Category Archives: Inspired Posts

Vatayanasana (Horse Face Pose): Exploring the Mythology


BY ZO NEWELL 

horse-face-pose-practice

Age after age, when the flame of righteousness burns dangerously low, when right action is all but nonexistent, the divine preserving force that we call Vishnu assumes a form appropriate to the times and sets the universe back on course for a while.

In Indian cosmology, time is a cyclical sequence of four ages, or yugas. In the first, golden age, known as the Satya Yuga, dharma—righteousness, cosmic orderis full and complete.

People treat one another with compassion and care for the old and sick and misfortunate, rulers are just, the earth is fertile, the waters are pure, animals are not mistreated, wisdom is pursued, and the gods are respected.

In such an atmosphere, there is very little suffering.

However, it is the nature of things that, over time, dharma, like all things, gradually decays, until, at the end of the fourth age, the Kali Yuga, circumstances have so far deteriorated that divine intervention is required to rescue the righteous who have survived and establish a new golden age.

The Puranas (Hindu legends and folklore) list some of the symptoms of the Kali Yuga, when adharma—disorder and unrighteousnesswill be rampant:

‌• Human beings will turn away from God. Priests will be corrupt.

‌• Rulers will cease to protect the people and will appropriate all the wealth and resources for themselves.

‌• Displaced persons will wander from one country to another and find no refuge.

‌• Base men will be esteemed as sages.

‌• People will prefer falsehood over truthfulness.

‌• Water will be lacking. The god of clouds will be inconsistent in distributing rain; there will be both floods and drought. Agriculture will fail.

‌• Lack of wealth will be considered dishonorable. Those without money will be unable to get justice, and anyone who can cleverly juggle words will be esteemed as a scholar.

‌• Deceit, falsehood, lethargy, sleepiness, violence, despondency, grief, delusion, fear, and poverty will prevail.

‌• Religion, truthfulness, cleanliness, forgiveness, mercy, life span, physical strength, and memory will decrease more and more with time. People will wear ragged clothes made of leaves and tree bark. They will subsist on honey, vegetables, roots, fruits, leaves, and flowers. No one will live longer than 22 years. They will seek refuge underground and in the deep valleys between mountains.

According to the Puranas, when the tide of disorder and suffering is at its height, toward the very end of the Kali Yuga, it is prophesied that Vishnu will be born in the village of Shambhala, to Brahmin parents, as Kalki, the avatar who carries a sword and rides a white horse. He will destroy the tyrants and everyone motivated by evil acts and thoughts. He will reestablish order.

Those who remain will find themselves awakening as if from a terrible dream. Their minds will become as clear as crystal. They will rediscover their svadharma—their purpose in life, their unique abilities and gifts, the ways in which only they can serve their community and the universe. These survivors will be the seeds of a new humanity, and their children will establish a new golden age.

Exactly when is this supposed to happen? In Western calendar terms, we can’t exactly say. There is a general opinion that we are, indeed, in the Kali Yuga, and that it began soon after the end of the Mahabharata War, which is guesstimated to have occurred from 3113 to 3100 BC. But how deeply are we in? And, more to the point, when will it end? 2025 seems to be a popular date, although 2012 was proposed as well.

Right now, we can search our hearts and minds for the symptoms of adharma.

But to think literally is to miss the point. Right now, we can search our hearts and minds for the symptoms of adharma. Are we self-interested, lethargic, distracted, lacking in mercy? Are we candidates for a good soul-cleansing? Is it time to call in the cavalry? Quite possibly, yes. Which practices can help us embody the radical, eleventh-hour cleansing and rebooting energies of Kalki?

Vatayanasana (Horse Face Pose)

This pose resembles garudasana (eagle pose) in the arms and padmasana (lotus pose) in the hips. It is also a balancing pose.

It is said to benefit circulation throughout the body, promote flexibility in the upper body, strengthen the bones of the lower body, and correct minor asymmetry in the hips and legs. However, it is not commonly taught—partly because, as B.K.S. Iyengarcomments in Light on Yoga, “In the beginning, it will be difficult to balance and the knees will be painful. With practice, the pain disappears and the balance is achieved.”

