geetayoga

Jul 212010
 

Surya Namaskar or Sun Salutation
Surya Namaskar literally means ‘salute to Lord Surya or Sun God.’ It is an expression of gratitude to the Sun God for providing light and prosperity. The ancient yogis practiced it every early morning facing the sun, to greet the the Sun God and the new day. Surya Namaskar, is not an asana, it is a scientific warm up that prepares mind and body for asana practice. Each position is synchronized with gentle and graceful movements and specific breathing to improve alertness and remove lethargy. When getting into a position, a specific mantra is chanted inwardly to keep the thoughts away and feel the power of divinity. It is a dynamic sequence of 12 positions, that stretch the spine backwards and forwards. A set consists of 24 positions (12×2). Normally, 3 to 7 sets are performed. When practiced in a slow pace with awareness, the gain is physical, mental and spiritual. When practiced mechanically in a fast pace, the gain is only physical.
Cautions: People suffering from arthritis, headaches, uncontrolled blood pressure, slip-disc, retinal problem, heart problem, insomnia and pregnant women must avoid Surya Namaskar.
Benefits: Improves awareness, increases flexibility and strength, relieves lethargy and tensions, reduces weight, enhances agility and grace.

surya-namaskar.jpg

 Instructions for Practice

1. Om Mitrāya Namaḥ (Salutations to the friend) Pranamasana: Exhale, stand upright, with your hands in prayer position. Steady your body, fix your eyes and look forward and breathe evenly.
2. Om Rāvaye Namaḥ (Salutations to the ever shining) Hasta Uttanasana: Inhale, raise your hands up, gently bend backwards. Look upwards and breathe.
3. Om Sūryāya Namaḥ (Salutations to the cosmic light) Pada Hastasana: Exhale, bend forward, press your palms on the sides of your feet. Look downwardsand breathe.
4. Om Bhānave Namaḥ (Salutations to the illuminator) Anjaneya Asana: Inhale, stretch your right leg far behind. With support of your hands, arch your spine. Look upwards and breathe.
5. Om Khagāya Namaḥ (Salutations to the performer) Adho Mukha Svanasana: Exhale, take your left leg far behind, adjust and stretch. Look downwards and breathe.
6. Om Puṣṇe Namaḥ (Salutations to the nourisher) Ashta Anga Namaskara: Inhale, bring toes under, knees down, hips up. Exhale, chest and chin down. Look downwards and breathe.
7. Om Hiraṇya Garbhāya Namaḥ (Salutations to the golden womb of universe) Urdhva Mukha Svanasana: Inhale, raise your head and chest, lift your thighs and pelvis off the floor.Stretch and look upwards and breathe.
8. Om Marīcāye Namaḥ (Salutations to the power that heals) Adho Mukha Svanasana: Exhale, press your palms and feet, raise your hips and stretch your legs andhands. Lower your head. Look downwards and breathe.
9. Om Adityāya Namaḥ (Salutations to the son of Aditi) Anjaneya Asana: Inhale, bring your right foot forward between your palms. Stretch your back leg. Arch your spine. Look upwards and breathe.

10. Om Sāvitre Namaḥ (Salutations to the stimulator) Pada Hastasana: Exhale, bring your left foot forward, bend forward, stretch your legs and hands. Lower your head and look downwards and breathe.
11. Om Arkāya Namaḥ (Salutations to the essence of life) Hasta Uttanasana: Inhale, roll up, bend backward. Look upwards and breathe.
12. Om Bhāskarāya Namaḥ (Salutations to the enlightener) Pranamasana: Exhale, stand upright, with your hands in prayer position. Look inwards and breathe.

Mar 252010
 

 

Yogic healing is natural healing using the inherent powers. This healing is lasting as it works deeper than any mediation. It must be learnt with a guidance of an experienced and knowledgeable yoga teacher. Yogic healing, is holistic and begins by understanding the individual and the lifestyle. It works by targeting the root causes of the illness because that every action has a definite cause according to yoga science.

