falling through each position. When you start practicing, you may want to individually isolate the movement in each position, using the hands. When you have a good feel for the breath moving in and out of each position, practice without the hands. Eventually relax the effort of the Pranayama and breathe into the three positions gently, feeling a wave of breath move up and down the torso
the victory or ocean sounding breath focusing, grounding, and aids in concentration
Ujjayi Pranayama is called the ocean sounding breath because you make an ocean sound by contracting the glottis with the inhalation and exhalation. This Pranayama is done through the nose, but it is helpful to begin practicing breathing through the mouth. To make the ocean sound, whisper the syllable "h," “sh” feeling the contraction in your throat. Keep this contraction engaged on the inhalation and exhalation. After a couple of breaths try to close the mouth, breathing through the nose while still making the ocean sound in your throat.
Nadi sodhana pranayama alternate nostril breathing balancing, calming, anti-anxiety, and very relaxing
Place the right hand in Vishnu Mudra (forefinger and middle finger bent towards the palm; thumb, ring, and pinkie in the air). To do one round: close off right nostril with the thumb and inhale into the left nostril; close left nostril with ring and pinkie fingers, open the right nostril and exhale through the right, then inhale into the right nostril; close the right nostril, open the left, and exhale through the left nostril. Continue, doing 5-20 rounds.
the breath of fire or the skull shining breath invigorating, energizing, and purifying
Kapalabhati is a very active, forced exhalation with a passive inhalation. To exhale, the belly quickly pumps into the spine forcing the air out of the nose (like trying to blow out a candle through you nose). Place a hand
on your belly to feel the belly actively pumping. Play with the tempo (45-60 exhalations/30 seconds), but keep a steady rhythm. Start with 2-3 rounds of 30 exhalations, and gradually increase the exhalations if comfortable.
Pregnancy, menstruation, unmedicated high blood pressure, recent abdominal surgery. Bharamari
the bee breath soothes the nerves and calms the mind
Block off the right nostril with the thumb using visnu mudra (as in nadi shodna pranayama) and inhale through the left nostril using Ujjayi pranayama. Exhale through the left nostril using the throat to make a soft "eeee" sound, like the buzzing of a bee. Block off the left nostril and inhale through the right and repeat. Do 5-10 rounds, making the buzzing bee noise louder as you progress.
Sit cari pranayama
the hissing breath cools the body
Curl the tongue touching the roof of the mouth as far back as you can to the soft pallet. As you inhale clench the teeth together and slightly part the lips making a hissing "ssss" sound. Exhale through both nostrils. Repeat 5-10 times.
the cooling breath cools the body
Roll the tongue into a tube (as best as you can) and stick the tip of the tongue out of the mouth. Inhale through the tongue and hold the breath in for 4-5 seconds with the chin pressed against the chest. Exhale using Ujjayi Pranayama through the nose. Repeat 5-10 times.
Meditation is a focusing of the mind on a single object, creating the cessation of all thought. As thoughts dissipate, the mind becomes quiet, and we are able to be fully in the present moment. The techniques of meditation are simple and easy to learn, but the ability to keep the mind focused takes time, patience and practice. The benefits of a regular meditation practice include reduction of stress, tension, anxiety and frustration, as well as improved memory, concentration, inner peace and whole body well-being.
Sit in a comfortable position, either cross-legged on the floor or in a chair. Sit up tall with the spine straight, the shoulders relaxed and the chest open. Rest the hands on the knees with the palms facing up. Lightly touch the index finger to the thumb. Relax the face, jaw, and belly. Let the tongue rest on the roof of the mouth, just behind the front teeth. Allow the eyes to lightly close. Breathe slowly, smoothly and deeply in and out through the nose. Let the inhale start in the belly and then rise gently up into the chest. As the breath slows and deepens, let go of any thoughts or distractions and allow the mind to focus on the breath. Feel the breath as it moves in and out of the body, feeling it move through the nose, throat, windpipe and lungs. Feel the body as it rises and falls with each breath. Bring as much of your awareness and attention to your body and breath as possible with each moment. As the thoughts return to the mind, let them go, and return the focus back to the body and breath. Practice this meditation for 10-20 minutes. To end, gently let the eyes blink open, inhale the palms together in front of the heart, exhale and gently bow. Take a moment or two before moving on with the rest of your day
Use this simple meditation often to create and nurture compassion in your life. This can be practiced in just a few minutes, so try to incorporate it as a part of your daily life. Come into a comfortable seated position on the floor or in a chair. Sit with the back flat, crown of the head lifted, shoulders relaxed and chest open. Rest the hands in the lap or on the knees. Close the eyes, deepen the breath and release any thoughts from the mind. Gently repeat the following softly out loud or in your mind:
May I be safe from inner and outer harm, May I be happy and peaceful of heart, May my body be healthy and strong, May my life be filled with ease.
Then you may replace the “I”s with “you”s, thinking of a specific person, a group of people or the whole planet. Finish with a few slow, deep breaths, 8
feeling compassion, love and kindness flowing through your body. Take a moment or two before moving on with the rest of your day.
Heart chakra meditation
This heart chakra meditation is a simple technique to release sadness and fear and to bring compassion and love into your life. Sit in a comfortable position, either cross-legged on the floor or in a chair. Sit up tall with the spine straight, the shoulders relaxed and the chest open. Inhale the palms together and lightly press the knuckles of the thumbs into the sternum at the level of your heart (you should feel a little notch where the knuckles magically fit). Breathe slowly, smoothly and deeply into the belly and into the chest. Soften your gaze or lightly close the eyes. Let go of any thoughts or distractions and let the mind focus on feeling the breath move in and out of your body. Once the mind feels quiet and still, bring your focus to the light pressure of the thumbs pressing against your chest and feeling the beating of the heart. Keep this focus for one to five minutes. Next, gently release the hands and rub the palms together, making them very warm and energized. Place the right palm in the center of your chest and the left hand on top of the right. Close the eyes and feel the center of your chest warm and radiant, full of energy. See this energy as an emerald green light, radiating out from the center of your heart into the rest of your body. Feel this energy flowing out into the arms and hands, and flowing back into the heart. Stay with this visualization for one to five minutes. After you feel completely soaked with heart chakra energy, gently release the palms and turn them outwards with the elbows bent, the shoulders relaxed and the chest open. Feel or visualize the green light love energy flowing out of your palms and into the world. You can direct it towards specific loved ones in your life or to all sentient beings. To end your meditation, inhale the arms up towards the sky, connecting with the heavens, then exhale and lower the palms lightly to the floor, connecting with the earth. Take a moment or two before moving on with the rest of your day
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