Placing a folded blanket or extra mat under your standing knee should make the pose more comfortable. However, this pose should be avoided or approached with caution by people with hip, knee, or shoulder-joint issues.

If you are at home in garudasana and padmasana and can attempt this one safely, I encourage you to explore it and, if you like, journal about your mental and physical experience.

Here is one way to practice the pose, according to Iyengar:

In tadasana (mountain pose), bring your right foot to the top of your left thigh in ardha padmasana (half lotus).

half-lotus-legs-tadasana

Fold forward from the hips and place your hands on the floor for balance. Keep your weight back as you slowly descend into a deep squat on your left side, bending your left knee until the left heel and right knee rest on the floor. Once you are stable, straighten your torso and “stand” on your right knee and the sole of your left foot.

Wrap your arms around each other as in garudasana, with the right arm on top. Stay for 30 seconds, then bring your right leg out of lotus and stand up (straightening both legs). Switch sides.

vatayanasana-variation

You would think it might be easier to enter this pose from all fours, but not necessarily: It requires great flexibility to bring your back foot around and rest it in the groin of the front leg. However, you can do a variation in which you stand on both knees rather than one knee and one foot.

Place your doubled mat in front of a chair seat. Kneel roughly six inches away from the chair. Rest your right hand on the chair seat for balance. With your left hand, reach down to grasp your right foot and bring the right foot into your left hip crease, or as high up the left thigh as it will go comfortably. Once you feel stable, lift the right arm overhead. (Imagine this arm brandishing your sword like Kalki!)

vatayanasana-prep-with-chair

If you can establish the right foot firmly in the left groin and balance on both knees, then experiment with eagle arms or bringing your hands into namaskar (anjali mudra).

vatayanasana-with-mudra

Reflection

The challenge of finding stability and ease in a posture that is initially both uncomfortable and unstable may be peculiarly appropriate for living in the Kali Yuga. The real question for each of us is: How do I achieve equanimity in the face of great chaos? How do I maintain my svadharma when the world around me seems to be falling apart? How can I channel my “inner Kalki,” the one who knows how to destroy the parts of me that subvert inner and outer peace and knows how to nurture the seeds of Self-realization?

ZO NEWELL  
Zo Newell, Ph.D., ERYT 500, was introduced to yoga as a child by Dr. Rammurti Mishra (Sri Brahmananda Sarasvati). She earned her Ph.D. in religious studies from Vanderbilt University in 2011, with a dissertation on goddess images as a unifying cultural symbol for India’s emerging national identity. She is the author of the award-winning book Downward Dogs and Warriors: Wisdom Tales for Modern Yogis (Himalayan Insitute, 2007). A former hospital chaplain and trauma counselor, Zo was a regular… Read more>>


Read More:  https://yogainternational.com/article/view/vatayanasana-horse-face-pose

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4 Ways to Practice and Teach Half Moon Pose


What we think a yoga pose is “supposed” to look like can often cause discomfort, frustration, and/or injury because it’s not what our body needs to reach the intention of the pose in question.

Half Moon or Ardha Chandrasana is one of my favorite poses, but for some, it’s a frustrating b*tch of a pose. When you do this pose, do you feel super duper wobbly, or crunched up? Or do you experience freedom and expansion?

This pose definitely is an experience of finding release within super charged activity. The trick with this pose is the more muscles you activate, the easier it will be to balance. We often fling ourselves into the pose without checking into which muscles to engage, while stacking your joints.

For Half Moon, the intention is to have open rotation in your shoulders, hips, and full extension of your spine and hamstring— all while your balancing leg points to the top of the mat, and the rest of your body faces the side of your mat. We often see one hand propped on the floor, however, this not the intention behind the anatomy of the pose.

When we think that our hand has to touch the ground because that’s what it “should” look like, it can get our body into trouble. You’ll feel your hamstring tremble from trying too hard to extend, your chest and shoulders round and collapse towards the floor, an overstretched sensation in your low back as your back leg flails back behind you—these will leave you wobbling all over the place.

When you let go of the “should” response with this pose, you can then discover how to be free in this pose. Learn how to customize the pose for your practice for your physical needs. Here are four ways to approach Half Moon pose.

