India, the land of diversity, rich cultural heritage and spirituality, undoubtedly is the world capital of Yoga. Besides, a rich and diversified culture much of Indian life is centered around and inspired by yogic practices and principles. Yoga holidays in India are especially desirable as many of them are built around authentic yoga instruction, as opposed to the shallow teachings found elsewhere in the world.
The Yoga was practiced in India from the ancient times, thousands of years ago. It was considered to be a path which leads to spiritual enlightenment and salvation. India is still a favorite destination for Yoga and Meditation all over the world due to its strong deep spiritual base. Indian teachers and masters have been practicing, learning and teaching the deeper aspects of Yoga without neglecting the widely prevalent ones for so many years under the direct guidance of the enlightened masters and Yogis.
Knowledge has been thoroughly absorbed in its highest form and passed on from the master to the disciple in Gurukul system of teaching and learning. Yoga in India is obviously a truly special experience which builds your base for the more serious and dedicated approach to Yoga as compared to other places where Yoga has mostly been practiced for its outer body benefits.
India has lot to offer in regards to Yoga. Whether you seek yoga holidays by the Ashrams of Rishikesh, the beaches of Goa or then, the natural beauty of Kerala, you need to look no further. You gradually find yourself immersing deep into the rejuvenating and life transforming experience. Starting from the mouth watering Indian delicacies to the pristine landscapes, hills, beaches and forest landscapes, India offers everything on the platter.
All you need is to book your retreat and holidays and get all set for the fabulous Yogic spiritual experience. Needless to say, so many students from the west and other parts of the world tasted and glimpsed that solace and peace practicing Yoga in Yoga retreat set ups in India and decided to stay there forever. They could never leave that mesmerizing experience behind. It transformed their life!!! You never know, one such experience is waiting for you as well!!!
Benefits of the Yoga Holidays & Retreats
Preparing for your next holiday; but you wouldn’t like to miss your yoga class. Bingo! Why not combine the two and head for a yoga retreat or Yoga holiday in Goa India!!! Affordable, Beautiful and Incredibly different or You’ve heard so much of yoga and its benefits at de-stressing and invigorating your entire mind-body system. Why not experience these benefits on your next Holidays? Why not merge your holidays with the practice of Yoga and make it a Yoga Holidays!! Sounds really incredible right??
Believe me it is!! Worth giving it a go!!!
Why you would like to experience the Yoga Retreats and Holidays?
These are just some of the reasons why you may want to try a yoga retreat for your next vacation. The reasons, of course, could be many – ranging from a fascinating and unique experience to something that you are passionate about.
Either way, let us explore what are the real benefits to be had from a Yoga retreat:
1 – Learning ways to better cope with life
Through a Yoga Retreat you will learn the methods through practices and techniques that will help you to manage stress and day to day craziness of the modern lifestyle and living. It shows you the right path and direction to hold you in good position and help cope with all that life has to offer.
Asanas ( Yogic Postures) that help stimulate, strengthen and massage your vital organs while removing blockages; breathing and meditation techniques that will help you de-stress at your will are just some of the things you may learn here.
2- A unique experience of going within our own self
Through a Yoga Retreat you will learn the methods through practices and techniques that will help you to manage stress and day to day craziness of the modern lifestyle and living. It shows you the right path and direction to hold you in good position and help cope with all that life has to offer.
Asanas ( Yogic Postures) that help stimulate, strengthen and massage your vital organs while removing blockages; breathing and meditation techniques that will help you de-stress at your will are just some of the things you may learn here.
Most of our normal holidays include a lot of indulgence, eating, shopping and sense gratification. Usually, we think that it would relax us and make our holidays enjoyable and relaxing. On the contrary, we are always stresses as we do have long list of planned activities and mostly we are found catching up with those. Its short lived. As soon as we are close to the end of holidays, we experience withdrawal symptoms and tiredness. Forget about any relaxation.
A Yoga retreat or Holidays on the other hand, provides you a relaxing environment to witness the journey within – by giving you a chance to establish the harmony within your body and mind. Through this, you get a wonderful ‘fuller’ feeling at the end of your holiday.3 – Meeting people with similar holistic lifestyle & philosophy
You will get a chance to find and experience a more-or-less like minded similar group of people, all enthusiastic about exploring more about themselves, each other and about yoga philosophy. Being in such groups itself has an energizing effect that you would not find in other holiday settings. In the process, you make your true companions o may be friends…..
4 – Better, Unique and different surroundings
Yoga Retreats, in general, are arranged and organized in very different surroundings – closer to nature or at places where there is a lot of positive energy. This reason alone is worth exploring suitable yoga retreats.
Yoga Retreats & Holidays are an option worth considering when you plan your next holiday. After all, don’t we want something different from our vacation every time?
Is a Yoga Retreat for Everyone?
Is it really meant for you? It isn’t wise to go into a Yoga retreat without preparing yourself for the possible pitfalls. You wouldn’t want to put your time and resources into something that you would regret later on.
By checking the following conditions, you can determine whether a yoga holidays is really suitable for you or is it something that you shouldn’t be thinking of….
This list includes some of the possible drawbacks that can be a part of your experience.
1 –A rigid and non adjusting mindset
Yoga means to surrender to the nature and observe the life the way it comes. It will test you in many ways. Whether it is about your food, accommodation, your style, country, culture or your own living standards. Comparisons will make your life worse. People with pre set notions about places, people, Yoga, teachers and surroundings must be prepared to overcome all that if they really want to learn and get the most out of their Yoga Holidays experience else you would be find grumbling and complaining all the time. The best you can learn out of Yoga Retreat experience is to learn to adjust in any kind of environment. Many people go to the retreats with picture perfect regarding everything.
Remember: : Least expectations, most contentment !!!
2 – Tendency to be competitive or testing your limit
If you have this tendency, it may better to learn and understand Yoga first before going for any Yoga Retreats or it may be better to avoid all together. It is very likely for such people to invite injuries with such competitive attitudes. People tend to become aggressively competitive in group settings and try to overdo and stretch beyond their normal capacities which can certainly rob you completely out of any relaxing experience as you find yourself ending up with sprains and muscle pulls. Obviously, it would be the last thing you would like to get out of your practice. Yoga is not a competitive sport. In fact, the best benefits of Yoga can be had by understanding “your” body and not torturing it. Yoga asanas are steady, comfortable with relaxation of effort.
While this is fairly well known, it is difficult to not fall into the trap of comparison given our societal upbringings.
3 – Lack of adequate physical condition or health
Yoga This one is fairly obvious. While there are many Yoga Retreats that do not put a lot of physical challenge and impose certain pre requisites in terms of physical fitness levels, nevertheless, basic fitness levels are always a must. Do not go for a yoga retreat if you are suffering from physical weakness or illness.
4 – Religious Burdens & Theories
There have been controversies raised of yoga being a practice that is predominantly Hindu and deviates from the path of other religions. If you suffer from such doubts, a yoga holiday is definitely not for you. The last thing you want is to be mentally disturbed if you share such beliefs. Yoga is an universal science and it has nothing to do with any religion in specific. It’s beyond and boundaries, color, race, sex, or prejudices.
5 – Boredom Pangs
If you are a kind of an extroverted person then you might feel boredom at times. Yoga is about quietness and peace. It’s about stopping the useless mental chatter and meditate. A Yoga retreat is about going within, traveling inwards – a kind of meditation – at knowing yourself better and how your mind works in different situations. There may be times when you are just sitting alone and not doing anything but contemplating and observing.. If you treat such periods as a waste of time, you may like to re-consider your plans of going for a yoga holiday.
You must evaluate your decision about experiencing Yoga Holidays based on some of these points. Little introspection and research is required, if you are the first timer and never ever experienced Yoga in a Retreat kind of set up.
5.Kundalini Yoga Practice, Way to Enlightenment
Kriyas are a set of exercises done in a particular sequence to work on a specific theme. There are a wide range of Kriyas available, each refined over thousands of years to optimize their effectiveness. Kriyas utilize all the available Kundalini Yoga mechanisms to work their magic. They employ asans (postures), movement, pranayam (breathing exercises), bandhas (body locks), mantras (sound vibrations), mudras (hand positions), laya yoga (yoga of rhythm and sound), mental focus and meditation to do their work.
