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Originally I trained in Zen meditation before practicing Yoga. Years ago, I visited the Aura studio which was below Ocean State Fitness near the Providence East Side line. I was studying at Brown University at the time. We started learning yoga relaxation techniques to reduce stress. Then we learned about self-realization through Vipassana meditation. Ever since, I have never found a class similar. Meditation is the reason why I practice yoga.
Practicing Yoga Postures before Meditation
The arts of yoga and meditation are closely linked, and are often practiced together to enhance the mind, body, and soul. Both yoga and meditation can be practiced separately and help to induce relaxation and calming sensations, promote organ and cardiovascular functioning, and improve flexibility and muscle health. The two can also be practiced together to promote synergistic benefits, and practicing yoga before meditation is ideal for many students. Beginning the day with yoga followed by meditation will lead to improved health and mental clarity, and though it may seem surprising, the order of these activities is important in providing full benefits.
Performing yoga before meditation helps to release stress and tension in the body, which may be residual from the previous day or the result of a bad night's sleep in the case of yoga being practiced in the morning. This is necessary before meditation can be practiced, because the mind cannot be cleared for the internal focus required by meditation when it is under the influence of stress or tension. The hormonal and glandular functioning of the body is increased during the practice of yoga, which allows for a more optimal level of functioning for the body and the mind. Practicing yoga prior to meditation allows for a deeper plane of meditation to be achieved, resulting in an increase in the benefits provided by meditation.
Many people who regularly practice yoga and meditation in the morning report that they are more tired after their morning routine if they meditate before they perform their usual yoga routine. Beginning by immediately relaxing the body so deeply through meditation has a tendency to cause the yoga movements to be sluggish and they are often not performed correctly as a result. This prevents the benefits provided yoga from being accepted by the body, and it can also lead to the potential for straining or tearing of the muscles due to the improper postures.
Neither yoga nor meditation requires the other to be performed. Each can be practiced separately and provide many benefits to people of all ages and in a variety of health conditions. Together, they can provide increased benefits when practiced in the proper order. Ideally, yoga should be performed before meditation in the morning upon waking so that the level of meditation achieved is deeper and the movements of yoga are performed properly and more mindfully, rather than slow and half-hearted as a result of the deep relaxation.
3 Life Enhancing Benefits of Yoga Nidra!
By Thaddeus Ferguson
Have you ever found yourself wondering why so many people have begun to practice Yoga Nidra on a daily basis?Perhaps you have noticed how many positive changes you've noticed in the people around you who have begun to practice Yoga Nidra on a daily basis and want to know what other benefits it can bring to you.If so, then you will be glad to know that in this article you will discover 3 Life Enhancing Benefits of Yoga Nidra and how this powerful practice can change your life in so many positive ways.3 Life Enhancing Benefits of Yoga Nidra!Benefit #1 -Allows you to channel your drive in an effective manner - When it comes to "drive" and motivation we all have it, however some people are better at focusing this drive in one life enhancing direction than others. Fortunately when you begin to practice Yoga Nidra on a daily basis you will also begin to notice how your motivation and drive begin to almost effortlessly begin to move towards life enhancing thoughts, ideas, and actions, as opposed to some of the rather disempowering thoughts and actions you may have previously dwelled upon.Benefit #2 - An increase of creative solutions to longstanding situations that cause problems and challenges in your life! It is quite simply amazing how longstanding situations, some of which you may not have been consciously aware of simply dissolve and disappear when you begin this powerful practice. Yet, while many of these longstanding situations that cause problems and challenges in your life simply fade away and disappear, some of them don't. Instead, what happens is you find yourself coming up with creative solutions to those problems which allow you to handle them with much more ease and relaxation in your life.Benefit #3 - Find yourself no longer wasting your energy in worrying or excessive anxiety. Sometimes the only thing preventing us from true happiness and fulfillment in life is being stuck on worrying and stress about things that you have no power to control or change which in turn often leads to a state of excessive anxiety.Fortunately when you begin practicing Yoga Nidra on a daily basis you begin to stop wasting your time and energy on worrying about things that need not be worried about.While these are just three of the life enhancing benefits you can expect to experience when you begin to practice Yoga Nidra on a daily basis. You will also be glad to know that taking the time to practice any type of meditation technique is going to create the kind of positive change and stillness in your life in so many different ways.Thaddeus Ferguson has dedicated himself to the cause of helping people heal themselves first in order to help heal the world during this amazing time of transformation.The practice of Meditation and/or Yoga Nidra is just one of the many powerful tools that you can use in order to help Heal You First.
