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Yoga for Health
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May 8, 2008 - 2:12 pm
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Human health is physical, mental, emotional and also spiritual. If we look at the history of humanity we find that in ancient times the healer was able to cater for the needs of every individual from a physical as well as a psychological point of view. It was only in this century that the discipline of health was divided into the physical, psychological and spiritual aspects.

Therefore, the aspect of physical health is now dependent on professionals who deal specifically with the body. The aspect of mental health is now the area of people who have studied, to whatever extent, how the mind functions and how mental imbalances can be treated with the means that are available today. Most of the aspect of spiritual health has been assigned to people who are knowledgeable in that particular field.

I come into the category of a person who thinks that the most appropriate method to attain optimum health is the system and science of yoga. Yoga is not only a series of physical postures or meditative practices.

It is a lifestyle which can be lived by everyone, not necessarily those who are sannyasins, sadhus or renunciates. It is a form of understanding, of realizing our interactions in life, trying to improve them, trying to understand the needs of the body, the needs of the mind and also the needs of the spirit. This is the concept of a yogic lifestyle: living according to the laws of the body and the laws of nature.

There are two paths in life: one is pravritti and the other is nivritti. Pravritti is generally defined as involvement with the world. Nivritti is defined as not being influenced or affected by the world, making an effort to understand, to realize the universal, the spiritual, the cosmic consciousness. Pravritti and nivritti are different sides of the same coin.

Just as the spider's web is sticky on one side and normal on the other, in the same way, pravritti is the sticky side of the spider's web and nivritti is the free side. No matter whom we are when we become involved with the world we undergo the same stresses and tensions.

We experience the world of object in its full glory in the form of pain and pleasure, satisfaction and dissatisfaction and it is the natural tendency of the mind to think about those things which it has experienced. Once this thinking pattern is established, it depends on the attitude and also on the intensity of self-awareness as to how one can extricate oneself from the cycle of continuous thoughts.

There are two words in English that everyone is aware of: stress and tension. When our mind, our faculties, come in contact with a situation, the first thing that happens is that we begin to experience stress. The stress can be due to an emotional connection and disturbance, a rational, intellectual connection and disturbance, a physical connection, a physical isolation, a moral connection, a moral isolation anything can become the cause of stress.

When this contact between the mind and the experience happens, and when the mind is not alert, not aware, then it begins to revolve around that experience, thought, feeling, emotion, event. It begins to think about it continuously. The more you think the more you are bound by the gravity of that particular experience and become stressed.

When that stress intensifies it takes the form of tension, tightness. When that tension is not released and it takes greater hold in the expressions of our mind, then psychological problems are often experienced. This is the beginning of a psychological imbalance and problem, and it keeps on snowballing eventually including the decrease of our physical well being. When a tiny ball of snow begins to roll down the hill it becomes bigger and bigger.

Yoga says that there are certain methods to extricate yourself from the sticky side of the mind. In order to again harmonize and balance yourself, you need to develop certain qualities and aspects of your nature, beginning with the ability to release the tensions through the process of relaxation. Relaxation is a systematic approach to letting go of the accumulated blockages, not only in the mind but also in the body.

After you are able to relax physically, mentally and emotionally, you are instructed through yoga to develop personal awareness, in order to witness yourself interacting with the world, society, family, and with your own limitations, ambitions and aspirations.

Awareness is the result of leading a yogic lifestyle. Afterwards, with awareness, you have to develop a sense of positivity towards yourself. When positive expressions are developed through the practices of reflection, concentration and introspection, which in common language is known as meditation, then you are able to harmonize the inner personality. When you experience inner harmony your body will be able to focus more on the physical aspects of your yoga practice.

This has been the yogic approach to mind management. In the field of health the concepts of yoga for the management of our mind and physical practice are combined, then that becomes a very powerful tool to awaken the facilities of your entire being. I have known of psychiatrists in the United States who are actively using the techniques of yoga in their practices.

At the end of one psychology conference a college professor of mine attended it was decided by the psychiatrists who were participating and who are eminent heads in their fields, to train their patients in the practice of yoga nidra so that they could learn how to let go of their mental tensions. Today yoga nidra has become an integral part, an accepted technique, of psychotherapy in Europe. The same thing has happened in Australia.

When we start to discuss the positive effects of yoga on physical health it is understood that mental health must be achieved first or the participants of yoga practice will not reap the full benefits of their practice. It is vital to help maintain good health. Yoga creates heat in the body through breathing and movement. That heat burns up extra calories in food and reduces the likelihood of these being converted into fat.

