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Thursday, July 7, 2011

Types of Yoga

There are seven main types of yoga. Although each type of yoga helps unite your mind, body and spirit, each has a slightly different focus.

1.Hatha Yoga

The word “Hatha” is derived from two Sanskrit words –– ”ha” meaning ”sun” and ”tha” meaning ”moon.” The practice of Hatha Yoga finds a balance between your sun and moon traits and balances the opposites within you –– from the right and left sides of your brain to the masculine and feminine sides of your personality.

The benefits of practicing Hatha Yoga may be felt immediately. Your body may become more relaxed and your mind may become clearer after just one practice. Some other benefits may occur with regular practice of Hatha Yoga, such as increased strength and proper posture.

2.Bhakti Yoga
Bhakti Yoga is the yoga of devotion and selfless love. Bhakti is derived from the Sanskrit word
”bhaj,” which means “to serve.” Practicing Bhakti Yoga involves devotion to a divine being, usually through practices such as singing, dancing, chanting and praying. Individuals who practice Bhakti Yoga also express this devotion and love in everyday life.

3.Karma Yoga
The main principle behind Karma Yoga is performing selfless service, without expecting to
gain anything from the service. The service should be performed with honesty and integrity. An
example of Karma Yoga is volunteering in your community to help others who are less fortunate.

4.Jnana Yoga
Jnana Yoga is the yoga of wisdom. In Sanskrit, the word ”Jnana” means “knowledge,” “insight,” or “wisdom.” One of the main principles of Jnana Yoga is to learn the distinction between what is real and unreal. Jnana Yoga also encourages humans to think of themselves as spiritual beings, who can reach enlightenment through willpower, study and reason.

5.Mantra Yoga
Mantra Yoga uses sound to heal your body and center and focus your mind. A mantra is a meditation technique in which you repeat a word aloud or silently in your mind. The most traditional mantra used is the word ”om.”

6.Tantra Yoga
Tantra Yoga uses breath and movement to awaken the spiritual energy in your body.
Two popular forms of Tantra Yoga are Kundalini Yoga and Kriya Yoga.

7.Raja Yoga
Raja Yoga, ”raja” meaning ”royal,” is a classical type of yoga, in which meditation teaches your
mind to serve your spirit.

The foundation of Raja Yoga is based on eight limbs.
These limbs include:
1 Yama(Moral and Ethical Discipline)
2 Niyama(Self-discipline)
3 Asana(Poses)
4 Pranayama(Breath Control)
5 Pratyahara(Sensory Inhibition)
6 Dharana(Concentration)
7 Dhyana(Meditation)
8 Samadhi(Enlightenment)

What is Yoga? - Definition

Yoga focuses on improving your physical, mental and spiritual well-being. The goal of yoga is to harmonize your body, mind and spirit through a combination of poses, meditation and breathing exercises. Unifying your body, mind and spirit allows you to achieve a sense of wholeness, peace and self-realization.

In addition to achieving inner peace, practicing yoga has many physical and mental benefits. For example, the physical exercise involved in yoga can increase your strength and flexibility. Yoga is also a very effective tool for relieving stress, calming your mind and allowing you to achieve complete physical and mental relaxation.

Yoga for Health - Basics

1. Most of the diseases take their origin in over-eating, sexual excess and outbursts of anger and hatred. If the mind is kept cool and calm at all times, you will have wonderful health, strength and vitality. Energy is depleted by fits of anger. The cells and tissues are filled with morbid, poisonous materials, when one loses his temper and entertains deep hatred. Various sorts of physical ailments crop up. The blood becomes hot and thin and consequently night pollution results. Various kinds of nervous diseases are attributable to excessive loss of the seminal energy and frequent fits of explosive anger or wrath.

2. Let any disease remain in your body. Do not bother too much. Do not fret and fume. Develop the powers of endurance and resistance. Strengthen your body, mind and nerves. Take plenty of open-air exercises, substantial nutritious food, medicated oil bath and plenty of rest. Have mental and physical recreation. Lead a well-regulated life. Be moderate in food, drink and enjoyments. Lead a spiritual life. All diseases will leave your body by themselves. All microbes will die, when your vitality, vigour and strength are at a flood tide. This is the secret of health and happiness.

