Saturday, 28 June 2014

Joints Anatomy!

Did You Know: The adult human body has approximately 230 movable and semi-movable joints.

a thought!

"Release you majestic mind, embrace your untamed inner spirit. Break free from captivity, 
You were born to be FREE."

Thursday, 26 June 2014

Soothing Your Stomach with Yoga!

What else can yoga do for you? If you've overeaten or are facing digestive discomfort, fifteen minutes or so of yoga can make all the difference, according to Zayna Gold, creator of Healing Through Movement and a Boston-based yoga instructor. Here are just a few of the poses she recommends for settling your tummy, flattening out bloat, and easing stomach pains.
Don't worry; these moves are very gentle and will work with the lightest of touches on calming your insides (both literal and metaphorical!). "You will feel less stress when your nervous system is relaxed. The health benefits will spread to the rest of your body and ease your digestion," says Gold. Plus, the less you train your body to rely on over-the-counter meds like Pepto Bismol and Tums, the better! The natural, effective way is always preferable for long-term benefits.



Practicing Apanasana is a gentle way to restore proper flow and function to the organs of your torso. As you release excess pressure from your digestive organs and low back, your mind will begin to release its pressures and tensions, as well. It’s a simple way to encourage your body, mind, and spirit to remain pure and balanced throughout your day, as well as gives relief from excess digestive air, indigestion, bloating, flatulence, acidity, and constipation. Suffering from irritable bowel syndrome? This is the pose for you.
Plus, this pose helps to keep your low back limber. It is often used as a soothing counter-pose to backbends and spinal twists. Because your body is compact in the pose, your thoughts are more easily drawn inward, which is useful for calming the mind and rebalancing your energy.
However, make sure not to practice this pose if you are recovering from abdominal surgery or a hernia. Also avoid this pose if you have a spinal, knee, or hip injury. If you have a neck injury, do not lift your head.

Try It Out:

1. Begin by lying on your back, with your legs and arms extended.
2. As you exhale, draw both of your knees to your chest. Clasp your hands around them. If it is possible for you, wrap your forearms over your shins and clasp each elbow with the opposite hand.
3. Keep your back flat on the mat. Release your shoulder blades down toward your waist. Broaden across your collar bones.
4. Draw your tailbone and sacrum down toward the mat, lengthening your spine even more.
5. If it is comfortable for you to do so, softly rock backward and forward or side-to-side for a gentle spinal massage.
6. Tuck your chin slightly and gaze down the center line of your body.
7. Hold for up to one minute. Keep your breath smooth and even.
8. With an exhalation, release and extend both legs along the floor and rest. Repeat up to six times.



Bridge Pose is a chest, heart, and shoulders opener and works to stretch the spine, the back of the neck, the thighs, and the hip flexors (front hip joints). Because your heart is higher than your head in this pose, it is considered a mild inversion (less strenuous than other inversions, such as Headstand) and holds all the benefits of inversions, like relief from stress, fatigue, anxiety, headaches, insomnia, and mild depression. Get ready to have your mind be calmed and your blood pressure treated, and if you have asthma, it's great for increasing lung capacity by opening the chest.
Why Bridge Pose is so great for digestion is because it also stimulates the abdominal organs and thyroid glands, which improves digestion and helps to regulate metabolism. Because it revitalizes the legs and stretches the shoulders, it can be a particularly rejuvenating pose for those who spend the day sitting in front of a computer or driving.
Practicing Bridge Pose can be a potent lesson in learning to slow down and listen to your body. Your spine, shoulders, and thighs will tell you how far to take the pose. The less you push, the more the pose will open up. Turn your awareness inward and notice how your body releases its grip when you don’t force it. Let your Bridge be a connection between your body, mind, and spirit.

Try It Out:

1. Lie supine on the floor, and if necessary, place a thickly folded blanket under your shoulders to protect your neck. Bend your knees and set your feet on the floor, heels as close to the sitting bones as possible.
2. Exhale and, pressing your inner feet and arms actively into the floor, push your tailbone upward toward the pubis, firming (but not hardening) the buttocks, and lift the buttocks off the floor. Keep your thighs and inner feet parallel. Clasp the hands below your pelvis and extend through the arms to help you stay on the tops of your shoulders.
3. Lift your buttocks until the thighs are about parallel to the floor. Keep your knees directly over the heels, but push them forward, away from the hips, and lengthen the tailbone toward the backs of the knees. Lift the pubis toward the navel.
4. Lift your chin slightly away from the sternum and, firming the shoulder blades against your back, press the top of the sternum toward the chin. Firm the outer arms, broaden the shoulder blades, and try to lift the space between them at the base of the neck (where it's resting on the blanket) up into the torso.
5. Stay in the pose anywhere from 30 seconds to 1 minute. Release with an exhalation, rolling the spine slowly down onto the floor.



