September 2007 Yoga Teacher Training Newsletter

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September 2007 Yoga Teacher Training Newsletter 2017-04-26T15:29:52+00:00

Practicing Mantra in every day activity

By Joseph McNulty

Background

The mantra can be any positive affirmation but should be short and easily repeated. It could be Jesus, Buddha, Krishna – or a secular phrase my mind is free, -etc. Any suitable mantra is good and beneficial.

What the mantra does

The mind is in constant turmoil in most people’s lives. You are thrown into a multitude of stress situations daily and are susceptible to react to these negatively. Quantity is not important but the devotee should aim for about 3000 to 5000 repetitions of the mantra over a day especially before meditation and retiring for the evening, this is called Japam. Japam is the cornerstone of all serious meditators. The mantra clears the thoughts of negative and destructive influences and is a wonderful de toxification exercise for the whole being.

How and when can I practice the mantra?

When I was in an ashram we practiced Japam in our every day work. For example washing the dishes one can complete 200 mantra or digging the garden etc. but of course you must be meticulous in your work and study. In general people washing plates do it automatically and think of many thoughts mostly negative and somewhere in the future or dwelling in the past. Japam is for the present. When I am out jogging or cycling I repeat my mantra for every turn of the pedals or step in jogging. As a student I used to box and when punching the bag every punch was a mantra. You can use your imagination and planning to incorporate the mantra into your own particular activity. You will find after some time peace and a great benefit.

Missed the transport and have to wait 20 minutes to an hour

The normal reaction to this situation is to mutter a sigh of boredom. However, one who has as a daily habit meditation treats this as a great unhindered opportunity and acts positively to practice the mantra. Furthermore if you can have a seat whilst waiting you can practice Paul’s Aura Yoga Seat Yoga which is splendid as well. On a long train journey much can be accomplished. Forget your mobile phones and fidgeting with the keys. Yoga will refresh you in every way mobile phones do the opposite.

Counting of the mantra

You can count on the phalanges of the fingers using the thumb. Starting with the middle phalange of the ring finger of the right hand we progress to the lower phalange and thereafter proceed clockwise round the outside phalanges and we have ten mantra in this way. We can have a count of ten in the left hand. You may use beads or indeed just repeat over a time period. Method of counting is not important JUST PRACTICE JAPAM

I do hope you give this a try and the results are not immediate but after some years the benefits accrue as is common to all Yoga Practices. Yoga is not a quick fix it is a slow percolation of practice with devotion and intensity.

Side Note: The Mantra should be done in quiet not audible just in the mental repetition, and it is a good idea to incorporate syllable AUM at the start and finish. Eg Aum Padmi Mani Aum is a well known mantra.

HAVE A GOOD PRACTICE AND KIND REGARDS TO YOU ALL

Joseph McNulty


The Purpose of Yoga – Stress Coping Solutions for Survival

By Dr. Paul Jerard, E-RYT 500

Occasionally, Yoga teachers mention that the people, in the area in which they live, are “too conservative,” to see the value or need for Yoga. The very real need for stress management, pain management, self-confidence, happiness, and many more benefits, which Yoga has to offer humankind, is obvious; but we must explain the benefits and purpose of Yoga for the public to completely understand.

Let’s look at some of the contributions Yoga has made in the field of stress management over the past 5,000 years. With that said, we know that Yoga is the oldest existing form of stress management. People have always had stress, when gathered into cities, but why do we see higher stress levels in concentrated populations? Why do we see less stress, when we visit the countryside?

One problem is “collective thoughts,” which exist in larger communities. An accepted, but flawed, belief can become an “urban legend.” For example: Commuter traffic should always run perfectly. Commuter traffic on the highway, on a train, or in a subway, is fast paced; but when there is a delay, you can observe a state of collective anxiety. Negative thoughts race through our heads and “beat us down” physically, mentally, and emotionally.

Being late can cause us to feel like we live in a helpless “rat race.” The mind begins to race as we collectively think, “I might be late and my job is on the line.” The constant emotional turmoil, created from similar situations, will shorten our lives, unless we find inner solutions for tranquility.

Yoga classes should contain valuable Pranayama, Mantra, and Meditation techniques, for times of stress. Seek out Yoga classes, teachers, and workshops, which teach you coping strategies for stressful situations. The results will improve the quality of your life exponentially.

