Tag Archives: bikram

The natural way with the Manduka Eko and Eko-Lite

For those of you that want to practice on a natural substance, then the Manduka Eko and Ekolite is the mat for your practice. The mat is made from 100% sustainable non-Amazon harvested bio-degradable rubber and has awesome grip factor for the sweatiest of times.

It’s ideal for hot yoga or if you have very sweaty hands.

So now that you know that the Ekolite is for you, why not go to Yoga Essentials and order one now?

 

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Real Yogis Practice Pranayama

By Sandra AndersonpranayamaTraveling in Tibet in the 1920s, Alexandra David-Neel encountered a lama moving alone and fast in the remote Tibetan desert. “He ran like a ball bouncing,” she wrote, levitating with each step, moving faster than her entourage on horseback, and seemingly in a trance, unaware of his surroundings. Eventually she learned that the training for this extraordinary capacity is not aerobic conditioning; it’s pranayama, the mastery of prana. Part of the training involves sitting in a small, below-ground pit, using the breath and mind to lift the body out of the pit with the power of prana.

“If you can control prana, you can completely control all the forces of the universe, mental and physical.”

So what is this mysterious prana? Prana is our vital life force. It works through the mind and in the heart, in the breath, and in digestion; in walking, running, talking, and thinking; and in projecting the personality in all ways. It’s also the sum total of all the energy manifest in the universe. Swami Sivananda, an influential yoga master of the last century, writes, “If you can control prana, you can completely control all the forces of the universe, mental and physical.” This explains the prodigious feats of memory and strength traditionally associated with yogis—things like the power to fly through the sky, levitate, and control body temperature. But perhaps more to the point for us, by controlling prana, the mind is also controlled.Just to be clear, yoga is the mastery of the mind, and for yogis, pranayama is the ticket for learning to use all the wondrous powers of the mind. The yogic texts tell us the mind is tethered to prana like a bird to a string. And here’s the really good news: by controlling the breath, we can control prana, and thus the mind. And the really, really good news? Basic pranayama practices are both powerful and accessible to all of us.Though many pranayama techniques are not that difficult physically, sustaining a practice and developing the mind can be tricky. Here are six pointers for getting started, and for improving, sustaining, and deepening your practice.

  1. Steadiness of body: The body must be comfortably motionless for a prolonged period of time, and yet support alertness, breath control, and mental focus. Asana practice is essential for pranayama, partly because it’s nearly impossible to maintain a balanced, still, comfortable sitting posture for any length of time without it. Just as importantly, asana activates and integrates the flow of prana, helps us develop the capacity to direct prana with bandhas (energy locks), trains the body to breathe diaphragmatically, and develops sensitivity to inner states of being. Preferred sitting postures for pranayama are sukhasana (easy pose), svastikasana (auspicious pose), and padmasana (lotus pose), but sitting on a chair is also an option.
  2. Diaphragmatic breathing: Just as your sitting posture is the foundation for the body in pranayama practice, diaphragmatic breathing is the foundation for the breath. This is where deliberate training of the breath begins in earnest. Don’t assume that because you have been practicing yoga for years, you are breathing diaphragmatically. Our breathing patterns are typically subconscious—controlled by persistent habits that are out of our awareness. Get started with Breath Training on the Pranayama Channel at YogaInternational.com for tutorials and tips to refine your basic breathing pattern, balance the nervous system, and reinforce a relaxed state of inner equilibrium.
  3. Balanced lifestyle: Avoid too much or too little food, too much or too little sleep, and too much or too little mental and physical activity. Be regular in your lifestyle habits. A fresh, nourishing diet is particularly important.
  4. Mental/emotional stability: Here’s my teacher, Pandit Tigunait, a masterful pranayama practitioner, on the subject of emotional balance: “To get the benefit of pranayama, you must be steady in thought, speech, and action. Without some measure of contentment in life, pranayama brings misery.”
  5. Regularity: In general, the benefits of yoga accrue from consistent, systematic practice for long periods of time. “If one practices pranayama continuously for a year, he is sure to attain wisdom,” writes Swami Rama, a modern master who demonstrated extraordinary control over his body’s autonomic functions. “With regulation of the breath,” he continues, “karma acquired both in this life and in the past may be burnt up.” This is a big job, and progress is necessarily incremental. After all, it took lifetimes to build your unconscious mind and habits, so naturally it will take some time to reshape them!
  6. Inner focus: Success in yoga depends on this. Becoming sensitive to the flow of breath, the subtlety of the breath, and finally the suspension of the breath, leads you to awareness of the force behind the breath—prana. Awareness of prana is the thread that links you to deeper states of mental awareness, independent of the physical body and the senses. This is the beginning of mastering the mind.

