What is meditation?


“If you want to conquer the anxiety of life, live in the moment, live in the breath.” – Amit Ray

Om Chanting and Meditation Mental balance and placidness might be realized by the annihilation of stress and outrage. “If you ask what is the single most important key to longevity, I would have to say it is avoiding worry, stress and tension. And if you didn’t ask me, I’d still have to say it.” – George Burns

Fear truly underlies both stress and outrage. Nothing is picked up by stress and outrage, however on the opposite much vitality is squandered by these two sorts of lower feelings. On the off chance that a man who worries much and is bad tempered, is actually not living in the present and is thinking too much all the time. Be cautious and insightful. All pointless stresses can be evaded. The unwinding of the muscles responds on the brain and conveys rest to the psyche. The unwinding of the brain conveys rest to the body too. Body and brain are personally associated. Body is a form arranged by the psyche for its delight.

“Doing something positive will help turn your mood around. When you smile, your body relaxes. When you experience human touch and interaction, it eases tension in your body.” ― Simone Elkeles, Return to Paradise

Sit for 15 minutes in a casual and simple agreeable position. Close your eyes. Pull back the brain from outside items. Still the psyche. Hush the percolating considerations. Surmise that the body is like a coconut shell and you are completely not quite the same as the body.

Believe that the body is an instrument in your grasp. Recognize yourself with the all-swarming Spirit or Atman. Envision that the entire world and your body are drifting like a bit of straw in this boundless sea of Spirit. Feel that you are in contact with the Supreme Being. Feel that the life of the entire world is throbbing, vibrating also, throbbing through you. Feel that the sea of life is tenderly shaking you on its boundless chest. At this point open your eyes. You will encounter gigantic mental peace, mental force and mental quality.


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12 Essential Yoga Books to Inspire You and Your Yoga Practice


By David Procyshyn

 

Best Yoga Books - Our Favorite Books on Yoga

Every yogi has a story of how a yoga book completely transformed their yoga practice. Many have more than one. If you have been practicing yoga for a few years or more, perhaps you can relate to this. A shift in perspective, a new way of looking at things or a different way of practicing can alter your experience on your mat and in your life, enough that you feel somewhat different – more inspired, lighter… dare I say enlightened?

All of the yoga books below have that potential. Each one grabs you in a different way and teaches you something new about yourself, about yoga and about life. We hope that this guide will help you choose the book that is ideal for you at this moment, or will help you choose the perfect book for a friend, colleague or family member who also loves yoga.

We have divided them into 3 categories: Yoga Poses, Practice and Philosophy (6 books), Yoga and Functional Anatomy (2 books) and Meditation, Psychology and Transformation (4 books). For each book we include a brief but detailed description, then complete each review with the reasons why you may want to buy, or not buy, this book. Let us know if you have any that you would like to recommend or if you have any questions or feedback, by posting below.

Yoga Poses, Practice and Philosophy

Yoga: The Spirit and Practice of Moving Through Stillness by Erich Schiffmann

Yoga - The Spirit and Practice of Moving into StillnessErich Schiffmann takes a unique approach to yoga practice that may shift the way that you do yoga. Schooled in the Iyengar and Desikachar approaches, Schiffmann has a uniquely gentle, transformative approach to alignment and body awareness. His easy-to-follow yoga pose tutorials, yoga sequences and perspective on yoga practice help you stay centered in your practice and calm and mindful in your life. He covers meditation, pranayama, the essence of yoga practice, lines of energy and asanas to create a wonderfully comprehensive book on yoga.

Buy this yoga book if:

  • You like to explore different approaches to doing yoga
  • You want to learn about being more sensitive when doing yoga
  • You enjoy inner exploration
  • You like to challenge yourself
  • You don’t mind simple, black and white photos

Don’t buy this yoga book if:

  • All you want is a guide to doing asanas
  • You don’t like inner exploration
  • You feel the way you do yoga now is fine
  • You want a book with color photos

Click here to purchase Yoga: The Spirit and Practise of Moving Through Stillness on Amazon

 

Insight Yoga by Sarah Powers

Insight YogaBeautifully laid out, this synthesis of wisdom traditions is filled with a generous amount of information, photos and insights. Sarah’s description of meridian theory and how it so beautifully connects with yoga practice is unique and refreshing. The book’s main focus is on yin yoga, and Sarah offers a number of yoga sequences that are designed to pressurize certain meridians and help heal specific organs, while dividing each yoga practice into a long and short version so you can more easily adapt them to your schedule. She completes this wonderfully written book with seated pranayama practices, basic Buddha dharma and suggested mindfulness meditations.

Buy this yoga book if:

  • You particularly enjoy yin yoga
  • You would like to learn how to compress meridians using yoga
  • You would like to learn how to help heal certain organs using yoga
  • You like suggestions for yoga sessions, split into short and long options
  • You appreciate simple explanations and photos (black and white)

Don’t buy this yoga book if:

  • You are looking for hatha, restorative or vinyasa yoga sequences
  • You don’t need to learn about how yoga relates to the energy systems
  • You want a book with color photos

Click here to purchase Insight Yoga from Amazon

 

Yoga Mind, Body & Spirit – A Return to Wholeness by Donna Farhi

Yoga Mind Body and SpiritMany students find Donna Farhi’s Yoga Mind, Body and Spirit to be an invaluable part of their yoga journey. Donna provides a way to experience yoga in a more complete way, allowing the asanas to come to life through ‘seven moving principles’: namely breathe, yield, radiate, center, support, align and engage. With an impressive section on the mechanics of movement, beautiful photos (including what not to do) and yoga pose sections divided into standing poses, seated poses, back bends, arm balances, restorative poses and yoga breathing practices, Donna’s Yoga Mind, Body and Spirit will teach you so much about the practice of yoga, whether you are a student or an instructor.