1. Free Standing

This is a great variation to challenge your balance. To practice free standing Half Moon from Extended Side Angle:

  1. Gaze at the top of your mat and shift your weight into your front foot. Plant your bottom hand about 18in away from your front pinkie toe – this gives your torso space to fully extend out.
  2. Lift your back leg off the mat up towards the sky and  flex your back toes to your kneecap powerfully.
  3. Reach your back arm up towards the sky.
  4. Straighten your front leg, push down through your big toe mound for balance.
  5. Ignite your obliques (your side bodies) so you can begin to lift your bottom hand off the floor. Perhaps start with your finger tips.
  6. Fix your gaze at one point the entire time to help your balance.

Double check that your bottom foot points straight to the top of your mat, versus sickling your foot inward. (Note: This is super common, but jacks up your bottom knee over time and misaligns your joints stacking.)  Over time, work towards lifting your hand fully off the floor so you can fully extend both sides of your ribcage. This will help you to prevent slumping into your low back, and over stretching your lumbar spine which does NOT feel good.

If you feel like you’re falling backwards, draw your floated foot forward an inch or two. If you’re falling forward, draw your floated heel back an inch or two.

2. Grab Some Blocks

This variation is great to gain more hamstring and side body extension, and add a challenging balance to the pose.

  1. Grab one or two blocks. Set the block(s) 18in or so from your pinkie toe. Like in the “Free Standing” variation, plant your bottom hand on the blocks to the height that gives you the most opening and extension for your front hamstring AND side body.
  2. Follow the rest of the steps from above, in the Free Standing variation.

3. Lean Against a Wall

This variation is great for more stability, especially if you feel super wobbly in the pose.

  1. Place your blocks and body next to a wall.
  2. Follow same steps as above in the “Grab blocks” variation, with the exception that your back is against the wall. THIS will help you not fall over and you can fine tune where to engage, flex, and extend.

4. Kick Against a Wall

This variation is great for more stability, and how to engage your back leg for better balance and extension. If you find that your back leg likes to droop, try this one.

  1. Place your blocks and body NEAR a wall.
  2. Plant your legs into a Warrior II position with the knife edge of your back foot to where the floor and wall meet.
  3. Shift your weight forward, plant your hand with block(s) 18in in front of your pinkie-toe edge.
  4. Lift your back leg up and place your back foot onto the wall. Inch your back foot up the wall to be in line with your hip’s height.
  5. Push, push, PUSH your back foot into the wall. This will help you not to fall, AND engage your back leg properly for stability. With the stability, you can fine tune to engage, flex, and extend, or even perhaps practice lifting your bottom hand off the floor into the “Free Standing” shape.

Read more: https://www.doyouyoga.com/4-ways-to-practice-teach-half-moon-pose-30469/

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Proved: Yoga Can Be As Effective As Physical Therapy in Treating Low Back Pain


Are you suffering from low back pain? The nagging, unpleasant pain that prevents you from enjoying your life to the full and makes you pop painkillers?

The recent study lasted a whole year, included 320 participants and proved that particular yoga exercises can be as effective as physical therapy in treating chronic low back pain.

The participants had been suffering from chronic low back pain yet didn’t have any injuries. They were divided into three groups: one group attended a yoga class for three months. During the 9 remaining months, they were assigned to home yoga practice or drop-in classes. Another group were attending a physical therapist weekly for three months and were assigned to home practice or “PT booster sessions” for the rest of the year. The third group was required to practice yoga at home during all the 12 months using the manuals provided by the researchers. And the good thing is these valuable manuals are available for free. Read further for the links!

When the research period was over, all groups reported relieved back pain, both yoga and PT groups reported about the same amount of improvement. The number of participants taking painkillers has considerably dropped (from 70% to 50%).

And here is the guidebook that was handed out to the participants. And here is the teacher training manual.

As you can see from the manuals, the sequences suggested include basic beginner yoga poses and no challenging asanas.

No expensive equipment required, lots of attention paid to warming up. Very low injury risk, very high chance you’ll forget what low back pain feels like!