Yogic healing advocates cultivating healthy and productive habits and eliminating unhealthy and destructive habits. When old habits become deep rooted it is difficult to overcome them. Faith, patience, positive attitude, determination and commitment to change the old unhealthy habits and cultivate new healthy habits are the key characteristics required for such healing.

Asana, Pranayama and Meditation are the powerful tonic and healing tools of yogic healing. They repair the damages, correct the imbalances, improve functioning of the systems, provide sufficient strength, and positive energies.They bring back the natural rhythm and restore the natural balance.

Proper diet and mindful eating is very essential for good health. 80% of health issues are caused due to eating the wrong foods. Eating wrong foods and over eating them weaken the systems and lead to health issues. Yogic healing advocates Sattvic diet. Sattvic diet is a vegetarian diet that is fresh, clean, wholesome, easily digestible, and nourishes the mind and body.

Laughter is a natural way of removing stress and pain. Laughter relaxes tense muscles, lowers high blood pressure and boosts happy chemicals in the brain. It strengthens all the systems, heals the pain and prevents many health issues. Laughter nourishes the body and mind and promotes good health.

Sleep is an important biological activity that is very important to keep the mind and body healthy. At least seven hours of sound sleep in the night is essential for the systems to get refreshed and help the individual to function efficiently the next day. During sleep, antibodies and healing hormones are secreted that repair, renew and refresh the systems. It is healthy habit to sleep by 9 pm and wake up by 5 am. Such a rest in the night will promote freshness and renewed strength the following day.

 

 

 

Jul 272008
 

Many are not aware that the food they eat and the liquids they drink, have strong influence on their body and mind and determine their physical and mental health. The old adage “you are what you eat” is true.  Certain foods harm while certain foods heal.  When we make minor changes in our diet we can look forward to major changes in our health. Yoga science educates the practitioner on healthy and unhealthy foods and develops mental control to avoid the unhealthy foods.

In this modern world many people eat the wrong foods all the time and fall sick. When they are hungry, they eat unhealthy foods like pizzas, chips, burgers and spicy-oily snacks. Everyday they drink several cups of coffee, tea, colas and regularly consume alcohol. These drinks temporarily stimulate the brain but harm the systems, increase body weight, increase acidity, bad cholesterol,  increase negative stress, cause dullness, disturb the mind and lead to many diseases.

An Ayurvedic proverb says

When diet is wrong medicine is of no use.
When diet is correct medicine is of no need.

A yogic diet is a balanced diet that advocates  eating the right food in the right quantity, at the right time with the right attitude. It is called Sattvic diet which is a vegetarian diet that is freshly and cleanly cooked food with love and care. It provides the essential nutrients required for maintaining the mind-body balance. 

Yogic Cooking

Cooking is an important medium that can change the nature and strength of food

  1. Prepare food in a clean kitchen, in clean utensils, with clean hands
  2. Wash the vegetables and fruits well before cutting them
  3. Use good quality cereals and spices
  4. Cook food in the right consistency – do not overcook or burn
  5. Microwave cooking and deep frying are unhealthy
  6. Steaming, baking and grilling are healthy methods of cooking
  7. Destroy overheated oil, do not re-use them for cooking
  8. Have a positive attitude when cooking
  9. Cook food with love and not with anger or hatred
  10. Cook everyday; avoid eating pre-cooked frozen food
  11. Frozen food does not provide the necessary energy for mind and body
  12. Enjoy your cooking time
  13. Remember that food is divine “Annam Parabrahma Svarupam”