Regular exercise makes you fit, gives a general sense of well-being, improves appetite and sleep and makes the heart and circulation, lungs and respiration work more efficiently. Exercise carried out for about 20 minutes three times a week is beneficial for the body.

Physical Fitness can be measured in various aspects such as your balance, stamina, strength and flexibility. It is often assessed by measuring heart rate after exercise. Fitness can also be measured in terms of the strength and flexibility of specific muscles, the proper breathing though yoga practice greatly increase oxygen flow to all muscle groups. Thus allowing the body to maintain muscle strength and flexibility. Optimal physical fitness requires both aerobic exercises, which can be found in Ashtanga practice and muscle - strengthening and flexibility exercises, which can found in Hatha.

The World Health Organization has defined health as a ' state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease'. Good health is a condition of physical and mental well being, free from disease, pain or defect that enables us to live our lives with choices and with vitality. When all the organs of your body function normally in relation to your age and gender, you are considered to be in good physical health.

The need to adopt a healthy life style, particularly with regard to diet and the taking of exercise, of which yoga is an integral part, is important to maintain good health. So, we are not here to talk about high concepts, but rather to see what the simple things are which we can adopt either in therapy or in our lifestyle to experience harmony in our minds.

Yoga offers these different possibilities through its systems of relaxation and concentration, asana and pranayama. I would definitely request my students to understand the principles of yoga by practicing yoga. I am sure that these sciences of yoga will provide a very good opportunity for the yogis to keep all aspect of their selves healthy.

The recommendations for asana practice to change our lives, including the stress response, are different in different traditions. A Yoga practice that focuses only on physical remedies is limited, for it deals only with physiology and not psychology. Similarly, a practice that is formed around moral precepts and exhortations to change ones lifestyle has distinct limitations, for behavior modification is not simple.

Thus, a combined practice of physical postures, breathing exercises and meditation in a sequence is the best compromise to meet the present day needs of the society. The results of these practices can be enhanced much more if one follows all the recommended restraints and observances in everyday life. These restraints and observances are the yamas and niyamas of classical Yoga.

The ethics and morality of the traditional texts help lay a groundwork for moderate, compassionate living, but behavior change is complex and ones personality is rooted in layers of unconscious conditioning. While it should be noted to all that Yoga is not a religion, but rather a complete lifestyle practice with many benefits to all aspects of a persons health.

The author of this work is unknown.

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November 3, 2008 - 12:28 am
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Hi There Steph,

I want to thank you for that post. It was deep and gave me fresh insights. Most interesting is that it was by an anonymous author whom I must thank for capturing my imagination.

Om Shanti,

Prez

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February 5, 2010 - 2:35 pm
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Hi,

There are many debates about whether yoga should be taught purely as a physical practice, or whether the spiritual side should be taught as well. Most yoga certification courses expand on this subject, but this debate usually appears when yoga is taught in settings such as health clubs, where spirituality is not the primary reason that most students are there.

Nonetheless, even the most physically-oriented student knows in the back of his or her mind that yoga is something more than that, and is somehow attracted to it. Meditation is a way of training oneself to slow down which can bring tremendous benefits to physical, psychological, emotional and spiritual health. When one moves into a state of meditation, the heart rate decreases and the body relaxes.

Brain waves move from the normal waking wave patterns to slower, deeper waves bringing on a deep state of relaxation. Regular meditation practice brings calmness and serenity. It broadens the awareness of oneself, which enables the practitioner to change at an emotional and psychological level. Meditation brings an increased ability to focus and concentrate which can improve efficiency and even job performance.

The longer an individual practices Yoga and meditation, the greater the likelihood that his or her goals and efforts will shift toward personal and spiritual growth. Many individuals who initially learn meditation for its self-regulating aspects find that as their practice deepens they are drawn more and more into the realm of the spiritual. With the gradual sense of awakening of peace and joy, the practitioner becomes conscious of the Universal Power that he possesses within himself.

Shanti

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June 3, 2010 - 1:30 pm
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Mention "yoga" and most people will instantly have the image of a person sitting on the floor, his legs crossed, eyes closed, hands on the knees with the thumbs and forefingers touching, and repeating something like, "Ooohhhmmmm". While this image is certainly true of this exercise, it is not the only image associated with yoga. Yoga is much more than such a pose. It involves having a deeper understanding of its purpose, specifically that of Hatha Yoga.

Hatha Yoga What?

India is the origin of this old exercise, where it has been practiced for several thousands of years. "Yoga" literally means "union". Essentially, yoga blends all of a person's aspects with the universe. Some people mistakenly believe that yoga is a religion; it isn't. It is simply a discipline, a form of meditation.