3. Do not be carried away by the pompous advertisements made by quacks and charlatans. Lead a simple natural life. You will become all right soon. Do not spend any money in purchasing the so-called patent medicines and specifics. They are worthless. Quacks try to exploit the credulous and the ignorant. Beware. Do not go to the doctors very often. Endeavour to qualify yourself as your own doctor. Understand the laws of nature and the principles of hygiene and health. Do not trespass against the laws of health.

4. Bask in the sun. Expose your body to the rays of the sun for a short time daily. This is heliotherapy or sun-treatment. Sun is the source of energy and power. You will derive energy and power from the sun.

5. Soak 12 almonds at night. Remove the skin and take the almonds with some sugarcandy in the early morning. Or you can make a refreshing beverage by grinding these almonds with a little black pepper and sugarcandy. This is called ‘thandai’ by the Punjabis. This is a fine, cooling and strength-giving tonic.

6. Rest in bed is necessary. Adjust your diet. Take simple, wholesome, easily digestible, bland and non-irritating food. Give up hot, pungent curries, chutneys and chilliest Rest the stomach and the small bowels by taking recourse to partial fasts. If you can fast for a whole day, it is all the better. Fasting eliminates poisons and overhauls the system thoroughly. You can take sago and milk barley water and fruits like sweet oranges, grapes, etc. If you are thirsty, you can take lemon or orange juice with sugarcandy.

7. Observe Brahmacharya. Get up at 4 a.m. and practice Japa of ‘Hari Om’ or any other Mantra and also meditation for one hour. The Name of the Lord is the best medicine or tonic in the world. You should have intense faith in the power of the Names of the Lord. Meditation creates new, healthy vibrations in all the cells of the body and removes any kind of disease. All the tissues are bathed in the nectar that flows during meditation. All germs that cause diseases are destroyed. The rationale of this kind of Yogic or spiritual treatment is yet unknown to the medical profession.

8. Why do you unnecessarily introduce foreign drugs into the system? Resort to Nature Cure and Yogic Chikitsa. Practise regularly Pranayama, breathing exercises, Asanas, concentration and meditation. This is the ideal treatment. Do not think too much of the disease and too much of the body. Too much thinking of the disease will intensify the malady. Keep the mind fully occupied in some way or the other. This is very important. Take away the mind from the body and think of the diseaseless Atma or Soul within, the bed-rock or substratum for the body and mind.

How to Practice Yoga Breathing or Pranayama

Yoga Pose

In yoga breath is said to be the interface between the physical body and the mind. The power of breathing practice to change your state of mind is extremely strong. A breathing practice can last anything from two minutes to half an hour or more.

Tips to follow when practicing Breathing or Pranayama:

  • Find a quiet place where you won't be distracted. If doing the exercises inside, make sure the window is open to allow plenty of fresh air into the room.
  • At first practise pranayama lying down and then gradually aim to sit upright with your spine straight.
  • Breathe evenly through the nose throughout the postures.
  • Never strain your breathing in pranayama.
  • Breathe deeply and slowly.
  • Progress slowly and carefully.
  • If you feel dizzy or light-headed, return to normal breathing.
  • Ask a friend to stay with you when trying out a new technique.
  • Do not rush things and practice all exercises as slowly as you can.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

YOGA - A System of Physical excercise and Natural Healing

Yoga as a system of physical exercise has been in existence in India since very ancient times. According ot our ancient sages, there are eight stages of Yoga, namely Yama (Social Discipline), Niyama (Individual Discipline), Asana (Postures), Pranayama (Breath Control), Pratyahara (Mental Discipline), Dharana (Concentration), Dhyana (Meditation) and Samadhi (Self-realization). If an aspirant, after observing the disciplines of Yama and Niyama, practises Yogic exercises, his tubular channels are cleansed, he achieves excellent health and his mind becomes alert. This enables him to experience mental ecstasy.

Man has made tremendous progress in almost every walk of life. We have now achieved objects once considered impossible to be achieved. What we have achieved and accomplished today could not have been imagined in their dreams by our past generations. Modern scientists and researchers have absolutely changed our life-style. Science has beenincessantly pouring on us new materials and devices to make our physical life more happy and comfortable.
However, pollution of air, water, body and mind is also the result of science. We witness despair and disappointment on the faces of our young generation. Signs of restlessness are apparently visible in the dry and dull eyes of our young men and women. Sloping shoulders, flat chests and bulging stomachs have become their characteristics. Why?