Seated forward bend, or paschimottanasana, stretches the spine, shoulders, pelvis, and hamstrings. It also stimulates and balances the liver, kidneys, adrenal glands, ovaries, and uterus. And while traditional yoga texts say Paschimottanasana can cure disease, modern-day yoga teachers agree to its many other benefits, which include relief from stress, improved digestion and appetite, relief from menstrual pain and symptoms of menopause, a calmer mind, reduced anxiety and fatigue, improved sleep and relief from insomnia. This pose is also believed to be therapeutic for high blood pressure, infertility, and sinusitis. It is reputed to be beneficial for overcoming obesity, as well.
Though Paschimottanasana can feel “intense,” it can be easy to push your body too much, seeking more intense sensations as signs of progress. Be careful not to misinterpret painful, sharp, or piercing sensations as positive signs! Back off if you are injuring yourself.
The more you relax in the pose, the more naturally your body will open up. Forcing forward folds will actually cause your muscles to shorten and resist even more. Breathe deeply and evenly. Settle into the moment. Turn your thoughts inward and allow resistance to gently fade away.

Try It Out:

1. Sit on the floor with your buttocks supported on a folded blanket and your legs straight in front of you. Press actively through your heels. Rock slightly onto your left buttock, and pull your right sitting bone away from the heel with your right hand. Repeat on the other side. Turn the top thighs in slightly and press them down into the floor. Press through your palms or finger tips on the floor beside your hips and lift the top of the sternum toward the ceiling as the top thighs descend.
2. Draw the inner groins deep into the pelvis. Inhale, and keeping the front torso long, lean forward from the hip joints, not the waist. Lengthen the tailbone away from the back of your pelvis. If possible take the sides of the feet with your hands, thumbs on the soles, elbows fully extended; if this isn't possible, loop a strap around the foot soles, and hold the strap firmly. Be sure your elbows are straight, not bent.
3. When you are ready to go further, don't forcefully pull yourself into the forward bend, whether your hands are on the feet or holding the strap. Always lengthen the front torso into the pose, keeping your head raised. If you are holding the feet, bend the elbows out to the sides and lift them away from the floor; if holding the strap, lighten your grip and walk the hands forward, keeping the arms long. The lower belly should touch the thighs first, then the upper belly, then the ribs, and the head last.
4. With each inhalation, lift and lengthen the front torso just slightly; with each exhalation release a little more fully into the forward bend. In this way the torso oscillates and lengthens almost imperceptibly with the breath. Eventually you may be able to stretch the arms out beyond the feet on the floor.
5. Stay in the pose anywhere from 1 to 3 minutes. To come up, first lift the torso away from the thighs and straighten the elbows again if they are bent. Then inhale and lift the torso up by pulling the tailbone down and into the pelvis.



The perfect way to wrap up your yoga therapy, Child's Pose helps to stretch the hips, thighs, and ankles while reducing stress and fatigue. It gently relaxes the muscles on the front of the body while softly and passively stretching the muscles of the back torso.
This resting pose centers, calms, and soothes the brain, making it a therapeutic posture for relieving stress. When performed with the head and torso supported, it can also help relieve back and neck pain. Sometimes used as a counter-pose to backbends, Child's Pose restores balance and equanimity to the body.
Life is the period between one breath and the next; the person who only half breathes, only half lives. He who breathes correctly acquires control of the whole being.
Regular practice of Child's Pose also teaches conscious exploration of the breath. As the front of the body releases onto the thighs, the frontal ribs and abdominal muscles become slightly compressed. This restriction allows for a deeper opening of the back of the torso as the lungs expand behind the body. As this happens, keeping the breath slow, long, and steady allows for a new awareness of the breath's path through the front and back of the body.

Try It Out:

1. Kneel on the floor. Touch your big toes together and sit on your heels, then separate your knees about as wide as your hips.
2. Exhale and lay your torso down between your thighs. Broaden your sacrum across the back of your pelvis and narrow your hip points toward the navel, so that they nestle down onto the inner thighs. Lengthen your tailbone away from the back of the pelvis while you lift the base of your skull away from the back of your neck.
3. Lay your hands on the floor alongside your torso, palms up, and release the fronts of your shoulders toward the floor. Feel how the weight of the front shoulders pulls the shoulder blades wide across your back.
4. Balasana is a resting pose. Stay anywhere from 30 seconds to a few minutes. Beginners can also use Balasana to get a taste of a deep forward bend, where the torso rests on the thighs. Stay in the pose from 1 to 3 minutes. To come up, first lengthen the front torso, and then with an inhalation lift from the tailbone as it presses down and into the pelvis.

Reiki Symbols: Why Every Practitioner Should Know Them.

