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Dec 132012
 

Yogic Diet­­­­

The ancient texts, Hatha Yoga Pradipika and Bhagavat Gita have emphasized the need of proper diet for the physical, mental and spiritual development of an individual. Yoga Philosophy creates an awareness and educates on eating Sattvic food (pure with prana) and developing healthy habits that promote well being and spiritual growth. The yogis described food as ‘divine’ and ‘a great source of energy.’ They regarded food as ‘Annam Parabrahma Svarupam,’ meaning food is Brahman or God.

You are what you eat   Yogis insist on a vegetarian diet. A non-vegetarian diet is consuming animal flesh – it creates dull and heavy feeling and is difficult to digest. Animal flesh cause destruction to the natural rhythm and weaken the systems. They cause impurities and toxins in the body and mind that develop negative emotions like anger, hatred, lust, fear and many health issues.

Yogic diet  is a vegetarian and a balanced diet that fulfils all the nutritional needs in order to maintain the mind-body balance. Eating the right food, in the right quantity, with the right attitude, at the right time, is a perfect yogic diet. Yogic diet supports asana and pranayama practice.

Yoga science has classified diet into Sattvic, Rajasic and Tamasic based on the gunas or attributes with which we are born. The three gunas are Sattva (calmness), Rajas (restlessness), Tamas (dullness).

Sattvic diet  is freshly cooked vegetarian food consisting of natural, organic foods, free from pesticides. They are foods that grow in harmony with nature and cooked with right attitude  with love. They are light and easy to digest, provide positive energies, balance  the five elements and promote good health. Yoga practitioners and seekers of wisdom follow this diet.

Sattvic  foods are balanced combination of whole grains, legumes, pulses, fresh fruits and vegetables, except onions, garlic and mushrooms.  They include dry fruits, milk and milk products, natural sugars like jaggery and honey.  Spices include coriander, cumin, fennel, fenugreek, black pepper, sesame, carom seeds, pomegranate seeds, ginger, basil, mint, cardamom, cinnamon and turmeric. Oils include sesame, sunflower, olive and coconut.  Bhagavad Gita (17:8) describes Sattvic foods  as “promoting life, virtue, strength, health, happiness and satisfaction.”

 Rajasic diet consists of food that are over stimulating and destroy the mind-body balance. These foods  cause restlessness to the mind, arouse negative emotions and lead to circulatory and nervous disorders. Sattvic foods when eaten in a hurry or with a wrong attitude become Rajasic.

 Rajasic foods  are stimulants such as coffee, tea, colas, chocolates, tobacco, onion and garlic.   They include spicy, sour, fried, fatty and refined foods. Bhagavat Gita  (17:9) describes Rajasic foods  as “excessively hot, spicy, bitter, salty, pungent, burning the tongue.”

 Tamasic diet  causes heaviness, dullness and lethargy. They destroy the body’s ability to withstand stress, lower the body’s resistance to disease.  They do not have ‘prana’ or the energy required for mind-body balance. Sattvic  food when over-eaten or reheated several times becomes Tamasic. Honey when cooked becomes tamasic. Overripe fruits are tamasic.

Tamasic  foods are non vegetarian foods, old, stale, burnt and overcooked food. They include meat, fish, chicken, eggs, mushrooms, onion and garlic, vinegar, cigarettes and alcohol.  Bhagavat Gita (17:10) describes Tamasic foods as “stale, rotten, tasteless, impure, unripe and overcooked.”

 

 

 

 Posted by at 10:27 AM
Oct 022012
 

Migraine is a throbbing one-sided headache, felt on one side of the head. It is a vascular headache, caused by dilation of temporal arteries in the brain. The pain intensifies with the enlargement of the arteries.

Causes  Heredity, hormonal imbalance, drop in blood-sugar levels, mental stress, anxiety, lack of sleep, exposure to hot sun, exposure to bright light, improper breathing, muscle fatigue due to wrong postures, reading while travelling, improper breathing, eating wrong foods.