Dynamic movement and asans bring expanding and contracting pressure via multiple angles to various areas of the body, this is accompanied with powerful pranayams, the combined effect of which is that the target regions are saturated with highly charged and oxygenated blood. This nutrient rich blood fills the capillaries forcing them to discharge toxins and other harmful elements, which are then eliminated, neutralized or expelled by the body. The health of the region thus improves and the nerves fire more completely, the glands and organs are invigorated and regain their natural voltage and secretion levels are returned to a condition of strength and vitality.
The key above is the removal of blockages (granthis) that is taking place on many levels of the organism thus facilitating the flow of energy. There are Kriyas designed for working on almost every part of the human system (Immune, Glandular, Circulatory, Digestive, Nervous, Respiratory, Sexual, etc…), working on our various traits and characteristics (Awareness, Intuition, Willpower, Confidence, Compassion, Charisma, etc…) and also for healing many different types of ailments and diseases. Lets now see how this ties in with the Chakra (energy vortex) system.
There are 7 primary chakras that lie all along the spine from the base to the crown of the head. Associated with each chakra are the primary nerve junctions and organs of that region. Furthermore, each chakra is responsible for certain traits and characteristics that make up our personality. When we strengthen and rejuvenate the nerves and organs in a particular region, we are in fact activating these energy centers that reside there and are thus working on ourselves not only at a physical level, but also at an emotional and mental level (by affecting our traits and characteristics). Practiced over time, the chakras become charged and come into balance with each other, bringing us into physical, emotional and mental well being. Again, it should be noted that the work being done is primarily about dissolving granthis (blockages) in these regions which introduce disease and imbalance into the system by preventing the chakras from functioning at their optimum level. Finally, let see how this relates to Kundalini Shakti.
Kundalini is energy. It is the fundamental energy whose flow through the organism allows for all its systems to operate, at all levels of consciousness. It is the energy of awareness, it can be said that where your awareness is, that is where Kundalini is flowing or that where Kundalini is flowing is where your awareness is. To awaken Kundalini means to dissipate blockages in the gross and subtle systems in your being and allow for greater and greater flow of energy and awareness. As blockages are cleared trapped energy is released and pathways are cleared. Kundalini then is able to flow freely though those regions, healing, nourishing, rejuvenating and balancing them.
The dissipating of blockages can also be thought of as the clearing away of the subconscious mind, the collection of unresolved emotional and physical disturbances, where lies the root of many of our attachments and fears. So overall Kundalini Yoga is a system by which one, through the process of dissolving the past, allows the infinite to shine through into the present.
I am going to describe some of the physical symptoms my students or I have felt due to kundalini awakening. I know there are many emotional and mental symptoms as well, and you are welcome to share those with us in the comments section below. I am grouping the experiences into 3 categories, common, uncommon and rare, according to what I have observed.
Common Kundalini Awakening Symptoms:
- Tingling in the body and brain region. Also sometimes described as ants walking, tickling energy or flushes of energy. The brain being flushed with energy is quite pleasant :-).
- Heat or cold in the system, or running along various channels and chakra centers.
- Fluttering or twitching of muscles.
- Pinching or burning in various regions of the body or brain.
Uncommon Kundalini Awakening Symptoms:
- Pressure in the Third Eye Region (Ajna Chakra). This is pressure, tingling or other sensation in the center of the forehead. Can go on for years (14 years and counting so far for me). Caution: If the pressure, due to certain practices, intensifies to uncomfortable levels you feel are “immense”, you should cease that practice and consult a competent kundalini yoga teacher.
- Sudden bursts of energy anywhere in the body. These are almost always short lived, from a few seconds to a few minutes.
- Spontaneous yoga asans or kundalini yoga movements. They may come on spontaneously, or they may take over, as if on auto-pilot when one is practicing Kundalini Shakti rising up and elongating the spine.
- Incredible feeling of love and desire for your partner (not ordinary lust, alcohol induced or otherwise :-). Usually comes upon you spontaneously, deep in the night. Sex feels like it’s the first such experience and the intense feelings of attraction emanate from somewhere beyond yourself.
- Unfortunately, pain in the lower back, back of the neck and headaches.
Rare Kundalini Awakening Symptoms:
- Experience of divine light within. Very intense light, usually pure white and incredibly beautiful. I call it the Radiation of the Lord.
- Tremendous vibratory energy (sometimes feels like it’s coming from the inner ears). Very blissful, but can intensify to the point where it would completely overwhelm your consciousness if you let it.
- Spontaneous bliss, intensely pleasurable.
- This one is a bit scary. Complete paralysis of the body. Complete immobility and rigidity takes place. As with the all consuming vibratory energy, it requires some courage to allow.
- This one is exceedingly rare. I have experienced it only once in my life, and have only ever read about it being experienced by one other – the master of awareness, the arms and legs churn like that of a baby. It happens naturally and cannot be simulated. It is also intensely pleasurable and quite a remarkable experience.
6. Yoga Practice for the Beginners
Yoga Asanas practice can be started by anyone at any age group. Yoga welcomes everyone irrespective of your age, flexibility, fitness or weight. Normally, it’s a misconception in the minds of the people that Yoga is meant for fit and flexible ones. On the contrary, Yoga is more beneficial for the rigid and stiff ones as benefits are quite apparent in terms of enhanced muscle strength, flexibility, improved joints mobility and movement. Healthy becomes healthier and diseased gets cured and relieved. It benefits everyone from where you start and the day you start.
If you are a beginner, then don’t be overwhelmed by the number of poses you can do or your body allows you to do. Start with the few basic ones that you can do with minimum effort. Yoga philosophy emphasis on “SthiramShukamAsanam” means Yogic Poses should be easy, steady and comfortable with minimum effort. Usually, I have seen beginners are over ambitious with their performance and progress within their Yoga Practice. They approach Yoga with a competitive zeal and interest especially when performed in the big city studios in group settings. The slower it goes the better it’s for your physical, mental and spiritual wellbeing. It’s extremely important to understand the true meaning and purpose of Yoga and Yogic Asanas before starting any practice and here comes the role of the good qualified Yoga Instructor and teacher who knows where to start from and how to proceed slowly and gradually.
Yoga practice is a life time pursuit and it takes time to understand your body, mind and breath. As your practice progresses, you naturally become more flexible and supple. The stage comes when you can actually perform more advance asanas with grace, balance and poise. So keep it simple when you are just beginning. It’s not a race after all.
It’s extremely crucial that beginner’s explore their own body and breath while starting. It’s always good to move ahead slowly. As Yoga movements has significance only with breath, so if done correctly then it’s virtually impossible to flow immediately. The breath coordination along with movement starts activating your chakras and starts the multi-level changes in the overall physiology and physiology of the student. The body starts rejecting things which are unnatural and imbalanced. The cleansing starts slowly and the whole process can be quite draining and exhausting, if not approached slowly and naturally under the proper guidance.
Yoga is all about symmetry, balance and union. It takes time to change the way we think and act. The deeply embedded impressions in our Psyche are quite sturdy and obstinate. We can cleanse our samskara(Impressions) only with continuous Yoga Practice and Sandhana.
Move with your own pace. There’s no haste. Feel it, experience it and move ahead!!!
Yoga Series for the Beginners:
Deep Abdominal breathing ( Yogic Breath)- Full, Deep, Rhythmic, and slow
Sun Salutations ( 12 Steps) – 3 to 5 rounds ( Slow to Fast with Breath)
Samasthhti ( Tadasana) ( Basic Mountain Pose)
Padhastasana ( Hand to Feet Pose)
Traikonasana ( Basic Traingle)
UtthithaTrikonasana ( Extended Traingle)
ParivruttaTrikonasana ( Revolving Traingle- Mild Variation for beginner’s)
Vrukshasana ( Tree Pose)
Janushirshasana ( Head to Knee pose)
Paschimottasana ( Intense West Stretch)
Purvottasana ( Intense East Stretch) ( counter Pose for FB’s )
Dandasana ( Staff Pose)
Baddhkonasana ( Bound Angle Pose)
ArdhaPadmasana ( Half Lotus Pose)
Shashankasana ( he Rabbit)
Bhujangasana (The Cobra)
Balasana (Child’s Pose)
ArdhaMatsyendra Asana (Half Spinal Twist)
SetuBandha Asana (The Bridge)
Matsyasana (The Fish)
Shavasana (The Corpse Pose)
More Asanas in each group can be included from the second or third week onward based on the progress of the student. Full Inversions should be included only in the third or fourth week, if not practiced before. Relaxation in between the poses is equally important as it’s in the end of the practice.