Reiki symbols seem so mysterious and somewhat intimidating, but they’re actually very easy to grasp. They actually do not hold any special power in and of themselves; instead, the intention behind the Reiki practitioner is what gives them their power and significance.
Devised as mere teaching tools for Reiki students to use while giving treatments and passing attunements, there are five symbols used in the Usui Reiki attunement process. The first four of the five symbols are also used when Reiki treatments (both hands-on and absentia) are being done.
The symbols are partly based on the Japanese writing system, Kanji. The symbols should be drawn or visualized as they have been taught during the Reiki 2 Attunement. Because Reiki is becoming more widespread, a number of variations is entirely possible, as different Masters are teaching them. However, this causes little issue, as there isn’t a 100% right or wrong way to draw them. The Reiki symbols given to a student will work however they look as they incorporate the intention and the connection to the metaphysical energies it represents.
As some practitioners describe them, the Reiki symbols are like keys that open doors to a higher mind. You can also see them as buttons, when you press the button you automatically get a result. One of the functions of the Reiki symbols is to instantly override the user's precognition that some things cannot be done, like distance healing. The symbols trigger a belief or intention built into the symbols that helps the user to get the results intended. The different symbols also quickly connect the user to the universal life force. This makes them very powerful tools, indeed!
Here are the symbols and a little about each one:


Japanese Name:

Cho Ku Rei


Light Switch


Manifestation, increased power, accelerated healing, healing catalyst
The Cho Ku Rei, or power symbol, is used to increase power, or to decrease power when used in reverse. This symbol looks like a coil. The coil is meant to expand and retract, regulating the flow of "ki" energies. Sometimes a subtle energy flow is needed, where as other times a blast of energy is better. Praised for its manifestation power, this symbol is a wonderful law of attraction focusing tool.


Japanese Name:

Sei Hei Ki




Cleansing, protection, mental and emotional healing
The Sei Hei Ki symbolizes harmony, and it’s something of a peacemaker. The Sei Hei Ki will refuse to negotiate an unfair outcome. It truly is a protective shield of armor. It gives courage to the disheartened and helps to level the playing field when life is getting challenging. It scorches addictions and expels negative energies. Making this symbol your ally is an investment that will repay you over the course of your life. Sei Hei Ki is “loyal friend,” especially whenever you are facing difficulties.


Japanese Name:

Hon Sha Ze Sho Nen




Distant healing, past/present/future, healing karma, spiritual connection
Best known for its extension powers, the Hon Sha Ze Sho Nen symbol is used when sending Reiki long distance. It symbolizes a shapeshifter that can slip through time and space. Another name for this symbol is "Pagoda" because of its towe- like appearance. Elastic in texture it is a fun symbol to play with during your healing visualizations. Hon Sha Ze Sho Nen can also transform itself into a key that will unlock the Akashic Records. For this reason this symbol is an essential tool for the Reiki practitioner when working on inner child or past live issues with their clients.


Japanese Name:

Dai Ko Myo




Empowerment, soul healing, oneness
This Master symbol represents all that is Reiki. Dai Ko Myo is the heart of Reiki. The symbol is seldom used for any particular purpose other than as a reminder that Reiki is love and available to everyone.


Japanese Name:





Kundalini healing, hara connection, chakra alignment
The Raku symbol is used solely during the final stage of the Reiki attunement process. Its intention is to ground and seal the newly awakened Reiki energies. The striking lightning bolt symbol is drawn downwards from the heavens to the earth.

Wednesday, 25 June 2014

Combining Yoga Pose n Aromatherapy for Chakra Balancing!

What is “chi”, and where does it come from?

The chi is the primordial life force itself. It begins in human life with the piercing of an egg by a sperm cell. From this original fusion an enormously complex new human being develops. “Chi” is the continuous flow of energy linking the various tissues, organs and brain functions into a unified whole — a person. Chi also links this person to his environment.
The main channels of “chi” energy flow in the body were discovered by sages meditating upon the human fetus inside the womb. They observed the baby grows up around its mother’s navel point, and that through the navel the fetus absorbs nutrients and expels waste. The fetus literally “breathes” through the umbilical cord from the mother into its own navel down to the perineum and up to the head and down from the tongue to the navel again. The navel point is thus said by Taoists to be the starting point for the flow of the primordial life energy, or “chi”, and remains the point of strongest energy storage and circulation in the adult.
“Awaken Healing Energy Through The Tao” is a method for an adult to return to that state of dynamic energy circulation which existed inside the womb. In this sense this esoteric Taoist meditation is a rebirth process, a return to one’s original, primordial self. What happened after birth that caused us to lose that original, perfect equilibrium that was so nurturing and permitted such healthy growth?
After a baby enters the world, his/her energy slowly “settles out” into hot and cold parts of the body. In the fetus this “yin” and “yang” energy was perfectly balanced in a kind of “lukewarm” mixture. But by the time a baby has grown to adulthood the hot or “yang” energy has gradually risen to the upper part of the body containing the vital organs such as the heart, liver, lungs and brain. The cold or “yin” energy has tended to settle in the legs, genitals, kidneys and lower abdomen.
Fig. 1.1 Energy enters the human fetus at the navel and circulates in Microcosmic Orbit, harmonizing yin and yang energy.
As we age, the energy routes which bring vital power to our internal organs and enable them to function become progressively more blocked by physical and mental tension. The result is general fatigue, weakness, and poor health. A young person usually has sufficient energy to keep the routes less obstructed so that the power still flows. The organs are thus nourished, and there is little sickness. But if we do not live healthily and practice to keep the energy routes open, they will gradually close and cause emotional imbalances, premature sickness and old age.
The perfect energy circulation we enjoyed as babies was not aired by the daily stress of living. Simply by re-establishing that same strong flow of lukewarm chi — mixed yin and yang energy — our vital organs will begin to glow with radiant health. When this healing power of the Tao – the life energy in its original, pure, undivided form — flows through our bodies, we regain the exuberant energy and rosy glow we once had as babies. Our true task is only to “re-awaken” this undivided healing power that was once an accepted fact in our being.
Excerpt from Mantak Chia’s book “Awaken Healing Energy”.

