Category Archives: Inspired Posts

UK Parliament Takes a Yoga Break

UK Parliament takes a Yoga Break
UK Parliament takes a Yoga Break
The phrase “U.K. Parliament” doesn’t typically bring to mind images of politicians doing yoga, but last week, that’s exactly what happened in England’s House of Lords.
If you had been in one of the large rooms near the House of Lords in London’s historic Parliament building last Wednesday, you might have spotted several Lords participating in a 60-minute yoga session.

Lords on the Mats

According to NDTV, the session began with meditation, during which an audio-visual history of yoga was played in the background. Following this, they began with pranayama, following a yoga teacher through a series of breathing exercises.

The Lords attempted a variety of positions from Ardha Chandrasana to Vrikshasana, reports NDTV. The lesson was led by yoga instructor Neil Patel, who instructed the Parliamentarians on proper form and etiquette, reminding them not to kick their neighbors even if they didn’t belong to the same political party.

The yoga session was kickstarted by Indian-born Lord Karan Bilimoria as part of the U.K.’s International Yoga Day celebrations. Bilimoria praised India’s influence on the world, calling yoga a “shining example” of its “soft power.”

“Yoga is rapidly gaining in popularity around the world for its recognized benefits for wellbeing and mindfulness,” Bilimoria told Outlook India.

He joked that the Lords were well suited to yoga because they’re already in such good shape and in need of relaxation.

“We are very fit, you see,” Lord Bilimoria told NDTV. “We have just eight minutes from the time the bell goes to come and vote from wherever we are in the vast lobbies of this grand building. We run to make it…so this yoga session was very welcome.”

Other Lords agreed, saying that yoga was easier than they thought it would be. Patel called them “sports,” adding that they don’t need to attempt complicated asanas in order to stay in shape.

“A little bit of simple yoga a day would be good for inner peace and health,” he said.

Politicians experiencing inner peace? That could be just what the world needs!
Sarah Alender – Sarah is part of DoYouYoga’s editorial team and writes about inspiration and news.
http://www.doyouyoga.com/u-k-parliament-takes-a-yoga-break-98214/
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Celebrate International Day of Yoga – Durban – Sunday 21st June 2015

Durban Beach Front Amphitheatre (in front of the Elangeni Hotel)
Starts at 08h30 and ends at 10h00, all welcome! Please bring a mat!

Be part of this world wide event !
You got to be there !!!

 

June 21 will see thousands of fitness-loving people descend upon the Durban amphitheatre, opposite the Elangeni Hotel, to join the rest of the world in observing International Day of Yoga.

Last year, the prime minister of India, Shri Narendra Modi, made a proposal at the 69th UN General Assembly (UNGA), that the said day be celebrated each year, which was approved. Locally, the Consulate of India’s office in association with the Sivananda World Peace Foundation and Vishwa Shakti are organising a special programme that will take place in Durban, Stanger, Phoenix, Chatsworth, Tongaat and PMB.

Speaking at a meeting, the Consul General of India, Rajagopalan Ragunathan, said they are expected to draw in a crowd of about 2000 people in Durban. “The objective of celebrating the International Day of Yoga is to create awareness about yoga and how it benefits everyone in better understanding the significance of traditional and authentic yoga techniques. We really want to make this event a success and urge the community and organisations to join in and be part of it,” he said.

IYD-Flyer-WebSmThe activities include a lecture cum demonstration by yoga instructors/experts from 8:30am to 10am. “People from all walks of life are expected to join. In collaboration with different associations, the Consulate General of India will be holding similar yoga camps in Phoenix, Chatsworth, Tongaat and Stanger,” he said.

The day also coincides with Father’s Day so share a memory with your dad on father’s day by being of this relaxing experience.  Simply come attired for yoga with your mat.  T-shirts and hampers will be handed out to all participants.

Yoga is essentially a discipline which focuses on bringing harmony between mind and body. It is an art and science for healthy living. According to Yoga scriptures, the practice of of Yoga leads to the union of individual consciousness with universal consciousness. One who experiences this oneness of existence is said to be ‘in Yoga’ and is termed as a Yogi who has attained a state of freedom. Yoga is a 5000-year-old physical, mental and spiritual practice speculated to date back to pre-Vedic Indian traditions, but most likely developed around teh sixth and fifth centuries BC, in ancient India.

 

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International Yoga Day – Durban 21st June 2015

IYD-Flyer-WebSmJune 21 will see thousands of fitness-loving people descend upon the Durban amphitheatre, opposite the Elangeni Hotel, to join the rest of the world in observing International Day of Yoga.

Last year, the prime minister of India, Shri Narendra Modi, made a proposal at the 69th UN General Assembly (UNGA), that the said day be celebrated each year, which was approved. Locally, the Consulate of India’s office in association with the Sivananda World Peace Foundation and Vishwa Shakti are organising a special programme that will take place in Durban, Stanger, Phoenix, Chatsworth, Tongaat and PMB.

Speaking at a meeting, the Consul General of India, Rajagopalan Ragunathan, said they are expected to draw in a crowd of about 2000 people in Durban. “The objective of celebrating the International Day of Yoga is to create awareness about yoga and how it benefits everyone in better understanding the significance of traditional and authentic yoga techniques. We really want to make this event a success and urge the community and organisations to join in and be part of it,” he said.

The activities include a lecture cum demonstration by yoga instructors/experts from 8:30am to 10am. “People from all walks of life are expected to join. In collaboration with different associations, the Consulate General of India will be holding similar yoga camps in Phoenix, Chatsworth, Tongaat and Stanger,” he said.