Buy this yoga book if:

  • You like to explore different approaches to doing yoga
  • You like to learn about yoga philosophy and how they apply to practice
  • You enjoy learning about the body’s systems
  • You are looking for a comprehensive guide to yoga poses
  • You like to learn about pose sequencing and creating themes in your practice
  • You don’t mind simple, black and white photos

Don’t buy this yoga book if:

  • You don’t want a guide to doing asanas
  • You don’t like learning new approaches to yoga practice
  • You prefer a book that focuses mostly on philosophy, not asanas
  • You want a book with color photos

Click here to puchase Yoga Mind, Body and Spirit from Amazon

The Yoga Bible by Christina Brown

The Yoga BibleFeaturing over 170 yoga postures, this book is an illustrated, step-by-step guide to achieving each posture, including how to move into the pose, the gaze, build-up poses, counter poses, how to lighten the pose and its effects on the body and mind. The Yoga Bible also has a general introduction to yoga, including what yoga is, some yoga philosophy, common styles and suggestions around getting the best out of your practice. You could say that this is the best comprehensive yoga pocket book that exists – although, you need a very big pocket to fit it in!

Buy this yoga book if:

  • You would benefit from a book that summarizes yoga and yoga poses
  • You would benefit from a step-by-step guide to move into each pose
  • You find you learn better when there are good photos to look at
  • You would like to have a yoga reference book that is easy to carry around
  • You would appreciate information that is well written and succinct
  • You want a book with color photos

Don’t buy this yoga book if:

  • You prefer more information on alignment within the poses
  • You are looking for a book that shows pose modifications or sequencing
  • You wouldn’t find a large pocket book to be useful
  • You don’t like books that don’t stay open

Click here to purchase The Yoga Bible from Amazon

 

Light on Yoga by B.K.S. Iyengar

Light on YogaThis classic yoga manual by BKS Iyengar is a comprehensive and detailed book on yoga philosophy, bandhas, kriyas, pranayama and a step-by-step guide for each asana. Written by someone who many consider to be a yoga master, it has an ancient feel to it, as though the concepts have been carried through from yoga’s origins. The images are even slightly grainy. The poses progress through the book from beginner to advanced and finish with yoga courses and curative asanas for various diseases.

Buy this yoga book if:

  • You are looking for a detailed, comprehensive guide to yoga
  • You would benefit from a step-by-step guide to move into each pose
  • You are ok with black and white photos that don’t look professional
  • You would like to learn more about yoga philosophy, bandhas and kriyas
  • You value a book that is written by someone who is considered a master

Don’t buy this yoga book if:

  • You want beautiful, glossy, color photos
  • You are looking for a book that shows pose modifications
  • You want a brief summary of yoga rather than something that goes into detail

Click here to purchase Light on Yoga from Amazon

Perfectly Imperfect: The Art and Soul of Yoga Practice with Baron Baptiste

Perfectly ImperfectBaron Baptiste is a wonderfully vibrant, down-to-earth yoga instructor who honors both the light and serious sides of yoga practice in this wonderful book on yoga. It’s inspirational feel throughout engages the reader and Baron’s bare bones approach to yoga makes it relevant to everyone, no matter where you are in your practice. Baron will help you see your practice differently, discover how your experience on the mat relates to your life overall and help you feel more empowered by giving you practical tools that you can put into action in your daily practice.

Buy this yoga book if:

  • You like to look more deeply into your experience within a yoga pose
  • You like to learn how to apply yoga to your daily life
  • You enjoy learning practical, meaningful insights into practice and your life
  • You enjoy yoga books that are short and sweet, sincere and down to earth

Don’t buy this yoga book if:

  • You prefer a book that goes into more depth with philosophy and practice
  • You prefer a book that lists poses in a structured way, with detailed guidance
  • You aren’t interested in inner exploration

Click here to purchase Perfectly Imperfect from Amazon

 

Yoga and Functional Anatomy

Functional Anatomy of Yoga: A Guide for Practitioners and Teachers by David Keil

Functional Anatomy of YogaUnderstanding functional anatomy has the potential of transforming not only your practice, but your relationship to your body. This is by far the most impressive guide to functional anatomy and yoga that I have seen to date. David’s unique approach makes learning about anatomy easy for anyone, while completely satisfying anatomy geeks who love to learn all they can about muscles and bones. The manual begins with basic principles of functional anatomy, then helps you understand how they work within many of the yoga asanas.  David’s descriptions allow you to feel what he’s saying in your own body. There is so much to learn from this book that it could very well be your go-to yoga anatomy reference manual for years to come.

Buy this yoga book if:

  • You love learning about your body, how you move and why
  • You enjoy learning about anatomy
  • You like high quality, color photos and illustrations
  • You are an instructor and want to teach with a stronger focus on anatomy
  • You are experiencing problems and would like to try to understand why

Don’t buy this yoga book if:

  • You don’t like learning about anatomy
  • You aren’t interested in learning about how your body works

Click here to purchase the Functional Anatomy of Yoga from Amazon

Anatomy of Hatha Yoga: A Manual for Students, Teachers, and Practitioners by H. David Coulter

Anatomy of Hatha YogaH. David Coulter’s Anatomy of Hatha Yoga is possibly the most comprehensive yoga anatomy book that exists. It reads, at times, like an anatomy or physiology text book, moving through an impressive detailed analysis of movement and posture, breathing and abdominopelvic exercises before taking that same approach to analyze standing poses, backbending poses, forward bending postures, twisting postures, headstand, shoulderstand and finishing with relaxation and meditation. It’s a thick book (almost 600 pages) and extremely dense with information, which is guaranteed to satisfy the most dedicated anatomy nerd. Although it definitely wouldn’t be considered an easy read, it is, for the most part, surprisingly accessible for the average person.

Buy this yoga book if:

  • You love learning about anatomy
  • You love learning about your body, how you move and why
  • You like books with black and white illustrations and photos
  • You are an instructor and want to teach with a stronger focus on anatomy

Don’t buy this yoga book if:

  • You do not enjoy reading about anatomy and physiology
  • You aren’t interested in learning about how your body works
  • You would prefer an anatomy book that doesn’t read like a text book
  • You would prefer color photos

Click here to purchase Anatomy of Hatha Yoga from Amazon

 

Meditation, Psychology and Yoga Philosophy

Eastern Body Western Mind by Anodea Judith

Eastern Body Western MindAnodea Judith has a knack for writing about chakras and psychology in plain language that anyone can understand. Eastern Body, Western Mind is no exception – it’s wonderfully written and provides countless thoughtful moments and epiphanies. It is not just a book to read, it is a ‘workbook’ for healing the soul’s wounds that have accumulated over a lifetime and an attempt to teach you how to live in a healthier, more balanced and self-loving way.