Tuesday, 24 June 2014

Level 1A Standing Pose Iyengar Yoga Practice

Carolyn Belko Level 1A Standing Pose Practice

Why You Need to Understand Your Kosha Energy!

By now, you've probably read a decent amount on chakras, but have you ever taken note of your koshas? They are another vital bodily energy that those seeking to live holistically very much need to understand for a balanced life.
A Kosha (also, Kosa) (Sanskrit कोश, IAST: kośa), usually rendered "sheath", is one of five coverings of the Atman, or Self according to Vedantic philosophy. They are often visualized as the layers of an onion. Basically, the koshas are energetic layers or sheaths that move from the outermost layer of skin to the deep spiritual core. The koshas provide a framework for conceptualizing ourselves. Much like the chakra system, the kosha layers come packaged with their own individual physiological function and psychology.
In some respects, the kosha layers mirror the psychology of the chakras. This is why it's so important to have a firm grasp on the concepts, and to understand how each energy system can impact your body and life.
So what are the koshas, and how do they tie into you overall? Here are quick overviews of each kosha and the area it deals with,

1. Annamaya: "Foodstuff" Sheath

The first layer of the koshas represents the physical body, including the skin, muscles, connective tissue, fat and bones. When you pinch the side of your waist and feel the skin and muscle under your fingers, you engage with annamaya kosha. For a lot of people the first layer might be where we spend the most time hanging out, locked in our physical senses

2. Pranamaya: "Energy" Sheath

The second layer represents the pranic or subtle body — in essence, it's the circulatory system for prana, or “life-force energy.” It also includes the fluid, physical aspects of the anatomical body that control the movement of blood, lymph and cerebrospinal fluid through the body and the circulatory movement of breath through the respiratory system. In psychological terms, pranamaya kosha controls our bodily and spiritual rhythm.

3. Manomaya "Mindstuff" Sheath

The third layer takes us into the deep recesses of the mind, emotions and nervous system. While modern science has developed an acute understanding of the inner working of the brain, the mind, motivations and emotions still retain a mysterious quality. The manomaya kosha makes up the control panel for the emotional and physical body, sending messages through your brain synapses and the central nervous system. It’s this layer where you move from physical feeling and rhythm to emotional feeling.

4. Vijanamaya: "Wisdom" Sheath

Diving underneath the sea of emotions in the manomaya kosha, we reach the wisdom body of the fourth kosha —Vijanamaya. It’s here that we develop awareness, insight and consciousness. Emotions left unchecked by awareness are destructive. The awareness of vijanamaya kosha illuminates our deeper desires and motivation and allows us to see the choice we have in all things. Instead of simply feeling or acting, we choose to feel or act with intention. Sometimes the intention is simply to move past the emotion into pure sensation and bliss.

5. Anandamaya: "Bliss" Sheath

The fifth and last kosha drops from conscious awareness into the pure and radiant bliss body. Within the anadamaya kosha, you might experience connection with all things, liberation from suffering and a state of being often described as “in the flow.”
Throughout the day, notice yourself shifting between the koshas layers:
Right now I feel hot.
Right now I’m paying attention to my breathing.
Right now I feel upset.
Right now I understand why I reacted that way yesterday.
Right now I’m deep in meditation.
Right now I feel bliss.
Yoga helps you to create a track to the deeper subtle kosha layers, so they’re easier to access. As asana prepares the outer body, yogic breathing turns your attention to the pranic body. Lastly, yogic philosophy provides the tools for bringing awareness to your fluctuating emotional state of mind, so you can embody and radiate health and bliss.