Maximum time duration in the first week should be 45 to 60 mins including final relaxation. We can have full 90 min extended practice only from the 4 or 5 week.
7. Mind, its Mysteries and Control
What is Mind?
Mind is not only daily made, but hourly made. It’s ever changing,in every minute it changes its colour and shape like a chameleon. It is very unsteady (Chanchalam and Asthiram). The mind has a peculiar habit of externalization from time immemorial. The constant Utterance and remembrance of Holy Names of God as Hari Om, Narayana, Rama, Siva, etc., purifies the mind-stuff and helps to make the mind introspective
It is also illusory like the objects and inanimate things. When your mind is deeply concentrated, a period of two hours appears like five minutes. If the mind is distracted and wandering, half an hour appears as 3 hours. This is everybody’s experience. In dream also many events that last for fifty years take place within ten minutes. Through the play of the mind, a Kalpa (One Era) is considered by it as a moment and vice versa.
Perception through the finite mind or cognition of experience takes place gradually and serially and not simultaneously. Simultaneous knowledge can only be had in Nirvikalpa Samadhi where past and future merge in the present. A Yogi only will have simultaneous knowledge. A man of the world with a finite mind can have knowledge in succession only. Though several objects may come in contact simultaneously with the different sense-organs, yet the mind acts like a gate keeper who can admit only one person at a time in the gate. The mind can send only one kind of sensation at a time into the mental factory inside for the manufacture of a percept and concept.
Imaginary fears of various sorts, exaggeration, concoction, mental dramatization, building castles in the air, are all clue to the power of imagination. Even a perfect, healthy man has some imaginary disease or other due to the power of imagination of the mind. A man may have a little weakness or Dosha (fault). When he becomes your enemy you at once exaggerate and magnify his weakness and Dosha. You even superimpose or concoct many more weaknesses and Doshas. This is due to the power of Imagination. Much energy is wasted on account of imaginary fears.
Belief, reasoning, knowledge and faith are four important psychic processes. First you have belief in a doctor. You go to him for diagnosis and treatment. He examines you and then prescribes certain medicines. You take them. You reason out: “This is the disease. The doctor has given me Iron and Iodide. Iron will improve my blood. The Iodide will stimulate the lympathis and absorb the exudation and growth in the liver.” Then the disease is cured by a course of these drugs for a month. Then you get knowledge and perfect faith in the medicine and the doctor. Then you recommend to your friend this doctor and drugs: “Dr. John is a clever man. He is an expert. Barkley’s tonic is a very good blood tonic.”
The mind assumes the shape of any object it intently thinks upon. If it thinks of an apple it assumes the shape of an Apple. If it thinks of Lord Krishna with flute in hand, it assumes the shape of Lord Krishna. You must train the mind properly and give it proper Sattvic food for assimilation. Have a Sattvic background of thought or mental image.
If you tasted Blueberries for a month, ‘mental adhesion’ to Blueberries comes in the mind. If you are in the company of Saints and Yogis, if you read books on Yoga, Vedanta, etc., a similar mental adhesion takes place in the mind for attaining God-consciousness. Mere mental adhesion will not help you much. Burning Vairagya( Dettachment), burning Mumukshutva, capacity for spiritual Sadhana, intense and constant application and meditation are needed. Then only Self-realization is possible.
The wandering habit of the mind manifests itself in various ways. You will have to be on the alert always to check this wandering habit of the mind. A householder’s mind wanders to cinema, theatre, circus, etc. A Sadhu’s mind wanders to Benares, Vrindavan and God. Many Sadhus never stick to one place during Sadhana. The wandering habit of the mind must be controlled by making it stick to one place, one method of Sadhana( Yoga practice), one Guru( Master) and one form of Yoga. A rolling stone gathers no moss. When you take up a book for study you must finish it before you take up another. When you take up any work, you must devote your wholehearted attention towards the work on hand and finish it before you take up another work. “One thing at a time and that done well is a very good rule as many can tell.” This is Yogi’s way of doing.
If all the thoughts are eliminated, then there remains nothing which can be called the mind. So thoughts are the mind. Again there is no such thing as the world independent of and apart from thoughts. The whole world is the result of the thoughts.The mind is generally attracted by materialistic things, beauty, intelligence, varied colors and pleasant sounds. Do not be deceived by these superficial things. Inquire within. What is the background for all these things?
Culturing your Thoughts
The mind is a like a spoiled little child who never sits quietly at one place. It is like a jumping monkey. It must be disciplined daily. Then it will gradually come under your control. It is only by the practical training of your mind that you can prevent bad thoughts and actions from arising and can prevent bad thoughts and actions that have arisen from recurrence. It is only by the practical training of your mind that you can encourage good thoughts and actions to arise and can maintain good thoughts and actions when they have arisen.
When you sit for meditation thoughts of your friends and work, memory of conversation that took place in the previous evening with your friends and relatives will disturb your mind and cause distraction. You will have to withdraw the mind again and again, cautiously from these external worldly thoughts and fix it again and again in your focus. You will have to disregard and ignore the worldly thoughts. Be indifferent. Be an observer. Do not welcome these thoughts. Do not identify yourself with these thoughts, ideas. Say within yourself: “I do not want these thoughts. I have nothing to do with these thoughts.” They will vanish gradually.
In the beginning all sorts of evil thoughts will arise in your mind as soon as you sit for meditation. Why does this happen during meditation when you attempt to entertain pure thoughts?
Aspirants leave their spiritual practices of meditation on account of this. If you try to drive a monkey it attempts to pounce on you with vengeance. Even so the old vicious Samskaras and old evil thoughts try to attack you with vengeance and redoubled force only at the time when you try to raise good, divine thoughts. Your enemy endeavors to resist you vehemently when you try to eject him out of your house. There is a law of resistance in nature. The old evil thoughts assert and say “O man! Do not be cruel. You have allowed us to stay in your mental factory from time immemorial. We have every right to abide here. We have helped you up to this time in all your evil actions. Why do you want to oust us from our dwelling place? We will not vacate our abode.” Do not be discouraged. Go on with your practice of meditation regularly. These evil thoughts will be thinned out. Eventually they will all perish.
You will be able to enter into deep meditation only if you lead a moral life. When you have led the moral life, you may further try to build up discrimination and the other steps in your mind. You can cultivate the mind in concentration and can finally devote yourself to meditation. The more you lead the moral life, the more you meditate, the greater likelihood will then be for you to enter into Samadhi which can liberate you from the round of births and deaths and can confer on you eternal Bliss and Immortality.
Read the next blog “Controlling the Mind” related with this topic……
Om Tat Sat !!!
8. Controlling the Mind through Yoga
The mind is like a wheel which revolves endlessly with tremendous velocity. It generates new thoughts with every revolution. This wheel is set in motion by the vibration of psychic Prana or subtle Prana. The practice of Pranayama and Meditation lessens the speed of the mind and slows down the wheel gradually. Perfect control of Prana will bring the wheel to a standstill.
Alcohol, meat, Rajasic foods, cinema, novel-reading, obscene songs, obscene sights, evil company, obscene talks will make the wheel of mind revolve very rapidly whereas fruits, Sattvic food, company of Mahatmas, study of religious books, solitude, Japa, Kirtan, concentration, meditation, enquiry of ‘Who am I?’ will slow down the wheel and eventually bring it down to a standstill. Identify yourself with the Immortal Self. Enquire ‘Who am I?’ whenever thoughts arise in your mind. All the thoughts will gradually die. Fewer the desires, lesser the thoughts. Become absolutely desire less.
You must have a pure mind if you want to realize the Self. Unless the mind is set free and casts away all desires, cravings, worries, delusion, pride, lust, attachment, likes and dislikes, it cannot enter into the domain of Supreme Peace and unalloyed felicity of the mmortal Abode.
The wheel will stop entirely. If you reduce your wants, if you do not try to fulfill your desires, if you try to eradicate your desires one by one, your thoughts will diminish in frequency and length. The number of thoughts per minute will also decrease. Fewer the thoughts, greater the peace. Remember this always. A wealthy man who does speculation in a big city and who has a large number of thoughts has a restless mind, in spite of his comforts, whereas, a Sadhu who lives in the cave of Himalayas and who is practicing thought-control is very happy in spite of his poverty.