This guide addresses specifically the problem of chronic low back pain and is developed for people who did no or very little yoga prior to the study. The book recommends practicing yoga for 30 minutes daily.

The results of the study don’t mean any yoga practice is effective for alleviating low back pain. But the particular gentle yoga practice developed for the study participants surely does.

So if you suffer from low back pain, if you can’t get around to paying a visit to a physical therapist and don’t really feel like taking painkillers, you should totally give the sequences from this guidebook a try. If you think you lack discipline, imagine yourself taking part in this study, mark off the days when you practiced yoga sequences in the calendar and write down the results at the end of each month. Bye-bye, low back pain!


Read more: https://yoga.com/article/home-yoga-effective-for-lower-back-pain 

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10 Reasons To Go On A Yoga Retreat


Going on my first yoga retreat five years ago was a major turning point in my life. So much so that now I lead yoga adventures for others around the world in places like Joshua Tree, Costa Rica and Bali. These are truly transformative experiences and I believe that anyone who enjoys a lifestyle of health and wellness can greatly benefit from a yoga retreat.
Here Are 10 Reasons to Go on a Yoga Retreat:
1. You’ll take your yoga to the next level. 
 
Practicing yoga regularly can be challenging if you have a busy schedule. But when you’re on a retreat, chances are you’ll have 2 classes offered a day, which will ensure your progress and you will see the positive effects more quickly.
2. You’ll get a new perspective. 
 
Going to a new place creates an opportunity to see the world, and yourself, in a new light. Experiencing the unknown is an accelerated way to grow and learn.
3. You’ll *actually* meditate. 
 
When you have extended free time, it’s a lot easier to meditate. No cell phone buzzing or boss reminding you about deadlines. On retreats, it feels a lot more natural to breathe deeply and be present in the moment.
4. You’ll detox digitally. 
 
One of my favorite things about a retreat is shutting off my technology. While lots of resorts have wifi, you don’t feel the need to constantly tweet, text, update facebook or call friends. It feels good to unplug.
5. You’ll relax and de-stress. 
 
Sometimes we have to be far from home to give ourselves the permission to truly relax. Being on a retreat allows you to listen to your body, rest when you need it, and be free from stress.
6. You’ll eat well without having to do all the work. 
 
If your retreat is all inclusive, you get three healthy and delicious meals a day without the need to find recipes, go grocery shopping, prepare the food, or clean up. Getting the nutrition you need has never been easier. All the work is done for you.
7. You’ll replace old habits. 
 
The best way to break a bad habit is to replace it with a new healthy one. When you get out of your regular routine for a week, you can replace unhealthy habits with conscious new behaviors that support you in being your best self.
 
8. You’ll make new friends. 
 
Undeniably, you will meet individuals with similar interests. Even if you go alone (which I did my first time), you have a chance to make friends with people from around the world who you might know for the rest of your life.
9. You’ll appreciate home. 
 
While a week in paradise is always nice, we often come home with a refreshed appreciation for life. You feel happier, healthier, and re-energized to jump back into your routine with new vigor. Heck, it might even feel fun.
10. Because you deserve it! 
 
Thoreau said: “Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you’ve imagined.” While this quote might be on your refrigerator, chances are you make excuses about why you can’t YET. Often times the excuses are about money, time or circumstances but guess what, you deserve a break. You work hard for a reason and you can always find reasons why you should or should not do something. The key to happiness is deciding what you really want and making it happen. No excuses.
You deserve to invest in yourself.
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The Significance of Pain in Yoga Training


Article by: Colette Barry

Empowerment

When teaching in my yoga or reformer classes I make it an utmost priority, especially for new students, to experience a sense of empowerment. Empowerment, not only in their mental state but also physically – during workouts.

When I’m teaching my student a new asana, my greatest concern is to help them maintain a state of excitement – to maintain an ambition to learn and master their workout session.

Why?

Because muscles work this way. Muscles are ’emotional’. As a teacher, I know I have a very small window of ‘winning’ a muscle over and achieve success.

The Story of Rob

Let’s take a student I taught at the LeCharles Football Academy. ‘Rob’ is an offensive lineman. He’s over 6 feet tall. He weighs around 250lbs.