Monday, 23 June 2014

Yoga Confusion Systems Styles Certifications... What Do They All Mean?

yoga poses

Hatha, Kundalini, Amrit, Vinyasa, Iyengar, Ashtanga, Kripalu and so on and so on…

There are many “styles” of yoga, which can lead to many confused students. However, there are really only six systems of yoga.
As a long- time yoga teacher and yogini, some of the questions that I hear from students are: What do all these styles mean?  Which one is “best?” Which one is for me? What style are you “certified” in? It seems to have become trendy to be part of a “style of yoga.”
I hope I can clarify some of the confusion and mixed messages.
Though there are many branches of Yoga, traditionally there are six primary “Systems of Yoga”. These were outlined by the mystic Patanjali around the second century BC. All the others are “styles,” which may be based on one or more of these systems.
1:  Jnana; The path of knowledge and wisdom.
2: Bhakti; The path of devotion.
3: Karma;  The practice of service.
4: Raja; Focuses on the practice of meditation/transcendence.
5: Hatha; The system of physical yoga
6: Kriya; A system designed to rid the body and mind of obstructions.
It seems to be the human way to compartmentalize things and make separateness seem “necessary.” We perceivewe’re separated by all sorts of things, careers, race, lifestyles, religions, etc… Let me quote the Buddha, “The source of human suffering is separateness.”  I am of the opinion that the more we separate yoga, the more it loses its Unifying essence. The word Yoga means to Unite or Yolk—not to separate.

If we so focus on the minutiae of things, we sometimes diminish and elude its origins and true meaning.

Didn’t we see the same thing happen with religions? The essence of the Masters’ teachings were beautiful and truthful; then ourego-based concepts decided it was not enough to call it “truth,” but had to separate it into various sects. In doing this, the party often implies (directly or indirectly) that one camp is better than another—my brand will bring you to enlightenment quicker. The notion that one type or camp of yoga is necessarily better than another or will bring one to self-realization quicker than another is not sound.
There are many paths that lead to the same truth.
It is up to the individual to weed through the mélange of styles and jargon currently associated with yoga. I guess it can be said that I am of the “old school” of yoga.
When I became involved, 23 years ago, people just said, “I practice yoga.”  There was not so much importance placed on the styles, certifications and popularity.  Recently, there were so many styles of yoga being created that Yoga Alliance (the organization that strives to maintain the integrity of yoga) is no longer registering new styles. People wanted to come up with “new names” for yoga; Happy Yoga, for example. Thank goodness this trivialization was recognized.
The ancient practice of yoga is a sacred one and to claim to be the creator of it in seems presumptuous.
The certification process can be a quandary. Some certification programs do provide valuable training, but just because someone is “certified” does not necessarily make him or her a quality teacher. Many such programs stress the ABC’s of yoga, but miss the essence of the tradition. I believe a teacher can only teach to the level he/she embodies in their own practice.

It is what’s within a teacher—their own depth, understanding and realization of the yogic spirit—that makes them authentic.

It is hard to impart the lifestyle and wisdom of this tradition without living it. Some certifications programs have become profitable vehicles for those offering them. Many “old -school” instructors have chosen not to be “certified.” Are many of the Yogis from India “certified?” Probably not in the traditional Western sense of monetarily paying for a program and obtaining a certificate. There, “certification” is through the blessing or transmission of energy or shakti from their teacher, master and/or lineage.  Ah, a very different concept than here in our culture.
Again, the word yoga means to yolk or unite, body mind and spirit. If a practice is not focused on this, perhaps it is not genuinely yoga as it was practiced in India where it originated; a practice or path to self-realization and purification, not just a form of exercise.
Some styles of yoga are named after the teachers who inspired them such as Iyengar, Bikram, Kripalu, Armit Yoga and others. This does not mean those teacher invented yoga. The first accounts of yoga, The Vedas, date back thousands of years. Current teachers put their own spin or imprint into an already established system. Some types of yoga are named for the area on which they focus, such as Ashatanga, Hatha, Raja etc… Some styles are more meditative, while others more physical, with some focusing more keenly on body alignment. Not all styles touch on all aspects of the six systems.
Let’s look at a few of the most common practices,  though I don’t I claim to be a scholar.
Yoga is an Ashtanga, which refers to an eight limbed path. The limbs are Yama’s, & Niyama’s (the inward and outward observances of a yogi,) asana, pranayama, pratyahara, dhyana, dharana, and samadhi.
The term Hatha Yoga, which is often heard, means ha/sun and tha/moon, and also means inhalation and exhalation.  This system is often referred to as a style of yoga. It is primarily concerned with bodily disciplines and breathing which are not essential in all traditions. Asanas strengthen and purify the body. Contemplation, meditation and pranayama/breath-work are part of this practice. Some Hatha teachers only practice body movement, a style, without teaching the other components of the system.
Vinyassa is currently a popular style of yoga which means flow yoga. This style links postures, movement and breath and tends to be a little faster paced which also lends itself to cardiovascular benefits.
Raja Yoga presents a path of knowledge and wisdom that enables the student to discover their Real Self. It is not necessary, though helpful, that a student of this style practice asana. The path of Raja Yoga does not emphasize asana/postures.
There are far too many styles to explain each. The actual systems of yoga are more in-depth than this article can explain, but can be studied in many yogic writings and teachings.

