Category Archives: Inspired Posts

5 Yoga Poses to Open Up the Hips

Tight hips are one of the most common conditions in the Western Culture. This is due in large part to the fact that we sit in chairs for long periods of time, and because we generally do not sit in hip opening positions like a squat very often, if ever.

5 Yoga Poses to Open Up the Hips
5 Yoga Poses to Open Up the Hips

Tight hips can lead to a whole host of issues like lower back pain, misalignments in the spine, and can even lead to injury. The hip joints are actually very unique joints, known as ball and socket joints. This allows for a much greater range of motion than say the elbow joint or the knee joint.

That is why you need to open the front, back and sides of your hips to really get a good stretch. Here are my five favorite hip opening postures. I recommend that you warm up a little, and then hold each stretch for 30 seconds to a minute.

1. Low Lunge (Anjaneyasana)

Low Lunge (Anjaneyasana)
Low Lunge (Anjaneyasana)

Low lunge is one of the best postures you can do to open the front of your hips. This posture effectively reverses the normal position of the hips when you are sitting in a chair, which is exactly what most of us need, especially if you work in an office environment.

Begin in a normal lunge position, and then slowly lower your back knee to the ground. From here, you can push your hips forward to the degree that feels good for you.

Breathe and hang out, then practice on the other side.

2. Half King Pigeon (Eka Pada Rajakapotasana)

Half King Pigeon (Eka Pada Rajakapotasana)
Half King Pigeon (Eka Pada Rajakapotasana)

I can understand if you have a love/hate relationship with this posture. It can be very intense, and it can actually be dangerous for the knee if you do not have great alignment.

The best advice I can offer for this one is to start in Downward Facing Dog, and step one leg through to a lunge. Then, draw the front foot to the opposite long side of your mat, and place the outside of the foot on the mat, slowly lowering the rest of the leg down with your knee bent.

Then bring your heel in close to your opposite hip joint. Make sure to keep tension in the front foot, as this will protect your knee. Play around with moving your shin farther from your hips, but just be sure you are always keeping your foot tense.

3. Frog Pose (Bhekasana)

Frog Pose (Bhekasana)
Frog Pose (Bhekasana)

This is a great posture to help open up the inner groin/hip region. My favorite way to enter this posture is to start on hands and knees. Then slowly draw your knees away from one another, keeping your shins in line with your knees (rather than allowing your feet to draw in towards one another) as you lower your hips down towards the floor.

Keep your hips in line with your knees, rather than allowing them to move back towards your feet. Continue to move your knees farther away from one another.

Rest on your forearms, or all the way down on the mat if you can get there. Go slow with this one and allow your body to open in its own time.

4. Garland Pose (Malasana)

Garland Pose (Malasana)
Garland Pose (Malasana)

This is the king position for opening your hips and lower back. Start with your feet hip distance apart, or even slightly wider. Allow your feet to turn out 30 degrees or so if you are new to squatting.

Lower your body down, as though you were going to sit on a very small stool. You can extend your arms straight in front of you if you find it difficult to balance.

As you practice this posture, work to move your feet so that they are pointing straight out in front of you.

You can also play with bringing the feet in closer to one another as you progress. This pose has a million and a half benefits and will change your life if you practice it often!

5. Bound Angle Pose (Bhaddha Konasana)

Bound Angle Pose (Bhaddha Konasana)
Bound Angle Pose (Bhaddha Konasana)

This is a great posture to practice while you sit and watch TV or even while reading a book. Sit tall on your mat, then draw your knees up, placing your feet flat on the floor about 12 inches from your bottom.

Bring your feet together, as you allow your knees to drop to the side. Connect the soles of your feet. Inhale as you lengthen your spine once more. Then slowly move your heels in towards your groin, opening the inner hips.

You can also lean your chest forward towards your feet if you like, just be sure to maintain length in your spine.

Having supple, open hips will not only help you to avoid hip and back pain as you age, it can also help you to avoid hurting yourself in everyday life. Having a nice range of motion means that you will be so much less likely to really injure yourself if you fall, which is so important!

By Ali Washington
http://www.doyouyoga.com/5-yoga-poses-open-hips/

 

 

Please follow and like us:

Why Do My Wrists Hurt in Downward-Facing Dog?

There could be several reasons why your wrists are not feeling so hot in Downward-Facing Dog Pose (Adho Mukha Svanasana), but more than likely, it comes down to weight distribution and team work.
Downward-Dog-733x440
When you’re newer to the practice, Downward-Facing Dog looks like a pose where you are holding yourself up with your arms only. Actually, there’s more to it than that.

When all the players—your legs, hips, back, arms, and shoulders—actively participate, there is actually minimal amount of weight on your wrists in this pose, and it can actually feel like a place where you can hang out comfortably for several breaths.

Resting Pose? Really?

In the early years of my practice, I found it particularly annoying that many of my teachers would call Downward-Facing Dog a restful pose. I would feel anything but rested in the pose.

My shoulders tensed, my arms shook with effort, and my wrists ached almost every time I moved to it from Upward-Facing Dog (Urdhva Mukha Svanasana) or Cobra (Bhujangasana). Down Dog was a crappy place for me to be, but since it was a popular pose I knew I wouldn’t be able to avoid it.

So I practiced more and listened to teachers’ takes on how to align in the pose, so I could feel it out on my own. I knew there had to be a way this pose would be comfortable.