Rob cannot carry his weight. He is huge. Pretty much all he does on the football field is stand his ground to block a play. He’s good but could be much better. In our session my main focus is to keep his mind and muscles in a state of ‘I can’.

Rob’s Asanas

First, I only teach specific asanas to Rob that I know he is capable of handling. When Rob practices the poses I use all my accessories. I use the wall, blocks or floor to allow him to go into the most accurate alignment he is capable of obtaining.

I then tell Rob to hold the asana for 1/2 second. Just enough time for his muscle and mind to communicate. To imprint the image.

My main focus for Rob is to always, always, always maintain a mentality of empowerment It’s to approach every asana with a positive emotion – never with fear and anxiety.

If I were to put Rob in an asana where he was forced to maintain a pose beyond what his body is capable of doing, the muscle would become ‘traumatized’. Once this happens, we’ve lost the battle. And each time Rob approached that asana his muscles would begin to shut down. We’ve lost.

Happy Muscles

I want Rob to maintain a clear mental focus. He needs to be aware of what his muscles and mind are capable of imprinting.

Once Rob is in alignment he holds the asana for 30 sec or less. That’s it. That sends the message of the alignment to the brain.

Then Rob’s muscles become satisfied. After we wait 30 seconds and the blood returns to the muscles, we approach the asana again. We do this two to three times. We repeat it the next day and the next.

By the second day, Rob’s muscles have the picture.

Confidence

When I challenge Rob to go into the asana, he approaches it with confidence because it’s always been a positive experience. Familiar with the image Rob’s muscles and mind can easily apply the pose accurately for 30 seconds.

If we were to have Rob, before he is able, hold the pose longer, fear would set in. That would defeat the whole process.

This concept is not only mental but chemical. When muscles are traumatized they release a chemical that is toxic to the muscles. Therefore , every time we approach the pose, the muscle ‘remembers’ the trauma. And the toxic chemicals wait – ready to be released.

If we continue this cycle (which is the majority of how people work out) we set ourselves up for constant failure, which leads to pain and injuries.

No Pain

This concept is applied to my Muscular Dystrophy patient, MS and people with injuries and post surgeries conditions.

My goal, no pain. Never allow my client to have pain, if they have pain, we’ve lost the battle. The muscles become traumatized.

We approach each session gently and with a sense of eagerness. I encourage my clients to have an “I Can” state of mind.

I know muscles. They are smart and deserve to be treated that way.


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

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Have You Heard of Yoga Therapy? Here Are Some Facts


Multiple clinical trials for yoga therapy and research carried out in this area have proved the positive effect of yoga in treating a number of illnesses. Nowadays, a traditional doctor may recommend their patients practicing yoga as a way to ease the pain and feel better.

So what exactly is yoga therapy? According to IYAT, Yoga therapy is the process of empowering individuals to progress toward improved health and well-being through the application of the teachings and practices of Yoga. And IYAT stands for International Association of Yoga Therapists. This organization, founded in 1989, develops standards in yoga therapist education, supports yoga therapy research, certifies yoga therapists and yoga schools which offer yoga therapy training. By the way, you can use IYAT website to look for certified yoga therapists in your area.

Yoga teachers who want to become yoga therapists are required to have a 200-hour teacher training certificate and must have at least a year of personal practice and a year of teaching experience.

Normally, yoga therapists start with completing a two-year course (800-hour training). The admission requirements and programs differ from school to school. During the training, experienced yoga teachers learn to apply yoga for people with health conditions.

Yoga therapy is becoming more and more popular. In fact, according to the recent Yoga in America Study, around 6% of yoga practitioners in the USA named recommendation from traditional doctor/nurse/ physical therapist the reason they got into yoga.

And that hardly comes as a surprise considering yoga benefits proved by a lot of research: it helps to fight the side effects of cancer treatment, it’s effective in treating depression and insomnia, strength & balance issues in the elderly, chronic low back pains and other conditions.

So prescribing yoga practice instead of medication is becoming more common even among traditional doctors. What do you think about this trend?