Buy this yoga book if:

  • You would like help with feeling unstuck, unmotivated or depressed
  • You would like to better understand your psyche and belief system
  • You enjoy inner exploration
  • You like to challenge yourself
  • You seek deeper spiritual meaning

Don’t buy this yoga book if:

  • You don’t feel the need to better understand your psyche and belief system
  • You don’t like inner exploration
  • You don’t want a book that blends eastern philosophy and western medicine

Click here to purchase Eastern Body Western Mind from Amazon

 

Meditations from the Mat: Daily Reflections on the Path of Yoga by Rolf Gates

Meditations from the MatMeditations from the Mat offers 365 daily meditations that help integrate mindfulness into everyday life. Each day’s reflection begins with a thought-provoking quote and then explores one intriguing aspect of yoga philosophy. Gates weaves stories of his own remarkable healing and growth with the yoga sutras of Patanjali, and provides illuminating and moving explanations of how yoga teachings apply to real-life situations. Whether read in the morning to set the tone for the day, during yoga, or at the end of the day, Meditations from the Mat will support and enhance anyone’s yoga journey.

Buy this yoga book if:

  • You enjoy daily, thought-provoking quotes or stories
  • You enjoy inner exploration
  • You like to challenge yourself
  • You seek deeper spiritual meaning
  • You would like to be more mindful

Don’t buy this yoga book if:

  • You don’t like to read daily quotes or short stories
  • You don’t like inner exploration
  • You don’t care about being more mindful

Click here to purchase Meditations from the Mat from Amazon

 

A Vessel of Blessing: Practical Guidance for Teachers Who Touch the Spirit in Yoga Practice by Arlene Bjork

A Vessel of BlessingThis book is a personal reflection on the life and philosophy of one of the most talented teachers of our time. Arlene Bjork had a way of inspiring and guiding her students to explore the deeper truths and aspects of yoga, while offering true insight into how to incorporate yoga in all aspects of your life and how a regular practice will enhance your experience of living. If you are a teacher, you will learn to make a more profound connection with your students, one that will manifest both on and off the mat. In addition, it offers a personable interpretation of all the aspects of yoga philosophy that often seem inaccessible to most practitioners.

Buy this yoga book if:

  • You are a yoga teacher looking to teach more than just the poses
  • You want to understand how to live your yoga
  • You would benefit from a relatable explanation of the limbs of yoga

Don’t buy this yoga book if:

  • You are only interested in the physical side of yoga
  • You are not interested in teaching yoga to others
  • You are not interested in applications of yoga philosophy

Click here to purchase A Vessel of Blessing from Amazon

 

A Path with Heart: A Guide Through the Perils and Promises of Spiritual Life with Jack Kornfield

A Path With HeartJack Kornfield’s popular ‘A Path with Heart’ is both an introduction to Buddhist practice as well as an easy to follow guide to meditation, the process of inner transformation and the integration of a spiritual practice into a western way of life. Jack Kornfield is a spiritual teacher, psychologist and meditation master who approaches difficult issues like addiction, psychological and emotional healing and relationship issues with warmth, grace and compassion. He fills this book with practical techniques, guided meditations, stories and other gems of wisdom that can help ease your journey on your life path.

Buy this yoga book if:

  • You like to learn about yourself
  • You would like to try to feel better using meditation
  • You enjoy reading about Buddhist philosophy
  • You enjoy trying practical techniques in meditation and in your daily life

Don’t buy this yoga book if:

  • You don’t want to read about buddhist philosophy
  • You don’t want a book that focusses mostly on practical meditation techniques
  • You aren’t interested in inner exploration

Click here to purchase A Path with Heart from Amazon 
That completes our review of some of our favorite books on yoga. Of course, there are thousands to choose from and you may have your own favorites so let us know what books have inspired you and your yoga practice by commenting below.

Namaste!

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Instructing from the Ground Up


In describing the qualities of asana with the adjectives “sthira” and “sukha,” Patanjali uses language very skillfully. Sthira means steady and alert–to embody sthira, the pose must be strong and active. Sukha means comfortable and light–to express sukha, the pose must be joyful and soft. These complimentary poles–or Yin and Yang co-essentials–teach us the wisdom of balance. By finding balance, we find inner harmony, both in our practice and in our lives.

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As teachers, we need to help our students find that balance in their practice. Our instruction should assist them in an exploration of both sthira and sukha. In practical terms, we should begin by teaching sthira as a form of connection to the ground, and then move to sukha as a form of lighthearted exploration and expansion. In this way, we can teach from the ground up.

Manifesting steadiness (sthira) requires connecting to the ground beneath us, which is our earth, our support. Whether our base is comprised of ten toes, one foot, or one or both hands, we must cultivate energy through that base. Staying attentive to our roots requires a special form of alertness. Our instruction should begin there by helping students cultivate this alertness at the base of a pose. I will demonstrate this form of instruction for Tadasana, the blue print for all the other standing poses. The principles of Tadasana can be easily adapted to any standing pose you wish to teach.

In all the standing poses, steadiness comes from rooting all sides of the feet like the stakes of a tent. We need to teach students with high arches to pay particular attention to grounding their inner feet, and show students with fallen arches to move their ankles away from each other.

After rooting the feet, we move up, reminding students to draw the kneecaps up, the upper inner thighs in and back, and the outer sides of the knees back. This allows students to notice whether their weight feels evenly distributed between the right and left leg, the front and back of the foot, and the inner and outer thighs.

Next we should remind our students to adjust the pelvis, allowing the weight of the hips to be above the knees and ankles. This often requires them to draw their weight slightly back in order to allow the point of the coccyx to face down. In this alignment, the tailbone is not tucked nor lifted, but merely directed down between the fronts of the heels. Those with flat lumbar spines will need to allow the tailbone to move slightly back, moving away from tucking, while those with over-arched backs will need to encourage the tailbone to draw slightly in.