Today, we can claim that we are modern and civilized but cannot claim that we are genuinely happy. We, today, use tranquillizers for sleep, pills for purgative and tonics for vigour. Tranquillizers and sedatives are in vogue in our modern society. Charmed by and then, addicted to intoxicative drugs, our youth is led to the path of disgrace and self-destruction.

Longing for material wealth has hardened our heart. Human values are declining. Work to time, competition and commotion have made us suffer from stress and strain. Mental tension or strain produces undesirable consequences. Stress and strain are the causes of physical as well as psychological diseases such as diabetes, cancer, acidity, ulcer, migraine and hypertension.

How can we prevent ourselves from being strained and degenerated? Should we return to the cave-life and live as the aborigines lived?

As a matter of fact, to do this is neither practical nor necessary. Yoga has the surest remedies for man's physical as well as psychological ailments. Yoga makes the organs of the body active in their functioning and has good effect on internal functioning of the human body. Yoga changes for good man's views on, and attitude to, life.

The word yoga is derived from the Sanskrit root yuj meaning to bind the yoke. It is the true union of our will with the will of God.

Our ancient sages have suggested eight stages of Yoga to secure purity of body, mind and soul and final communion with God. These eight stages are known as Ashtangayoga.

The eight stages of Yoga are as follows :
  1. Yama (Social Discipline): Yama means restraint or abstention. It contains five moral practices. They are: Non-violence (Ahimsa), Truthfulness (Satya), Non-stealing (Asteya), Celibacy (Brahmacharya) and Non-acquisitiveness (Aparigraha).

  2. Niyama (Individual Discipline): Rules of conduct towards oneself consist of certain disciplines which are both physical and mental. These are five in number:
    Cleanliness (Shaucha), Contentment (Santosha), Austerity (Tapas), Self-Study (Svadhyaya) and Surrender to God (Ishvara Pranidhana)

  3. Asana (Postures): Asana means holding the body in a particular posture to bring stability to the body and poise to the mind. The practice of asana brings purity in tubular channels, firmness to the body and vitality to the body and the mind. There are many asanas, but keeping in view a comman's health, 65 asanas have been in practice and will be soon available at this website.

  4. Pranayama (Breath Control): The literal meaning of Pranayama is Breath Control. The aim of practising Pranayama is to stimulate, regulate and harmonize vital energy of the body. Just as a bath is required for purifying the body, so also Pranayama is required for purifying the body. Just as a bath is required to purifying the body, so also Pranayama is required for purifying the mind.

  5. Pratyahara (Discipline of the Senses): The extroversion of the sense organs due to their hankering after worldly objects has to be restrained and directed inwards towards the source of all existence. This process of drawing the sense inwards is Pratyahara or putting the sense under restraint.

  6. Dharana (Concentration): Dharana means focusing the pure mind on one's personal deity or on the individual self. The practice of Dharana helps the mind to concentrate on a particular object.

  7. Dhyana (Meditation): When one sustains and maintains the focus of attention through Dharana unbound by time and space, it becomes Dhyana (Meditation). Deep concentration destroys the Rajas and Tamas Gunas of mind and develops the Satvika Gunas (qualities).

  8. Samadhi (Self-Realisation): The eight and final stage of Yoga is Samadhi. At this stage, one's identity becomes both externally and internally immersed in meditation. The meditator, the act of meditation and the object meditated upon, all the three shed their individual characteristics and merge with one single vision of the entire cosmos. Supreme happiness, fee from pleasure, pain or misery, is experienced. Samadhi is the climax of Dhyana.
The group of Dharana, Dhyana and Samadhi is called "Samyama" (the internal Yoga) in the Science of Yoga. 

The first five stages - yama, Niyama, Asana, Pranayama and Pratyahara - Constitute the External Yoga. If all these five stages are practised and followed in life, virtues like morality, morally sound conduct and good character are develope3d in man. Besides, there is all-round progress in human life, physically, intellectually and spiritually and man attains physical fitness and mental equanimity.

Thus, asanas are only one of the stages of Yoga. Most of the aspirants practising Yoga practise, in fact, these asanas. However, all the eight stages of Yoga are of importance. the practice of all the stages together and Pranayama bring a good deal of permanent benefits.

