Category: Yoga for Healing

Jan 30, 2018

Yoga Considerations for Your Body and Mind

Yoga Considerations for Your Body

ashtanga yogaMany people practice yoga after work. They schedule sessions on the weekend during the day. If you have to squeeze some yoga into a busy modern day schedule, slip it in wherever you can. The mental and physical benefits of yoga are well-known, so any time you can enjoy this ancient Far East spiritual practice is the “right time” for you.

However, if at all possible, you should try practicing yoga in the morning. This is best for your body before you have eaten your morning meal. Your body is well rested and flexible, and after a few morning sessions this will quickly become your favorite yoga time of the day.

You should also consider waiting at least 2 hours after eating before performing yoga. Your body needs time to digest your food properly. Additionally, you can drink a small glass of warm water a few minutes before your yoga practice. This has a settling experience for your stomach.

Perform yoga in your bare feet when you can. You should also wear clothing that exposes as much of your skin as possible. This allows your skin to breathe properly, and to sweat away toxins and waste.

Your body will benefit the most from any yoga practice when you pay strict attention to form. Each of the yoga asanas are very specific for a reason. When your poses are perfect, your breathing correct and your mind in the right place, you receive the complete spiritual, physical and mental benefits of yoga.

Yoga Considerations for Your Mind

yoga and meditationYour yoga instructor may tell you that your breathing is perfect. She may praise you for your form. Those 2 aspects of yoga are extremely important. However, an argument can be made that the mental approach to yoga is the most crucial for delivering physical, mental and spiritual benefits.

Did you know that one of the biggest causes of injury while performing yoga is a bloated ego? This is not a competition. You are not battling the person beside you to see who can hold a particular form the longest. Concern yourself with your experience, nobody else’s.

Try focusing your attention on breathing properly. This minimizes outside distractions, and lets you focus your mind. Adding a few meditation sessions to your weekly yoga practice is a good way to calm your mind and reach the correct state of consciousness.

The human mind craves order. This means when you practice yoga at the same time of day, on the same days each week, your mind prepares you before you even begin a yoga session.

You should also consider joining a public class if you are having a problem staying motivated at home. People love to be a part of a community. When you practice yoga with others just like yourself, it is easier to keep your mind in the game, and benefit from a group consciousness that is all working towards the same goals.

Oct 11, 2017

How to Find Balance and Health with Yoga

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