Symptoms Throbbing headache, on one side, nausea, loss of appetite, blurred vision, disorientation, depression.

When you have migraine

▪    Take a shower and wrap crepe bandage on your forehead eyes and ears.

▪    Rest in a dark room, avoid bright flashing light.

▪    Gently massage your head, neck and shoulders.

▪    Press the pressure points below the skull, behind the ears for at least one minute.

▪    Keep ice pack or wet cloth on your forehead and back of your neck.

▪    Drink few glasses of water during the day to relieve tense nerves.

▪    Take one or two glasses of tomato juice or a herbal drink with ginger.

▪    Eat healthy at frequent intervals; do not keep your stomach empty.

▪    Avoid foods with excess salt and sugar.

When you do not have migraine, practice the asanas given and spend more time in forward asanas to calm the tense nerves and muscles in the head and correct neuro-hormonal imbalances.  Drink two litres of water and practice alternate nostril breathing many times in a day. Duration 2 to 5 minutes each.

 

 Posted by at 4:36 PM
Oct 022012
 

Diabetes Mellitus  is a common metabolic and nutritional disorder caused due to high levels of sugar in the blood and urine. Insufficient production of insulin, a hormone secreted by pancreas, increases blood sugar levels, or when the body cells do not respond effectively to insulin. When this imbalance is not corrected, it can lead to heart problems, kidney disease, vision impairment and other problems.

Causes  Heredity, obesity, stress, unhealthy eating habits.

Symptoms Lethargy, fatigue, frequent urination, weight loss, craving for sweets, excessive thirst, increased hunger, blurred vision, slow healing of wounds, increased susceptibility to infections, numbness in hands and feet.

Asanas and Pranayama massage the abdomen, increase the gastric fire, burn the excess sugar, regulate the functions of liver and pancreas. They provide permanent relief.

I suggest a few asanas for your practice.  Duration   Practice for  1 to 3 minutes

 

 Posted by at 4:19 PM
May 312012
 

To overcome physical and mental stress, the ancient yogis created “Viparita Karani ” meaning opposite of action, or no action or being relaxed. This is an “L” shaped asana where the body is almost reversed providing an effective “inverted action”  which releases strain and boosts relaxation.

 

By ‘not doing any action,’ the body is rested, the venous return from the lower extremities is smooth, there is no stagnation of blood in the veins and the heart is relaxed. The hips that connect the upper and lower body is rejuvenated. The pelvic and the abdominal organs are renewed and energized.

We all need to relax our body and mind after a strenuous day. When the body is  exhausted, restorative asanas such as supported forward bends are difficult to perform; but this simple asana can be easily performed by everyone, as it requires no physical effort.

Viparita Karani is a classic preparation for Sarvangasana and many other asanas.

Cautions: Do not practice this asana after a surgery, when you have uncontrolled high BP, retinal problems, headache and during menstruation.
Benefits:
1. Relieves muscle fatigue and soothes frazzled nerves
2. Relieves leg pain, swelling in the legs and varicose veins
3. Refreshes the brain, removes toxins and balances the hormones
4. Enhances circulation, breathing capacity and boosts energy

Lie down on the floor parallel to the wall. Slowly move your head away from the wall, sticking your buttocks close to the wall. Bend your legs and take them up on the wall perpendicular to the floor.

Adjust and align your body in an “L” position, with your hips close to the wall and the back of your legs rested properly on the wall. Place your hands to the sides of your body with palms turned outwards. If you feel any strain in your neck, place a soft pillow under your head to support your neck.
If you have the strength and confidence, you can lift your hips and spine off the floor, as shown in figure (1). Stay in the position for 5 to 10 minutes with focused even and steady breathing.

Make sure that the place you practice is clean and not cluttered. For those who do not find Savasana (supine relaxation posture) comfortable can try this asana. Props such as blankets (under the spine) and eye pillows or pads (over the closed eyes) can be used to relax your eyes. You may play some soothing music to relax your mind.