We should then instruct our students to lengthen the side waist, lift the top of the sternum and relax the shoulders down the back, aligning them over the hips and ankles. They should bring their heads above their shoulders, aligning the chin in the same plane as the forehead. Finally, they should relax the jaw, allowing the tongue to float freely in the mouth and the eyes to soften.

Once our students have attended to steadiness, the other qualities of alertness and comfort become accessible. They are now ready to bring their hands into Namaste position and reflect on their motivation before beginning their practice.

Encourage your students to view this grounded base as their home base, the foundation from which they can create, explore, and at times expand. From there, they can navigate to a place of ease or sukha. Just as steadiness requires and develops alertness, comfort entails remaining light, unburdened, and interested in discovery. By teaching this quality, we encourage a balanced equilibrium rather than impose rigid rules for alignment. This helps students develop a natural respect toward their bodies and themselves, while encouraging them to fully inhabit their bodies. They can then learn to move away from commanding their bodies to perform poses, and instead breathe life into them from the inside.

With sthira and sukha as the points on our compass, we can organize our teaching and help our students enjoy exploring their places of limitation and liberation in every pose. As a result, regardless of your students’ individual abilities, their practice can focus on celebration and refreshment.

At a deeper level, the way we practice and teach yoga poses mirrors the way we live the rest of our lives. As we reflect on our practice and our teaching, we can use yoga as a tool for developing greater insight into ourselves and the world around us. Sthira and sukha can then become not only tools for teaching or understanding yoga, but also principals that help guide the way we live.

Sarah Powers blends the insights of yoga and Buddhism in her practice and teaching. She lives in Marin, California where she home schools her daughter and teaches classes. For more information go to www.sarahpowers.com.


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6 great exercises to build core strength


It took me years of practicing yoga to realise just how important core strength is in maintaining a healthy, injury free practice.

In fact, core strength is important for maintaining a healthy, injury-free life. However, building true core strength in the transverse abdominis (the deep core muscles) can be tricky, and a lot of modern core work focuses on the superficial abs, the rectus abdominis, which look pretty but are too superficial to, say, be much help in preventing you from putting out your back.

Thankfully, it gets easier thanks to a simple anatomical reality: that when you breathe in your belly, the movement of your breath also moves the deep core muscles. So, you can use the simple act of breathing to help you begin to engage and strengthen these critical core muscles.

With this in mind, try the first exercise below. Lie on your back on the floor, with your legs bent. As you breathe in, notice how your lower back lifts gently off the floor. As you breathe out, gently flatten your lower back against the floor. As you do this, try to pull your belly button down towards your body, and at the same time engage your pelvic floor by trying to draw the skin above your pubic bone upwards (there’s lots written about pelvic floor, so if you’re not sure, go on and google it and then come back here!!). This is basically mulha bandha, the “root lock” your yoga teacher may have told you about.

It’s a subtle feeling, so it might take you a few times to get the hang of it. Try it about 10 times, slowly. The more you practice, the more strongly you will be able to press your lower back into the floor.

Once you’ve got that, try the rest of the exercises below. If you are just getting started, it’s really important to get the breathing right, so that you can take advantage of the natural way the breath and the deep abdominal muscles work together.

NB: All of these exercises are safe to do postpartum (after 8 weeks or with doctor’s permission). If you are trying to build your core strength back after having a baby, I would recommend doing the exercises below as a 10-week programme, doing the exercises every day or every other day and adding one new exercise per week. If you had a c-section or experienced abdominal splitting, consult your doctor and/or physiotherapist before beginning any core work.

If you are recovering from a lower back injury, some of these exercises may not be appropriate for you. Please consult your doctor first!

 

When you are done, don’t forget to counter pose! Try a gentle bridge pose or sphinx pose to stretch out the abs, and then hug your knees to your chest to stretch out the lower back.

Once you’re feeling comfortable with the exercises above, you can start to challenge yourself a bit more! Here are 3 more exercises that will add a nice core focus to any yoga practice or workout.

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Yoga Nidra: The Conscious Dynamic Sleep for Deep Meditation


Article by: Satyaprem Saraswati , mon diciembre 19, 2016

 

ere is a lot of talk about meditation, the different techniques and its benefits all over the wellness and spiritual media. However, we should be aware that simply doing a meditation exercise and actually being in a state of meditation are two different things.

Anyone who has ever tried meditation, guided or solitary, will agree that it is easy to say, but difficult to do. The reason is simple: our stressful everyday life has our body and mind on continuous alert, to the point that the word relaxation has become a lost dream for most people. The good news is that there is an ancient technique called Yoga Nidra that could very well be the solution.

Even during sleep, the mind is so tense that it will not leave the body to rest. Most people get out of bed tired, after 7 or 8 hours of disturbed sleep. Then, drained of vital energy, they try to cope with their daily responsibilities, make the right decisions, and have normal reactions. How do we expect our society to progress when its members are under continuous mental, emotional and physical strain?

Try a simple experiment to understand this better: sit in any comfortable position and try to be absolutely motionless for just one minute. You’ll realize that most people find it impossible to be totally still, even for 60 seconds. As determined as one can be, eventually the muscles will make some move, only to prove how little control we have over our mind and body.

 

The Principles of Yoga Nidra

 

swami satyananda quote

 

There is an answer to all this in the name of Yoga Nidra. It originates in the tantras and has been introduced by the Indian yoga guru Swami Satyananda Saraswati. It is a guided exercise that drives you to consciously relax for a period of 15 to 30 minutes. This short but very deep relaxation is physical, mental and emotional. During Yoga Nidra, one may appear to be asleep but the consciousness is functioning at a deeper level of awareness. Actually, in the threshold between asleep and awake, a spontaneous connection with the subconscious and the unconscious dimension occurs naturally. The consciousness in this state becomes very powerful and can be used to attain deeper knowledge, creativity and even transform the nature of one’s personality.

This yogic sleep is not a state of total unconsciousness, but a state of potentiality, where a part of our awareness is fully alert. Experiments have shown that during the state of what we call sleep, we are actually more aware and have more potential, because our consciousness is disconnected from the senses, leaving space for the quality reception. It can be compared to a computer: when many programs (senses) are running at the same time, the memory overloads or has limited capacity. All the same with the brain, the mind, and the sensorial perception.