Concentration will increase by lessening the number of thoughts. Certainly it is an uphill task to reduce the number of thoughts. In the beginning it will be bothering you much. The task will be very unpleasant. But later on you will enjoy as you will get immense strength of mind and internal peace by reduction of thoughts. With the patience, perseverance, vigilance, fiery determination and iron will, you can crush the thoughts easily just as you crush a lemon or an orange with ease. After crushing, it will be easy for you to root them out. Mere crushing or suppression will not suffice. There may be again resurrection of thoughts. They should be totally
eradicated just as a small plant is uprooted from the wet loose soil.
When you give a blow on the head of a snake with a stick and crush its head, it remains absolutely motionless for some time. You think it is dead. All of a sudden it raise its head and runs swiftly. Even so the thoughts that were once crushed and suppressed by you regain strength and raise up their heads. They must be destroyed totally beyond resurrection.
It is very difficult to fix the mind on one thought in the beginning. Diminish the number of thoughts. Try to have thoughts on one subject. If you think of a rose you can have all sorts of thoughts connected with rose only. You can think of different kinds of roses that are grown in different parts of the world. You can think of the various preparations that are made out of roses and their uses. You can allow even thoughts of other kinds of flowers to enter; but do not entertain thoughts of fruits and vegetables. Check the aimless wandering of the mind. Do not have thoughts at random when you think of a rose. Gradually you can fix the mind on one thought. You will have to discipline the mind daily. Eternal vigilance is needed in thought-control. Fewer the thoughts, greater the mental strength and concentration. Suppose the average number of thoughts that pass through your brain within one hour is one hundred. If you succeed in reducing them by constant practice of concentration and meditation to ninety you have gained ten per cent of power of concentration of mind. Every thought that is reduced adds strength and peace to the mind. Reduction of even one thought will give you mental strength and peace of mind.
You may not be able to feel this in the beginning as you do not possess a subtle intellect; but there is a spiritual thermometer inside to register the reduction of even a single thought. If you reduce one thought the mental strength that you have gained by this reduction will help you to reduce the second thought easily. There is no vitality in them. Just as the drowning man tries to catch anything to save himself, so also these lifeless thoughts try their level best to come back to their previous state of life and vigor. If you go on with your daily practice of concentration and meditation regularly, they will die by themselves like a gheeless lamp.
In the beginning of your practice of thought-control you will experience great difficulty. You will have to wage war with them. They will have to struggle their level best for their own existence. They will say: “We have every right to remain in this place of mind. We have a sole monopoly from time immemorial to occupy this area. Why should we vacate our dominion now? We will fight for our birthright till the end.” They will pounce upon you with great ferocity. When you sit for meditation only all sorts of evil thoughts will crop up. As you attempt to suppress them they want to attack you with redoubled force and vigor. But positive always overcomes the negative. Just as darkness cannot stand before the sun, just as a leopard cannot stand before the lion so also all these dark, negative thoughts, these invisible intruders, enemies of peace, cannot stand before the sublime divine thoughts.
They must die by themselves. Just as the warrior chops off the heads of his enemies one by one, when they come of a fortress through a trap door, so also chop the thoughts one by one when they emerge out through the trap door to the surface of the mind.
The substitution method is very easy and effective in the destruction of evil thoughts. Cultivate positive virtuous thoughts of mercy, love, purity, forgiveness, integrity, generosity, humility, etc., in the garden of your mind. The negative vicious thoughts of hatred, lust, anger, greed, pride, etc., will die by themselves. It is difficult to destroy the evil thoughts by attacking them directly. You will have to tax your will and waste your energy.
Suppose the evil thoughts stay in your mind for twelve hours and recur every third day. If you can make them stay for ten hours and recur once in a week by daily practice of concentration and meditation that is a decided improvement. If you continue your practice, the period of stay and recurrence will be gradually lessened. Eventually they will disappear altogether. Compare your present state of mind with that of last year or year before last. You will be able to find out your progress. The progress will be very slow in the beginning. It will be difficult for you to gauge your growth and progress.
Thoughts gain strength by repetition. If you entertain an evil thought or a good thought once, this evil thought or good thought has a tendency to recur again. Thoughts crowd together. Just as the birds of the same feather flock together, so also if you entertain one evil thought all sorts of evil thoughts join together and attack you. If you entertain any good thought, all good thoughts join together. Like attracts like. If you entertain evil thought that thought attracts all sorts of evil thoughts from others. You pass on that thought to others also. Thought moves. Thought is a living dynamic force. Thought is a thing. If you allow your mind to dwell on a sublime thought, this thought will attract good thoughts from others. You pass on good thoughts to others. You pollute the world with your bad thoughts. You help the world with your good thoughts.
Om Tat Sat!!
9.Yogic Diet and Path of Yoga
You are what you eat: Eat like a Yogi not Like a Bhogi!!!
A diet that is wholly conducive to the practice of Yoga and spiritual progress is called “Yogic Diet.” Diet has intimate connection with the mind. Mind is formed out of the subtlest portion of food. Sage Uddalaka instructs his son Svetaketu “Food, when consumed becomes threefold: the gross particles become excrement, the middling ones flesh and the fine ones the mind. My child, when curd is churned, its fine particles raise upwards, form butter. Thus, my child, when food is consumed, the fine particles which rise upwards form the mind. Hence verily the mind is food.”Again you will find in the Chhandogya Upanishad: “By the purity of food one becomes purified in his inner nature; by the purification of his inner nature he verily gets memory of the Self; and by the attainment of the memory of the Self, all ties and attachments are severed.”
Diet is of three kinds’ viz., Sattvic diet, Rajasic diet and Tamasic diet. Milk, barely, wheat, cereals, butter, cheese, tomatoes, honey, dates, fruits, almonds and sugar-candy are all Sattvic foodstuffs. They render the mind pure and calm. Fish, eggs, meat, salt, chillies and asafoetida are Rajasic foodstuffs. They excite passion. Beef, wine, garlic, onions and tobacco are Tamasic foodstuffs. They fill the mind with anger, darkness and inertia.
Food plays an important part in meditation. Different foods produce different effects on different compartments of the brain. For purposes of meditation, the food should be light, nutritious and Sattvic. Milk, fruits, almonds, butter, sugar-candy, green gram, Bengal gram soaked in water overnight, bread, etc., are all very helpful in meditation. Thed (a kind of root available in abundance in the Himalayan regions) is very Sattvic. Tea and sugar should be used in moderation. It is better if you can give them up entirely. Dried ginger-powder can be mixed with milk and taken frequently. Indian Yogis like this very much. Another health-giving stuff is myrobalan of the yellow variety which can be chewed now and then. In the Vagbhata it is represented as even superior to a nourishing mother. It takes care of the body better than a mother does. A mother gets annoyed with her child sometimes, but myrobalan always keeps an even temperament and is cheerful and enthusiastic in attending to the well-being of human beings. It preserves semen and stops all nocturnal emissions. Potato, boiled without salt or baked on fire, is also an excellent food for practitioners.
A beginner should be careful in choosing food-stuffs of Sattvic nature. Food exercises tremendously vast influence over the mind. You can see it obviously in everyday-life. It is very difficult to control mind after a heavy, sumptuous, indigestible, rich meal. The mind runs, wanders and jumps like an ape all the time. Alcohol causes great excitement of the mind.
Evolution is better than revolution. You should not make sudden changes in anything, particularly so in matters pertaining to food and drink. Let the change be slow and gradual. The system should accommodate it without any trouble. Nature never moves by leaps.
Aspirants should be able to make out a cheap and well-balanced diet from only a certain articles of diet. What is needed is a well-balanced diet, not a rich diet. A rich diet produces diseases of the liver, kidneys and pancreas. A well-balanced Yogic diet helps a man to grow, to turn out more work, maintains his body-weight, and keeps up the efficiency, stamina and a high standard of vim and vigor.
Where can Sannyasins in India, who live on public alms get a well-balanced diet? On some days they get pungent stuffs only, on some other days sweet meats only and yet on some other day sour things only. But they are able to draw the requisite energy through power of meditation. This unique Yogic method is unknown to the medical profession and to the scientists. Whenever the mind is concentrated, a divine wave bathes all the tissues with a divine elixir. All the cells are renovated and vivified.
The vast majority of persons dig their graves through their teeth. No rest is given to the stomach. After all, man wants very little on this bountiful earth—a few loaves of bread, a little butter and some cold water. This will amply suffice to keep the life going. People, on the contrary, stuff their stomachs with all sorts of things, eatable and uneatable, on account of the force of habit and passions.