Let There Be Light for Your Dog!

Truth be told, I’m still working to find my most strengthening and vibrant Downward-Facing Dog, but I’ve come a long way from the discomfort of my early years. And there are a few tricks I’ve learned and been taught to help ease the pressure off the wrists in this pose.

Try these out on the mat next time, and may your Down Dogs feel light and happy!

1. Shift the weight off the wrists toward the legs.

You can take weight off your wrists by bending your knees generously and pressing your hips further back until your hands feel a little lighter. It’ll look like you’re crouching. Keep the weight shifting towards your legs as you lift your butt up and gradually straighten the legs, without locking the knees.

Your heels don’t have to be flat against the mat, but do try to keep the front of your pelvis tilted forward and tailbone moving away from the top of the spine to elongate your back (big plus!).

2. Ground the pose by firming the legs.

Your heels should be directly behind the widest part of your foot so that you do not see them when you gaze between your legs. Hug your shins in toward each other as though you were trying to squeeze a block between them. This will encourage a slight inward rotation through the legs.

Firm your outer thighs in a slight external rotation and lift your knee caps upward as you press your quadriceps back. Don’t lock your knees! It’ll feel as though someone is gripping you by the hips and pulling back.

3. Create space for your chest and shoulders by firming the outer arms.

Firming the outer arms and wrapping your triceps toward the floor (i.e. external rotation) creates room for your front body and shoulders. It will feel like you’re trying to screw the cap off of jar, counterclockwise, but your hands will stay grounded on the floor.

This helps broaden your collarbones and reduce tension around the shoulders. Let you ears line up with your arms.

4. Energize your upper body by activating your hands.

Engaging your hands, even your fingertips and the bases of your fingers, works to energize your upper body. Imagine your hands like suction cups as you try to distribute the weight evenly throughout. Ground the thumbs and index fingers.

Your hands should be rooted but not completely flat against the floor, so the center of your palm can lift; this engages what some of my teachers call Hasta Bandha, or a hand lock.

by Zainab Zakari
http://www.doyouyoga.com/why-do-my-wrists-hurt-in-downward-facing-dog/

 

Please follow and like us:

How to Use Mala Beads for Yoga and Meditation

by Jacqueline Medalye
If you practice yoga or meditation regularly, you may want to consider using mala beads as a meditation aid. Mala beads are a strand of 108 beads used for keeping count during mantra meditations. Malas can also be made of 27 beads or 21 beads for use in shorter meditations. Malas can be used during meditation, they can be made from gemstones that match the intention of your practice, and often malas are placed in shrines as a reminder of affirmations. Malas are also referred to as mala beads, Buddhist beads or Buddhist prayer beads. Mala beads have been used in Buddhism and Hinduism for centuries and the traditional Rudraksha mala dates back to the 10th century.

How to Use a Mala

Using a mala is simple, easy, and enjoyable. In the beginning, you should clarify the intention of your practice and choose your mantra or affirmation. Then, find a comfortable space and sit quietly in a cross legged position. Close your eyes and observe the speed and depth of your natural breath. Begin to breathe deeply and bring your focus and attention onto your mantra or affirmation. Next, hang the first mala bead gently on the middle or ring finger of your right hand. Place your thumb on the guru bead and begin reciting your mantra. At the end of the mantra push the mala bead away with your thumb and move onto the next bead for another round. Continue until you reach a count on 7, 21, 27, or 108. If you wish to do another round of mantras or affirmations, do not skip over the guru bead. Instead, turn the mala around and move in the opposite direction.

Types and Styles

Malas are always made with round beads. These beads are usually 7-8mm in size or 10mm, and their shape allows them glide easily through your fingers. Traditional malas are made with Rudraksha beads, lotus seed beads, yak bone, Bodhi seeds, or wood. Healing malas are made from gemstones, which have different energies, properties, and colors. For example, there are many malas that are made from black onyx, turquoise, rose quartz, or jade. Less common are malas made from round glass beads or glass crystal, and often these malas are used for color therapy.

There are several mala styles. Some malas are made with only 108 beads, a guru, and a tassel. Others have markers at 7 and/or 21 which make the piece useable in shorter mantra meditations. Some malas look like necklaces and have 108 mala beads with only a guru. All 108 mala beads can be worn as necklaces or as wrapped bracelets, and many Western practitioners wear their malas when they are off the mat to remind them of their yoga practice. There are also mala bracelets which can be made from 21 or 27 beads for shorter meditations and these malas are often worn as bracelets off the mat.

Choosing Mala Beads

When choosing a mala, use your intuition first. If a mala appeals to you, it will be the right mala for you at this time. You can also choose a mala based on the intention of your yoga practice. For example, if you feel that you need more grounding and centering on and off the mat, choose a mala made from agate which is a grounding stone. You can also choose a mala based on its color. If you like the color it is more likely that you will find the opportunity to wear your mala, keep it near you throughout the day, or be happy to see it in your shrine. You can choose a mala based on color if you are also working on your chakras. For example, if you are working on opening your throat chakra, a mala made from blue stones such as turquoise would be perfect, because this stone and color are both excellent for opening the throat chakra. When buying a mala made from gemstones for healing or chakra therapy, make sure that the mala maker uses a gemstone reference guide.