Yoga Nidra is practiced in laying position (Savasana) and is not a concentration technique. You just have to follow the instructions that you listen to and let go. You just surrender your body to the floor. During the practice, systematic rotation of consciousness in the parts of the body is a basic part of Nidra Yoga. This helps to maintain awareness while going deeper in the level of relaxation.

 

Sankalpa: The Intention of Your Practice

 

seed yoga

 

Another important part is the ‘Sankalpa’. It is a resolution seed that you sow deep inside; a message to the universal self you are connected to during the practice. The Sankalpa is silently expressed at the beginning of your Yoga Nidra experience and with full heart and sentiment. You should imagine what it would be like if it were already true. Once again, you are guided to repeat your Sankalpa three times near the end of the practice, when you are totally at ease and in the fertile delta brain-wave state, before going back to the external. This is when your brain is most receptive. At a practical level, assuming you have some unwanted habits you wish to disconnect from, you can sow your Sankalpa on them. Believe it or not, it has results. “Anything in life can fail you, but not the Sankalpa made during the practice of Yoga Nidra” –Swami Satyananda.

Many people, exhausted as they are, tend to fall asleep during the practice. This is not bad, nor it deprives the benefits of Yoga Nidra. The consciousness is present, even when asleep, and everyone amazingly wakes up as soon as the instructor tells the phrase “the practice of Yoga Nidra has now complete.”

Considering the modern lifestyle of non-stop stress in the intellectual, emotional and physical level, Yoga Nidra is really the only technique that requires minimum effort and leads to deep relaxation states. It is a guided meditation journey, that can be achieved by no other method in such a short period of time.

 

Yoga Nidra Instructors

 

yoga nidra instructor

 

Yoga instructors receive special training in order to be able to guide a Yoga Nidra session. The tone and the color of voice are special, as well as the selected words that are used. A yoga and/or meditation retreat is the best place to start practicing Yoga Nidra on a daily basis. By the end of the retreat, you will already feel the difference. The results are really impressive.

Yoga Nidra can greatly improve the learning capacity of adults and especially children. Children are very spontaneous and, as a result, they can attune themselves to the practice more easily, gaining supreme benefits. Most of all, they maintain the ability to connect with their deeper self and keep contact with the internal center of mental balance. This is a freedom that adults have long lost

 

Is Yoga Nidra a Form of Hypnosis?

 

yoga nidra session

 

The practice of Yoga Nidra creates a state of withdrawal of the senses. For this reason, some think that it is a form of hypnosis. However, these are two different sciences and actually, Yoga Nidra goes far beyond hypnosis. The reason is that while hypnosis is a deep sleep state, during Yoga Nidra we maintain awareness and we are instructed not to sleep. When we are able to maintain awareness while the senses are in complete withdrawal, we transcend the personal barriers and can go to any depth or height. Moreover, maintaining awareness means that the mind is not dominated by the instructor as it happens during a hypnosis session.

With the systematic practice of Yoga Nidra, your true nature and integrity manifest, enabling you to live in peace. You can restructure and reform your whole personality from within. Release of tension, relaxation, and peace of mind are the secret of transformation and freedom.


Read more: https://www.bookyogaretreats.com/es/news/yoga-nidra

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10 Mantras to set a Powerful Intention for your Yoga Practice

 


The Zen Buddhist approach to living a peaceful lifestyle is to set daily intentions every morning and evening. Intentions are powerful statements (that can be mantras or a sentence that resonates with you) used to amplify your manifestation power, mental clarity and focus, as well as your overall mind state and perspective.

Many yoga teachers will begin their class by asking students to set an intention for their individual practice. An intention also acts as a reminder throughout your yoga practice when your mind wanders or becomes distracted.

Mantras are commonly used by yogis as intentions for their yoga practice.

Setting an intention means choosing something that you want to amplify or cultivate (either on the mat or in your life). Intentions can be anything from staying focused on the breath, reflecting on what you have to be grateful for, repeating a specific mantra, or even just a simple word like “compassion,” “peace,” or “acceptance.”

If you want to learn more about what intentions are and how to set them, read Why We Set Intentions at the Beginning of Our Yoga Practice.

What are Mantras and How Can We Use Them in Our Yoga Practice?

Mantras are short statements that carry important meaning. Think of mantras as powerful affirmations that help invoke a positive shift in mind state. Mantras are commonly used by yogis as intentions for their yoga practice.

The benefit of using mantras as your intention for your time on the mat? They can truly make magic happen as you focus the energy of your mind on a particular goal (for example, staying focused on your breath during your yoga practice) or state of being (like gratitude, positivity, personal acceptance, etc).

Mantras are powerful affirmations that help invoke a shift in mind state.

When you apply this type of intention in your yoga practice, it creates a powerful focus and heightens your ability to manifest whatever it is you’re focusing on.

Here are 10 mantras you can use to set a powerful intention for your yoga practice:

 

1. I am that I am

“I am that I am,” or So Hum in Sanskrit, is an extremely powerful mantra because it connects you to the collective whole. You can recite “I am that I am” or practice this simple exercise: Sitting in Easy Pose (or Sukhasana) inhale seven breaths and chant “I am” and exhale seven times reciting “that I am.” This mantra makes us feel safe, supported, and in the flow with the entire universe.

2. I am grateful

Express gratitude for everything that you have in your life. Gratitude not only uplifts your heart but also nourishes your soul. By extending gratitude to yourself and all around you (health, wealth, career, relationships etc), you can help raise the vibration of the collective consciousness as well. Be grateful for all lessons, experiences, and situations – they have all aided in developing your character.

3. I am at peace

Reflecting on this mantra throughout your yoga practice, or in life in general (especially during emotionally charged situations), will always bring your awareness back to the present moment and remind you that nothing can disturb your deep well of inner peace. You alone are responsible for how you feel and react to circumstances. This will help you let go of the past and the uncertainty of the future by staying grounded in the stillness of the present.