Read more: https://yoga.com/article/some-facts-about-yoga-therapy 

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A Brief History Of Yoga: From Ancient Hindu Scriptures To The Modern, Westernized Practice


By  

history of yoga

Yoga comes in many shapes and sizes; it has thousands of interpretations and pathways that lead to spiritual awareness, expanded consciousness, transcendence, or simply physical fitness. Reuters

Yoga: the trendy practice that your hippie, hipster, or fitness friends rave about. Garbed in yoga pants and carrying colorful mats bought off Amazon, the modern-day “yogi” attends one-hour classes that focus on physical stretching, movement, and detoxing from their busy modern lives. We hear a lot about the benefits of yoga, from its ability to decrease stress, chronic pain, as well as the risk for chronic diseases like obesity, diabetes, and heart disease.

What we don’t hear about as often, however, is the history of yoga. Most people are aware of its Indian spiritual and religious roots, but those tend to get washed out by the manufactured, commodified versions of yoga we see today. Perhaps that’s because research on yoga’s origins is hard to find, and its history is a complicated, lengthy narrative. In fact, yoga is incredibly complex — even the word “yoga” has taken on hundreds of different meanings and practices throughout the years. What you and I might assume is “yoga” is probably not even closely related to what yoga was thousands of years ago.

“Nearly all of our popular assumptions about yoga theory date from the past 150 years, and very few modern-day practices date from before the 12th century,” David Gordon White, a professor of religious studies at the University of California, Santa Barbara, writes in his paperYoga, Brief History of an Idea. “This is not the first time that people have ‘reinvented’ yoga in their own image.”

We can try to delineate the history of yoga — at least a brief one. But a practice so rich in religious, spiritual, and physical meaning would take years or even a lifetime to fully understand, grasp, and manifest.

ANCIENT

3300-1500 BCE. Historians aren’t entirely sure when the notion or practice of yoga first appeared, and it’s often left to debate. The term “yoga,” however, is found in ancient India’s earliest known scripts — the Vedas. They date from the Vedic period, which began in 1500 BCE. Composed in Vedic Sanskrit, the Vedas are the oldest writings of Hinduism and Sanskrit literature.

White notes in his paper that the term “yoga” in the Vedas actually refers to a yoke, as in the yoke over animals — and at times a chariot in the midst of battle. Interestingly, in some of these very early writings, yoga was used to describe a warrior dying and transcending into heaven, being carried by his chariot to reach the gods and higher powers of being.

During the Vedic period, Vedic priests who were ascetic — severely self-disciplined and avoidant of any forms of indulgence — conducted sacrifices, or yajna, in poses that some researchers believe are precursors to the yoga poses, or asanas, we experience now.

3rd century, BCE. In the 3rd century BCE, references to the term “yoga” became more common in Hindu, Jain, and Buddhist writings. In Mahāyāna Buddhism, the notion of yoga as a spiritual or meditative practice as we know now was referred to as Yogachara (Yogācāra). Yogachara involved eight steps of meditation that was known as “calmness” or “insight.”

5th century, AD. For a while, yoga was a loose notion, its meaning difficult to pin down. It was more of a notion of meditation and a religious practice than it was exercise as we know today. But around the 5th century, it became more of an established core idea among Hindus, Buddhists, and Jains. First and foremost, these ancient versions of yoga were mostly spiritual practices, revolving around several core values.

The first value involved analyzing one’s own perception and cognitive state, understanding the root of suffering and using meditation to solve it. The mind was to “transcend” bodily pain or suffering in order to reach a higher level of being. The second aimed to uplift or broaden consciousness, and the third involved using yoga as a path to transcendence. The fourth was using yoga to enter other bodies and act supernaturally — perhaps the strangest and most mystical one.

This is also where the difference between “yogi practice” and “yoga practice” is differentiated. Yoga practice, as described by White, “essentially denotes a program of mind-training and meditation issuing in the realization of enlightenment, liberation, or isolation from the world of suffering existence,” at least in ancient terms. Yogi practice, meanwhile, lies more in the supernatural — i.e., when yogis are able to enter other bodies to expand their consciousness.

yogiA yogi seated in a garden, North Indian or Deccani miniature painting, c.1620-40 Wikimedia

MEDIEVAL

500-1500 AD. During the medieval era, different schools of yoga emerged. Bhakti yoga is a spiritual pathway within Hinduism that appeared during this time, a type of yoga that focused on living through love and devotion toward God.

