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Can Yoga Really Transform Your Body

anusara yoga posesYoga has become extremely popular these days as more and more people find out about the peaceful and serene feeling you achieve when practicing along with the overall well-being you experience.

Yoga has become so popular that it has now become a $10 billion a year niche with participants spending more and more on yoga-related products and classes. See our Yoga Shop

And why wouldn’t they?   Yoga has been known to heal the mind-body by its ability to not only reduce stress in your life but it is also practiced for the wide-ranging amount of physical health benefits it provides.  While the jury is still out on the scientific research, we do know some of the potential effects it can have on your body.

One form of yoga, Hatha – which places emphasis on physical postures, is said to help improve your cognitive functions such as improving not only your focus but your memory as well.  This form of yoga can provide strength and endurance benefits and is a less vigorous style of yoga.

Another form of yoga, Bikram which is performed in a heated room temperature of approximately 100 degrees, has been found to be effective in increasing hamstring and back flexibility along with shoulder flexibility improvement.

Since yoga is a low-impact form of getting you to move and stretch, it has also been found to reduce stress and anxiety along with heightening the brain chemicals that reduce the symptoms of depression and anxiety-related disorders.

Some forms of yoga are more physical than other such as Ashtanga and Power yoga.  These two forms will help you to improve overall muscle tone.

There are certain poses for different parts of your body.  Use poses such as the upward facing dog, the plank pose or the downward facing dog if you want to build upper-body strength.

If you want to up the strength in your abs, hamstrings and quadriceps, practice the standing poses while holding them for several long breaths.  If you want to strengthen your lower back, use poses such as the upward facing dog and the chair pose.  If you practice all of the above poses correctly, you should see improvement in your core strength in the deep abdominal muscles.

Not only will you feel an improvement in your core strength, as you become stronger and more flexible you will see a noticeable improvement in your posture.

By practicing yoga, you will become more aware of your body and if you are slouching or slumping allowing you to adjust your posture to stand and sit “tall.”  Your core will be much stronger because you are practicing standing and sitting poses to develop that core strength.    You need your core muscles to support and maintain each pose.

Yoga can improve your breathing.  By participating in yoga classes, you will be forced to pay attention to your breathing which in turn will help you to relax.  Some yoga classes require specific breathing techniques.  Yoga is not the same as running, cycling or aerobics unless you are participating in one of the more intense forms of yoga, some of which use a heated room.

If you have way too much stress in your life, yoga can help you to feel more relaxed and less stressed.  Some forms of yoga also incorporate meditation techniques into the classes.

One of the most beneficial aspects of yoga is how good it is for your heart.  Not only can yoga help to slow your heart rate but it can also lower your blood pressure.  This is really good news for those with heart disease, high blood pressure or those who have experienced a stroke.

 

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How to Find Balance and Health with Yoga

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

Grab our Complete Yoga Guide over on the right

 

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Benefits of Chair Yoga

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.”

Continue reading this article >> HERE

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What Kind of Yoga is Best?

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
Sting.

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
for you:

” 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
fitness.

” 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
basis.

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
postures.

” 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
breath work.

” Jnana yoga ”

This concentrates on the philosophical aspects of
yoga and is very spiritual and meditative.

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4 paths of yoga

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.

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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.

 

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yoga and meditation

Beginners Explore the World of Yoga Meditation

yoga and meditationYoga refers to the unity of the body and mind and unity of the mind and soul. In Western cultures, people believed that gaps between the actual bodies and ideal bodies are increasing. This is because of two major reasons: lack of exercises and unhealthy diets leading to diabetes and obesity.

The practice of Asana through Pranayama can bring flexibility to the body, calmness to the mind, and balance. This can provide basic trainings with some simple asanas. There are five simple points need to be followed: Proper Breathing; Proper Exercise; Proper Diet; Positive Thinking and Mediation; and Proper Relaxation.

Yoga meditation can give people something which nothing else can. The individuals are introduced to the different levels of themselves. Yoga meditation can bring calmness, tranquility of the mind, better health, better life, better relationships, personal insights, spiritual insights, philosophical insights, and a true sense of wellness.

Find Out More About Yoga Meditation Here

Numerous studies have revealed that yoga meditation can significantly affect the musculoskeletal, nervous, endocrine, and circulatory systems. Using certain yoga postures can assure well being because it taps the body into the wisdom of self healing. Yoga can also build flexibility, balance, and strength without any injury risk common to fitness activities and high impact sports. Yoga meditation can reduce stress and boost immunity which is always associated with most chronic diseases such as cancer and heart disease. Beginners can explore the world of yoga as long as they have the tools needed to stay in good condition. They can always enjoy the yoga benefits.

Hatha Yoga is one structure of meditation. Each posture, each breathing practice is considered as meditation forms. It calms the body, mind, and breath. Practicing this for about an hour can help people feel more relaxed for several hours because they have achieved serenity and peace. This could be a very great meditation practice.

The asanas compared to various forms of exercises are completely different. These are normally done with fast movement and within specific amounts of strain. Exercises can accelerate breathing, waste energy, and draw circulation on the body’s surface. In the end, it develops the muscular parts of the body. This means that the vitality goes with the muscles at the costs of the internal nerves and glands.