4. I am a magnet for miracles

YOU ARE A MIRACLE! This powerful mantra evokes magic in your life. By setting this as an intention before you begin your yoga practice, you will find that you can become more aware of the everyday miracles that happen around you. From a bird singing at just the right time, to a spotting a rainbow on the horizon, small miracles happen all around us every day. Cultivating more awareness of these miracles is the easiest way to attract more into your life!

5. I am aware

This mantra really helps you connect your body with your mind. It allows you to align with your emotions and listen to your intuition as well as your physical body (which is key to a safe and strong yoga practice). Simply stand in Mountain Pose (or Tadasana) and recite “I am Aware.” Feel the strength coursing through you from Mother Earth – from the tips of your toes to the crown of your head. Standing in your awareness (literally) is the gateway to higher states of consciousness.

6. I am awake

To be fully present means to be awake. What does being awake mean? It means that you are living with purpose and following your truth. By repeating “I am awake,” you open the door to living in the present and evolving into the person you are meant to be. Being fully present is such a powerful way to truly experience every aspect of the moment. When you’re fully present on the mat, you fully experience each breath, each movement and each moment.

7. I am perfect

Has anyone ever told you that you are perfect? Do you ever say this to yourself? You were born perfect and this statement is reminding you to not only accept yourself as you are, but to also believe in yourself. Being perfect does not mean to be without flaws, but rather to accept them and view yourself as perfectly imperfect, and complete just as you are. No judgments – only compassion, acceptance, and love.

8. I am one with humanity

When you recite this mantra, you come to realize that every single human being is connected. Humanity is not separate. During a yoga class, the energy in the room is interconnected – everyone is equal and there for the same purpose. This beautiful mantra reminds us that everyone has a gift within them to share, and needs to be honored and celebrated as such.

9. I am the light and the light is in me

In the yoga community, you may hear many refer to “the light.” What is this light? Light is the universal energy force you carry within, and also represents our basic essence that we are all born with. “Namaste” means “the light in me honors the light in you.” When you enter your yoga class, keep this in mind and view everyone there through this lens. Just like mantra #8, this helps us more relate and connect with others.

10. I am love

Love is the strongest force in the universe. This last mantra is here to remind you of your uniqueness and that you are made up of light and love! Always remember you contain an infinite supply of love within you. Close your eyes, place your hands over your heart and feel the floodgates of love pouring from you and into you. Love is who you are and why you exist!

You Are the Master of Your Universe

By putting the power of the mind to work in harmony with the power of words and the magic that is abundant in the universe, you can literally create your own reality. Raising your vibration has a domino effect on the rest of the world, and universal energy is amplified to help everyone live in their full power.

To end with a quote from Gary Zukav, “The more aware of your intentions and your experiences you become, the more you will be able to connect the two, and the more you will be able to create the experiences of your life consciously. This is the development of mastery. It is the creation of authentic power.”


Nicky Sehra

A graduate of History & Corporate Communications and Public Relations in Ontario, Nicky is a wanderlust and modern day spiritual woman who enjoys the simple pleasures of life. Nicky loves to teach yoga, travel, and inspire humanity through her writings. Her aim is to leave everyone she meets with a sparkle of kindness, peace and love.


Read more: https://www.yogiapproved.com/yoga/10-mantras-set-powerful-intention-yoga-practice/

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The 10 Best Yoga Poses to Do After Work


Nothing can make your neck sore, your back ache, your hips stiff, and your brain fried quite like a long day at the office. Luckily for us all, there are yoga poses that can target and relieve these tense areas. And practicing yoga won’t only address the kinks in your body; it has the added benefit of relieving all that mental stress that builds up throughout the day. Here are the 10 best poses to do after work.

 

1. Neck Stretches

Staring at a computer or phone all day can leave your neck feeling tight and tense. Target this sensitive area directly with some therapeutic neck stretches.

Sitting comfortably, tilt your head to the right and left, holding for one deep breath on each side until you feel the tension and soreness dissipate. Then repeat by tilting your head forward and backward. For a deeper stretch, you can use your opposite hand to apply gentle pressure to the top of your head, as shown in the picture.

2. Cat/Cow (Marjaryasana/Bitilasana)

 

 

 

 

itting all day is one of the worst things you can do for your back. Gently undo the damage with some slow cat/cows.

Place your hands under your shoulders and knees directly under your hips. As you inhale, arch your spine, drop your belly and look up. As you exhale, round your spine, taking your gaze toward your navel. Repeat for 10 deep breaths.

3. Downward Facing Dog (Adho Mukha Svanasana)

We talk about downward facing dog a lot here at yoga.com, but that’s because it’s just so beneficial! This posture will lengthen your spine, stretch your legs and hips, open your shoulders and chest, and improve your circulation all at the same time. If you can only do one pose after work, make it this one!

Starting on your hands and knees, tuck your toes, straighten your legs and lift your hips toward the ceiling. Step your feet backward a bit if necessary and spread your fingers wide. The most important thing in this pose is to keep your spine long, so if you feel your back rounding, try bending your knees a tad. Hold for 10 deep breaths.

4. Wide Legged Forward Bend (Prasarita Padottanasana)

fter work we tend to have a lot of stress and other emotions to release. Forward bends are perfect for these moments, as they encourage us to let go of anxiety, worries, and other negative feelings.  Prasarita padottanasana will also release a tight lower back, provide a deep stretch to stiff legs, and open up the chest and shoulders—all very necessary after a long day siting!

Stand with your feet about three feet apart. Turn your toes toward each other very slightly and interlace the fingers behind your back. Inhale, lift your chest and engage your core, and lift your hands behind your back. As you exhale, fold from your hips and bring your head towards the floor, keeping your legs and spine straight. Hold for 10 deep breaths.

5. Seated Side Stretch (Parivrtta Janu Sirsasana)

Give the sides of your torso and your lower back some love with this deeply relaxing seated stretch.

Bend your left leg and bring your left foot to the inside of your right thigh. Keeping your torso rotated to the left and your chest open, bend toward your right leg. If you can, take hold of your right toes with your right hand and stretch your left arm over your head to meet the right. Hold for 10 deep breaths. Don’t forget to repeat on the other side!