People learn in different ways.

Some are more physical and learn through the body and hands-on, others learn through contemplation and others with the mind/intellect.  It is the same with yoga practice the student must find a style or system that suits their personal way of learning and resonates with them.  It should not feel forced or confusing, but truthful and clear. The participant should feel a sense of peace and growth from their practice. This is not to say that the student will not feel challenged in some ways, which is part of the practice as well, and one can use those challenges as a platform for growth.
If you really want to experience the most from yoga, I suggest that you don’t join a practice just because it’s popular or it happens to be the class offered at your gym, but rather shop around for one that suits you. Take classes in various styles and systems, from different teachers.  Even the same style will vary among instructors, as each teacher has their own unique approach, which can make a world of difference.  Again, it is so important that the teacher, system and the style resonate with you on all levels.
Explore, experience and enjoy your yogic journey.
Namaste & Peace,
via Cathy Woods

Just Bloom!

"A flower does not think of competing to the flower next 

to it, it just blooms"

Wednesday, 18 June 2014

yoga poses for pregnancy!

An Objective View of Yoga!

When you think of Yoga, what is the picture you see within your “mind’s eye?” Many people still think of Hatha, and its many sub-styles, as the only style around. This is due to the fact that outside India, Hatha Yoga (Union by Physical Mastery), is most commonly seen. Therefore, this is understandable – except there are many forms of Yoga training, and many are much less physical forms that are sometimes misunderstood.Yogic techniques do not have to be practiced in an ashram or on a mat. To be beneficial, Yogic methodology can be practiced anywhere, at any time, in any shape or form.
Just by giving people help, without asking for anything in return, you are practicing Karma Yoga. By praying, you are practicing a Yogic form of Bhakti. Also, by seeking and finding the pure, but unobvious truth, you may be practicing Jnana (Union by Knowledge). As every teacher knows, Yoga literally means “Unity” or “Union,” but each Yogic style has within itself a unique way to achieve the union of mind, body, and spirit. Yogic methodology is non-confronting, non-conflicting, and can be integrated with many physical disciplines and religious practices. Any Yogic style will integrate with other Yogic styles and healing methods.
Yoga teachers “spread the word,” but they must teach the more popular physical aspects of Yogic practices, if they want to keep their students and studios. This is why many people get an incomplete picture of a complete health maintenance system for the three aspects of mind, body, and spirit. All three aspects of health are of equal importance, but the physical aspect is more easily realized. People believe in physical perception because they can see, feel, smell, and taste it. The physical result of practice is what a beginner will recognize first. After years of practice, an experienced practitioner recognizes all the aspects and benefits of practice.
Whether you are a beginner, long-time practitioner, or a Yoga instructor, your knowledge will make a difference for the best. Just by showing loving kindness and mindfulness to your friends, co-workers, and family, you will alter this world. Therefore, the proliferation of Yogic practices is a miracle and a gift to mankind. By helping others, you will feel gratification that is helpful to your own mental, physical, and spiritual health. In turn, you, and your actions, will evolve, with loving kindness as your guide. This is the fundamental key to good health and well being: Give to others and you will feel much better about yourself. There is a teacher within all of us, even if you only share the gift of Yogic practices with one friend.
By Dr. Paul Jerard

Tuesday, 10 June 2014

The Abhyanga-Ayurvedic Self-Massage!

An “Abhyanga” is a massage using oil, according to the Ayurvedic tradition. Ayurveda, in case you’ve missed it, is a 5000 year old traditional Hindu healing system that takes into account the constitution, or “dosha” of each individual. It balances the body accordingly, using diet, herbal and mineral remedies, yoga and yogic breathing, massage and other detox rituals. Essentially, it’s one of the oldest, most respected holistic healing systems.
The Abhyanga practice is a special wellness ritual that you can do daily. It's extremely valuable to practice on yourself regularly, “When stimulated through therapeutic touch or massage, the skin releases a pharmacy of healing chemicals that have health-promoting effects on the physiology. In addition to feeling good, regular massage and loving touch detoxifies the body’s tissues, increases circulation, calms the mind, and enhances immune function.
“The body of one who uses oil massage regularly does not become affected much even if subjected to accidental injuries, or strenuous work. By using oil massage daily, a person is endowed with pleasant touch, trimmed body parts and becomes strong, charming and least affected by old age.”
Charaka Samhita Vol. 1, V: 88-89, “Giving yourself a daily self-abhy with aromatherapy massage oils is a deeply healing and deeply enjoyable ayurvedic practice that activates the body's inner pharmacy and slows the aging process. Depending upon your unique mind-body type (dosha), your massage technique can be gentle or more vigorous.”