Quality Mala Beads

Your mala should last a long time. A mala that is high quality can withstand use on and off the mat. If you are buying a gemstone mala make sure the beads are of an A or B or C grade. You also want to make sure that the string that the mala is strung on is a premium thread or wire. The best wire is one that has passed a 30lb test. This means that the thread or wire can hold that much weight before being compromised. The method of knotting is also important to ensure that you piece lasts a long time. Sellers should stand behind their products, and they should be willing to restring your mala if it breaks. Finally, mala beads can be stored in a fabric bag when not in use. Fabrics that are natural are best, for example cotton, linen, silk, or velvet. Some sellers offer a mala bag with purchase others offer them for sale as a complimentary product.

Jacqueline Medalye is the designer and owner of Salt Spring Malas and Yoga Jewelry. She has been practicing yoga for 10 years.

See more at: http://www.gaiamtv.com/article/how-use-mala-beads-yoga-and-meditation?cid=soc%3Afacebook%3Amyo#sthash.3vj2JpEh.dpuf

Please follow and like us:

On Reincarnation

This isn’t usually what we post on this blog, but on the weekend, I was asked what reincarnation is, and as a follower of the Buddhist principles, I often have to allay the misconception that if you ‘don’t make it’ in this life, you come back as a cockroach or some other creature. This is far from the truth and is based on a misinterpretation of a parable and has now become urban legend.

So I found this article by Takashi Tsuji that gives a great insight into what it really is all about!

Namaste
One of the Cats.

On Reincarnation

Do you Buddhists believe in rebirth as an animal in the next life? Are you going to be a dog or a cow in the future? Does the soul transmigrate into the body of another person or some animal? What is the difference between transmigration and reincarnation? Is it the same as rebirth? Is karma the same as fate? These and a hundred similar questions are often put to me.

A gross misunderstanding of about Buddhism exists today, especially in the notion of reincarnation. The common misunderstanding is that a person has led countless previous lives, usually as an animal, but somehow in this life he is born as a human being and in the next life he will be reborn as an animal, depending on the kind of life he has lived.

This misunderstanding arises because people usually do not know-how to read the sutras or sacred writings. It is said that the Buddha left 84,000 teachings; the symbolic figure represents the diverse backgrounds characteristics, tastes, etc. of the people. The Buddha taught according to the mental and spiritual capacity of each individual. For the simple village folks living during the time of the Buddha, the doctrine of reincarnation was a powerful moral lesson. Fear of birth into the animal world must have frightened many people from acting like animals in this life. If we take this teaching literally today we are confused because we cannot understand it rationally.

Herein lies our problem. A parable, when taken literally, does not make sense to the modern mind. Therefore we must learn to differentiate the parables and myths from actuality. However, if we learn to go beyond or transcend the parables and myths, we will be able to understand the truth.

People will say “If such is the case why not speak directly so that we will be able to come to an immediate grasp of the truth?” This statement is understandable, but truth is often inexpressible. [Ed comment: we as human beings are limited in understanding “Buddha Knowledge”. We cannot speak TRUTH, only words ABOUT Truth] Thus, writers and teachers have often resorted to the language of the imagination to lead the reader from a lower to a higher truth. The doctrine of reincarnation is often understood in this light.

What Reincarnation is Not

Reincarnation is not a simple physical birth of a person; for instance, John being reborn as a cat in the next life. In this case John possesses an immortal soul which transforms to the form of a cat after his death. This cycle is repeated over and over again. Or if he is lucky, he will be reborn as a human being. This notion of the transmigration of the soul definitely does not exist in Buddhism.

Karma

Karma is a Sanskrit word from the root “Kri” to do or to make and simply means “action.” It operates in the universe as the continuous chain reaction of cause and effect. It is not only confined to causation in the physical sense but also it has moral implications. “A good cause, a good effect; a bad cause a bad effect” is a common saying. In this sense karma is a moral law.

Now human beings are constantly giving off physical and spiritual forces in all directions. In physics we learn that no energy is ever lost; only that it changes form. This is the common law of conservation of energy. Similarly, spiritual and mental action is never lost. It is transformed. Thus Karma is the law of the conservation of moral energy.

By actions, thoughts, and words, man is releasing spiritual energy to the universe and he is in turn affected by influences coming in his direction. Man is therefore the sender and receiver of all these influences. The entire circumstances surrounding him is his karma.

With each action-influence he sends out and at the same time, receives, he is changing. This changing personality and the world he lives in, constitute the totality of his karma.

Karma should not be confused with fate. Fate is the notion that man’s life is preplanned for him by some external power, and he has no control over his destiny. Karma on the other hand, can be changed. Because man is a conscious being he can be aware of his karma and thus strive to change the course of events. In the Dhammapada we find the following words, “All that we are is a result of what we have thought, it is founded on our thoughts and made up of our thoughts.”

What we are, then, is entirely dependent on what we think. Therefore, the nobility of man’s character is dependent on his”good” thoughts, actions, and words. At the same time, if he embraces degrading thoughts, those thoughts invariably influence him into negative words and actions.

The World

Traditionally, Buddhism teaches the existence of the ten realms of being. At the top is Buddha and the scale descends as follows: Bodhisattva (an enlightened being destined to be a Buddha, but purposely remaining on earth to teach others), Pratyeka Buddha (a Buddha for himself), Sravka (direct disciple of Buddha), heavenly beings (superhuman [angels?]), human beings, Asura (fighting spirits), beasts, Preta (hungry ghosts), and depraved men (hellish beings).