Coming out of the asana
Bend your knees towards your chest, roll to a side and rest for a few breathings. Then, press your hands into the floor and gently sit up.

Note  Senior citizens and pregnant women can conveniently practice this asana when they find Sarvangasana (shoulder stand posture) difficult. Since this asana improves circulation all over, refreshes the brain and other vital organs, it can be practiced by everyone irrespective of age or ability.

 

 Posted by at 4:45 PM
May 312012
 

Many young professionals spend long hours sitting at a desk, in anatomically incorrect posture and causing strain to many parts of the body. Everybody needs to practice yoga  to improve their mind-body strength and keep them free from pain and disease. However, many do not find the time to go to a yoga class. I have designed few chair yoga postures that will renew your body and mind.

Systematic breathing practice for 3 to 5 minutes

When sit for long hours and work, your mind will be focused on many issues and you will be hardly breathing. There is bound to be less oxygen in your cells. Please sit back and practice deep breathing for few minutes. Sit straight, close your eyes and breathe smoothly and steadily few times. Make sure you lock your mind with your breath and don’t tense any part of your body. Keep a count of your inhalations and exhalations and gradually increase the length and volume. As you proceed, make your exhalations much longer than your inhalations.

Everyone must know that

Exhalation is a natural process of cleaning up the body and mind. Soft, smooth, steady and long exhalations develop easy adjustments and improve abilities. Longer exhalations mean letting go impurities, anxieties, stress, fatigue and pain. With long exhalations, there is better understanding and more agreements. Negative energies are changed to positive energies and the quality of your life improves.

Simple Stretches sitting on your chair

You can sit in your office chair, and do some simple stretches that will remove lethargy, fatigue and pain, stimulate, nourish and strengthen many muscles and joints.

 

 Posted by at 4:16 PM
Mar 092010
 

 

Dhyana or Meditation is a personal discipline that calms the restless mind and directs the mind to deeper layers of consciousness. It is a self-healing technique that has profound effect on the body and mind and promotes inner peace. Dhyana is a personal experience – it cannot be described just as colours cannot be described to a blind person. It is a unique experience and a powerful tonic that requires strong motivation and commitment for regular practice. The modern medical science acknowledges Dhyana as one of the alternative methods of healing physical and psychological problems.

According to Sage Patanjali, Dhyana must be practiced after attaining certain level of perfection in asanas and pranayama practice. To practice Dhyana, sit in a quiet place, on a chair or on the floor with your spine straight. Close your eyes, and consciously empty your mind of all thoughts, worries and emotions without analyzing them. Though your eyes are closed, you are conscious of all that is going on within. Keep observing the thoughts and gradually bring in a mantra of your choice or focus attention on your breath. These tools will help to let go the fluctuating thoughts. It requires several years of dedicated practice coupled with disciplined lifestyle to accomplish this self discipline.Swami Sivananda, has defined meditation as “Meditation is the royal road to freedom, a mysterious ladder that reaches from earth to heaven, from error to truth, from darkness to light, from pain to bliss, ignorance to knowledge from mortality to immortality.”

Benefits

  • Reduces stress, depression and anxiety
  • Lowers blood pressure, headaches and many psychosomatic illness
  • mproves concentration and clarity
  • Connects to inner peace
  • Relaxes and provides sound sleep in the night

