yoga teacher trainingBy Dr. Paul Jerard, E-RYT 500

Many young people, who practice Hatha Yoga, feel they can absolutely control the quality of their lives. While this may appear to be true, there is a bit of luck involved. If you feel indestructible, you have not had a near death experience, sudden trauma, or been bed ridden with a terminal illness. Good health requires wise choices, good habits, and a bit of luck.

The condition of our health, and the quality of our life, hinges on our habits. There are genetic factors as well, but we can alter inherent conditions to a point. For example: If we have diabetes, we have been given a specific diet. We can choose to follow medical advice or ignore it. Either way, we could still be a diabetic for life, but making wise dietary choices will make a difference in the quality and longevity of our lives.

When we consider our health, there are four planes of existence to contemplate. Our mental, emotional, physical, and spiritual health has much to do with each other and form our complete health (holistic) profile. If for example, my emotional state is out of balance, it will affect the other three planes of existence and my overall health picture. Let’s look at combinations of Yogic techniques for optimum health.

Asana and pranayama are often practiced exclusively, without meditation, by fitness Yoga practitioners. Even if a class focuses on asana and pranayama exclusively, there are physical and mental benefits. The same could be said for any other Yogic styles that focus, for the most part, on physical mastery.

While it is obvious that exercises, which focus on physical mastery, alone, will yield physical and mental benefits, the long-term physical practitioner of Yoga will also discover emotional and spiritual benefits. The reason being is that, with time, all forms of Yoga expand one’s awareness (consciousness).

There are a few Ashtanga and power Yoga, classes that focus on mastering the physical body only. Interestingly, Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga is the root of most of the flowing Vinyasa styles, and the physical offshoot of Raja Yoga. A student benefits, in every aspect of health, when an Ashtanga (Raja) curriculum completely corresponds to the teachings of Patanjali.

Meditation and pranayama, alone, will yield mental, emotional, and spiritual benefits. Physical benefits will result from pranayama practice. Daily pranayama practice will keep vital organs healthy, but the physical body needs the resistance that asanas offer. Asana practice is healthy for the muscles, joints, connective tissue, and the skeleton.

Therefore, a new or experienced Yoga practitioner should practice a complete style which focuses on all eight limbs, as described by Patanjali. A Yoga practitioner, who has never bothered to practice yamas, niyamas, and meditation, is a beginner – regardless of physical prowess.

© Copyright 2011 – Paul Jerard / Aura Wellness Center – Publications Division

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