Guidelines for Healthy Eating 

     1.    Begin your day with  two glasses of warm water

      2.   Drink two litres of warm water during the day;  avoid iced water

      3.   Breakfast is an important meal and do not skip breakfast

      4.   Drink 2  cups of green tea everyday to stimulate your mind

      5.   Eat vegetarian food and avoid non-vegetarian food

      6.  Take fruits as a meal if your lifestyle is stressful

      7.   Eat at regular times every day

      8.   Eat slowly and chew your food well

      9.   Eat half stomach, do not over-eat

     10.  Relish and enjoy your food; do not waste food

     11.  Eat when your mind is calm and not when angry or stressed

     12.  Eat when you are hungry

     13.  Avoid too hot and too cold foods

     14.  Avoid drinking water or juices during meals

     15.  Drink water one hour after meals

     16.  Focus your attention on eating; do not read or watch TV, or talk while eating

     17.  Snack on fruits and dry fruits

     18.  Avoid junk foods – chips, pizzas, spicy fried snacks, colas and alcohol

     19.  Avoid spicy hot, high calorie food for dinner

     20.  Reduce intake of frozen foods like icecreams; avoid them in the night

     21.  Eat early and have a light dinner; keep your stomach light when going to bed

     22.  Sit in Virasana or recline in Supta Virasana after meals

     23.  Fruit fast once a month will cleanse the digestive system

Jul 272008
 

Old Thoughts

Many people dwell in the past, thinking, talking and brooding about their past experiences, not realizing, that they are depleting their positive energies that promote peace. Old thoughts can cause disturbance to the mind and make the present life unpleasant and unproductive.

When the past has passed away from your life, why do you carry the old baggage with you? When you carry baggage more than your capacity, the effect of the extra baggage will reflect on your health. This baggage burdens your mind with worries and tensions, and destroys your clarity and confidence. You will experience negative emotions such as anger, disappointment and unhappiness. Overtime the negative thoughts grow powerful and they destroy the natural rhythm leading to health issues.

Many people find that their mind is their biggest problem and they are not able to control it. The mind is constantly changing, moving from one thought to another, from the present to the past, surfacing as pleasant or unpleasant memories. They are unable to concentrate on their work in hand, they are confused, angry and irritable. Such a mind is an undisciplined and a chaotic mind that can be a cause for many problems.

Living in the present is a yogic way of living, being conscious of everything you do in the ‘present moment’; this awareness develops high energy and bring new flavors to your life. Mental and physical abilities improve and you can put 100% effort in your work, you will have new friends and move ahead with confidence.

Pranayama changes Life
Living in the present is a fantastic self-discipline cultivated through Pranayama. The breath and the mind are closely linked; when the breath is regulated the mind is also regulated. By controlling the breath in the yogic way you control the restlessness in the mind. The practice of pranayama for long duration calms the mind. Pranayama brings incredible energy to the brain cells, makes all systems function well, keeps you alert and make everything go right in your life.

Yoga science teaches that every day is a new day and you live each day with renewed fresh energy. Keep smiling and move ahead with a positive attitude.

Jul 222008
 

Hatha Yoga

  • Hatha Yoga is the most popular health promoting discipline all over the world. It is a branch of yoga, a scientific discipline that integrates the mind and body through the breath to bring overall stability and balance. Its origin is traced before the 15th century with the writings of Swami Swatmarama ‘The Hatha Yoga Pradipika’ the first book on Hatha Yoga. 
  • The word Hatha means willful. Hatha is willfully applying  effort to connect and balance the two sides of the human body. The word ‘Ha’ means ‘sun’ and ‘Tha’ means ‘moon.’  ‘Ha’ represents the mind or the mental energy and ‘tha’  represents the prana or the pranic energy. By uniting ‘prana’ (the upward flow of air)  and ‘apana’ (the downward flow of air) there is inner harmony.  Hatha Yoga brings true integration of the mind-body-prana-soul  and the practitioner experiences higher energy levels.
  • Hatha Yoga educates the practitioner about the importance of self-understanding, self-control and self-transformation for  keeping mind and body healthy. It is a science of self development and educates on good health. Everyone can practice this discipline, irrespective of age, sex and ability. Asanas and Pranayama are the powerful tools of Hatha Yoga that cleanse, purify and balance the systems. These tools are the gateway for self awareness, self discovery and self transformation.