6. Bound Angle Pose (Baddha Konasana)

This pose provides a deep stretch to the hips, inner thighs, and (if you’re flexible enough to fold forward) lower back. It’s also great for sciatic discomfort, which is often exacerbated by sitting.

Sit up straight, bring the soles of your feet together in front of you and clasp your hands around them. You can stay here, or you can deepen the stretch by folding forward, making sure to keep your spine long. 10 deep breaths!

7. Pigeon Pose (Eka Pada Rajakapotasana)

Pigeon might be the BEST stretch to relieve sore, tight hips and improve range of motion at the hip joint. It is also extremely relaxing, provides deep psychological benefits, and like baddha konasana, can benefit those with sciatic pain.

From your hands and knees, bring your right knee behind your right wrist, and your right foot behind your left wrist. For yogis with more mobile hips, the right thigh and calf will make almost a 90 degree angle, while others will still feel a deep stretch at a 30-45 degree angle. Stretch your left leg straight out behind you on the mat. If you want to go deeper, inhale and open you chest, and exhale and to reach your arms out in front of you, slowly lowering your torso towards the floor. Hold for at least 10 deep breaths, and then repeat on the other side.

8. Sphinx Pose (Salamba Bhujangasana)

After being hunched over a desk all day, it’s important to softly stretch our spine in the opposite direction with baby backbends like sphinx pose, sometimes called ‘half cobra.’

To enter the pose, lie on your stomach and engage your back muscles to lift your head and upper torso from the mat. Align your elbows underneath your shoulders for support. Keep your chest wide and open and relax your shoulders away from your ears. Look straight ahead and hold for 10 deep breaths.

9. Child’s Pose (Balasana)

 

This pose is a beautiful and beneficial pose to include in your practice, as it will gently ease open any areas where you’re still holding tension, as well as realign your spine and relax your mind.

From all fours, bring your feet together behind you. Bring your hips back so they are resting on your feet or heading in that direction. Stretch your arms out in front of you or place them along side you, and rest your forehead on the floor. Breathe deeply as your shoulders, chest, lower back, and hips relax and open up. Rest in this posture for 10 breaths, or as long as you need.

10. Savasana

Working all day doesn’t only make our bodies stiff and sore—it can also make our minds feel stressed and agitated. Finish your after-work practice with a long meditation in Savasana, and re-enter the world feeling relaxed and renewed.


Read more:  https://yoga.com/article/best-yoga-poses-to-do-after-work

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3 Ways You Can Use Journaling to Become a Better Yoga Teacher


By Lara Falberg


Writing, and journaling in particular, is an opportunity for many people to express themselves and explore their creativity.Journaling is a potent form of written self-expression that can also help you become a better yoga teacher. Journaling is a tool to learn more about who you are as a person and what you’re passionate about. Becoming more self-aware will in turn create a more confident and capable yoga teacher.

Journaling is a ‘safe place’ to fully express ourselves and be free in what we think and say, so we’re able to discover our authentic voice. There are many ways that writing and journaling can inspire our creative teaching juices. It propels us to find new vocabulary and a steady journaling practice shows us new ways to cue poses and guide our yoga students.

Discover and embrace your authentic voice

What the hell is an “authentic voice?” See – there’s mine – I’m a cusser. I sincerely enjoy and unwind when I drop a good F-bomb. I’ve discovered when I allow myself to be authentic when I teach, it offers the class a chance to relax and not take yoga so damn seriously. So to stay true to who I am, I may throw in a curse word or two in class.

Fully embrace who you are – don’t change yourself to become what you think a yoga teacher should be.

Your authentic voice is not the way you speak, but the intention behind your words. Are your words your own? Or are you speaking the way you think you “should” speak, or are you mirroring someone else? Fully embrace who you are – don’t change yourself to become what you think a yoga teacher should be. When you offer your authentic self, you will attract yoga students who will benefit from your unique teaching style.

Check out Stop Wearing Your Mask and Start Offering Your Authentic Voice to help discover your true self.

How writing can you help embrace who you are

Journaling in particular allows a freedom of expression by removing the need to censor yourself or consider your audience. Your words are written for you and you alone. They are your doorway to better understand what is important to you, what you want and how to live a more meaningful life. And from this place of authenticity, you can discover your true voice.

Whether you’re ready to dive in or already journaling but want a refresher, check out Why You Need A Mindful Journaling Practice & Tips to Get You Started.

Here are 3 writing exercises to help you find your authentic voice and become a better yoga teacher:

1. Journal every day for a week without censorship or editing

This first step is lots of fun. Grab a journal, find your favorite pen, and get to it! Don’t give yourself a lot of guidelines and parameters – just go for it. Write what you’re feeling, don’t worry about making it perfect, and see where it takes you.

How journaling will help you become a better yoga teacher:
By not holding anything back, you will see what really matters in your life to help you find your true voice as a yoga teacher. Plus, your creativity will have a chance to develop into a full-grown adult.

Try it – here’s how:

  • Just write. You can always throw these words away and no one will ever see them, so go for it!
  • Don’t re-read your work until the full week is up
  • After a week, read over your thoughts and see what resonates with you
  • Take note of what you think is unique to you: interesting vocabulary, stories, and things that repeat within your writing
  • For example, if you love your dog Kevin and notice you wrote 25 pages about him and his quirks, take note. You might need to bring your life with Kev into your yoga classes via themes, cueing, and even sequencing

2. Make a yoga class vocabulary list

As yoga teachers we all know the importance of maintaining our personal yoga practice. Not only does our personal practice keep us grounded, it also helps keep our teaching fresh and inspired. The same applies to our cues and teaching vocabulary.

How this vocab list will help you become a better yoga teacher:
Stale cueing not only bores you, but it will negatively impact your student’s learning process. When your students get bored from repeated cues class after class, the joy of their practice can diminish, along with your passion for teaching. Finding new and fresh ways to cue your class will help you and your students continue to grow.

Try it – here’s how:

  • Whenever I hear or read an interesting word but realize it’s not a part of my lexicon, I write it down
  • Begin your own list and play around with how to use these words when cueing your classes
  • For example, if you hear the main character of a T.V. show use the word “autopsy” to describe how he took a dead business and dissected it to discover what killed it, take note. Then write down the word “autopsy” and explore how you can incorporate it into a cue
  • Use the words from your list to create a fresh new perspective for your yoga students – you’ll all gain inspiration from this!