Guidelines for Dhyana

  • The best time for practice is early mornings before sun-rise and evenings at sunset
  • Face the east side in the morning and the west side in the evening
  • Sit in a comfortable posture, either on a chair or on the floor
  • Practice 3 hours after a meal or one hour before a meal
  • Sit in a comfortable position with your back well supported
  • Do not practice lying down
  • Your eyes must be closed and gaze between your eye brows. Do not strain to fix your gaze
  • Your head, neck and spine must be properly aligned
  • Keep Gyana mudra in your fingers, or any mudra of your choice
  • Breathe only through your nose
  • The room must be well ventilated.
  • The room must be clean without clutter; clutter develops negative energies and ill health
  • Meditate in a place where there is no bright light or glare in the room
  • Sit in a quiet place undisturbed by loud music or any other sound
  • The temperature in the room should be congenial for you
  • Practice in the same room and in the same time everyday
  • If your body is stiff and tense, do some stretching asanas to loosen your body
  • Practice Ujjayi and Nadi Shodhana Pranayama before Meditation
 Posted by at 10:10 PM
Dec 292008
 

Asanas are specific geometric body movements designed for the anatomy of human body. The ancient yogis created them to  purify the mind and body and keep them free from pain. Asanas correct imbalances, remove toxins, enhance flexibility, stability and strength, increase alertness and confidence. They reset the natural rhythm we are born with and promote inner harmony.
Standing Asanas
Standing asanas are the best way to start a yoga practice. They align and strengthen the skeletal and muscular systems, develop physical-mental stability, endurance and balance. They strengthen the legs, correct the physical defects, prevent and cure many health issues. There are many types of standing asanas. Vertical stretches, lateral bends, forward bends, backward bends, twists and the challenging balancing asanas.
Reclining Asanas
Reclining or lying down asanas, are performed after standing asanas. Reclining asanas  improve flexibility in the hips, pelvis and abdomen, strengthen the abdomino-pelvic and pelvic-lumbar muscles. They release congestions and prepare the body for sitting and inverted asanas.  Relaxation asanas are reclining asanas. They are designed in supine (on the back) and prone (on the abdomen) positions. The supine asanas rest and massage the spine and head, while the prone asanas stimulate the chest and massage the abdomen and pelvis.
Sitting Asanas
Sitting asanas improve your flexibility and strength in the legs, hips, groins, pelvis and abdomen. The spine is elongated and energized, the brain is alert and for this is reason sitting asanas are a preparation for meditation and pranayama practice.The classic sitting asanas are:Dandasana, Sukhasana, Siddhasana, Baddha Konasana, Upavishta Konasana, Padmasana, Virasana, Gomukhasana, Navasana, Janusirsasana, Paschimottanasana.There are many variations in sitting asanas like lateral bends, forward bends, backward bends and twists. They must be learnt from a competent teacher.
Inverted Asanas
Inverted asanas are the essence of asana practice. They massage the internal organs, efficiently remove toxins, repair the damages, slow the ageing process and create an exhilarating feeling, which everyone would love to experience. These asanas strengthen the torso, boost brain functions and keep the body disease-free. Semi inverted asanas such as Prasarita Padottanasana, Adho Mukha Svanasana, Viparita karani and Ardha Halasana prepare the body and mind for the inverted asanas.   Sirsasana (Head-stand), Sarvangasana (Shoulder-stand), Halasana (Plough), Karnapidasana (Blocked-ears posture) are the inverted asanas. Sirsasana is called the “King of asanas.” It creates optimum heat for burning the toxins, strengthens the immune system and reverses the ill-effects of ageing.  Sarvangasana is called the “Queen of asanas.” This asana actively reverses the internal organs in the thorax and abdomen and makes them function efficiently.  It is practiced after Sirsasana as it strengthens the upper back and removes strain from the neck caused while performing Sirsasana.  Halasana and Karnapidasana are extensions of Sarvangasana.  An experienced practitioner can easily get into these asanas directly from Sarvangasana. The biggest obstacle of these inverted asanas is misalignment of body, instability of the mind and fear. These obstacles can be overcome when practiced with an experienced teacher. To achieve the real benefits one must stay in the asana for at least 5 minutes. Props such as wall, chair and folded blankets can be used to improve comfort and prevent strain.
Relaxation Asanas
Yogic relaxation is consciously resting every part of the body and emptying the mind of all thoughts and worries. It is a partial sleep, when the brain is awake and alert, the breath is shallow and the mind transcends to deeper levels of consciousness. The inner silence is experienced only when the tensions from the body and disturbing thoughts from the mind are removed. Relaxation is the natural way of renewing and re-charging the body and mind. Relaxation asanas are designed in the supine, prone and sitting positions. You can choose the asana that provides maximum benefits for you.