Asanas

  • Asanas are range of bodily geometric postures designed to suit the anatomy of human body. They are gentle stretching, bending and twisting the body in a specific manner. They connect the body, mind and breath, improve flexibility, strength and endurance, remove tensions and pain. They align the body suitable for the anatomy and improve posture. All the systems function well, preventing disease.
  • There are many types of asanas; each asana is thoughtfully designed for human anatomy and has multiple benefits.  They are named after sages who created them,  named after animals, birds, insects or trees since they outwardly resemble them.
  • ‘Sage Patanjali,’ the father of yoga has defined asanas as ‘Sthira, Sukham, Asanam.’ ‘Sthira’ means stability, steadiness, firmness. ‘Sukham’ means ease, relaxed, comfortable. ‘Asanam’ means postures. By staying steady and comfortable in an asana, for a period of time, the practitioner experiences mental and physical ease.
  • It is not easy to accomplish ‘Sthira’ and ‘Sukham’ condition in an asana.  The practitioner  requires several years of dedicated practice to experience ‘Sthira’ and ‘Sukham.’
  • Asanas are not performed mechanically like other exercises. They are practiced with with awareness of the sensations and the breath. It is an inward journey where the practitioner explores the body inside out,  removes tensions and heaviness, aligns the body correctly creating sufficient space for the oxygenated blood and vital energy to flow freely and steadily.

Pranayama

  • Pranayama is an ancient science of breathing and is the heart of Hatha Yoga. Prana or life force, is very essential for every cell to function. The ancient yogis noted that one can live without food or water for several days but cannot live for even few minutes without prana. They also noted that the body, mind and breath are very closely linked; any change in one will affect the other two as well.  When the mind is agitated the breathing is disturbed and there is disturbance in the body cells.  A calm mind, develops rhythmic, uninterrupted breathing and keeps the cells healthy.
  • Pranayama is much more effective than normal breathing. Normal breathing is shallow breathing where hardly 30% of the lungs are used. Such a breathing provides insufficient oxygen and no toxins are removed from the systems. As a result there is sluggishness, fatigue, sickness, depression and disease. Pranayama enhances oxygen, removes toxins, energises the cells, clears the mind of disturbing thoughts, prevents and cures many diseases. The ancient yogis have developed many types of Pranayama and each of them contribute substantially to the physical, mental and emotional health of the practitioner.
  • Pranayama can be practiced anytime, while driving, cooking, travelling, waiting in the traffic signal or standing in a line. The important prerequisite is to keep the stomach empty. The best time to practice and master is at “Brahmamuhurt” early hours of morning between 4 am and 6 am.
Jul 222008
 

About Yoga
Most people think that yoga is a physical exercise that improves flexibility, provides relief for headaches, thyroid, arthritis, back pain, hypertension and also reduces weight. When their health issues get fixed they discontinue their practice and forget about yoga.

Yoga is a scientific discipline, that re-aligns the body properly, removes tensions from muscle groups and joints, calms the restless mind and that unlocks the hidden positive energies we are born with. Dedicated practice  provides the right strength to face challenges and keeps the practitioner healthy and happy. Yoga, is a gift for old people; it provides youthful vitality and confidence in old age. Every human being must practice yoga everyday.

Very few people are aware that yoga is a systematic and scientific discipline that purifies and transforms the practitioner into a Sattvic person. Sattvic means calm and positive.

Many definitions of Yoga

  • The word yoga comes from the Sanskrit word ‘yuj’ which means to unite or join together. To unite the individual soul Jeevatma, with the universal soul Paramatma.
  • Yoga is a timeless tradition, originating from Rig Veda, with a history of over 5000 years.
  • Yoga is not a religion, but a discipline that teaches about truth, unity and love.
  • Sage Patanjali, the father of yoga defines yoga as “ Yoga Citta Vritti Nirodah” meaning “control of the fluctuations of the mind. “
  • Yoga is an inward journey that develops mind, body balance and makes all the systems function well.
  • Yoga is an ancient science of self development that transforms every aspect of an individual.
  • Yoga is an ancient art of purifying mind and body and experiencing the inner peace.
  • Yoga is the ultimate tool for self realization.
  • Yoga is preventive care and a holistic system of healing without any medication.
  • Yoga is a way of life that shows the right path of living and makes everything go right in your life.
  • Yoga is a discipline that teaches how to “live in the present” and “let go the past.”
  • Yoga is a philosophy that makes you to accept with a balance of mind everything that comes in the way of your life.
  • Yoga is a natural beauty therapy that keeps you young and glowing from inside.
  • Yoga is an inward journey that illuminates your life beyond pain and suffering.
Jul 082008
 