A Yogic student who spends his time wholly in pure meditation wants very little food. One or one and a half seers of milk and some fruits per day will quite suffice. But a Yogi who ascends the platform for vigorous active work wants abundant nutritious food. Moderation is Yoga. Eat to live and not live to eat. Follow this golden rule and be happy. You can then devote more time to Yoga practices.
You are what you eat!!! Nature of food influences your consciousness!! Eat Like a Yogi not a Bhogi!!
10. Heal through Meditation
Research has shown that Meditation can contribute to an individual’s psychological and physiological well-being. This is accomplished as Meditation brings the brainwave pattern into an alpha state, which is a level of consciousness that promotes the healing state.
There is scientific evidence that Meditation can reduce blood pressure and relieve pain and stress. When used in combination with biofeedback, Meditation enhances the effectiveness of biofeedback. In addition to the growing body of research literature on meditation, physicians, psychotherapists, and other professionals are increasingly adding meditative techniques to their practice. Over six thousand physicians have begun the practice of Transcendental Meditation and regularly recommend the TM technique to their patients. Dean Ornish, M.D has demonstrated that heart disease can be reversed with a comprehensive program that includes meditations. Many physicians consider meditation a key element of an integrated health program.
The practice of self-healing meditation induces the mind in silence and space, allowing it time to recover and rejuvenate. Meditation does not mean sitting in a perfect state of peace while having no thoughts. Big misconception! Instead, meditation is about establishing a different relationship with your thoughts, just for a little while. Instead of attention being drawn off by whatever thought happens to present itself, in meditation, you watch your thoughts from a different, more stabilized perspective. You’re training yourself to place your attention where and when you want. This is very powerful. It gives you the ability to direct your thoughts (and mood) in more productive and peaceful directions. And, as has been demonstrated in the last few years, this ability has profound self-healing implications for physical and mental health.
Just as through physical exercises and other practical ways, like good diet and so on, the physical condition of the body can be improved, in the same way through meditation, mental activities can be improved as well. We are aware of the fact that thoughts and mental conditions have a strong impact on us. When we are scared, we tremble. Our body feels like a weightless mass on the other hand, vulgar and immoral thoughts leave a person incapable of utilizing his abilities and strength because of a lack of concentration.
Rest is only perceived as lying down, denoting activity in which no energy is used or utilized. However, this description is far from the truth. Many people seem to have peace and tranquility though they may internally be worried and depressed. By having a continuing non-stop flow of thoughts, our energy decreases tremendously. By being overly attached to the web of thoughts, the brain gets tired which results in the waste of stored energy. We all know that mental concentration is a key to good health and that over-worrying weakens the immune system, which results in sickness. This all happens because the waste of energy weakens the immune system and various diseases then attack that person. When a nervous strength gets weaker then the brain becomes slower, memory is affected and weakens.
Due to weak will power, success in life cannot be achieved. Life experiences have shown that mental stress eventually leads to diseases and physical ailments. Mental complications directly or indirectly result in heart disease, and gallbladder and kidney stones. Prolonged stress could result in a breakdown of the nervous system. Negative thinking leads to stomach ulcers, hyperacidity (acid reflux) as well as constipation.
To get mental peace most people try those methods that often suspend the consciousness temporarily such as alcohol, drugs, and tranquilizers. These drugs do nothing but create a feeling of self-negation temporarily. These sources not only damage health but also the nervous system and speed up the aging process.
In psychological disorders such as psychosis, life becomes stagnant. Every action has a negative side. The patient feels comfortable in a closed room. He ends all relations and communications with family members. He avoids any contact with other people and becomes insecure. Even in extremely hot weather, the patient tends to sleep with a blanket. Interest in consuming food also declines, and as the consequence the body becomes weak and emaciated.
Physically there are two systems work in our body; the Sympathetic and Parasympathetic system. The first mentioned system controls the high blood pressure and the dilation of cornea. The latter system handles lowering blood pressure, lowering of heartbeat and contraction of cornea and movement of matter within the body. This system works without our will or discretion. For example we are bound to inhale and exhale. Even if we hold the breath for a few moments eventually we are forced to breathe anyway. Heartbeat is also beyond our control. That is why these days there are some medical experts and spiritual scientists working to devise a method or exercise through which we would be able to control the functioning of the Parasympathetic system to defend ourselves against diseases and ailments and some diseases may even be eliminated altogether. On the basis, scientists have created a system called ‘Bio Feed Back’ on which research is underway. Through meditation, the parasympathetic system could be controlled at will. Meditation brings good changes in the system. The feeling of Meditation takes us towards deeper calm and stillness. This state otherwise does not stay with us because the mind never stays on anything for too long. Meditation not only increases the will power but physically and psychologically numerous benefits are achieved as well. Experiences and observations have shown that following physical and psychological benefits are achieved by practicing Meditation.
· Control of blood pressure.
· Increase in life expectancy.
· Improvement in eyesight (vision)
· Reduction of fat in blood.
· Enhanced creativity.
· Less irritability.
· Improvement in the performance of heart.
· Improvement in hearing.
· Increased immunity.
· End of depression and anxiety.
· Reduction of stress.
· Increase of red blood corpuscles.
· Improved memory.
· Better decision making.
· End of insomnia and deeper sleep.
· End of fear, increase of levity.
· End of doubt.
· After the success of meditation a person is set free from the fear of witchcraft, ghosts, and all negative thoughts.
“The cause of all diseases is the disturbed and agitated mind. Diseases originate in our mind through our past subconscious thought patterns and present conscious ones. Imbalance results in diseases on the physical body later. Still and quiet mind erases the root cause and the technique is meditation”
11. Breath, Health and Pranayama
The breath is the most vital process of the body. It influences the activities of each and every cell and most importantly, is intimately linked with the performance of the brain. Human beings breathe about 15 times per minute and 21,600 times per day. Respiration fuels the burning of oxygen and glucose, producing energy to power every muscular contraction, glandular secretion and mental process. Most people breathe incorrectly using only a small part of their lung capacity. The breathing is shallow, insufficient and not full. The body is then deprived of the vital oxygen and prana essential for maintaining good health.
Rhythmic, deep and slow respiration clams and relaxes the mind. Irregular breathing disrupts the rhythms of the brain and leads to physical, emotional and mental blocks. These, in turn, lead to an inner conflict, an unbalanced personality, a disordered lifestyle and disease. Pranayama establishes regular breathing patterns, breaking this negative cycle and reversing the debilitating process. It does so by giving us control the breath and re- establishing the natural, relaxed rhythms of the body and mind.
Although breathing is mainly an unconscious process, conscious control of it may be taken at anytime. Consequentially, it forms the conscious and unconscious areas of the mind. Through the practice of pranayama, the energy trapped in neurotic, unconscious mental patterns may be released for use in more creative and joyful activity.
Prana and Lifestyle
Lifestyle has produced impact on our pranayamayaKosha and its prana. Physical activities like sleep, exercise, work, intake of food and sexual act all dissipates our prana or affects its distribution and flow. Faculties of mind like emotion, thought, and imagination affect the pranic body even more. Irregularities in lifestyle, dietary indiscretions and stress deplete and obstruct pranic flow. This result in what people experience the “drained energy experience”. Dissipation of prana – vital life force eventually results to revitalization of the organs and bodily systems it governs and ultimately to disease or metabolic dysfunction. The techniques of pranayama reverse this process, energizing and balancing the different pranas within the pranayama Kosha. Pranayama practice should be integrated along with asana for complete benefits.
Breathing and Life Span
Breath not only decides the quality of your life but also the length and quantity of life. The state of your health is directly linked on the quality of your breath. Rate of your respiration decides how long you are going to live on this Earth. Slow, long deep, full and rhythmic breath leads to long and disease free life. Amazing but true, we are so unaware about our breath that we forget the basic rule for being hale and healthy and keep chasing other methods to remain fit. The secret lies in your breath. Ancient Indian Yogis had this basic wisdom that our most modern scientist failed to notice in the first place. Our parents didn’t learn from their parents and teachers. So this so important health and spiritual secret couldn’t help the mankind. They noticed that animals with a slow breath rate such as pythons, elephants and tortoises have long life spans whereas those with fast and rapid rates such as birds, dogs and tigers lived only for few years. From this observation they realized the importance of slow breathing for increasing the human lifespan. Those who breathe in short quick gasps are likely to have shorter life span then those who breathe deep, full and slow( Yogic Breath). On the physical level, this is so as respiration is directly linked to the heart. A slow breathing rate keeps the heart strong and nourished and leads to a longer life. Deep breathing also increases the absorption of energy by pranayama kosha( Body), enhancing dynamism, vitality and general well- being.