 Posted by at 9:43 PM
Jul 222008
 

The key prerequisites for yogic journey

Faith and Motivation

Yoga practice is an inward journey of self development and transformation that promotes good health. You need faith and motivation to undertake this journey. A strong will, is essential to change your destructive old habits and a consistent effort to cultivate healthy habits that will change the quality of your life.

Positive Attitude

Attitudes play a significant role in grooming your personality and your health. Positive attitude builds inner strength and confidence and keeps you free from disturbance and pain. Negative attitude destroys your mind-body balance and develops health issues.

Understanding  Asanas and Pranayamas

It is best to learn asanas and pranayama from an experienced and competent teacher who will educate you about this wonderful discipline, inspire you and guide you in your practice. All your doubts will also be cleared.

Assessment of your present condition

Your physical and mental condition changes from time to time. Realistically, assess your mental and physical condition and accept it before you start your everyday practice. Such a practice will help you adapt and adjust better to changes, correct your imbalances and conserve energy that is generated during your practice.

Self-Awareness

The practice of asanas and pranayama, expand your awareness and direct your senses in the healthy direction.The most important requirement for perfecting asanas, is not the ability to do them, but doing them with mindfulness experiencing the changes within. Self-awareness leads to self discovery and willful self-transformation.

Body Alignment

Perfect body alignment in any asana is important. When asanas are performed mechanically, there is no proper alignment, which can lead to discomfort.  Misalignment in the body lead to pain; this is because the tight muscles and tissues pull the body out of alignment. Proper co-ordination of breath with proper movement, using suitable props will improve alignment without causing strain. When there is perfect alignment there is lightness and ease.


Awareness of your Breath

Awareness of your breath is very vital for experiencing inner harmony. Breathe through your nose, evenly and smoothly and co-ordinate your breath with every movement. When you settle properly in an asana make sure your attention is locked on your breathing. Breathing helps to integrate mind and body, remove rigidity and calm the mind.

Creating Balance

There is always imbalance between the two sides of your body; you will notice that one side is stronger than the other. Imbalance leads to unsteadiness and discomfort.  Sage Patanjali  ‘the father of yoga’ has reiterated that “imbalance leads to disease.” When you achieve inner balance, there is lightness, grace, ease and peace.

Inward Gaze

‘Antara Dristi’ is gazing inwards. Inward gaze plays a vital role in enhancing self awareness, stability and balance. When your eyes move around, your mind also moves and is distracted; your focus is shifted. Fix your eyes on one spot and focus inwards especially when you perform the balancing asanas. For balancing asanas you need extra focus and concentration. Antara Drishti is also practiced during pranayama (breath control) and dhyana (meditation.)

Determination and  Effort

To learn and master asanas and pranayama, strong determination and sincere effort is essential.

Managing Pain

Pain is a natural sensation caused due to weakness, stiffness or congestion. Yogis believed that pain is integral part of yoga practice; without pain there is no gain. Pain takes you inwards and develops an understanding of your self – through pain you will see the light inside. You may experience pain in some asanas.  This is because, your body is not properly aligned and your weight is not properly distributed. Respect your body and not to over exert. Tolerance, patience and positive attitude are essential qualities to manage pain. The progress may be slow, but with perseverance and with the guidance of an experienced teacher you can manage and even learn how to overcome pain.

Commitment and Regularity

Regular and committed practice is the key to achieve the desired goal. Set aside a time for your everyday practice and make your practice time a positive and uplifting experience. The key to continue your practice everyday is to thoroughly enjoy it.

 Posted by at 1:42 AM