Now, these ten realms may be viewed as unfixed, nonobjective worlds, as mental and spiritual states of mind. These states of mind are created by men’s thoughts, actions, and words. In other words, psychological states. These ten realms are “mutually immanent and mutually inclusive, each one having in it the remaining nine realms.” For example, the realm of human beings has all the other nine states (from hell to Buddhahood). Man is at the same time capable of real selfishness, creating his own hell, or is truly compassionate, reflecting the compassion of Amida Buddha. Buddhas too have the other nine realms in their minds, for how can a Buddha possibly save those in hell if he himself does not identify with their suffering and guide them to enlightenment.

The Lesson

We can learn a valuable lesson from the teaching of reincarnation.

In what realm do you now live? If you are hungry for power, love, and self-recognition, you live in the Preta world, or hungry ghosts. If you are motivated only by thirsts of the human organism, you are existing in the world of the beast.

Consider well then your motives and intentions. Remember that man is characteristically placed at the midpoint of the ten stages; he can either lower himself abruptly or gradually into hell or through discipline, cultivation and the awakening of faith rise to the Enlightened state of the Buddha.
http://www.buddhanet.net/e-learning/reincarnation.htm

Please follow and like us:

The Different Yoga Styles

We are often asked what the different styles of Yoga are, so we thought that this would be a useful article to post. Here is a list of the most popular 14 styles.
Anusara
Anusara is often described as Iyengar (a purist form of yoga) with a sense of humor. Created by the aptly named John Friend, Anusara is meant to be heartfelt and accepting. Instead of trying to fit everyone into standard cookie-cutter positions, students are guided to express themselves through the poses to their fullest ability.
Ashtanga
Six established and strenuous pose sequences — the primary series, second series, third series, and so on — practiced sequentially as progress is made. Ashtangis move rapidly, flowing from one pose to the next with each inhale and exhale. Each series of poses linked by the breath this way is called a vinyasa.
Bikram
This is probably my favorite. I’m a hot yoga kind of girl, and Bikram features yoga poses in a sauna-like room. The heat is cranked up to nearly 105 degrees and 40 percent humidity in official Bikram classes. If it’s called “Bikram” (for inventor Bikram Choudhury), it will be a series of 26 basic yoga postures, each performed twice.
Hatha
By definition, hatha is a physical yoga practice, which is pretty much all yoga you’ll find in this hemisphere. One of the six original branches of yoga, “hatha” encompasses nearly all types of modern yoga. In other words, hatha is the ice cream if styles like ashtanga and Bikram are vanilla and chocolate chip. Today, classes described as “hatha” on studio schedules are typically a basic and classical approach to yogic breathing exercises and postures.
Iyengar
This is a purist yoga named after founder B.K.S. Iyengar. Props like blocks, straps, harnesses, and incline boards are used to get you more perfectly into positions and have earned the style its nickname, “furniture yoga.” Appropriate for all ages and abilities, Iyengar yoga is all about precise alignment and deliberate sequencing. Don’t take that to mean easy.
Jivamukti
A physical, limit-pushing practice that reintegrates yoga’s traditional spiritual elements in an educational way for Western practitioners. Expect a theme for each class, Sanskrit chanting, and references to ancient scripture. Created by Sharon Gannon and David Life in 1984 in New York City, jivamukti translates as “liberation while living.”
Kripalu
Kripalu is a three-part practice that teaches you to get to know, accept, and learn from your body. It starts with figuring out how your body works in different poses, then moves toward postures held for an extended time and meditation. It then taps deep into your being to find spontaneous flow in asanas, letting your body be the teacher.
Kundalini
The practice of kundalini yoga features constantly moving, invigorating poses. The fluidity of the practice is intended to release the kundalini (serpent) energy in your body. Weren’t aware you had any? Well, just think of it as an energy supply, coiled like a sleeping snake at the base of the spine, waiting to be tapped; the practice aims to do just that — awaken and pulse the stuff upward through the body.
Prenatal
Yoga postures carefully adapted for expectant mothers. Prenatal yoga is tailored to help women in all stages of pregnancy, even those getting back in shape post-birth. When you keep your muscles strong through your term, they will still have the strength and energy to return to normal.
Restorative
Less work, more relaxation. You’ll spend as many as 20 minutes each in just four or five simple poses (often they’re modifications of standard asanas) using strategically placed props like blankets, bolsters, and soothing lavender eye pillows to help you sink into deep relaxation. There’s also psychic cleansing: the mind goes to mush and you feel brand new. It’s something like group nap time for grownups. It’s better not to fall asleep, though.
Sivananda
An unhurried yoga practice that typically focuses on the same 12 basic asanas or variations thereof every time, bookended by sun salutations and savasana (corpse pose). The system is based on a five-point philosophy that proper breathing, relaxation, diet, exercise, and positive thinking work together to form a healthy yogic lifestyle
Viniyoga
A highly individualized practice in which yogis learn to adapt poses and goals to their own needs and abilities. Vini actually means differentiation, adaptation, and appropriate application. Instead of focusing on stretching to get strong and flexible, viniyoga uses the principles of proprioceptive neuromuscular facilitation (PNF). PNF simply means warming up and contracting a muscle before stretching it. This decreases your chance of injury.
Vinyasa / Power
An active and athletic style of yoga adapted from the traditional ashtanga system in the late 1980s to appeal to aerobic-crazed Westerners. After having studied with Pattabhi Jois, Beryl Bender Birch and Bryan Kest simultaneously pioneered this westernized ashtanga on the East and West coasts, respectively. Power yoga doesn’t stick to the same sequence of poses each time like ashtanga does, so the style varies depending on the teacher. Classes called “vinyasa” or “flow” in your gym or studio can be vastly different but in general stem from this movement and from ashtanga as well.
Yin
A quiet, meditative yoga practice, also called taoist yoga. Yin focuses on lengthening connective tissues and is meant to complement yang yoga—your muscle-forming Anusara, ashtanga, Iyengar, or what have you. Yin poses are passive, meaning you’re supposed to relax muscles and let gravity do the work. And they’re long — you’ll practice patience here too.
**
One that didn’t make the list but is another yoga style is Tantra Yoga. It’s a practice that can be used to expand the connection and awareness between a couple, creating a deeper bond spiritually with each other. (Think: tantric sex.) That’s basically what it is but with yoga.
Meow.