Pranayama and Spiritual Progress
Pranayama practice is actually a pathway to rise spiritually. Our mind is like an uncontrolled horse doesn’t want to rest and still. It is the biggest obstacle on the path of our self realization as we are always immersed in the five states of mind and thus trapped in the clutches of the Maya (Illusion). For spiritual advancement, we must learn to be a master of our mind and make it our slave which is actually the reverse right now. We need to use mind as an instrument and medium not as means. Our breath acts like a bridge between our body and mind. Our mind is so full of complexities that it becomes quite difficult to get a hold of its reigns. The only way we can reach our mind is to start controlling our breath. Once breath is mastered and controlled, mind surrenders like a tamed pussy cat. Practice of pranayama controls our breath. Initially it makes our breath full, deep, slow and rhythmic and later on it starts quieting our mind slowly and gradually. The spiritual seeker requires tranquility of mind as a prelude to a spiritual practice. To this many pranayama techniques like Kumbhaka (Breath Retention) actually establishes control over the flow of prana, calming the mind and controlling the thought process.
Once the mind has been stilled and pranas flows freely in nadis and chakras, the doorway to the evolution of consciousness opens, leading the aspirant into higher dimensions of spiritual experience.
“Pranayama is the means by which the Yogi tries to realize within his individual body the whole cosmic nature and attempts to attain perfection by attaining all the powers of the Universe.”
“May all Breathe deeply and slowly”
12.Manage your Lower backache through Yoga Therapy
Low back pain is a significant public health problem that has reached epidemic proportions. It places a substantial burden on the workforce and the health care system. It has proven very difficult to treat, and it is one of the most commonly reported reasons for the use of complementary and alternative medicine.
The common causes of this condition are either stiffness in the ligaments or muscles of the lower back, or weak abdominal muscles. Poor posture and lack of exercise usually lead to tight and swollen back muscles, resulting in pain in this area.
What Causes Lower Back Pain conditions like Herniated Disc and Degenerative Disc
Why only lower Back? Generally speaking, the lower back is subject to a lot of mechanical or physical stress and strain. The reason is the weight of the upper body, which always puts loads on the lower back. Supporting all that upper body weight is the spine, which is made up of more than 30 small bones called vertebrae stacked one on top of the other. A spongy piece of cartilage, called a disc, sits between each vertebra. It acts as a shock absorber, preventing the bony vertebrae from grinding against one another. With age, these cushioning discs gradually wear away and shrink, a condition known as degenerative disc disease. Discs can also tear or become injured. Sometimes the weakening of a disc can put pressure on its jelly-like center.
A herniated disc in the lower back can put pressure on the nerve that extends down the spinal column. This commonly causes pain to radiate to the buttocks and all the way down the leg. This condition is called sciatica.
The Goal of Yoga Therapy for Lower Back Pain
The Paramount goal of Therapeutic Yoga for low back pain is the relief of pain and functional limitation caused by a chronic lower back condition. This is achieved by minimizing, healing, and ultimately correcting underlying physical malfunctions through a series of anatomically correct postures. Unlike most conventional medical treatments that focus on treating LBP symptoms through medications and surgical procedures, Yoga therapy works to correct underlying internal malfunctions that contribute to mechanical causes of non-specific LBP. It is through the process of helping people with LBP to rest the area of pain and then educating them in proper alignment of bones, muscles, and connective tissue and movements that the healing occurs and changes the underlying root cause of the discomfort
Recommended Yoga Series for Lower Back Conditions
· All Standing Poses
· UrdhvaMukhaJanuSirshasana ( Mild Variation)
· UrdhvaMukhaPaschimottasana ( Mild Variation)
· Marichyasana 3
· ArdhaMatsyendra Asana
· Sarvangasana ( Supported)
· Setubandha Asana
Active relaxation with guided Imagery and visualization
Final Passive Relaxation ( Shavasana)
Pranayama (It must be practiced after 30 min of Yoga Asana Practice or 15 min before Yoga Session)
Deep Yogic Breath (5)
NadiShodhan (No retention)( 10 min)
Ujaayi Breath (10)
Remember all or few difficult asanas can be done with the supported props on front of the competent Yoga Therapist or teacher. Asanas need to be suggested to the patient in phases divided in weeks increasing or reducing with progressive weeks based on developed flexibility, and core strength of the lower back muscles and ligaments.
Prevention is better than Cure.
Preventive measures include –
1) Awareness and correction of postures while standing, sitting and lying down,
2) Regular exercises and
3) Stress management
Yoga techniques involving slow body movements followed by practices of deep relaxation are useful in maintaining the strength and flexibility of the spine. In persons who have had a minor acute episode of back pain, regular practice of a basic set of yoga practices of 45 to 50 minutes including Suryanamaskar, loosening practices, 8 – 10 asanas followed by deep relaxation, pranayama and meditation as recommended in our programme for promotion of positive health can be practiced safely.
During acute episodes
Rest in bed is necessary which could vary from a few days up to about 4-6 weeks until the severity of pain comes down. Pain killers, muscle relaxants, cold or hot fomentation during this period of total bed rest and immobilization will help you to get relief from the acute pain. Refrain from lifting heavy weights and sudden jerks and movements.
Ayurveda Massage Therapy
Massage therapy works exceedingly well for chronic back conditions where warm herbal Ayurveda oils loosens the stiff LBP muscles and ligaments. Therapeutic herbs in the oil with gentle massage strokes releases the negative stress accumulated in the inter vertebral discs in the lumbar spinal region. Specialized therapies like kativasty for Lower Back are also advised by Ayurveda Physicians along with oral medications to relive the pain quickly.
Effective Stress Management
It has been shown and validated by the various studies that LBP conditions are triggered or aggravated by the stressful lifestyle. Mild to severe depression and emotional suppression can make your situation worse. I have personally observed this pattern where 80 to 90 % of LBP patents had ongoing stress symptoms. Effective Stress Management through change in lifestyle, Yoga, Meditation, relaxation exercises, counseling through support group is extremely essential for any Alternative Therapy to provide absolute relief and cure. As Yoga says, “Cure is in your mind and within your own peaceful existence”
“Let this wonderful Drug less therapy to cure and heal you from within slowly and gradually”
13. Yoga and its Relevance Today in the Present Times
History of Yoga
The Yoga as we know today was developed as a part of the Tantric civilization which existed in all parts of India and few other parts of the world thousands of years ago. Ancient remnants have been found in the archeological excavations made in the Harrappa and Mohenjodaro at Indus Valley, now in modern Pakistan. Many idols and statues have been found of different deities depicting various Yogic Poses. Lord Shiva and Shakti were seen performing Yoga asanas and practicing meditation. Those ruins were once the dwelling places of the Pre- Vedic Period before the Aryan civilization who nurtured this precious heritage and helped in its propagation. According to Indian Mythology, Shiva is said to be the founder of Yoga and Parvati, his first disciple. Lord Shiva is considered to be the symbol or embodiment of supreme consciousness. Parvati represents supreme knowledge, will and action, and is responsible for all creation. This force or shakti is also known as KundaliniShaktii, the cosmic force which lies dormant like a coiled serpent at the base of the spine in Psychic bodies of all beings. Parvati is regarded as a mother of the whole nature. The individual soul is bound to the clutches of her Maya (Illusion& bondage) of the materialistic world and eventually attains liberation and unites with the supreme universal consciousness through her grace and blessings. Out of compassion and sheer love for her children, she imparted her secret knowledge of liberation (Yoga) in the form of Tantra. The knowledge of Yoga has its roots in Tantra and two cannot be separated. Tantra is a combination of two words, tanoti and trayati, which mean ‘expansion’ and ‘liberation ’respectively. Therefore, it’s a science of expanding consciousness and liberating the energy.
Yoga got its birth at the beginning of human civilization when human kind realized their spiritual potential and tried to evolve. They developed techniques of Yoga. Pranyama and meditation were devised through divine intervention to rise spiritually and go beyond the gross body and realize their subtle mind. The Yogic Science was slowly developed ages all over the world. In ancient times, Yoga techniques were shrouded in mystery as it was kept secret and were never written down or exposed to public view. They were passed on verbally from teacher or master to disciple by word of mouth. Through personal experience, realized yogis and sages was able to provide direction to guide sincere aspirants along the correct path, removing any confusion, misunderstanding and excessive intellectual contemplation.