The day also coincides with Father’s Day so share a memory with your dad on father’s day by being of this relaxing experience.  Simply come attired for yoga with your mat.  T-shirts and hampers will be handed out to all participants.

Yoga is essentially a discipline which focuses on bringing harmony between mind and body. It is an art and science for healthy living. According to Yoga scriptures, the practice of of Yoga leads to the union of individual consciousness with universal consciousness. One who experiences this oneness of existence is said to be ‘in Yoga’ and is termed as a Yogi who has attained a state of freedom. Yoga is a 5000-year-old physical, mental and spiritual practice speculated to date back to pre-Vedic Indian traditions, but most likely developed around teh sixth and fifth centuries BC, in ancient India.

Starts at 08h30 and ends at 10h00, all welcome! Please bring a mat!

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Taking Action to Help Others is Yoga Too (Karma Yoga)

Yoga is more than postures
“If I am not for myself, then who will be for me? And if I am only for myself, then what am I? And if not now, when? – Rabbi Hillel 

Photography by stacie-saraswati dooreck
Photography by stacie-saraswati dooreck
Taking action to help others is yoga too by Stacie Dooreck, Author of “SunLight Chair Yoga: yoga for everyone!” Direct action to help others is yoga. Eating a diet that does not harm animals or any living being is yoga. Sitting in stillness is yoga. Yoga postures are also yoga, but not the entirety of the practice by any means. It seems however, that the modern wave of yoga often focuses mostly on yoga postures, which is very different from the yoga taught as I learned it, in the ashrams in India or ashrams established in the west from the lineage based Gurus.
The yoga path had postures (asanas) as part of hatha yoga but also included a vegetarian diet, daily meditation, devotional chanting, pranayama (breathing exercises) and karma yoga (service). Although yoga postures are useful for improving health and peace of mind, the yoga asanas are only one part of yoga. It often serves as an entry way where many people are drawn to the practice (to achieve greater strength, flexibility, exercise, pain relief, etc.) They are also useful and helpful in lifestyle, as daily exercise for the body and a meditation for the mind. However the other aspects of yoga practiced in conjuction with the yoga postures, create the holistic path of yoga.
Although the postures themselves can lead the mind into a meditative state and regulate the breathing, if we are harming animals and not helping humanity, we may be missing a large part of the practice: to increase compassion for ourselves and others. A simple way to think of it is that yoga can be summarized as a full lifestyle including 5 main points. “Swami Vishnudevananda condensed the essence of the yoga teachings into five principles for physical and mental health as well as spiritual growth”
Proper Exercises – asana
Proper Breathing – relaxation
Proper Relaxation – savasana
Proper Diet – vegetarian
Positive Thinking and Meditation
“Serve. Love. Give. Purify. Meditate. Realize.” says Swami Vishnu Devananda. Karma yoga or seva is selflessly serving humanity, not included in this five main points, but is another branch of yoga. It doesn’t involve a headstand, handstand, downward dog or spinal twist. It does not even involve sitting in meditation and feeling serene nor eating a vegetarian diet. This can be volunteer work, organizing projects to help those in need or any way that you can give of your talents, time or energy to help others. Although it is useful to keep the body healthy and strong with yoga postures, this is only a small part of the path and practice of yoga. In fact, the postures, some say, were originally designed as part of the yoga practice so that the yogis can then sit quietly and concentrate, do pranayama (breathing exercises) and meditate on higher aspects of yoga and spirituality, and perhaps to answer questions with clarity such as “Who am I? Why am I here? And how can I serve humanity?” Since the body is limited to the amount of years we are here, the yogis were also seeking to understand their true essence, that which is beyond the body, time and space.
If we are injured, paralyzed in a wheelchair, recovering from a surgery, in a hospital bed or not able to move our body in yoga postures, we still can practice yoga. Meditation, breathing exercises, eating a diet that does not harm animals and giving back to humanity is another way. Our yoga practice will to have to adapt to our needs and abilities in each phase of life, but it is all still yoga. “Adapt. Adjust. Accommodate.” says Swami Sivananda.
The reason I was led to write this article is because when the earthquake happened in Nepal, in the Himalayas [April 30th 2105], the motherland of yoga, I saw most yoga businesses posting news online about their workshops and clothes on sale, yoga conferences and their festival and events, yet no mention on social media from many of these large commercial yoga studios and yoga businesses about helping those in Nepal needing food, water, medical supplies and urgent help. Direct action to help humanity IS yoga. If the yoga communities unite, as yoga aims to do, and each yoga studio, yoga business and yoga teacher asks on social media to have their followers or friends donate to an organization they trust, even a small amount, this would be of great service. It would be true yoga if helping humanity, was the priority. Let’s follow the lead of Yoga International Magazine that sent a dedicated e-letter immediately asking for donations for Nepal earthquake relief. If you are a yoga teacher or yoga studio owner, you can also arrange a local event in your area as a fundraiser for Nepal or another group that is in need.
Any effort, even small can create a ripple effect and bring more peace and less suffering in this world. Don’t wait for another person to step in help. As Rabbi Hillel said “If I am not for myself, then who will be for me? And if I am only for myself, then what am I? And if not now, when?”
stacie-saraswati dooreck
http://www.yogitimes.com/article/help-others-karma-yoga-earthquake-nepal-2015
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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/

 

 

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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/

 

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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

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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

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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.
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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
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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
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