With thanks to Becky Ward for this article:
http://www.mindbodygreen.com/0-8622/14-styles-of-yoga-explained-simply.html
Please follow and like us:

25 Quotes From Buddha That Will Change Your Life

Between the 6th and 4th century BCE, a man named Siddhārtha Gautama began to turn heads in Eastern India with his profound spiritual wisdom.  He was given the name “Buddha”, which literally means “The enlightened one”, and to this day we still receive tremendous insight from his teachings.

Interestingly, Buddha never actually wrote any of his teachings down.  Similar to Jesus and Socrates, his method of teaching was verbal and communicative.  Oral traditions kept the wisdom of the Buddha alive until 400 years after his death when the first transcript of his teachings first emerged.

His awakening occurred when he realized that you didn’t have to starve yourself and mortify your body, as was commonly practiced in India at that time to enhance spiritual clarity and wisdom.  When a young girl offered him some milk and rice pudding as an action of compassion, he realized that there was more to The Way than what he had been taught.

He then meditated for 49 nine days after vowing he would not move until he found the truth.  The insights that came from this still remain some of the most relevant and profound spiritual teachings of all time.  Here are 25 quotes from Buddha that will change your life:

1) “However many holy words you read, however many you speak, what good will they do you if you do not act on upon them?”

2) “The way is not in the sky. The way is in the heart.”

3) “A jug fills drop by drop.”

4) “Every human being is the author of his own health or disease.”

5) “To understand everything is to forgive everything”

6) “Better than a thousand hollow words, is one word that brings peace.”

7) “Whatever words we utter should be chosen with care for people will hear them and be influenced by them for good or ill.”

8) “No one saves us but ourselves. No one can and no one may. We ourselves must walk the path.”

9) “In a controversy the instant we feel anger we have already ceased striving for the truth, and have begun striving for ourselves.”

10) “In the sky, there is no distinction of east and west; people create distinctions out of their own minds and then believe them to be true.”

11) “Those who are free of resentful thoughts surely find peace.”

12) “Hatred does not cease through hatred at any time. Hatred ceases through love. This is an unalterable law.”

13) “There has to be evil so that good can prove its purity above it.”

14) “It is easy to see the faults of others, but difficult to see once own faults. One shows the faults of others like chaff winnowed in the wind, but one conceals one’s own faults as a cunning gambler conceals his dice.”

15) “I never see what has been done; I only see what remains to be done.”

16) “The mind is everything. What you think you become.”

17) “Just as treasures are uncovered from the earth, so virtue appears from good deeds, and wisdom appears from a pure and peaceful mind. To walk safely through the maze of human life, one needs the light of wisdom and the guidance of virtue.”

18) “We are shaped by our thoughts; we become what we think. When the mind is pure, joy follows like a shadow that never leaves.”

19) “Work out your own salvation. Do not depend on others.”

20) “Let us rise up and be thankful, for if we didn’t learn a lot today, at least we learned a little, and if we didn’t learn a little, at least we didn’t get sick, and if we got sick, at least we didn’t die; so, let us all be thankful.”

21) “You cannot travel the path until you have become the path itself”

22) “You will not be punished for your anger, you will be punished by your anger.”

23) “To conquer oneself is a greater task than conquering others”

24)  “Three things cannot be long hidden: the sun, the moon, and the truth.”

25) “Have compassion for all beings, rich and poor alike; each has their suffering. Some suffer too much, others too little.”

Let’s keep these words alive.

About the Author: My name is Steven Bancarz, and I am the creator of ‘Spirit Science and Metaphysics’.  I am working on a new social platform is being built called ‘The Conscious Forum‘ to provide the best place online for open-minded people to discuss, engage, and connect with one another in a way never offered before.
See more at: http://www.spiritscienceandmetaphysics.com/25-quotes-from-buddha-that-will-change-your-life/#sthash.TdJAIY18.dpuf
Please follow and like us:

Breathing through what Life throws

When life throws things at you, what do you do? Do you relax into the drama or resist, knowing this only makes it worse?