Breathing is the only way you get oxygen for your cells.  Oxygen is a vital nutrient that keeps you alive and healthy. You can survive without food or water for several weeks, but without oxygen, you can survive only for a few minutes. Oxygen nourishes, rejuvenates, heals and also prevents many diseases.

Normal breathing is shallow breathing that does not provide enough oxygen for the systems to function well; this is because in shallow breathing only fraction of the lungs are being used and overtime the lungs weaken.

The ancient yogis realized this truth and developed techniques to prolong the length and volume of the breath and called the technique as Pranayama. Prana = vital force and Ayama = regulation or expansion. By practicing pranayama, one not only gets sufficient oxygen for all the cells, also removes many impurities from the cells. There are many types of Pranayama and each of them have bunch of benefits for the mind and body.

Pranayama is a scientific energizing and healing technique, a conscious prolongation of inhalations and exhalations. Pranayama allows the mind to penetrate inwards, refreshes the brain, quietens the mind by removing thoughts and worries, controls the sense organs and makes the practitioner experience inner peace. The inner peace is experienced only when the mind-body disturbances are removed.

The three processes of Pranayama

“Puraka or inhalation,”  “Rechaka or exhalation,”  “Kumbhaka or retention.”

Inhalation is conscious prolongation of the in-breath. This process expands the lungs and fills the lungs with oxygen, removes blocks from air ways and enhances its functions. Inhalation must be deep and steady without tensing the face muscles or straining the lungs.

Exhalation is conscious prolongation of the out-breath. This process empties the lungs, removes impurities and purifies the respiratory system. Exhalations must be longer than inhalations for. Longer duration of exhalation, empties the lungs fully and allows more oxygen to be filled in.

Retention is conscious process of  holding the breath and controlling the movements of the respiratory system. This is done without tightening or tensing the muscles or nerves.  Retention draws your mind inwards, helps to effectively control your mind and your senses. It makes the practitioner experience the inner silence. When retention is practiced after inhalation it is called “Antara Kumbhaka” when practiced after exhalation it is called “Bahya Kumbhaka.” Bahya kumbhaka is difficult and must be practiced only by experienced practitioners. Retention is an advanced practice and is not meant for the beginners.

Pranayama is the heart of yoga practice. It purifies and energizes all the systems and calms the restless mind. It removes tensions from the body, corrects muscular, chemical, electrical, hormonal imbalances and keeps the body energized and free from pain and disease.

Breathing during asana practice  All the movements in asana practice are initiated and guided by specific breathing. The breath connects the body and mind, removes stiffness and pain, enhances positive energies and also helps in adapting and settling in an asana. Inhalation is initiated – when lengthening the spine, stretching the hands upwards, bending backwards, when coming out of a forward or lateral bend or a twist. Exhalation is initiated – when bending forward, bending lateral, when making a twist, coming out of a backward bend and bringing the hands downward.

Asanas prepare the lungs for pranayama practice. Conscious and coordinated breathing during asana practice has huge positive impact on the lungs, that promotes perfect Pranayama practice.

Best time to practice Pranayama

Pranayama is difficult and not easy for a beginner and it is best learnt and practiced during “Brahmamuhurt.”  Brahmamuhurt  is the early hours of each day between 4 am and 6 am.  During this time of the day, the body and mind are fresh (free from stress and tensions)  there is better focus and no distractions. The five elements are in their purest form, there is better absorption and retention of the vital energies, because there is divine support in the early hours of the day.

Pranayama can be also practiced when traveling, when stuck in traffic, while working on computer or in the kitchen, when the mind is disturbed, when you do not get sleep in the night. Remember to adhere to the guidelines of practice.


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