3. Write two stories, one fiction and one nonfiction

Again, don’t overthink this one. Don’t worry too much about length, subject, etc. – just write two stories that make you feel excited to write about – think childhood stories, your favorite memory, etc. Whether you write these stories in a few paragraphs or in 20 pages, the point is to write them down.

How writing stories will help you become a better yoga teacher:
Writing fictional stories will help spark your imagination and creativity. Writing nonfictional stories will help build a true story into something interesting and valuable. Both processes will help you build more original and meaningful yoga classes.

Try it – here’s how:

  • Notice your use of metaphors and similes within your stories
  • Then brainstorm ways you can incorporate them into cueing yoga poses and sequences
  • Try approaching your sequencing the same way you do your stories. Start with an informative beginning, then a crescendo, find the peak and then a fulfilling ending
  • You can also gather inspiration from your stories to create a complete narrative using asanas and sequences for class

Don’t be intimidated or doubt yourself when it comes to writing because you’re probably more capable and expressive than you think. The only rules here are the ones we create, so dive in and allow your writing to flow without hesitation. Your vulnerability will reveal much about yourself and your potential to be a fantastic yoga instructor who teaches from the heart, and with an authentic voice.

Do you think these writing exercises can help you become a better yoga instructor?Do you have any writing or journaling tips you would like to share? We would love to hear from you, so please leave your feedback in the comments below.

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The Chakras-The Seven Centers of Consciousness


A primary focus of Amrit Yoga is to build heat by charging the battery of the body, which is based in the lower three centers. As this energy is aroused and consciously directed from the lower chakras to the upper ones, our biological prana awakens to its evolutionary potential. Awakened prana, called Kundalini, carries out healing and cleansing at an accelerated level – resulting in the purification of the nerve channels in the body as well as cleansing kriyas – all of which prepare the body for accelerated spiritual development. 

Chakra One: Roots, Alignment, Earth 

Muladhara is the body in physical space and time, developing groundedness, stability and foundation. In Amrit Yoga, the attention is alignment in all poses, building awareness and strength in the legs – especially all standing poses. Anything that stabilizes and roots the foundation reinforces muladhara.

Chakra Two: Sensation, Flow, Water 

In Swadisthana we become aware of the senses, sensation (pleasure/pain) and emotions that accompany each pose. We allow our awareness of ecstatic energy to build in the second half of the pose. Suggested poses include pigeon, bridge and the spinal twist.

Chakra Three: Power, Fire 

In Manipura, our fire (spiritual heat) is stimulated. We “jump-start” the battery of the body, the physical storehouse of energy, through strong standing poses like The Warrior. The willful aspect of the practice is also associated with chakra three. In the first half of the Amrit Yoga Level I sequence, we are building the battery in the belly and then consciously directing that energy upward. This is an essential part of Level I as this conscious generation and directing of energy is necessary for prana to awaken and move upward to higher centers.

Chakra Four: Awakening to the Spiritual Path 

In Anahata, we are asked to open the heart. This requires spiritual commitment to let the ego drop away. In Amrit Yoga the heart energy is engaged with the use of the arms, with mudras, giving and receiving movements. Some heart opening poses can be: camel, yoga mudra, cobra, half locust (opens arms and heart meridians). Breath and the fourth chakra are closely connected (lungs). 

Chakra Five: Communication (internal/external) – the power of sound vibration 

Visuddha is more apparent in Level II Amrit Yoga, but also in Level I – we turn into the vibration of prana that sources the movement. Use sound vibration when in the pose and the power of your word (opening intention and Om) to create the vibrational field you intend. Become aware of your own inner dialogue and if it serves you or not. In Amrit Yoga the throat chakra may be stimulated through chanting, bridge, camel and shoulder stand postures.

Chakra Six: the Third Eye

Meditation, witness, meditative awareness Pratyahara; deep absorption without choosing for or against what is present in Ajna chakra. In the second half of the pose and Third Eye integration-consciously allow energies to grow with meditative attention and draw freed energies upward toward the Third Eye for integration. All forward bending poses where the head is lower than the heart brings attention and energy to the third eye (child, yoga mudra, wide-angle forward bend).

Chakra Seven: Silence

In the Sahasrar, the elixir of Amrita comes through silencing the fluctuations of the mind. This is the entry into the bliss body, which can happen in the second half of the pose, in Third Eye Meditation integration, or in any pose. All these practices of Amrit Yoga are intended to reach the final point of stilling the modifications of the mind, which is always associated with the seventh chakra.


Read More: http://www.healthandyoga.com/html/news/meditation/spm_scc.aspx

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Understanding Karma Yoga


The ultimate aim of yoga is supreme, uninterrupted bliss (moksha). How do we achieve it? Whether it is through study (Jnana yoga), unconditional devotion (Bhakti yoga), yoga practices (Raja yoga) or then through Action (Karma yoga), applied either singly or severally, this goal can be reached.

Of these, the most relevant for us in our present lifestyles would appear to be karma yoga (the yoga of selfless action) because we are involved in ‘busy’ activities 24/7. In fact, approaching work with the right attitude forms the bedrock of Karma Yoga and approaching work like a karma yogi provides us precious glimpses of the supreme bliss that all human beings ultimately seek.

Karma Yoga is also called the Yoga of Action. To understand the concept of karma yoga, it is important to know that action is unavoidable. Karma yoga is the way of turning this inevitable process to our benefit and to reach ultimate salvation.

Through the practice of Karma Yoga our existence is transformed from the proverbial boat that is tossed about in choppy waters (external situations) into a rock that faces the onslaughts with equanimity. It transforms us into more serene and controlled individuals.

Dr. Nagendra of the reputed SVYASA Deemed University of Yoga Research and Studies, has dealt with the subject very effectively through his books.In this issue, we have brought to you a sample chapter from his book “The Secret of Action” that will give you an insight into the philosophy of Karma Yoga – a potential avenue for your further exploration.


Read More: http://www.healthandyoga.com/html/news/understandingky.aspx

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