The choice doesn’t always seem like a choice, but it is. My first reaction used to be resistance. I would freak out, scream, cry, or panic. I’ve even been guilty of throwing a plate of food across the room. But now, I’ve learned to hit my mat. When I bring myself to my mat I can hear my breath and feel my body, and automatically my mind slows and I feel a swecropPhoto.phpet release. For me when stuff happens, this is how I’ve learned to cope. My old way to react – shutting down or just holding it in until I exploded days, weeks, or months later just wasn’t productive. So when the “shit hit the fan” most recently I witnessed the amazing impact of yoga on my life.

Five months ago, I stepped off the ledge and opened Inspire Yoga. I was excited, scared, and anxious about this journey, but ready for the challenge. And boy has it been a challenge! In five short months I have learned more about business ownership and myself than I could ever imagine.

I made it through the challenge of construction, from picking out floors to heaters to finding people to help get the job done. I trusted that the people I hired to do the work knew what they were doing. Apparently people will tell you anything you want to hear to get your $$$.

Yes I have a big “S” on my forehead.

Just as our community was gelling and I sensed that people were getting to know our brand and name, the SHIT HIT the fan, BIG TIME! I was informed that “Inspire Yoga” would have to change our name as we were in violation of another studio’s trademark. What happened? How did I react? First with lots of resistance, denial, tears, and then that resistance relaxed into acceptance. I hit my mat, breathed and released what was no longer serving me once again, resistance. As the resistance melted I could once again see possibility. It was totally out of my control and fighting it didn’t serve anyone. And now, with our new name “EMPOWER YOGA” I am ready to move forward with a smile on my face.Sometimes we just have to take a deep breath and let go of what we cannot control. Relax into the resistance to see a new possibility. As my teacher Baron Baptiste says, “What’s possible now?”

Stay in the pose, the pose doesn’t begin till you want out. So I tell myself just one more breath, okay one more breath I can do this. This is the same feeling that comes up for me when things happens. Can I just breathe? Yes, no, yes, yes I can. As I tell my students, and myself “try easy” relax into the pose. This doesn’t mean it is easy, and doesn’t mean you aren’t sweating buckets and cursing in your head, but you are still breathing and you are not fighting. You don’t run away, you breathe through the resistance, you relax with what is.

Power Yoga is often confused with kick your own asana. Yes, it does do this, but it has also taught me that I can breathe through anything life throws at me. It has empowered me to follow my dreams, to not give up when things get rough. It’s given me the permission to fall on my face and get back up again, again and again. I can relax into the resistance and come out of it stronger than I was before.

It has taught me that anything is possible. Every pose each day is different and as you let go of the fight you find new breakthroughs. You discover you can stand on your hands lightly, you can surrender in pigeon, and you can re-brand your business if that is what the day brings. Through yoga I have not just watched my body transform but I have slowly noticed my life transform. I have learned to let go of the fight and be light, to breathe, and through this I believe I am ready to take on what is thrown my way. Yoga is my saving grace; it constantly brings me back to my breath, back to myself.

By Rachel Goldberg
http://www.yogitimes.com/article/breathing-through-difficult-times-practice-yoga

 

Please follow and like us:

5 Benefits of Regular Headstand Practice

How Inversions Help Balance the Physical and Subtle Bodies

Known as the king of Asanas (yoga postures), the headstand may at first seem intimidating to the new practitioner. However, the benefits of this posture to one’s mind, body, and spirit are plenty. In an environment where we are either sitting down or standing for most of the day, our circulation tends to become sluggish. This often results in our heart overworking to pump adequate blood to the upper body. Normally, our heart works against the pull of gravity. Inversions lessen the strain on the heart and allow an abundant supply of oxygen-rich blood to reach the head and brain.

Here are 5 of the many benefits of regular practice of headstand:

1. Inversions reverse the pull of gravity on the organs, especially the intestines. Performing this posture increases digestive fire and body heat. The intestines are cleansed while releasing clogged blood in the colon.

2. By inverting, the flow of blood reverses in the body and stimulates the nervous system. Headstands stimulate and provide refreshed blood to the pituitary and hypothalamus glands. The hypothalamus gland links the nervous system to the endocrine system via the pituitary gland. These glands are vital to our wellbeing and are considered the master glands that regulate all other glands in the body (thyroid, pineal, and adrenals). Performing headstand helps to dissolves stress, sadness, depression, and lethargy. The cleaner your adrenal glands are, the more optimal they will function. This will help you to adapt to stress better.

3.  Performing headstand rejuvenates the lower body such as the legs, pelvis, and lower torso. While in headstand, de-oxygenated blood is able to flow more easily from the extremities to the heart. Reversing the effects of gravity on your bodily fluids will help to flush out built up water in the legs, relieving the confining sensation of edema (swelling).

4.  By performing headstand, you will be directly stimulating your lymphatic system and thereby helping to remove toxins from your body. The lymphatic system is responsible for waste removal, fluid balance, and immune system response.  As lymph moves through the body, it gathers toxins and bacteria to be eliminated by the lymph nodes. Lymph moves as a result of muscle contractions and gravity. By inverting, lymph travels more easily into the respiratory system where much of the toxins enter the body.

5.  The improvement of cognitive abilities such as concentration, memory, and processing can be attributed to a regular headstand practice. The posture helps us overcome fear (of falling!) and develop concentration – see how long you can hold the posture if your mind wanders. This pose requires a still mind.  Headstands also strengthen deep core muscles. To be able to hold this posture, the practitioner must engage the obliques, the rectus abdominis and transverse abdominis.