Change Your Life For the Better With Yoga Meditation
By Brian Goodwin
There is a very valid reason why Yoga has become so popular worldwide and it is because people recognize it as a great way to improve their physical and spiritual well being. There are many different types of Yoga, and they all have devoted proponents who use it to keep fit. Certain types of Yoga place as much emphasis on spiritual well being as they do on physical health, and Yoga meditation is a big part of this sort of Yoga.Yoga meditation is credited with having many health giving properties, and it is possible to bring one's metabolism in control by doing this. Yoga Meditation is usually done in Hatha Yoga and not in Ashtanga Yoga or Hot Yoga because the latter two forms of this exercise are mostly followed by those people who want well toned and flexible bodies, and who are not very concerned with their spiritual health. Hatha Yoga is a very relaxed and leisurely form of Yoga and it involves slow paced bending and stretching exercises that are accompanied by regulated breathing exercises.If Yoga meditation is what is important to you then you ought to visit only those Yoga studios that offer it. It is very easy to come across the right Yoga classes once you know what you are looking for. You have to make sure that the Yoga classes you are considering joining have to have a very serene ambiance. It is almost impossible to meditate in unclean and distracting surroundings. In addition, the Yoga teachers at these classes have to be very experienced and dedicated. They also should have excellent communication skills and should be able to relate to students on a spiritual level.If you wish to immerse yourself in the Yoga lifestyle, then you should consider going for Yoga retreats. These retreats are excellent opportunities for you to brush up on your Yoga and to spend a few days with like minded people. Most Yoga retreats take place in beautiful locations where one can be close to nature.They enhance the experience by offering only vegetarian food during the retreat, and you will return from it feeling completely rejuvenated and relaxed. Almost every person who has gone on a Yoga retreat says that doing Yoga meditation and exercises while surrounded by nature is an unparalleled experience.You could also attend Yoga workshops occasionally in order to brush up your skills or to learn new ones. Practicing Yoga meditation and exercises regularly will have an unmatched effect on your body and spirit.
Every yoga teacher training course should mention that yogic meditation is intended for the spiritual development, it also has many tangible physical benefits. Yoga through meditation helps the mind work in sync with the body, as your thoughts have the ability to affect your overall contentment and health, the meditative practices through yoga help in achieving an emotional balance through detachment.
What this means is that yogic meditation creates conditions, where you are not affected by the happenings around you. This in turn creates a remarkable calmness and a positive outlook, which also has tremendous benefits on the physical health of the body. We have thoughts, but those thoughts no longer take over our bodies and minds at large -- triggering tension, anxiety or other responses. Yoga teaches us that consciousness and thoughts are not the same thing.
Moreover, stress which in reality is the No.1 killer affecting all parts of our physical, endocrinal and emotional systems can be corrected through the wonderful yoga practice of meditation. Meditation is a state of conscious relaxation of body and mind, during conscious relaxation we are able to let the thoughts flow through us without dancing away with them to the past or the future. We remain conscious, allowing the thoughts to come through us, but we learn not to interact with them.
The most important benefit of yoga is, maintenance and therapeutic effects, both physical and mental. The aging process, which is largely an artificial condition, caused mainly by autointoxication or self-poisoning, can be slowed down by practicing yoga. By keeping the body clean, flexible and well lubricated, we can significantly reduce the catabolic process of cell deterioration, slowing down aging process means longevity. To get the maximum benefits of hatha yoga one has to combine the practices of postures, breathing, and meditation. And more important, a beginner must seek a trained yoga instructor to prevent overdo and injury, keeping regular and consistent practice will pay off.