How can an ancient health maintenance system, such as Yoga, have stress solutions that apply to the people of today? Yoga has not stood still for the last 5,000 years. In fact, Yoga is a science, which constantly grows and evolves with each passing day. Therefore, Yoga has evolved to face humankind’s daily problems.

One of the problems is that technology has brought about a feeling of instant gratification. We anticipate a specific outcome because we believe technology to be perfect. When technology is not perfect, we are “stressed out.”

Look at the automobile, train, cellular telephone, personal computer, and the Internet. You could easily write an itemized list about why each of these technological advancements will not function perfectly. Yet, we start our cars and anticipate a commute within a specific time frame.

When we run late, some of us will speed up and take chances with our life, the lives of pedestrians, and the lives of every driver on the road. The chances taken are endless, and the consequences of road rage could change our lives in an instant.

Would a Yogi or Yogini drive a car in a state of anxiety and panic? In truth, this situation is the beginning of a separation between beginner and advanced Yoga practitioners. So many people observe Yoga postures (Asanas), and consider this to be the Holy Grail of Yoga.

Yet, they cannot control themselves emotionally in a simple daily situation. This is due to the illusion, which we may label as “superficial Yoga.” This concept of Yoga is physical, only; Yoga is seen as an exercise class to tone the body, only.

We have to open our minds and put the superficial view of Yoga in its place. Yoga classes are much more than breathing and exercise techniques. To classify a Yogi or Yogini as advanced, because he or she can perform a difficult Asana, is an interesting concept. Over the years, some of my most exceptional students were extremely old or extremely young.

The older Yoga student is exceptional because he or she is living proof that Yogic principles will enable us to live a longer, healthier, and happier life. The younger Yoga student is also exceptional because he or she is full of energy and can often perform feats of physical prowess, which we might classify as advanced.

Having admired both age groups for their positive contributions to Yoga, which would you prefer to learn from? Children can be charming, but seniors can teach you volumes about coping with stress. A sage’s highest value is in teaching us about his or her life experience.

When studying Yoga under the guidance of a competent Yoga teacher, we learn many techniques, which enhance the qualities of daily life. All forms of Yoga have viable solutions for stress management.

Yet, stress is literally killing the masses, because chronic stress taxes the immune system. An immune system, which has low resistance, is an invitation to many of the diseases, which commonly plague humankind.

On the other hand, short-term stress can stimulate our immune systems. A little bit of stress can make us stronger, while overwhelming stress will surely shorten our life spans. Recent studies indicate that stress hormones, secreted from the adrenal glands, are the body’s natural response for protecting the immune system.

However, the over production of stress hormones, such as cortisol, can bring about many negative effects such as impaired learning, abdominal fat, blood sugar imbalances, reduction in muscle tissue, decreased bone density, and much more.

In fact, the list of potential health problems, from over production of cortisol, is quite large. Increased abdominal fat places us in a higher risk category, when considering a potential heart attack or stroke.

Therefore, a little cortisol, in response to short term stress is fine, but too much cortisol will most likely shorten our lives.

Getting a minimum of seven hours of sleep per night is a very big help for reducing cortisol production. So, how can Yoga help us? Solutions for insomnia, such as: Yogic breathing techniques (Pranayama), relaxation techniques, meditation methods, and walking meditation, are often taught in Yoga schools.

Regular Yoga practice will help anyone sleep better. Steady Yoga practice brings about many positive lifestyle changes. The physical forms of Yoga contain low impact exercises, which heal the body and mind.

Meditation, stage-by-stage relaxation, and body scanning techniques, are often taught at the end of Hatha, Raja, and Kundalini Yoga classes. These techniques result in peace of mind and create a state of inner-tranquility, within the Yoga student.

To live an extra ten years, in a nursing home, is not the prospect any of us envision for a quality life. The student, who practices any form of Yoga, for life, is often mobile and independent – well into the later stages of life.

Regular Yoga practice will reduce daily stress, raise your immune system, and increase the quality of life. Karma Yoga can also produce positive effects in your life, by focusing on helping others through selfless service, which can be very gratifying. When we help people in need, we often realize how small our daily problems are in comparison to others.

© Copyright 2007 – Paul Jerard / Aura Publications