Balance your spine - Stretch

Learn how to sit, stand, move and exercise in a balanced manner to reduce the neck and lower back pain to a great extent

STRETCHING regularly and correctly is one of the three ways to protect the spine and keep the body in baance. Its relaxing effects contribute significantly to your ability to recuperate and tone up. Who hasn't suffered from low back pain or stiffness at one time or the other? Even children are not immune to it.

The spine has three natural curves and a change in one curve affects the other two. The thoracic or middle back area is less mobile because of the ribs attached to it. This results in the neck and lower back being very closely related and an injury to one can often harm the other..

For example, if you suffer from whiplash injury and the neck muscles are not repaired immediately, the lower back tries to compensate it by balancing the body and thereby over-stressing itself. This can decrease the pressure on the nerves of the neck and decrease the pain. But, unfortunately, now the lower back is prone to injuries due to the increased stress on it.
A similar situation often occurs if the lower back is injured. The neck compensates the injury by providing the balance needed ot the body. This can lead to chronic problems later unless the muscle damage is repaired fast. Prevention, therefore is very important.

The pain in the neck and lower back is usually caused by stress or damaged muscles putting the spinal vertebrae and other related bones out of their normal positions.

The solution is three-fold. The first step is to learn how to sit, stand, move and exercise in a balanced manner to minimise muscle stress. Here are few tips for proper sitting:

...Sit with your feet flat on the floor. Knee should level with or slightly above your buttocks. Sit as straight as you can and then relax about 10 to 15 minutes after that. This is a good sitting posture. 

When writing, use a flat surface and look downward instead of flexing your neck forward. 

When reading, keep your book in such a way that your head remains straight. Muscles in front of your neck, if kept tight, will restrict the blood flow to the thyroid gland which would slow down the metabolism. This would make the bodya gain weight.

...The second important factor is to stretch the muscles that contract while sitting. The muscles involved are the hamstring muscles (back of the thigh), the muscles in front of the neck, the hip flexures and pectoris minor muscles (in the chest). 

The hamstring muscles can be stretched by standing with the legs straight and bending forward while maintaining your normal lower-back curve. Stretching can be done a few times a day for 30 to 40 seconds or more. 

The most effective time for stretching is when the muscles are warm from exercise. Stretching is extremely powerful in reducing stress and tension and in preventing lower back and neck pain.

...The third important part is the musculoskeletal structure of the body. The exercise programme should be balanced as to give exercise to all the muscles. 
For example, many give exercise to the chest muscles ignoring the back. This can lead to an imbalance in the shoulder joints, neck and upper-back. 

Properly balanced training techniques can prevent the back and neck pains to a great extent.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Simple exercise to avoid stress and fatigue at workplace

Workplace sometimes becomes a place of stress and fatigue. 

People spend hours on the computer with high levels of concentration. This leads to fatigue and tiredness. To keep yourself fresh and energetic during work hours, a few methods can be followed which will give you complete relaxation to the entire body and you can work more efficiently.

Healthy and easy methods to reduce tiredness while at work
  • Keep a good posture by holding your back straight. This might not be possible always, but keep trying and you can do it.
  • Keep moving your body frequently.
  • During the breaks, stretch your body and relax
Here are a few simple excercises that can be followed during work hours

Have a deep seating and Straight up your back. Also Straighten your arms and push down your chair and lift yourself. Now, take deep breaths and Straighten your upper half of the body. Breath for about 5 times. Do this every 40 minutes.
Put your right hand on the back of chair and put your left hand on the right thy, and twist your upper half of the body by applying a little pressure. Move your lower part of the body the other way by breathing out. Do this on both the sides. Breath in while in normal position and breath out while your stretch.
Move to the edge of your seat. Straighten your legs and keep your heels down and toes straight. Bend and move your upper half of the body down as like your navel touch your thigh. You can stop moving down your body as and when you feel. Keep natural breathing while you are bending. Move up slowly. Repeat this 3 times slowly.
Stand up next to a table which is as high as your waist. Stand 1 and half feet away from the table. Put both your hands on the table and open your legs to the breadth of your shoulder. Now slowly straighten your body and legs
Now slowly bend without folding your hands or legs by moving your hip backwards and bringing down your head. You might have to hold your grip properly on the table and rest on your heals. While doing this take deep breaths.
Now after bending, put one of your legs a step forward and stretch further. Do the same for the other leg also.