Meditation is attentive contemplation with the goal of steadying, quieting or opening the mind and achieving an altered state of consciousness. It is a way of fusing with the universal consciousness and performs the same cleansing, strengthening and purifying function for the mind and spirit as the asanas do for the body.
The effect is to cleanse, refine and clarify consciousness, lighten the spirit and foster mental poise and equanimity. Meditation calms and tones the nervous system, relaxes, harmonizes psychic energies, recharges psychic batteries, and cultivates serenity.
Zen and Vipassana meditation are much like twin sisters. Awareness and mindfulness are the bedrock of both of these time-tested forms of meditation. Some Yoga schools teach Zen, but it's worth your time to investigate and research the benefits of this unique form of meditation.
Both Zen and Vipassana meditation teach students about the four noble truths, the six sense doors, the seven points of posture, the five precepts of conduct, the noble eight-fold path, the five hindrances, the eight vicissitudes, and so on. Hence, the reason for pointing out that these two styles seem to be different, only in name, and are commonly referred to, at times, as Buddhist meditation methods.
If we take a deeper look at the eight-fold path, it gives us a direction to any practitioner who seeks liberation from the daily monotony of life. Points to remember, such as right concentration, right mindfulness, right effort, right livelihood, right action, right speech, right thought, and right understanding are the foundations of the noble eight-fold path.
Just to work on right understanding, would require us to listen, mindfully, and take in information, without making any rash judgments. It is true that understanding is objective, but it must be weighed in, using a form of arbitrary intuition. To develop this skill is not easy. Especially, it would be difficult for anyone, who believes everything they hear.
A good example of this is when people hear of a hate crime against their country, religion, or ethnic background. The common response would be feelings of shock, sadness, anger, and the desire for retribution. This is how reciprocal violence begins; and sometimes, it leads to war. All of this because humans struggle to truly understand all that unfolds around us.
Yogic Mediation - The Journey of Self to Cosmic Self
By Johnson Joseph
Yoga as a way of life has much importance in human life. Since humans are self-conscious by nature, there is an urge in him to experience supreme bliss by self-realization. This is only possible through effective coordination of mind, body and spirit. Yoga is a medium, which helps us to unite the three parts in us to benefit each other in an organized way.
Yoga postures are designed to treat the body in tender care not exerting it with stressful exercises. The postures alone does not make Yoga complete. "Pranayamena yukthena sarvaroga kshayobhaveth, ayukthabhyasena yogena sarva roga samudbhavath". A yoga posture is practiced with proper breathing and has to be accompanied with prescribed mental statuses as well. Thus involving the body and mind, Yoga reaches out to the spirit (divine) entity of human existence in the transition of individual self to the cosmic self.
Reaching out to God is reaching out to one's own self. The modern world has transformed itself in to a conglomeration of selfish groups. Our educators have not satisfied our souls with all the information they deliver for us. The scientists do a good job, yet technology is unable to fill the vacuum within our hearts. Economists are trying their level best to make the World a happy home; yet the richest ones act like poor,for they want more! We have a tremendous array of luminous 'stars' to entertain us every day; yet we are not satisfactorily fed with pleasures!
For those who seek an exalted side of Yoga, it is a spiritual act, which leads to self-awareness, self-control and satisfaction. These are also the basic goals of all religions. Yogasanas help a learner to control his body through which Dhyana or meditation trains one's mind, emotions and will. This leads the disciple of self to cognition of the Supreme; to the full blaze of illumination, the perception of the Self, the changeless, colorless and the pure reflection of 'Purusha', the cosmic self. Thus, the practice of yoga beautifully juxtaposes the individual self with the cosmic self.
Meditative Yoga: Tracing Its Hindu Origin
By Glen Wood
While yoga evolved as a spiritual practice in Hinduism, its popularity in the West is limited only to meditative purposes and physical exercise. Known to many, yoga is now part of therapeutic alternatives.
Yoga means "union" in Sanskrit, an old Indian language. This means union of mind and body-a spiritual healing that transcends to body treatment. The original yoga refers to the control of the five senses and halting of mental activities leading to a supreme state.