Finally, (and thankfully), my teachers also have this useful advice: Don’t bind yourself with too many rules. So why delay? Start now, even if your sitting posture and diet aren’t perfect and equanimity isn’t your forte. In the memorable words of Swami Sivananda, “Start the practice this very second in right earnest and become a real yogi.”

 About Sandra Anderson

For over 20 years Sandra Anderson has shared her extensive experience in yoga theory and practice with students from all over the world. A senior faculty member and resident at the Himalayan Institute, her teaching reflects access to the living oral tradition, and the embodied experience of 30 years of dedicated practice. With a background in the natural sciences and interest in classical Sanskrit, along with frequent pilgrimages to India, Sandy has a rare capacity to eloquently convey the richness of spiritual life in our contemporary world. She is the coauthor of the award-winning book, Yoga Mastering the Basics, and was a contributing editor and columnist for Yoga International magazine. She is now a frequent contributor to YogaInternational.com, offering instructional videos and articles. Sandy leads workshops, trainings and retreats both nationally and internationally, and at the headquarters of the Himalayan Institute.

 

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Scientific Research on the Benefits of Yoga

ZID_1021_760_427auto_intWe all know that yoga does a body (and a mind) good. But up until recently, no one could really say with any degree of certainty why—or even how—it improves conditions as varied as depression and anxiety, diabetes, chronic pain, and even epilepsy.

Now a group of researchers at Boston University School of Medicine believe they’ve discovered yoga’s secret. In an article published in the May 2012 issue of Medical Hypotheses journal under an impossibly long title, Chris Streeter, PhD, and his team hypothesize that yoga works by regulating the nervous system. And how does it do that? By increasing vagal tone—the body’s ability to successfully respond to stress.

The Study: The Effects of Yoga on the Autonomic Nervous System, Gamma-aminobutyric-acid, and Allostasis in Epilepsy, Depression, and Post-traumatic Stress Disorder.

What Is Vagal Tone?

Most of us don’t even know we have a vagus that needs toning, but we most certainly do. The vagus nerve, the largest cranial nerve in the body, starts at the base of the skull and wanders throughout the whole body, influencing the respiratory, digestive, and nervous systems. Often thought of as our “air traffic controller,” the vagus nerve helps to regulate all our major bodily functions. Our breath, heart rate, and digestion—as well as our ability to take in, process, and make sense of our experiences—are all directly related to the vagus nerve.

We know when the vagus nerve is toned and functioning properly because we can feel it on different levels: Our digestion improves, our heart functions optimally, and our moods stabilize. We have an easier time moving from the more active and often stressful states of being to the more relaxed ones. As we get better at doing that, we can manage life’s challenges with the right blend of energy, engagement, and ease. When we can consistently maintain this flexible state we are thought to have “high vagal tone.”

“Low vagal tone is correlated with such health conditions as depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, chronic pain, and epilepsy.”