Relevance of Yoga in the Present Times
Today in the present times, in the midst of the chaos and disorder, people are seeking answers for their true self-realization. They have been misguided for years and disillusioned minds have been created. It’s time to reclaim the spiritual heritage and Yoga is certainly a part of it. While Yoga’s highest objective is spiritual enlightenment and path, it still offers various tangible benefits to everyone regardless of their spiritual goals.
Physical, emotional and mental purification is one of its most important achievements. The simple fact that it works on the principles of holistic unification and harmony makes it so potent. According to Medical science and scientists, Yoga therapy is successful because it creates the balance between the nervous and endocrine systems which directly influences all the other systems and organs of the body.
Yoga is not a religion. Although, it has its roots in India but it doesn’t advocate any religion, race or region. What makes it so fascinating is the pure fact that the principles of Yoga are universal and applies to every being including animals and plants!! For most people in 21 century Yoga is simply a means to maintain health, feel relaxed, fit and wellbeing. It has indeed helped many people to release and manage the extreme stresses of the modern world order and lifestyle. Asanas do remove the physical discomfort accumulated due to imbalance in diet, thoughts and lifestyle. Toxins are removed as breath is controlled with asanas and movements. In the age of mobile phones, gadgets and twenty four hour shopping, yogic practices make a great personal and business sense.
In the present times, when we are fast rejecting the past values without being able to create new ones, the scenario looks dull in the present shape. Our hearts are no more open to reach people, spread love and compassion due to years of negative self-centered mental conditioning. Greed has taken its heightened position within our mind. Wars, chaos, disorder and disputes are nothing but the reflection of our Psyche which has surely been deviated from its pristine true nature. Shortages of food, money, resources, unemployment, starvation, robberies and all sorts of crimes culminated out of our narrow minds and constricted hearts. We were not like this in the beginning. Mother Shakti bestowed us with glittering, shining and flawless Samskara (Mind and character traits). We were supposed to be in touch with that truest self but we got distracted under the strong influence of Maya (Illusions) and started existing purely in our body, neglecting our soul, and true self. Modern education system only shattered our hopes as they are certainly far away from the temples of spiritual awareness and knowledge. Where’s the path? How we can stop this utter chaos on this planet? How we can find peace and solace? How we can immerse and bathe in never ending bliss and happiness? Why materialistic desires and attainments still not giving us the peace? What we lack now that we always had once upon a time? It’s just we have stopped traveling inwards and started attaching too much importance to the outer world and our senses. We saw something found it gorgeous and got distracted….We heard something….got influenced and distracted. We earned money got power and fame …got intoxicated anddistracted.we got relations and got distracted…….we got good health and looks and got distracted again….What is this distraction. I am talking about? Distraction is nothing but keep traveling outward all the time and forget your inner true self, your soul. Whatever you have got on this Earth would certainly leave you the day you will take your last breath then why to attach and give so much importance to mortal, non-permanent assets? Your only and only personal belonging is your soul and its impressions that you are going to carry forward.
The answer lies in start connecting to our true self. The path is ‘Yoga’. In this respect, Yoga is far from just being a physical exercise. It is an aid to establish a new perception of what is real, what is necessary, and how to become established in a way of life which embraces both inner and outer realities. This way of life is an experience which cannot be understood intellectually and need to be experienced only through practical application and implementation. However, the Renaissance has begun, be a part of it now!!!
Om tat Sat!!!
14.Yoga: The Most Effective in Releasing Stress and Anxiety
We have all experienced the way unrelieved tension results in both mental disorders and physical ill-health. This is not a modern phenomenon. In the centuries-old Yoga Sutras, the sage Patanjali attributed the causes of mental affliction to the ego, spiritual ignorance, desire, hatred of others, and attachment to life. He called these kleshas or “sorrows.”
Man has been able to conquer ignorance in many fields through advancement in Science and Technology but still his infallible and excessive reliance on the technology is simply misplaced. It has triggered widespread feelings of competitiveness and envy. We are still waiting for the machine which can make people healthy holistically without creating potentially hazardous side effects. Financial tensions, emotional upheavals, environmental pollution and, above all, a sense of being overtaken by the speed of events, have all increased the stress of daily life. All these factors strain the body, causing nervous tension, and adversely affecting the mind. This is when feelings of isolation and loneliness take over.
The state of the mind and that of the body are intimately related. If the mind is relaxed, the muscles in the body will also be relaxed. Stress produces a state of physical and mental tension. Yoga, developed thousands of years ago, is recognized as a form of mind-body medicine. In yoga, physical postures and breathing exercises improve muscle strength, flexibility, blood circulation and oxygen uptake as well as hormone functions. In addition, the relaxation induced by meditation helps to stabilize the autonomic nervous system with a tendency towards parasympathetic dominance. Physiological benefits which follow, help yoga practitioners become more resilient to stressful conditions and reduce a variety of important risk factors for various diseases, especially cardiac-respiratory diseases.
Yoga is not a miracle cure that can free a person from all stress, but it can help to minimize it. The worries of modern life deplete our reserves of bio-energy, because we draw on our vital energy from the storehouse—the nerve cells. This can, ultimately, exhaust our energy reserves and lead to the collapse of mental and physical equilibrium. Yogic science believes that the nerves control the unconscious mind, and that when the nervous system is strong, a person faces stressful situations more positively.
The diaphragm, according to yogic science, is the seat of the intelligence of the heart and the window to the soul. During stressful situations, however, when you inhale and exhale, the diaphragm becomes too taut to alter its shape. Yogic exercises address this problem by developing elasticity in the diaphragm, so that, when stretched, it can handle any amount of stress, whether intellectual, emotional, or physical.
The practice of asanas and pranayama helps to integrate the body, breath, mind, and intellect. Slow, effortless exhalation during practice of an asana brings serenity to the body cells, relaxes the facial muscles, and releases all tension from the organs of perception: the eyes, ears, nose, tongue, and skin. When this happens, the brain, which is in constant communication with the organs of action, becomes shunya, or void, and all thoughts are stilled. Then, invading fears and anxieties cannot penetrate to the brain. When you develop this ability, you perform your daily activities with efficiency and economy. You do not dissipate your valuable bio-energy. You enter the state of true clarity of intellect. Your mind becomes free from stress and worries.
15. Weight Loss through Yoga- Safe, Steady and Simple
Yoga is good as it can be practiced by anyone at any age. It is equally good for the children, young and oldies at the same time. When compared to other weight loss exercises such aerobics or strength training, which are considered the best exercises for weight loss, yoga doesn’t hit the top rankings but when it comes to effective weight loss it is league ahead than any other form of the exercise.
Its true most types of yoga don’t have anything near the calorie-burning power of aerobic exercise. A 150-pound person will burn 150 calories in an hour of doing regular yoga, compared to 311 calories for an hour of walking at 3 mph. But it is exercise, after all, and many practitioners believe yoga can indeed help people take off extra pounds. Recent research has shown that when it comes to effectiveness, yoga is by far more effective than any other exercise at reducing weight. Many people have misconception about deposition and arrangement of fat cells in our body. Yoga doesn’t help you to lose fat from specific parts rather it distributes the fat evenly throughout the body and balancing the metabolic rate. It not only reduces and balances the fat deposition from the superficial layers but also melts the fats from the deep layers inside the organs. Studies have shown that people have lost an average of 6 kilograms or 13 pounds at the end of 3 months of yoga.
Cholesterol levels also showed steady decline after 4 weeks of regular Yoga with significant drop in the bad cholesterol after 6 months of Yoga. Other studies have showed that mild aerobic training does not show much benefit in either reducing weight or blood pressure (BP), while even mild yoga showed a decrease in BP as well as small reductions in weight. Further, studies conducted on children over a 12-week period showed an average loss of 2 kilograms or 4.5 pounds, and was also coupled with an increase in overall health and self-esteem.
The reason why yoga is considered good for weight loss is that most yoga asanas are combined with pranayama or yogic breathing exercises. When asanas are combined with pranayama, it increases metabolic rate and burns calories much faster than the mild increase in heart rate does. It also heats up the body, providing warmth to limber up the joints, reducing pain and inflammation, while increasing blood circulation. Most yoga sessions invariably end with a mind rejuvenation exercise. This can be simple meditation or more complex yogic practices. One of the simplest methods is to try and keep the mind empty, thereby calming the mind and also helping it focus better.