As yoga evolved to what it is now, the eight-limbed postures are still adapted to every variation of yoga taught in yoga classes. These core characteristics include the yaman, niyama, asana, pranayama, pratyahara, dharana, dyhana, and samadhi. In many yoga sessions, the pranayama is the first pose. Pranayama is the control of breathing, which soothes nerves, enhances endurance, tones the entire system, and provides essential core temperature maintenance. Breathing also strengthens the abdominal region; it is the foundation of all yoga practices. Pranayama helps yoga practitioners focus on subsequent yoga postures.
Meditation in yoga is very apparent in the corpse or savasana. In all yoga styles, this is the final pose achieved by lying flat, with eyes closed, and arms and legs spread from the center of the body. This position allows the body to rest and relax while keeping the mind in meditative state.
Because of its popularity, there are several yoga instructional videos available in the market aside from the ubiquitous yoga classes. One example of these is Judith Lasather's Restful Yoga for Stressful Times. It provides several restorative yoga poses designed to replenish the mind and body, suggesting poses that can alleviate lower back pain, neck pain, headaches and insomnia, breathing difficulties, and jet lag. Other poses are beneficial for menstruating, pregnant, or menopausal women. "Living Your Yoga" section guides the reader in incorporating it into daily life.
Myths About Dahn Yoga Meditation
By Jeff Brendan
The challenge with people who have limited knowledge on a subject is that they would often turn around and pass myths just because they do not have all the information. These are often statements that have no truth in them. Yet they reach so many people with this false information through internet or secondary information.
The following are common myths which you should never fall prey to.
1. Dahn Yoga meditation is a cult: this is of course far from being true. The reasons advanced for this myth are mainly those that demonstrate that those reporting the cases are simply ignorant. Take for instance the communal meditation sessions that practitioners attend either as part of pilgrimages.
2. Ilchi Lee is the spiritual leader of this cult: The truth is that Mr. Lee is a businessman from Korea who started this form of yoga. As the founder, he is often seen opening new communities of Dahn Yoga meditation partners across the world. He has also inspired many other leaders to grow in the practice which is quickly paying dividends through a large network of trainers and cell leaders.
3. Leaders extort money from meditation followers: there are instances where followers or practitioners have collected funds. These have however been aimed at supporting activities involving the members. Most of the cell groups operate autonomously and therefore they do not need to support any higher offices. This is often the conduit through which religious organizations would usurp or extort money from its members.
4. Dahn Yoga prohibits modern day medical care: this is unfounded because it instead supports people to achieve better quality healthcare. There are many illnesses that would be impossible to manage in modern day medical care centers. The focus on mind and body enables one to take control of certain hormones and the good chakra that promotes healing.
5. The practitioners are brain-washed: While Dahn emphasizes on the importance of brain wave in determining the health status of the rest of the body, the members are not taught to think in a certain way. In fact, the reverse is true. Practitioners often have special teachings on the control of the brain with a direct benefit to the rest of the body.
The benefits that come with Dahn Yoga meditation are what encourage people to join it. It is not about any false claims or coercing that more and more people are joining the movement. It is also a very peaceful practice and therefore harmless to those who do not believe or practice it. The doors of the meeting places are always open and therefore you can trust.
Jeff Brendan is a Dahn Yoga student and enthusiast. Always willing to share his experiences and help others by sharing his knowledge.
Proven Advantages of Dahn Yoga Meditation
By Jeff Brendan
Meditation was never taken seriously by people who are not religious. However, due to Dahn Yoga meditation, and the emergence of several clubs of practitioner all across the globe, meditation is becoming fashionable. This is of a course for all the good reasons that should be encouraged. It has been demonstrated that it is not just another pass time event or something left for the downtrodden and miserable lot of this world. It actually has real benefits that can be proven by science.
The growing list of funs of Ilchi Lee such as Costa Rica's President Oscar Arias is proof for its goodness. It is actually benefiting people from all walks of life with some life changing advantages and healthier living. Even people who were at the brink of committing suicide are often persuaded to change and begin to live a purposeful life when they join the community of Dahn Yoga meditation. Since it costs nothing much except your being disciplined and finding a place of solace to sit and meditate, even the poor can practice meditation.