When done correctly, headstands help the spine become properly aligned, improving posture, facilitating good breathing and reducing muscular stress. It positively affects the four major systems in the body: cardiovascular, lymphatic, nervous, and endocrine. Although I recommend learning headstand from a qualified teacher, its multifaceted benefits should not be ignored. Headstands should not be performed if you have neck injuries, unusually high blood pressure, ear or eye problems, or if a woman is on her monthly cycle.

By Mihir Ganud
http://www.yogitimes.com/article/benefits-tips-headstand-asana-pose-yoga-practice#

 

 

Please follow and like us:

What is Kundalini Yoga?

Kundalini Yoga is a science that opens your heart and expands your awareness of consciousness. Yogi Bhajan brought Kundalini Yoga to the West in 1968. He said that “Kundalini Yoga is the science to unite the finite with Infinity, and that it’s the art to experience Infinity in the finite.”

Kundalini comes from the Sanskrit word Kundal, which means coil or spiral. Kundalini is an energy that exists within every human at the base of the spine, which is often in a dormant state. Many describe Kundalini as the coil of the hair of the Beloved. The Beloved is God, Spirit, the Universe- whatever you want to call it. The Kundalini is that piece of God, Spirit, and the Universal Intelligence within us. Kundalini is more commonly known in Western cultures as Holy Spirit. It is the primal life force that animates all life—the evolutionary force behind all living matter.

Now that we have a better understanding of what Kundalini is, let’s talk about yoga! Yoga means union, and comes from the Sanskrit word, Yog- which means to unite. Yoga is how we unite with all of who we are and with higher consciousness. Yoga is about self-acceptance and is a practice that includes; pranayama (breathing exercises), asana (physical postures or maneuvers), meditation and deep relaxation. Through the practice of Yoga, we begin to calm the fluctuations of the mind, to open the heart and to unite with the ultimate loving power with us.

Kundalini means “the curl of the hair of the beloved” and yoga is union. Kundalini Yoga is therefore uniting and awakening the God, Spirit, or Higher Consciousness within us.

Kundalini Yoga as taught by Yogi Bhajan® is known as one of the most comprehensive of yoga traditions, joining meditation, mantra, physical exercises and breathing techniques; It is the Raj or the King Yoga.

In any class Kundalini Yoga classes, you can expect to find six major components:

1. Tuning-in with the Adi Mantra – Ong Namo Guru Dev Namo

2. Pranayama and / or warm-ups (ex. cat/cow, spinal flex)

3. Kriya (yoga set)

4. Deep relaxation or savasana

5. Meditation

6. Close with the blessing song, “May the Long Time Sun Shine Upon You” and a long Sat Nam (which means truth is my identity)

Kundalini Yoga works on the mental, physical, and nervous energies of the body and puts them under the domain of the will, which is the tool of the soul. This technology balances the glandular system, strengthens the nervous system, expands lung capacity, and purifies the blood.

Science tells us that everything is made of energy and it has been known for thousands of years that there are intense energy focal points in the body called Chakras. Kundalini Yoga moves energy up the chakras from the lower triangle 1st, 2nd and 3rd chakras to the highest chakras. When the 4th heart chakra is awakened, we begin to move from “me” to “we” and experience union and shift into the higher triangle, the 5th throat chakra where we communicate our wisdom, the 6th third eye chakra where we access our inner vision, and the 7th crown chakra where we experience the oneness and wisdom of the Creator. Kundalini Yoga is also called the Yoga of Awareness- it opens your heart and gives you a powerful experience of your soul.

Kundalini Yoga gifts you with an experience of your truth, or Sat Nam which begins to permeate into every aspect of your life. “It is not meditation that stops the mind. It is the surrender of the mind to the soul, and the soul to Truth. It is when you prefer the word of Truth to the word of your own intellect.” – Yogi Bhajan

Kundalini Yoga works fast to give you the experience of the fruits of yoga. It is a high science designed to awaken the full potential of human consciousness in each individual and expand that awareness to our unlimited Self. This practice simply changes you from the inside out and makes you want to be a better person and live a more heart centered life.

So, when is your next kundalini class?

by  hillary faye
http://www.yogitimes.com/article/what-is-kundalini-yoga

Please follow and like us:

From Corporate Drone to Yogi

In my forty-two years I have never been a morning person. Being from Boston, I have a pretty direct yet quirky personality, and a playful sarcasm that is the root of my sense of humor.

I am a hard worker and will give two hundred percent at a given task, but I am also pretty lazy when I am home.  I am a jack-of-all-trades and master of none.

My relationship with exercise has been an inconsistent journey that ranged from binging on workouts, protein shakes and weeks of detoxes to late night drinking, processed foods and surfing the internet until ungodly hours of the morning.  I have looked and felt great at different times in my life, but have also had periods of being out of shape and a little depressed.

After reading this about me, it may not surprise you to know I didn’t care for yoga the first time I tried it.  The amount of discipline required is out of my comfort zone of pausable workout DVD’s, greasy pizzas, and rich amber lagers.  Attempting to keep alignment correct, the breath steady, and my focus balanced sends my ADD and OCD completely over the edge.

It may also surprise you to learn I am a yoga teacher.