According to the Founder of the Yoga teaching, Sri Bhagavan Patanjali, asana in literal meaning is a posture which brings comfort and steadiness. So, asanas must be practiced with extreme comfort and ease.

The cleansing method of Yoga called NETI-nasal cleansing is an extreme powerful technique yet the most simplest. Neti can work wonders for allergies, several asthma cases, and chronic sinusitis. The effect is very remarkable for hay fevers, an infection on the upper respiratory tract.

In the United States, there are more than 40 million sufferers of sinusitis. Most of them failed to be cured by antibiotics. Jalaneti or neti is the best method of treating sinuses naturally.

Neti is also excellent for people who wanted to quit smoking. It is because the tendency for breathing through the mouth is reduced. The nose is re-sensitized by neti on the concrete pollution of smoke ingestion thus it de-programs the brain from psychological and physical addiction. Yoga meditation is really helpful for achieving a great and healthy body.

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7 Top Tips for Yoga Success
5Yoga has been proven to relieve stress by using exercises that unify the mind, body, and spirit. If you are new to yoga, these seven tips will start you on the road to a more centered life.

1. Talk to your doctor and explain what type of yoga poses you intend to practice. Show your doctor pictures of the poses for illustration. Your doctor may rule out specific poses if you have high blood pressure, glaucoma, a history of retinal detachment, or heart disease. Make sure you follow your doctor’s recommendations.
2. Find a yoga class that best fits your abilities. Talk to prospective teachers, and decide whether of not you can handle a program before you sign up. It’s very important to take it one step at a time. Try a few beginner classes before you attempt more vigerous classes. Don’t move ahead too quickly. Allow your body to adjust to your exercises.

3. Listen to your body and be aware of your physical abilities. You don’t want to hurt yourself. Make sure the instructor understands your level of experience and any limitations you may have. Don’t allow anyone to push you ahead too quickly. Remember, this is supposed to be fun and relaxing.

4. If you can’t find a class that meets your needs, you can always practice yoga at home. There are many books, programs, and tapes available to help you get started. Search for the best products on the Internet and read reviews. Talk to others for recommenations.

5. Why not try private lessons? You can book some one-on-one sessions with a teacher in your area. Most yoga instructors offer private classes or can help you design your own program. This is a good way to get started. You can always take group lessons or practice at home after you’ve had private lessons and learned the basics.

6. Find a yoga buddy. It’s nice to practice with someone and it will help reduce injuries. It’s also a great way to keep up your enthusiasm and interest.

7. Eat lightly before practice. Wait at least two hours after meals before yoga class or practice. An empty stomach is best, but don’t let yourself get too hungry to think. You won’t be able to focus on the poses or enjoy yourself during the relaxation or meditation exercises.

Now it’s time to grab your mat and a towel and get the most out of your yoga exercises.

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can yoga help me lose weight

CAN YOGA HELP ME LOSE WEIGHT?

can yoga help me lose weightMany people might be forgiven for thinking that yoga is too slow and involves a lot of sitting and even lying down. The truth is that yoga can be one of the best workouts for your overall health and any weight loss goals you have set. But Can Yoga Help Me Lose Weight?

First of all, any movement is better than none to keep you fit and flexible well into your senior years. In addition, any movement will burn calories. It is just a question of how fast. This will be determined by how vigorous the exercise is.

In most cases, you can burn 500 calories per 60 to 90 minutes doing yoga. However, depending on the style of yoga, such as vinyasa or flow yoga, which focuses on constant movement, you could burn as many as 800 calories per session.

Bikram, also known as ‘hot yoga’, or ‘boot camp’ by those in the yoga community, can burn as many as 1,300 calories in a 90 minute class. However, the conditions in the studio are not for everyone. Temperatures range from 80F to 100F with around 75% humidity. You will be drilled in the same 26 poses in every class and expected to do them vigorously. Bikram is therefore not recommended for seniors or anyone who has an underlying health issue.

If you are trying to lose weight at a safe and sensible rate such as 1 to 2 pounds per week, starving yourself by cutting calories will be tough and can’t be sustained long-term. Adding physical movement will burn more calories. Yoga might be just what you need to help you achieve your weight loss goals.

Yoga Uses your Body Weight

Yoga uses your body weight to give you a good workout, and builds long, lean muscle. Muscle in the body burns calories more rapidly than fatty tissue. The more muscle you have, the faster your metabolism. The faster your metabolism, the more efficiently your body will use and burn, rather than store, the calories you do consume.

Therefore, yoga can turn your body into a lean, mean, fat-burning machine in as little as 15 minutes a day if you practice consistently.
Even if you do not see the scale go down right away, you might notice your clothes feel less snug, or you are losing your spare tire. Yoga can help get rid of stubborn belly fat, which is not only ugly but very bad for the health. Studies have shown that belly fat makes it harder to lose weight and keep it off. By contrast, rock hard abs burn more calories and support your back and entire body.
If you’ve been struggling to lose weight, try yoga and see what a difference it can make.

So, Can Yoga Help Me Lose Weight? You Decide!

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