Dahn Yoga meditation has been shown to have lots of advantages in life. The evidence is clear among the many people who have had a life changing experience due to its advantages. One most obvious benefits is that of giving purpose in life. As one sits and reflects on life, the purpose of the earth, death, and they soon realize all these were not just another accidental happening, they find purpose in life. The drive towards a purposeful life enables the meditator to find time and think about others. It enables one to clear off the feeling of self-sufficiency and instead live a life of service and depending on others.
Because of the focus on life goals and service to others, one who is meditating will be able to realize the importance of service. He or she will also be able to identify their strength in the area they are able to serve in. This discovery of abilities makes one to be able to work smart and sharpen particular skills.
Therefore Dahn Yoga meditation helps bringing happiness as people begin to live for what the creator has made them for. They start living for other and stop the self-focus and materialism that often brings pain and sadness. It teaches one to be content and ushers one into a community that makes every effort to do so. The increased flow of good chakra as a result of the practice will lead to brain wave vibration that improves brain power. This has been shown to be helpful in recovery from diseases such as stroke and high blood pressure.
Jeff Brendan is a Dahn Yoga student and enthusiast. Always willing to share his experiences and help others by sharing his knowledge.
Lately, I have been noticing that I have not been the same person on and off the yoga mat or meditation cushion. I know that this is a common experience not just for everyday folks, but also for gifted Yogis and meditation teachers. In this last week, Zen Master Genpo Roshi admitted to having an affair with one of his students, and it wasn't the first time for him or the last time we will hear about a great teacher engaging in some form of behavior that is not fitting. I am certainly not here to discuss right or wrong; I fail each day and sometimes quite painfully. And failure at life is the very thing that brought me to the yogic spiritual path. We all know that being a human is incredibly difficult; we are part Divine and part animal. Quite a silly mixture; and being a human means that we have conditioned minds and a range or irrational emotions and a shadow.
We also have a healthy solid wonderful side that we constantly build upon and let go into in our meditation and yogic practices. And we may make great gains in these yoga practices; we may be able to hold many asanas perfectly and bend our bodies backwards. We may be able to sit for hours, with an open and relaxed mind. But as my yoga teacher says to me, "it is the last 10% that is important." It is this 10% that gets us in trouble. I imagine most Gurus who get caught with their pants down, are in fact wonderful teachers, but this 10% ends up ruining their careers, families and often huge practice communities. And the same is true with us. It is our shadow that we trip over again and again, no matter how enlightened we think we are. It is our shadow that causes us and others pain.
So, if we are going to practice, let us practice yoga in a way that works to transform our shadow. It is great to be able to sit quietly or to be able to get your heels to touch the floor in downward dog, but if we are still very neurotic, then we must wonder about how we are practicing. Are we practicing in a way that is selfish, just trying to attain some state of Bliss for ourselves, or do we practice so that we have a beautiful yoga body? And there is nothing wrong with practicing in this way. We all want to experience states of Bliss and look healthy. But if we are tripping over our shadow again and again, and actually adding to the suffering and confusion in the world; we might want to focus on the shadow. We might decide to begin working in a way that will benefit others. And gauge the depth of our practice at how far it reaches into and how deeply it transforms our shadow. To do this we must be willing to work with the difficult and painful parts of ourselves. And by courageously bringing our darkness to light, that is when we grow and change, and transform into something quite wonderful.
And I think that it is important to remember that we all are Divine in our nature or in our essence. Sometimes when we look into our shadow, we forget about our innate goodness and beauty. But to bring this nature or goodness or radiance forward, we have to work through our humanity. We may have to work with deep conditioning, negative belief systems, painful and difficult emotions, and all the areas we hide in, or wished didn't exist. If we practice in this way, it will be radically different than practicing yoga in a way that is focused on our own gain, or to doing standing splits. It will in fact transform our world.