Tantra was also a genre that arrived around the 5th century, exhibited in medieval Buddhist, Jain, and Hindu traditions. White notes that the Tantras, the medieval scriptures that discussed a new yoga ideology, outlined new goals for those practicing yoga: “No longer is the practitioner’s ultimate goal liberation from suffering existence, but rather self-deification: one becomes the deity that has ben one’s object of meditation.”

Interestingly, Westerners today have often associated “tantra” with a sexual form of yoga, but it turns out they weren’t too far off. Some Tantric beliefs involved yogis having sexual relations with low-caste women whom they believed were yoginis, or women who embodied Tantric goddesses. Having sex with them could lead these yogis to a transcendent level of consciousness. Today, gurus who go about doing such things in their yoga or bikram classes aren’t exactly known for their moral or spiritual prowess.

Hatha yoga appeared in Buddhist texts around the 8th century, and it emerged from tantra. It’s known as the common “psychophysical yoga,” a combination of bodily postures, breathing, and meditation — possibly the closest to what we today associate with yoga. The postures in hatha yoga are called asanas. We know some of them now in their English terms — such as cat pose, camel pose, child’s pose, and warrior I pose.

Shiva BangaloreStatue of Shiva in Bangalore, Karnataka, India, performing yogic meditation in the Padmasana posture, or the lotus position. CC BY-SA 2.0

MODERN

1890s. So when did yoga became the regiment of health freaks? For thousands of years, the term “yoga” encompassed many things, most of them religious and/or spiritual. But in the mid-19th century, yoga came to the attention of Westerners, who at the time seemed intrigued by Indian culture. We can perhaps attribute yoga’s popularity in the West to Swami Vivekananda, a Hindu monk who toured Europe and the U.S. in the 1890s to spread knowledge about Hinduism among intellectuals.

Vivekananda was responsible for bringing the Yoga Sutras more into the light, as well. These were writings of Patanjali, comprised sometime around 400 AD to describe what he believed were the main yoga traditions of his time. The Yoga Sutras focused mainly on removing all excess thought from the mind and focusing on a singular thing; but they were later incorporated more heavily than any other ancient yoga writings in modern, “corporate” yoga.

Patanjali StatuePatanjali: At times referred to as the “father of yoga,” Patanjali wrote the Yoga Sutras. CC BY-SA 3.0

20th century. Hatha yoga as a practice (what we’re most familiar with now) didn’t become a commonplace exercise in the U.S. until the 1930s and 40s, and finally reached a peak in the 60s, when Hindu spirituality became far more popular among young Americans. Numerous Indian teachers of yoga taught classes in the U.S., and in the 1980s it became even more popular due to the first health benefits being reported. This was the first time that yoga was seen as a practice with purely physical benefits, something that can improve your heart health and fitness, rather than bring you to a place of transcendence.

21st century. The popularity of yoga in the U.S. has increased throughout the decades, rising from 4 million in 2001 to 20 million in 2011. Since then, plenty of scientific studies have found that yoga comes with a flurry of health benefits: It reduces high blood pressure, depression, chronic pain, and anxiety. It also improves cardiac function, muscle strength, and circulation.

Today, at least in the Western world, yoga is seen as another exercise class to take at the gym, something that will make your muscles sore for days afterward or at least de-stress you. But perhaps knowing at least a little bit about yoga’s ancient spiritual origins — something that has outlasted thousands of years — will help you glean something even more from it.

YogaYoga is now an international trend, seen as both a ways to reach spiritual enlightenment and a form of exercise. Reuters

December 2014. The United Nations General Assembly marked June 21 International Yoga Day, an annual celebration to incorporate yoga and meditation more into humanity all over the world. As the Dalai Lama notes: “If every 8-year-old in the world is taught meditation, we will eliminate violence from the world within one generation.”