One of the good things about yoga is that diet comes as a part of it. Although there are no restrictions as such, many serious yogis recommend diet control to maintain a healthy body. When done properly a yogic diet gives everything to the body that it needs, while still keeping a strict control on excess calories. However, following a yogic diet is optional, and an excessive reduction in calories is usually not recommended. A healthy body requires a certain amount of food and what yoga does is help us to consume only as much as our bodies need and nothing more.
So no dieting, starvation, no long rides on treadmills, no diet fads, no million dollar advice to lose weight. Just one hour of Yoga 5 days in a week.
16.Yoga Therapy: A Wonder Drugless Therapy for all diseases
Health is not just freedom from disease. For good health, the joints, tissues, muscles, cells, nerves, glands, and each system of the body must be in a state of perfect balance and harmony. Health is the perfect equilibrium of the body, mind, intellect and soul. Health is like the flowing water of a river, always fresh and pure, in a constant state of flux. Humans are a combination of the senses of perception, the organs of action, the mind, the intelligence, the inner consciousness, and the conscience. Each of these is worked on by the practice of Yoga.
Yoga is for everyone. The strain of modern life can lead to physical pain and illness, as we neglect our bodies in the race for material success. The stress of modern life can also lead to mental suffering: feelings of inadequacy, isolation, or powerlessness. Yoga helps to integrate the mental and the physical plane, bringing about a sense of inner and outer balance. Its way beyond stretching and bending, contrary to what most people think about it.
Yoga techniques and specific therapeutic sequences can help those with specific ailments. Regular practice builds up the body’s inner strength and natural resistance, helps to alleviate pain, and tackles the root, rather than the symptoms, of the problem. Across the world, there is now a growing awareness that alternative therapies are more conducive to health than conventional ones.
Asanas balance the respiratory, circulatory, nervous, hormonal, digestive, excretory, and reproductive systems perfectly. The equilibrium in the body then brings mental peace and enhances intellectual clarity.
How Yoga therapy works
The process of yoga therapy is based on selecting and sequencing asanas which stretch specified parts of the body, and block others. You must remember, however, that in the case of serious or congenital disabilities, yoga asanas may not affect a full recovery, but in many cases can alleviate some of the suffering associated with the condition. Asanas need to be practiced with patience and diligence for a period of time to get relief or cure. Yoga calms the nerves and reduces the pain thus bringing the foremost trouble entity (pain) to the minimum levels. Meditation and pranayama speeds up the healing process. Cure is not forced but allowed the nature to heal on its own pace.
Yoga Therapy has proven to be effective in treating more than chronic diseases and conditions with ample evidence. Yoga is holistic. Diseases manifest only when our body, mind and soul are not in balance with each other. The belief underlying yoga therapy is to enable the human system to function as efficiently, effectively, and naturally as it can. This natural process, however, operates at its own rhythm and pace, and the pace may sometimes be slow. Yoga therapy begins with understanding the entire human body and the way it functions. The origins and development of the ailment in question are carefully studied, particularly the parts of the body most affected. The aim is not simply to cure the specific symptoms, but to target the cause.
Yoga addresses every muscle, bone, organ, tissues and cell of the body. Therapeutic Yoga treatments are not only limited to curing minor or major chronic diseases but also life threatening and fatal diseases like cancer and AIDS.
Some of the most common chronic and degenerative diseases which have been successfully treated by Yoga therapy in the recent past are being listed below:
· High & Low Blood Pressure, Hypertension, Cardiac Problems
· Asthma, Cold Extremities, Allergies, Breathlessness, bronchitis
· Digestive Disorders: Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), Indigestion, Acid Reflux, constipation, Diarrhea, Heartburn, acidity etc.
· Physical fatigue, back problems (Sciatica pain, Slip disc), lower and upper back pain, neck pain, arthritis, osteoporosis etc.
· Mental and Nervous disorders like anxiety and stress disorders, depression, insomnia etc.
· Diabetes, skin and blood related ailments etc.
The above list is for sure not complete but suggests a lot about the holistic approach of Yoga as a therapy in treating all kinds of disorders including the life threatening ones.
“Cure is within us not outside. The moment we start connecting with our Self (trinity: Body, mind and soul) and start maintaining the divine balance and equilibrium, the extremities of subconscious mind and body disappear, so is the pain, diseases and sufferings”
The most important benefit of yoga is physical and mental therapy. The aging process, which is largely an artificial condition, caused mainly by auto intoxication 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. To get the maximum benefits of yoga one has to combine the practices of yogasanas, pranayama and meditation.
Regular practice of asanas, pranayama and meditation can help such diverse ailments such as diabetes, blood pressure, digestive disorders, arthritis, arteriosclerosis, chronic fatigue, asthma, varicose veins and heart conditions. Laboratory tests have proved the yogi’s increased abilities of consciously controlling autonomic or involuntary functions, such as temperature, heartbeat and blood pressure.
Research into the effects of yogic practices on HIV is currently underway with promising results. Through the practice of yoga, we become aware of the interconnectedness between our emotional, mental and physical levels. Gradually this awareness leads to an understanding of the more subtle areas of existence. The ultimate goal of yoga is to make it possible for you to be able to fuse together the gross material (annamaya), physical (pranamaya), mental (manomaya), intellectual (vijnanamaya) and spiritual (anandamaya) levels within your being.
Physiological Benefits of Yoga
- Stable autonomic nervous system equilibrium
- Pulse rate decreases
- Respiratory rate decreases
- Blood Pressure decreases (of special significance for hypo reactors)
- Galvanic Skin Response (GSR) increases
- EEG – alpha waves increase (theta, delta, and beta waves also increase during various stages of meditation)
- EMG activity decreases
- Cardiovascular efficiency increases
- Respiratory efficiency increases
- Gastrointestinal function normalizes
- Endocrine function normalizes
- Excretory functions improve
- Musculoskeletal flexibility and joint range of motion increase
- Breath-holding time increases
- Joint range of motion increase
- Grip strength increases
- Eye-hand coordination improves
- Dexterity skills improve
- Reaction time improves
- Posture improves
- Strength and resiliency increase
- Endurance increases
- Energy level increases
- Weight normalizes
- Sleep improves
- Immunity increases
- Pain decreases
- Steadiness improves
- Depth perception improves
- Balance improves
- Integrated functioning of body parts improves
Psychological Benefits of Yoga
- Somatic and kinesthetic awareness increase
- Mood improves and subjective well-being increases
- Self-acceptance and self-actualization increase
- Social adjustment increases
- Anxiety and Depression decrease
- Hostility decreases
- Concentration improves
- Memory improves
- Attention improves
- Learning efficiency improves
- Mood improves
- Self-actualization increase
- Social skills increases
- Well-being increases
- Somatic and kinesthetic awareness increase
- Self-acceptance increase
- Attention improves
- Concentration improves
- Memory improves
- Learning efficiency improves
- Symbol coding improves
- Depth perception improves
- Flicker fusion frequency improves
Biochemical Benefits of Yoga
Total cholesterol decreases
HDL cholesterol increases
LDL cholesterol decreases
VLDL cholesterol decreases
Lymphocyte count increases
Total white blood cell count decreases
Vitamin C increases
Total serum protein increases
Yoga Health Benefits versus Exercise Benefits
- Parasympathetic Nervous dominates
- Sub cortical regions of brain dominate
- Slow dynamic and static movements
- Normalization of muscle tone
- Low risk of injuring muscles and ligaments
- Low caloric consumption
- Effort is minimized, relaxed
- Energizing (breathing is natural or controlled)
- Balanced activity of opposing muscle groups
- Noncompetitive, process-oriented
- Awareness is internal (focus is on breath and the infinite)
- Limitless possibilities for growth in self-awareness
- Exercise Benefits
- Sympathetic Nervous System dominates
- Cortical regions of brain dominate
- Rapid forceful movements
- Increased muscle tension
- Higher risk of injury
- Moderate to high caloric consumption
- Effort is maximized
- Fatiguing (breathing is taxed)
- Imbalance activity of opposing groups
- Competitive, goal-oriented
- Awareness is external (focus is on reaching the toes, reaching the finish line, etc.)
- Boredom factor