Meditation for Beginners
Meditation is about training your mind to enhance relaxation and to keep you energized. There are many types of meditation out there; it is about finding the right form of practice for you. Many people start practicing yoga, as it is one of the most popular meditative exercises. No matter what methodology you choose to follow it will employ combinations of asana practice and pranayama practice. These refer to how one sits still and how they extend their breath, respectively. In the end, they all result in a heightened state of living.
Meditation is a discipline that takes years to master; it requires the guidance of a professional. Whether you employ yogic methodology or another practice, you must dedicate yourself to mastering it to optimize its benefits. All the forms of meditation have different advantages, but they all generally improve your well-being. This article will contain general information about how beginners can get started on the path to enlightenment.
The first step is to decide what type of meditation is right for you. To help you decide, you need to consider the reasons you want to meditate in the first place. Some practices may focus more on calming the mind, while one such as a yogic methodology can physically improve your health too. After you choose the right practice, you should start with the basics. This can simply mean sitting and breathing. For yogic practices, you would want to start with the easiest poses. Do not strain yourself in the beginning.
When you first begin, be aware that you are staying true to the pose. This may appear to be common sense, but many people will lie down. This goes against what any form of meditation will teach you. The goal is to be relaxed, but your body must be alert. Another tip is to avoid drugs and alcohol before you begin. Some practices will say to avoid them for at least 24 hours in advance, but others may say two weeks. Staying away from the stimulants will help clear your mind.
Other beginner tips include searching for a quiet place away from any electronics. Make sure you are comfortable and start by focusing on breaths. As long as you are serious and committed, it will get easier in due time.
Yoga Training and Meditation for Less Violence
Violent behavior often begins in childhood. If the pattern is not resolved, prison can be the result. However, it is not the end result. Within the prison system is found all the derivatives of Complex Trauma experienced very early, such as hunger, hopelessness, abandonment and domestic violence. Coping skills formed through violence reshape infant brains and blueprint themselves upon the body.
Unresolved trauma can lead to behaviors that are completely reactive, without empathy or understanding of others. It can often be purely physical, without the ability to verbalize a complaint or draw conclusions from situations. A blueprint of severe trauma can affect every facet of a person's life, skewing relationships, forming addictions and dissociative disorders and ultimately, chronic disease.
"The memory of trauma is imprinted on the human organism," states Bessel van der Kolk, M.D., Professor of Psychiatry, Boston University School of Medicine. (February 19, 2013)
Cognitive behavioral therapists believe that the mind; awareness, intuition, emotional intelligence, is reached through the body. This approach seems backward to traditional psychiatric therapy, with its reliance on talk therapy and retrieved memories as resolution to trauma. Yet very recently, psychologists and practitioners working with US military veterans and through the prison system have utilized Yoga practices.
Within this population Yoga is taught as a mindfulness practice. Mindfulness is an attempt to restore the connection between emotional reactive forces and the physical body.
James Fox, M.A., Prison Yoga Project (June 27, 2012) affirms that Yoga, taught with mindfulness as a primary goal, is an effective tool for releasing trauma that is unresolved. The release of deeply negative emotions allows an address to the behavior accompanying it.
The practice is a learning process, increasing sensitivity to one's own body and ultimately, sensitivity and empathy for the thoughts and feelings of others. For the deeply traumatized person, possibly unable to verbalize violence from infancy, the body is engaged to teach the mind.
It has been demonstrated that angry children, utilizing the controlled postures and thought patterns of Yoga, develop better coping skills, deactivating the 'flight or fight' pattern of reactive behavior. The participants were less likely to brood upon anxious, negative thoughts that interfered with positive, productive behavior. (Aura Wellness Center, 2013)
Yoga Teacher Training Courses for Releasing Trapped Tension Within the Body
Yogic mindfulness accesses emotion through the body, allowing a relationship between an individual's own emotions and body first. From that connection a person begins to draw upon empathy and compassion for others. The cycle of violence can be broken with the help of professional counseling and Yoga training. There is a big need for specialists yoga teachers to approach different personality profiles. Some people respond to vinyasa Yoga instruction as a way to release physical and mental tension. On the opposite side of the fence, we have students who only respond to restorative yoga methods to release trapped mental and physical energy.
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