Read more:   http://www.medicaldaily.com/brief-history-yoga-ancient-hindu-scriptures-modern-westernized-practice-358162
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That’s Why Yoga Is Changing Your Eating Habits …


Some people hardly change their diet once they start practicing yoga, others suddenly find themselves craving healthy vegetable-based foods. There is no denying that eating habits reflect your way of life. So just the way yoga affects your lifestyle, it may change your eating habits. Here are the 3 ways in which yoga can affect how and what you eat.

Yoga makes you more mindful about your body

As you try to get the poses right and your breath right, you exercise not just your body, but also your mind and attention. This way you become more aware of what is good for you and what’s not, what foods make you feel light and energetic, and what products make you feel crummy.

When you read an article that says eating processed is not good, it’s not convincing enough for you. But when you fully realize how awful you feel after eating a bag of chips, it inspires you to make healthier choices.  No one knows better than you what diet is best for you. And yoga helps you to hear that voice.

Yoga promotes healthy habits

As you get into yoga, you start communicating with a lot of new people: you hear other students and your yoga instructor discussing their diet, you start reading about yoga and Ayurveda, about how you should favor particular foods depending on your dosha type and what spices can make you feel better and stay healthier. All this new knowledge is slowly but surely changes your eating habits for the better.

Yoga helps to fight addictions and bad habits

Addictions are not just about alcohol and cigarettes. People can be addicted to drinking soda, for example, or to indulging themselves in eating lots of chocolate whenever they feel stressed.

Each time you perform a certain action, new connections are shaped in your brain making you more likely to repeat that action in the future. And that’s how habits appear.

As you start doing yoga more regularly, a whole new pattern in your brain is shaped. Ultimately it becomes stronger than patterns responsible for your bad habits and that’s how you get over them.

Doing yoga regularly is a habit that doesn’t come alone. It brings along a range of other healthy habits that make your life so much better.


Read more: https://yoga.com/article/why-yoga-is-changing-your-eating-habits

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Love Hiking? Here are Yoga Poses to Help You Recharge Along the Way


Who doesn’t love hiking? Exploring new places, soaking up the fresh air and beautiful scenery, experiencing the life at its fullest. As you walk for miles and miles you may start feeling a little tired. This exhaustion is pleasant in a way yet you feel like you could do with some exercise.

 

And here is when yoga comes to the rescue. Forward folds and stretches that require just a few minutes and no mat to practice will make you feel like a whole new person!

Intense side stretch pose (Parsvottanasana)

Stand up, step your left foot back. Stretch your arms and put them together above your head: your fingers clasped and your index fingers pointing up. Move your chin to your chest and start folding to your right leg, your back round. Try to reach the floor (or rather the earth) with your hands and to touch your leg with your forehead. This pose perfectly stretches thighs and back and calms down your mind.

 

Extended side angle pose (Utthita Parsvakonasana)

 

Put your feet a leg’s length apart, your right foot turned 90 degrees to the right, and your left foot just slightly turned to the left. Bend your right leg until it forms a 90-degree angle. Start bending your torso to the right and put your right hand on the floor. Stretch your left arm up until it forms one line with your left leg. This pose doesn’t only stretch your body but also improves your stamina when performed regularly.

Revolved side angle pose (Parivrtta Parsvakonasana)

Feet a leg’s length apart, right foot turned 90 degrees to the right. Rotate your torso and pelvis to the right, bend your right knee until the thigh is parallel to the floor. Start bending your torso forward rotating it more to the right until you can put your left shoulder in front of your right knee. You can either put your left hand on the floor and your right hand up or join your hands in Namaste.Make sure to repeat the above poses on both sides

Wide-legged forward bend (Prasarita Padottanasana)

 

Put your legs a leg’s length apart, place your hands on your lower back and start bending forward. Put the palms on your feet and move your head to the floor. Keep your thighs engaged and your pelvis stretching up. Beginners may practice the pose variation with their hands on hips.

You may use Tadasana or Utthita Hasta Padasana poses as a transition between poses.

These poses will relieve the back pain, stretch the muscles and improve blood circulation. You are ready to hike on!

 


Read more:  https://yoga.com/article/yoga-poses-for-hiking

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