“Low vagal tone,” on the other hand, brings with it a sense of depletion. Our digestion becomes sluggish, our heart rate increases, and our moods become more unpredictable and difficult to manage. Not surprisingly, low vagal tone is correlated with such health conditions as depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, chronic pain, and epilepsy—not coincidentally, the same conditions that show significant improvement with yoga practice. Researchers hypothesize that it is vagal stimulation through yoga that improves these conditions.

To test their theory, the researchers investigated practices they believed would increase vagal tone. For example, they found that resistance breathing, such as ujjayi pranayama, increases the relaxation response, as well as heart rate variability (another marker of resilience). And a pilot study conducted on more experienced yogis showed that chanting Om out loud increased vagal tone and the relaxation response more than chanting it silently to oneself. Studies such as this one begin to reveal how different yogic practices impact human physiology in different ways.

ABOUT Angela Wilson Angela Wilson, MA, manager of evidence-based curriculum for the Institute for Extraordinary Living at Kripalu, holds a master’s degree in mental health counseling from Lesley University, is a 200-hour Kripalu Yoga teacher, and has completed 250 hours of ayurvedic training.

https://yogainternational.com/article/view/scientific-research-how-yoga-works

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4 ways to teach a calm, confident yoga class, even when you are nervous

hands-800What, yoga teachers get nervous? You mean they aren’t always tranquil, floaty gurus? Of course they do! I have never met a yoga teacher who doesn’t occasionally get nervous teaching. When you care so deeply about your profession, and care so deeply about the lives that you touch in your classes, it is totally normal to occasionally have some performance anxiety. And we all have different triggers that can set this teaching anxiety off. I have taught classes for over 100 people, outside, inside, both private lessons and at small studios… and surprisingly the smaller classes are the ones that give me a bit more anxiety. After teaching over the past few years, I have a few things that help me get over these nerves, so that I can teach from a place of clarity and confidence.

1. Keep It Simple

If you know you are going to be teaching at a new studio, or maybe taking on a new class, this is not the time to try out a brand new transition, poses you don’t usually teach or a new playlist. When you know you may already be feeling anxious, go with a flow that you know well and that you feel in your body. Hopefully, even one that you have practiced a few times yourself. Even if the class seems simple to you as a teacher, it is most likely a great fit for your students.

2. Breathe With Them

In the beginning of class, as your students get settled in their comfortable easy seats, don’t walk around the room, or fuss with props and lights. Instead, sit down with them! Take this time to ground yourself. Dive into the energy of the room, and take those beginning breaths with them. Not only will this connect you to the group, which in itself is comforting, but it will slow your own breathing so that you can calm yourself down. Adding in additional breath cues, such as exhales in down dog or child’s pose will also give you another place to breath with them and let go of your fears, so take advantage of those throughout the class.

3. Ask for Help

No, don’t ask for help from the students, but ask for help from a higher power. Whether you check in with your guardian angels or with the Divine, take a moment or two to ask that they help you lead this class. Ask to simply be a channel for the Divine, and let the words and the poses flow through you. Some people call it The Universe, others may call it God… connect with something bigger than yourself. When you let Spirit take the wheel, everything becomes easier.

4. Remember, They Don’t Have to Like You

This can be a tricky one, because the ego loves to rear its ugly head when we feel anxious, but your students have come to their mats for a safe, calming yoga practice — not to look for their new best friend. As long as you teach a balanced flow of poses that keeps their bodies safe, you are doing your job! You may have one or two people in the class who might not like you. That’s fine! And it is most likely more of a reflection of them, not you! Try not to be hung up on making yourself their new favorite teacher, and instead on simply teaching a balanced class that is safe for all bodies.

Some classes will be more challenging than others. As you teach more, you will most likely become less and less nervous. But even as an experienced teacher, you may still get those butterflies when you are teaching in a new place, or to a new group. By using some of these tips, you will be able to bring a sense of calm to yourself first, and then to your students around you.

by  logan kinney
http://www.yogitimes.com/article/tips-ways-teach-calm-confident-yoga-class-when-nervous

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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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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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