I stumbled upon the practice when I needed it most.  I was a stressed out, corporate drone living on fast food and adrenaline while chasing an ever elusive dangling carrot shaped in society’s definition of success.

The first time I tried yoga I was an uncoordinated mess that gasped for breath while my body trembled for a long sixty minutes.  My mat was saturated in sweat comprised of beer, nicotine, and a lifetime of bad decisions.  My naive ego egged me on whenever I looked around and passed judgement on all the bendy, fit, and graceful bodies that surrounded me.

“Who the hell do they think they are?” I asked ego rhetorically. “Screw them and their blissful grace.”  Yet while I bantered back and forth, calling everyone in the room unquestionable names, I secretly wanted to be like them.  I was innately aware these people were tuned in to something that couldn’t be seen.  The ‘feel’ of the yoga space was much different than that of a gym; there was an absence of something I couldn’t quite put my finger on.

The overwhelming positive energy was undeniable.  It was something I never experienced and I somehow knew the blissed out looks on these bendy bitches’ faces was connected to what was happening in the studio.  One didn’t need to understand what a Chakra was or be ‘metaphysical’ to feel the vibe radiating from the space.  I didn’t understand the “how” of their focus and bliss, I just wanted it. That motivated me to my second class.

I did pretty good the second time.  My initial nerves of being an “outsider” were considerably subdued and while I set up my mat in the back of the room so no one would see me fall out of balance standing in mountain pose, I had a different approach to the practice.  I wanted to absorb the sound of everyone’s breath, the instructor’s soothing tone, and more importantly, the insanely infectious peaceful energy that would soon fill the room and hug me.

We moved, breathed and put our bodies in different shapes in unison. And for the first time, I became aware I was completely present in the moment.  I wasn’t rushing to get to a meeting or running through my mind a list of things I needed to get done.  I was just “there.”

The final moments came and the instructor placed us in Savasana for final relaxation using only her words.  As we lay on the wood floor with eyes closed, bodies and minds open, the instructor gently guided us in to a meditation.  With every breath, I felt myself slip more in to relaxation, another place that had eluded me over the years.  I couldn’t tell exactly what she said during those brief minutes because the only thing that stood out was her saying it was okay for us to let go.  “Just let go.” she said, “Know that it is okay for you to just let it all go.”  And that is when I started crying.

I had no idea why, after all these years of choking down my emotions, I felt it okay in this room full of strangers to have an emotional release and sob. But it happened and felt so good.  She was right, it was okay to let it all go.  I hadn’t realized I had been holding on so tightly for so long to so many things that needed to release until she spoke those words.  In those few moments of release, I felt incredibly safe and knew I was going to be okay.

As she brought us out of meditation and class ended, I briefly obsessed over how the other people would judge me once I opened my eyes, and how I would cower out and run to my car, but for some reason those feelings melted away and I didn’t care what people thought for once in my life.  When I finally opened my eyes watching everyone gather up their mats, I realized there wasn’t judgement.  In fact, a couple of the people closest to me smiled peacefully when our eyes met as if we had an unspoken connection.

As I walked to the exit, the instructor appeared, and smiled as she placed her hand on my shoulder asking “how do you feel?”.  The only thing I could say that wouldn’t send me into another sobbing emotional release was nothing at all.  I smiled and let out a big sigh as my eyes teared up.  She squeezed my shoulder, smiled again and said “good…good” and walked away.

From that day on, I explored the roots of Yoga while trying to balance my demanding career.  I didn’t always get to class and I would just meditate or do poses in my living room, but it was that “baby step” process that brought me to where I am today.  I realized through a slow process of letting yoga in my life that slow processes are one of my processes.  I am now aware that I do it with relationships, purchases, etc.  Everything is a baby step.  If I rush, the foundation  doesn’t harden completely and the structure can potentially fail.  If I had rushed allowing yoga in to my life, I would have resented it.  But that is my process.  Everyone is different and yoga has shown me my individual processes are okay.

As yoga became more permanent, I began to let go of things I had thought defined me such as my career.  I believed I needed to climb a corporate ladder and make big bucks.  And that how I looked and who I knew were the important things.  I realized one day after a long practice that in my twenty year career I acquired a lot of things, but my search for success in the corporate world made me completely miserable and it was time to say goodbye.

Yoga has this way of taking us on a journey to the deepest regions of our self.  It helps strip away the seemingly protective layers in order to see our true, perfect nature in contrast to the stories we have been telling ourselves.  Once the layers peel off and we realize how insanely perfect we are, there is no real need in wearing societal masks any longer.

It was at the end of my career when I made the decision to teach yoga.  I want to help people learn to breathe, move, and focus.  To help them become aware of the present moment again.  Most importantly, I want others to know that it is okay to let go of all the stuff that doesn’t serve them any longer.

I am not going to lie, it is physically demanding. It challenges the constructs we create for ourselves in our minds and in the material world around, and it has no time for banter with Ego. It can be an uncoordinated mess that leaves your body trembling for what seems the longest sixty minutes of life.

But when you show up fully for your yoga practice, your yoga practice shows up fully for you.  It is not going to be an easy journey but it will definitely be worth the trip.

Even if you are not a morning person.

by  David Henault
http://www.yogitimes.com/article/practice-yoga-journey-start-begin

 

Please follow and like us: