Have you heard about the Gunas? No, they are not Disney characters! According to yoga there are three basic qualities or energies that make up everything. They are, rajas, tamas and sattva.
Rajas is the energy of action, change and movement. Rajas is the fuel of passion and fire. Rajasic energy is also associated with the day light hours. We obviously need rajasic energy to create energy to move successfully throughout our world and lives. When we have too much rajasic energy we might appear to the outside world as extremely busy, go go go, do do do! Does this sound like you? Maintaining a high degree of rajasic energy leads to burn out! When rajas is out of balance the mind and body are overstimulated, the mind becomes restless and you experience a lot of uncontrollable thoughts.
Foods that are rajasic include: spicy food, fried foods, coffee / caffeinated beverages/ stimulants/ fish, eggs, chocolate, foods that are very bitter, sour, dry and salty. Eating in a hurry is also considered rajasic
Tamas can be thought of as the opposite of rajas. Tamasic energy is associated with a state of inactivity and inertia, heaviness and darkness. When tamas is out of balance your ability to reason becomes clouded and you might experience the darker emotions such as anger or greed. Just as there is more rajasic energy present in daylight hours, tamasic energy is present during nighttime. People who are very tamasic might be depressed or appear lazy. Generally speaking disease states are tamasic.
Examples of tamasic food include: meat, alcohol, tobacco, onions, fermented foods – vinegar or strong cheese, stale food or over ripe food, overly processed food or chemically treated. Overeating is considered tamasic.
Sattva is energy that is in a state of harmony and balance. Positive mental and emotional states of joy and intelligence are associated with sattva. A person who was experiencing a lot of sattvic energy would appear very happy. Sattvic energy also is consistent with healing states and in Ayurveda (yoga’s sister science) sattvic energy is actively cultivated. Sattvic energy is most present during the times between light and dark- in other words dusk and dawn. A person on the yogic path is focused on developing sattva and for this reason yoga asana and meditation are classically performed at these times.
Foods that are sattvic include: whole grains, fresh fruits and vegetables, pure fruit juice, legumes, milk, butter, nuts, seeds, sprouted seeds, honey and herb teas.
It is important to realize that we all have all three gunas within us. And while this is true we tend to have a predominant guna. Based on the descriptions above can you figure out what yours is? It is good to be aware of this because once you are aware of your predominant guna then you can predict how might react to certain life circumstances as well know your strengths and weaknesses. You’ll know when you will tend to be thrown out of balance and what you will need to do to bring yourself back into balance.
You also might have times in our lives when one guna is more active then another. Perhaps you have very active time and very productive (rajasic). Or a period when you have been depressed (tamasic). Or a time when we are very balanced and in tune with your spirituality (satvic).
Another way the gunas show up in our lives and directly effect us is through the food we eat. Consider for a minute the average American diet with overly processed and chemically treated foods which are very tamasic. Modern science now confirms that these food items are directly linked to major illnesses including cancer, obesity, diabetes and heart disease. As mentioned above too much tamasic energy leads to disease states. We also know that foods in their whole form such as grains, fresh fruits and vegetables (sattvic foods) are life sustaining and bring health and energy.
Do you practice yoga postures (asana)? How do the gunas show up here? Is your asana practice fiery and passionate? Was your practice was slow and lazy? Or was it balanced?
It is probably becoming clear to you by now that to be healthy, happy, and live a balance life it is important to cultivate sattva in your life. This can be done by:
Reducing rajas and tamas
Becoming aware of when you are out of balance- which guna seems most present?
Increase activities and environments that produce positive thoughts
Eating a healthy, sattvic oriented diet
Certain herbs (subject for another article)
The practice of yoga: pranayama (breathing practices), asana (postures), meditation
Flexibility is considered to be a “by product” of Yoga practice, but in the case of Chair Yoga, it is often “down played” or taken for granted. Since most Chair Yoga enthusiasts are seniors, the true value of flexibility is mobility.
When you consider that mobility for seniors can be the difference between dependence and independence, flexibility is now of extreme value.
The following is an observation I have made after working with groups from assisted living complexes, adult day care centers, nursing homes, and seniors centers. The average mobile senior citizen is much more flexible in the hips, spine, wrists, and shoulders, than his or her dependent counterpart.
Just crossing the legs can be difficult for the clients I work with in a nursing home. Students in Chair Yoga classes learn a variety of exercises that will “free up” many of the major joints. Many students also remark how pain, from a variety of ailments, is much more manageable, after practicing Chair Yoga.
Increased range of motion makes a difference, when reaching for anything. It also helps to prevent injuries that can occur from strain or a possible fall. If a senior falls, there is certainly the potential that the results could be life threatening.
Chair Yoga offers a significant number of balancing exercises. Although balance can be affected by medication, inner ear problems, and more, many seniors show much improvement in balancing their bodies within weeks of their first Chair Yoga class. Therefore, flexibility and balance are a significant part of an injury prevention package that can improve, or enhance, the quality of life for seniors. This fact has been realized by seniors who flock to Chair Yoga classes on a daily, or weekly, basis.
Most of us realize that physical conditioning is not the only factor involved in dependence. There are a number of disabling diseases that can affect any one of us and have nothing to do with lack of flexibility. Lack of flexibility is not the single overriding factor involved in independence for seniors.
However, it is a fact that less mobile, and frail, seniors will become confined.
Hence, most seniors should make an effort to stay flexible, for what is ultimately their own dignity at stake. You could look at your physical condition as an insurance policy for independent living. After all, who really wants to impose on their children or relatives for the sake of existence?
Chair Yoga can easily work in harmony with most physical rehabilitation prescriptions. Many physical therapists have knowledge of Yoga or are teachers of Yoga. Many doctors, physical therapists, and medical professionals recommend Yoga to patients who are making a “come back.”
Yoga gives these patients the strength to move ahead, when many would be discouraged. The comebacks that I have personally witnessed are inspiring to me as a Yoga teacher. Over time, I have seen come backs from strokes, heart attacks, and car accidents.
It touches me that they thanked me for teaching them Yoga or Chair Yoga.
The courage to go on came from within their minds, but Yoga became a significant part of their lives. As a Yoga teacher the inspiration was mutual and made me feel helpful. After all, being of help, and being appreciated, are prime motivations for teachers of any subject.
Muscle tone is a result of stretching and flexing any muscle group. Active muscles display themselves on anybody that chooses to use them. This is also a good way to relieve oneself of anxiety, stress, tension, and prevent depression. Like the other benefits, previously mentioned, this results in whole body health. A healthy body does, indeed, compliment a healthy mind.
For those clients who are confined to a chair, it is wise to include some form of a weight bearing, or weight resistance, exercise program. For those who can stand, Chair Yoga is another weight bearing exercise that will stimulate bone building.
With progressive weight resistance, you use free weights or machines, but with Yoga you bear your own body weight. The end result of these exercise programs would be increased bone density and prevention of Osteoporosis.
Seniors spend more time alone, than any other age group. Sometimes, we all need a little solitude, but too much solitude can lead to depression, in some of us. Living life like a monk is not for everyone.
Chair Yoga classes offer a social activity that helps to stimulate the mind and body in a positive way. This becomes an uplifting activity that participants look forward to. Regular attendance, and socializing in Chair Yoga classes, is a healthy activity that leads to building strong relationships.
It also exposes seniors to the many activities that are going on within the community center. Participants of chair Yoga classes are exposed to whole health and gain a nutritional education as a member of a senior, community, or wellness center.
Lastly, all participants in Chair Yoga classes learn to relax and quiet the mind, through breath awareness, meditation, stage-by-stage relaxation, a combination, or another method. The end result being that these Yoga students can control their minds, focus on the good things in life, and prevent depression.
In comparison to many forms of exercise, the benefits of Chair Yoga far outweigh the risks. The therapeutic exercises work the body, from head to toes, to the best of any client’s ability.
Therefore, the method used, addresses the whole body in a single routine.
This is an amazing feat, for a low-impact exercise program, where the average session lasts 45 to 60 minutes. The following information will highlight some of the many benefits of regular participation in a Chair Yoga class.
Increased circulation is a result of movement and every body part that can move is used in a typical Chair Yoga class. For many of us, we think of cardiovascular heath first, and this is right fully so, but Chair Yoga helps many other forms of circulation, within the body, as well.
To sit still for days on end, we invite diseases of many kinds. Diabetics need movement to keep sugar levels in “tolerance zones.” Chair Yoga also has routines for the feet, toes, hands, and fingers, so there is no part of the body left out. Due to this whole body approach, the immune system is also stimulated by regularly attending Chair Yoga classes.
The many movements, bending, and twisting, in a regular Chair Yoga session, stimulate the elimination of toxins, within the body. Every time you bend the waist in one direction or another, the stomach aids in digestion and the lower back is gently stimulated.
Now, back to cardiovascular benefits – There seems to be a lot of confusion about what is classified as aerobic exercise. One of the definitions for aerobic exercise is: Any exercise that would increase circulatory and respiratory ability. When the heart and lungs have to work harder to keep up with the body’s need for oxygen that is aerobic.
In fact, gardening and housework are also aerobic exercise that most seniors routinely do. This is not to say that gardening and housework are complete health maintenance systems, but they do burn over 200 calories per hour, for the average person, and meet the aerobic definition.
Much of this mentality stems from the “No pain – No gain” era. Most of the original advocates of this theory are now “nursing their own wounds” and practicing gentler forms of exercise. After all, none of us are immortal, and the body can only take so much abuse over time.
May I remind anyone, who is left standing, from the No pain – No gain era, that walking is also classified as aerobic exercise. So, whether you walk or run a mile, aerobic benefits are gained and significant calories are burned.
We have all heard the saying, “Rome wasn’t built in a day.” Those words are extremely profound, when thinking about correcting poor posture and alignment. It takes years to create poor alignment.
Therefore, poor posture cannot be corrected in a single day. A more appropriate saying, when thinking about posture and alignment might be, “The leaning tower of Pisa cannot become straight in a week.”
However, improvements to posture can be made through Chair Yoga exercises and through daily “posture awareness.” In my classes, I refer to posture awareness as “homework.” It usually draws a chuckle from students, but they also know that class time is the time to learn and practice Chair Yoga together.
Time away from the Yoga class is when you put the principles you have learned, in motion, and adapt them into your lifestyle. I cannot promise Chair Yoga is a “cure all,” but you will see improvements in every aspect of your life. However, practicing your homework separates the fantastic success stories from those who see some modest improvement.
So, what is posture awareness? This is taking the time to be aware of your posture, on a daily basis. The first thing you want to do in order to open your awareness is look at your side profile in a mirror and any photographs of yourself. At this point, look at your spine from top to bottom.
Do you see slumping, forward tilting of the neck, or extra large curves? Your spine should be aligned so that it is fairly straight at all times. During a number of daily activities such as: Standing, walking, reading, eating, sitting, lying, typing, and more, you should make a conscious effort, to keep your head and back straight.
Now, we can all remember a schoolteacher who preached, “Keep your back straight,” but now we know that he or she was absolutely correct. Take the time to adjust your spinal alignment, from this moment on, and every time you can remember to do so.
If possible, you should also attend any workshops about Chiropractic and Orthopedic medicine. Educate yourself about your body, your spine, and your choices. You can usually find these workshops and many more valuable meetings at your local senior center. These workshops are usually free, you are under no obligation, and it makes for a good “Fact finding mission.”
The alignment and posture principles, you learn in a Chair Yoga class, can be as simple as, “Pain or no pain.”
Congratulations on becoming interested in yoga. It is one of the most effective forms of exercise you can do, and can be practiced safely no matter what your age or fitness level provided you follow a few simple rules of the road.
Check with your doctor to make sure you are well enough for yoga. If you aren, start slowly. Don’t try to be an Olympic athlete on the first day when you haven’t worked out in years.
2-Take the time to warm up.
Light stretches will make muscles warm and therefore less prone to injury.
3-Listen to your body.
Pain is NEVER gain when you are working out. It is a sign that something is wrong. Come out of the pose as safely as you can and rest.
The secret to seeing real results from any form of exercise are to be consistent in your efforts. Set your yoga appointment with yourself each day by putting it on your calendar and treating it as seriously as you would any other important meeting.
5-Don’t feel guilty.
Some people feel they are letting others down by putting themselves first through taking time out to do yoga. The truth is that you can only care for others effectively if you are healthy yourself.
6-Watch your posture.
Proper form can help you avoid injury.
7-Remember yoga is not just about physical poses.
Breath work and meditation are important parts of yoga as well.
8-Rest as needed.
If you are in a class, don’t worry about what others will think if you stop. They are probably way too focused on their own yoga to even notice.
9-Drink plenty of water to stay hydrated.
Even if you don’t sweat a lot during yoga, staying hydrated offers a range of health benefits and flushes toxins out of your body.
10-Turn off your inner critic.
If you have any negative thoughts about yourself, such as you are too old, fat or whatever to do yoga, ignore the mind chatter and get on with your practice. If people in India and elsewhere can practice yoga well into their 90s, chances are you are NOT too old.
11-Don’t try to compete with others.
Yoga is not a competitive sport and all of our bodies are different. Just do the best you can.
12-Never force yourself.
Forcing yourself to try to achieve a ‘perfect pose’ is one of the easiest ways to get injured. Do what you can and don’t shove yourself around. Don’t let any teacher do this either.
Follow these simple 12 simple tips and see what a difference they can make to your yoga practice.
There are a lot of yoga poses and you might wonder if some are still exercised and applied. The answer is yes. Yoga poses function and perform differently. Each pose is designed to develop one’s flexibility and strength.
So, which are the Most Beneficial Yoga Poses?
Here are some of the yoga poses that are commonly used:
Standing is one of the important yoga poses. This type of pose is helpful in aligning your body and your feet. This is also very useful in improving and maintaining a good posture. It is an advantage because if you have a bad posture, your backbones can be stretched and straightened without noticing it. Standing poses helps in giving strength to your legs and at the same time increase elasticity in your legs and hips because they are all connected to each other.
These types of yoga poses increase your lower back and hip’s flexibility. This also strengthens your back. This adds suppleness to your knees, groin, ankle and most especially your spine. Another advantage is that it helps you to breathe in deep which gives you that calm and peaceful feeling.
This type helps you in stretching the hamstrings and your lower back also strengthening it. This lessens the tension found in your neck, shoulder, back and increase flexibility in your spine. Calmness is also achieved in this type of pose.
Back bends are amazingly helpful in opening your chest, hips and even the rib cage. This is helpful in strengthening and making your arms shoulders stronger. At the same time, it simultaneously increases your flexibility and elasticity in your shoulders. The great thing is that it helps to relieve the tension from the front of your body up to your hips and it increases your spinal ability. Your spinal cord is one thing that is important in your body so you need to take good care of it.
Notice that the forward bends are challenging because the exercise gives you a nice feeling and it can cause to fix some injuries. In this type of position, you can use a prop like the strap or the black because it will be very helpful.
Balance poses are very challenging. People who do yoga get too excited in performing balances. This is good because the fun that the person acquires helps him to live up his spirit and enlighten his soul. Balance is helpful in improving your posture. In improving your posture, the spinal cord is elongated which helps to keep yourself from some injuries and falling over.
Balance helps in training your ability to focus on your main goal and attention. However, attention should be obtained in the ultimate level because if your concentration is weak, for sure you cannot perform this type of pose.
Balance is one of the yoga poses that people truly appreciate and exert effort for. Along with the balance poses comes the twist which extremely releases tension all over your body. The tension in your spine is made clear. Twisting may seem to be hard to obtain. It is important to execute twists on both sides of the body so that the balance and alignment is obtained.
Taking note of these yoga poses will help you get along with yoga perfectly. Keep in mind that concentration is your main key if you want to be successful in doing these yoga poses.
Why not watch some video demonstration yoga poses HERE
There are different forms of yoga. This type of
exercise can leave you toned and supple or you may
even be spiritually enlightened according to some
teachers. Yoga is the latest thing. It has reshaped
some of the greatest stars all the way from Madonna to
Some forms of yoga are more physical and some are
highly spiritual. Yoga is extremely good for fatigue,
depression, arthritis, aging, stress-related illness,
migraine, PMS, back pain and mobility problems.
You must first decide why you wish to start yoga and
then go about choosing the appropriate form for you.
The principles of yoga are quite simple – relax, tune
out everything and stretch and you will feel better.
If you are looking to get fit these types of yoga are
” Hatha yoga ”
This type of yoga is based on controlled stretching.
An emphasis is placed on developing a flexible spine.
This type of yoga is excellent for all levels of
” Vini yoga ”
This type of yoga is gentle and safe and is very good
for older people. It is taught by a teacher called a
Desikachar and is usually taught on an individual
If you really want to get physical then you should
choose these types of yoga:
” Lyenger yoga ”
This type of yoga focuses on correct postures. It
often makes use of ropes and blocks to maintain these
” Sivananda yoga ”
This type of yoga is suitable for every age and covers
a wide range of poses which range from simple to
complex. ” Ashtanga yoga ” This type of yoga is known
as power yoga. It is very demanding and is only
suitable for those people who are very fit.
For those of you who want to get spiritual, then you
would want to choose from these types of yoga:
” Raja yoga ”
This is often referred to as royal yoga. It is
concerned with the mind.
” Dru yoga ”
This is group yoga which concentrates very heavily on
” Jnana yoga ”
This concentrates on the philosophical aspects of
yoga and is very spiritual and meditative.
The lot of a modern businessman is a stressful one and there is always so much to do. It would take a pretty compelling set of reasons to convince a successful businessman (or even an unsuccessful one) to add something else to an already packed schedule, so why would he even think about regular Yoga classes. In this article we examine the three main benefits of Yoga and how they apply to the busy businessperson.
Benefit Number One: Physical Health
All business-mans ultimate goal is to become wealthy isn’t it? Have you ever heard the saying that your health is your wealth? Believe me it is true. No matter how much money you have you cannot benefit from it if you are dead and personal health is often neglected in today’s busy corporate world. But the question is not whether one can afford the time for exercise to become healthy; it is whether they can afford not to. Health is a shifting scale – you are not either healthy or dead. It’s important to think about how much your level of health affects your work. A healthy body will allow you to concentrate more, work harder and increase the time you spend productively.
Yoga is the perfect way for a businessman to look after their physical wellbeing. Because the exercises are so incredibly low impact they can be performed even by the most out of shape person, and the more regularly they are performed the better that person’s health will become. Yoga is a very efficient method of releasing tension and stress. During a workday certain blockages develop around the body and many of our vital organs do not get the full amount of oxygen and nutrients that they need to function at peak efficiency. Yoga stretches different muscles groups in certain ways that will lead to these blockages being released and the blood flow bringing the bodies organs all the oxygen and nutrients they need.
Yoga’s health benefits are both immediate and long term. In the short term blood flow is increased and the body functions better because it is achieving the nutrients it requires. Tension is also released from muscles and the bodies lymphatic system is able to more effectively deal with waste products. In the longer term these will be ongoing benefits and the digestive system will also function more efficiently, which has innumerable health benefits. The general balance, co-ordination and flexibility will also be greatly enhanced.
Benefit Number Two: Mental Health
Have you ever considered the importance of a breath? We know that when someone stops breathing they die, and even this simplistic understanding should tell us how important it is to breath. But breathing properly is often ignored. It is vital not only for the numerous health benefits, but also for the strong mental advantages it allows us.
Yoga sessions will usually begin with a standing, breathing exercise. The simple process of taking in a deep breath and releasing it slowly is incredibly calming and the basis of the breathing exercises that are a vital backbone to the Yoga discipline. The key to this breathing is that it draws our attention to the one simple action of breathing. We become very aware of the life giving benefit of a deep and controlled breathing cycle and are able to achieve a level of calmness that we often don’t seek out in our everyday lives. That calmness itself is a stepping-stone to achieving focus.
The ability to focus is probably the single most important primary skill in a work environment. There is always so much going on around us and so much that needs to be done that it is difficult to focus on the single task we are doing because of the multitude of things ‘in the back of our mind’. Regular Yoga teaches techniques to quickly clear the mind of all these other distractions and then focus our mental efforts on a single task. It is also a great provider of personal discipline. The self-discipline that is learned from focusing on the body and becoming master of oneself is a key benefit of Yoga.
Benefit Number Three: Happiness
Happiness is a goal that is often sacrificed in the short term in exchange for some mystical point in the future when everything will come together and be okay. Yoga doesn’t move you any closer to that mystical time, but because you develop such a strong sense of self and connection with yourself, it is common to become more content with your current situation. You will find that the more you practise Yoga the more you will be comfortable spending time alone as well as amongst other people. Your sense of self worth will increase and you will perform better in social situations. This is perhaps the most important gift that Yoga will give to you.
The whole of yoga is comprised of 4 paths of yoga. Jnana Yoga, Bhakti Yoga, Karma Yoga, and Raja Yoga are the 4 traditional paths or schools of yoga. Some yogis, especially in Western civilizations, may work exclusively on one particular path.
However, most teachers will focus on all 4 of these important yoga areas. This allows you to fully experience the mental, spiritual and physical rewards yoga offers.
Jnana Yoga is concerned with your path to wisdom, knowledge and contemplation. Bhakti Yoga helps you attain true love, compassion, devotion and the whole human emotional experience. Karma Yoga is associated with mindfulness and service to others. Raja Yoga emphasizes meditation, transcending mental thinking, and is more of a “whole yoga” approach.
Each person will have an inclination toward one particular yoga path. This is because your experiences, heredity and surroundings have created a particular way of viewing the world in your mind. You are strongly urged to spend time on each yoga path.
This helps you understand yoga as a state of being and consciousness, rather than an exercise class where you mindlessly go from one physical pose to the next. After all, yoga is composed of meditation, breath control and physical postures. Journey down all 4 yoga paths, and this spiritual Hindu discipline can deliver a true consciousness that simple exercise never will.
Yoga is one of the oldest forms of physical fitness, but it goes deeper than that. It’s also a great path to create mental and emotional wellbeing. It is believed to be about five thousand years old. Being around that long, and still going strong today, it is definitely not going out of style anytime soon.
Daily yoga practice offers a tremendous amount of benefits to your overall health. Below, we will discuss a few of them.
Benefits of Yoga:
Increase or maintain flexibility. Yoga is great for increasing, regaining or maintaining your flexibility. When your muscles are flexible you feel better overall, have less aches and pains and much of your joint problems and pain are more easily managed.
Increases muscle strength and tone. As you age, your muscles deteriorate if they aren’t kept in good shape. Yoga is good for older people to help them regain the loss of muscle strength and tone they may have lost or may be losing. It’s gentle enough to be done for the rest of a person’s life.
Increases cardio and circulation. Although yoga is a gentle exercise program it is still very active. It will help you improve your cardio function and keep your circulatory system in good working order.
Mental health and wellbeing. The practice of yoga helps slow your mind from the daily grind. It’s a chance for you to spend quiet time with yourself, clearing your mind and focusing on your breath and how your body feels.
Over time, you will feel more relaxed and in control of your everyday life just from maintaining a yoga routine. Simply keeping up with a basic routine on a daily basis can give you tremendous benefits, so no need to worry that you need to become an expert or learn to do extremely difficult poses. This is one exercise programs that gives you great benefits even if it seems to easy.
These are just a few of the main benefits of keeping up with a daily yoga practice. But, it’s also something you can practice for the rest of your life.
Yoga isn’t some trendy fad that’s here today and gone tomorrow. It’s always in style. No matter how old or young you are, yoga is something you should add into your workout routine for overall health and wellness.
It’s a fitness regimen you can carry well into your old age. No matter how old you get, you will always be able to find a yoga class and be able to work out in a group environment and meet new people. But, it’s also a great solo workout if you enjoy the quietness of practicing alone. And one of the best things is, you don’t need any equipment. You can purchase a yoga mat, if you’d like, but it’s not necessary.
If you’re tired of fitness trends that come and go, take a chance on yoga. It’s a lot of fun, it promotes a healthy body and mind. After five thousand years, it’s safe to say that it will be around for a very long time, at least another five thousand years, I’m sure.