The Hatha variation, for instance, is the simplest form of yoga. It is actually a preparatory yoga form that should be practiced by an individual who wishes to progress to the more advanced yoga poses. Think of Hatha Yoga as a sort of a warm-up to the actual practice of yoga.

Why Do Yoga?

This exercise's ultimate purpose is the attainment of perfect spiritualism. Yoga addresses every aspect of an individual, putting emphasis on maximizing the individual's development. Yoga works by making use of every resource that is available to the individual with the goal of helping him achieve spiritual growth.

The Hatha variation, as a basic form, prepares the individual's mind and body. It's main purpose is to remove clutter to make way for what the universe will bring to the individual.

Poses in Hatha Yoga

If you've never done this kind of exercise before, you'll be surprised at how it can be a challenge to concentrate while you're doing the Hatha Yoga poses. In the beginning, you'll find it hard to overcome a wandering mind. It will be hard to focus and you'll often catch yourself thinking of a lot of things.

These difficulties can be overcome, however. There are specific positions that can help clear the mind and make way for a more conducive path toward the achievement of spiritual growth. The Hatha poses, for instance, concentrate on how you can master powerful yoga poses. The five basic Hatha positions are the half tortoise pose, snake pose, corpse pose, yoga pose, and self massage. These Hatha positions work by cleansing and empowering the different systems of your body, including your nervous, endocrine, and cardiovascular systems.

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May 25, 2010 - 2:50 pm
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Yoga Positions

The Yogic Prescription For Health and Healing
By Nancy Terence

The most popular yoga positions are called Hatha yoga. Hatha yoga gives aid to the emotional, mental and well-being of the human body. It dates back to the 15th century and it focuses on making the body more fit for a higher form of meditation. Different positions are recommended by doctors to take away health problems ranging from headaches to cancer.It helps relieve stress from the body. It takes away stress because it stretches the body, while at the same time controlling your breathing. This relaxes the body so you can focus more on any kind of meditation. It gets your body lean, toned and fit.Yoga is great for people of all ages. It doesn't take that long to learn and it is fun. Those that do yoga don't usually gain weight like the body usually does every single year. Those that don't use yoga gain a pound a year. If you add those pounds up you can see a tremendous weight gain. Practicing it takes both your mind and your body. There are eight basic exercises.There is yoga that focuses on the correct alignment of the body. You hold your poses for a longer period of time. Another type is practiced in a room that is heated to 105 degrees. You want to make sure you practice yoga safely, by breathing the correct way, don't overstretch, go slowly and learn from a teacher.What do you need while doing yoga? You need some comfortable fitting clothing that will allow you to move around freely. You don't want to be distracted by clothing either. You don't want to be focusing on the clothing instead you want to keep your mind on the exercises. Most people go barefoot while doing this kind of exercising. The other thing you want to get is a nice mat with padding. This will help you if you are on a really hard floor.Other things you can get are a bag to carry your mat in. You can also get some nice music to exercise to. The music is so relaxing that it helps relieves the stress in your muscles. You'll feel a lot better and your body will respond to it in a great way. Sometimes the music brings you the sounds of nature and the outdoors. It is light, inspirational and helps keep you in a good mood.You also want to get a good water bottle, this way you can flush out the toxins in your body as you are doing the exercises. The more water you drink the better off you will be.You want to make stretching a part of your daily routine, like brushing your teeth and eating. You want to make stretching as important as these other daily routines because if you don't you'll be tempted to leave them out. This is just a few things I know about yoga positions.

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July 9, 2010 - 5:29 am
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Yoga is an accomplished weight-bearing exercise that can advance your bone density.

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July 11, 2010 - 8:26 am
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You are correct, but yoga isn't just an exercise, it's a way of life with thousands more benefits than bone density.

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December 11, 2014 - 1:42 am
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Almost all exercises used in yoga are able to calm you down and reduce your anxiety levels and some diseases. And yoga exercises that could help reduce panic attack symptoms usually begin with meditation and deep breathing very much like meditation exercises. Here are some steps to follow:

1. Panic attacks are different from person to person and the first sign of a panic attack, you should stop everything you are doing and keep still.
2. Dim the lights in the room and keep still. Assume a yoga position that you can readily perform like a simple standing or sitting position or a cross-legged position.
3. Close your eyes and place your hands on your lap. Keep your back straight. Continue being in that position until you have managed to calm down a bit.
4. Now take a deep breath. Breathe in through your nose and then keep the air in for about three to four counts. Breathe out from the mouth using pursed lips. Slowly breathe out air through the lips.

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December 26, 2014 - 10:18 pm
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Thank you for your input. Most people would not believe how effective pranayama is for panic attacks.

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