So, what are the benefits, exactly? Doing an Abhyanga can:
• Increase the softness and healthy glow of the skin
• Flush toxins from the lymphatic system
• Decreases Vata (autoimmune illnesses such as Rheumatoid Arthritis and Polymositis are considered Vata imbalances and self massage is extremely beneficial for calming symptoms)
Strengthens the Dhatus (the body`s tissues in accordance to the Ayurvedic texts) and helps tone muscles
• Increases strength and stamina
• Improves vision
• Promotes healthy sleep
• Reduces anxiety and depression
• Promotes flexibility
• Release healthy endorphins which, in turn, help balance hormones, an especially important practice for women


Before you go diving in, there is one essential key to examine first. You must know your dosha; as Ayurveda is a holistic, individual-based system, “one size fits all” is definitely not the practice. You can take a quick dosha quiz, and then figure out the best Abhyanga practice based on your body type.


Vata types require a warming oil like sesame or almond. For your body type, it’s best to do an Abhyanga 2-3 times a week. Vata is a cold and dry Dosha, so warm oil is very nourishing in balancing your systems. It helps lubricate the dry skin and protect the joints as well. Mahanarayan oil and Dhanvantaram are two classical oils used in Ayurveda to help alleviate the inflammation and stiffness of joints. A light to medium pressure should be used.


A hotter Dosha than Vata, Pitta types need a cooling type oil in order to balance, so coconut and olive oils are an excellent choice. Medium pressure should be used when massaging. Many Pitta types have inflammatory skin issues. Ayurveda has some specific oils for use on specific ailments.


Kapha is another Dosha that requires a warming oil. Use mustard and sunflower; both are excellent choices. Sesame is also a very good choice, particularly if you live in a cooler climate. Medium to heavy pressure is recommended and best for Kapha types, which will let the oil deeply penetrate as it should.
Now you’re ready to go! Here are the steps you will need to take for your Abhyanga:


1. Begin by running some hot water over the bottle to gently warm the oil; warm oil is best to work with on your body.
2. You can use a loofah or body brush to dry brush the entire body.
3. Pour a tablespoon of warm oil onto your scalp and vigorously work in the oil.
4. Using your fingertips, vigorously massage your head and scalp with small circular strokes, as if you are shampooing.
5. Move to your face and ears, massaging more gently.
6. Using an open hand to create friction, massage both the front and back of the neck.
7. Vigorously massage your arms, using a circular motion at the shoulders and elbows, and back-and-forth motions on the upper arms and forearms. Massage in the direction of the hair follicles, allowing the oil to cover the body evenly.
8. When performing Abhyanga on the joints, use a circular motion.
9. When massaging your chest and stomach, use a gentle circular motion and a straight up-and-down motion over the breastbone.
10. After applying a bit of oil to both hands, gently reach around to the back and spine and massage them as well as you can without straining. Start at the base of the spine and work upwards in a long, continuous stroke. You can also have a partner help you with this part.
11. Vigorously massage your legs as you did your arms, using circular motions at the ankles and knees, back-and-forth motions on the long parts.
12. After massaging your legs, spend extra time on your feet. The feet contain many important Marmas (pressure points in accordance to the principles of Ayurveda). Using the open part of your hand, massage vigorously back and forth over the soles of the feet. When massaging the feet, be sure to apply the oil to the entire foot, taking care to get in between the toes.
13. After the application of oil, sit quietly for 5-15 minutes to allow the oil to be properly absorbed by your skin. During this time you may choose to meditate, as it's a good time set apart for relaxed spiritual practice. Keeping a thin, almost imperceptible film of oil on the body is considered very beneficial for toning the skin and warming the muscles throughout the day. Or, you can take a shower once the oils have absorbed.

Yoga Asanas Clear Your Seven Chakras!

With a first glance at your body in the mirror, there’s no way to be able to tell all of the incredible things that are taking place inside of you. The human body is amazingly complex; it’s a system not only of flesh and blood, but intricate and vast energy systems. The chakras are energy vortices powered by prana, or life force. By clearing the energy blocks from our chakras, we allow the Kundalini energy to rise up through us, empowering ourselves to lift our minds and bodies to their best capacities.
Asana, or postures, work to clear the energy blocks. These positions of the body activate and direct energy to open both a physical and an energetic position in the body. When using Kundalini yoga to clear the chakras, asana are useful to open pranic flow.
As noted previously, there are seven notable chakra centers in your body. Here are distinct asanas to help clear each and every one of them of any blockage:


The first chakra can bring calm, patience, and a willingness to slow down and stay. We trust the earth and are at home in our bodies. When we experience blockage, we’re tense and ready to flee at any moment. Stretch them out with Uttanasana (Standing Forward Bend):
1. Stand in Tadasana, hands on hips. Exhale and bend forward from the hip joints, not from the waist. As you descend draw the front torso out of the groins and open the space between the pubis and top sternum. As in all the forward bends, the emphasis is on lengthening the front torso as you move more fully into the position.
2. If possible, with your knees straight, bring your palms or finger tips to the floor slightly in front of or beside your feet, or bring your palms to the backs of your ankles. If this isn't possible, cross your forearms and hold your elbows. Press the heels firmly into the floor and lift the sitting bones toward the ceiling. Turn the top thighs slightly inward.
3. With each inhalation in the pose, lift and lengthen the front torso just slightly; with each exhalation release a little more fully into the forward bend. In this way the torso oscillates almost imperceptibly with the breath. Let your head hang from the root of the neck, which is deep in the upper back, between the shoulder blades.
4. Uttanasana can be used as a resting position between the standing poses. Stay in the pose for 30 seconds to 1 minute. It can also be practiced as a pose in itself.
5. Don't roll the spine to come up. Instead bring your hands back onto your hips and reaffirm the length of the front torso. Then press your tailbone down and into the pelvis and come up on an inhalation with a long front torso.


In Sanskrit, the second chakra is called Svadisthana, which translates as "one's own place or base," indicating just how crucial this chakra is in our lives. The tasks of the second chakra include allowing for emotional and sensual movement in our life, opening to pleasure, and learning how to "go with the flow." Associated with the hips, sacrum, lower back, genitals, womb, bladder, and kidneys, this chakra is involved with sensuality, sexuality, emotions, intimacy, and desire. All watery things about us have to do with this chakra: circulation, urination, menstruation, orgasm, tears. Water flows, moves, and changes, and a healthy second chakra allows us to do so too.
It’s time to open up your hips and groin with some openers, allowing freedom of movement in the pelvis. Do these gently and without forcing, however; not only do you risk injury, but these movements also require the subtle feminine tough of sensitivity and surrender.
Try Surya Namaskar (Sun Salutation) to reinvigorate your navel chakra:
1. To begin, stand in Tadasana (Mountain Pose). Distribute your weight evenly over both feet. Establish a slow, steady rhythm for your breath. Find your center.
2. Next, inhale and stretch your arms out to the side and overhead into Urdhva Hastasana (Upward Salute). Reach your heart and arms to the heavens, sending your greeting to the sun.
3. As you exhale, hollow out your belly and fold into Uttanasana (Standing Forward Bend), connecting down into the earth. Keep your legs firmly engaged.
4. Inhale and lengthen your spine forward into Ardha Uttanasana (Half Standing Forward Bend). In this pose, the gaze is lifted, the spine is extended, and the fingertips can stay on the floor or rise to the shins.
5. Exhale and step or lightly hop your feet back behind you into Plank Pose. Your wrists should be flat on the floor, shoulder-distance apart, and your feet should be at hip distance. Take a full breath in as you lengthen through your spine.
6. Exhale and lower into Chaturanga Dandasana (Four-Limbed Staff Pose), keeping your legs straight and pushing back into your heels or bringing your knees to the floor. Build heat in the center of your body as you hold this challenging posture.
7. Inhale and carve your chest forward into Urdhva Mukha Svanasana (Upward-Facing Dog), directing that energy out from your heart. Pull your shoulders back and open your collarbones. Engage your legs but relax your gluteal muscles.
8. Exhale and roll over the toes, coming into Adho Mukha Svanasana (Downward-Facing Dog Pose). Ground down through your hands and feet as you lengthen your spine. Remain here for five breaths.
9. On your fifth exhale, bend your knees and look between your hands. Then inhale and step or lightly hop your feet between your hands, returning to Ardha Uttanasana.
10. Exhale back to Uttanasana, surrendering into the fold.
11. Inhale, reaching your arms out wide to your sides and coming to stand through a flat back. Feel a renewed sense of energy as you draw your arms overhead into Urdhva Hastasana.
12. Exhale and return to Tadasana, your home base. Remain here for a few breaths, feeling the movement of energy through your body, or continue on to your next salute.


The fourth is the balance point, integrating the world of matter (the lower three chakras) with the world of spirit (the upper three chakras). Through the heart chakra, we open to and connect with harmony and peace. The health of our heart center registers the quality and power of love in our life. In Sanskrit, the heart chakra is called Anahata, which means "unstruck" or "unhurt." Its name implies that deep beneath our personal stories of brokenness and the pain in our heart, wholeness, boundless love, and a wellspring of compassion reside.
Try passive chest openers, shoulder, and backbends to help open your heart chakra. Being an even-numbered, feminine chakra, the heart center naturally yearns to release and let go. These are the steps of Ustrasana:
1. Kneel on the floor with your knees hip width and thighs perpendicular to the floor. Rotate your thighs inward slightly, narrow your hip points, and firm but don't harden your buttocks. Imagine that you're drawing your sitting bones up, into your torso. Keep your outer hips as soft as possible. Press your shins and the tops of your feet firmly into floor.
2. Rest your hands on the back of your pelvis, bases of the palms on the tops of the buttocks, fingers pointing down. Use your hands to spread the back pelvis and lengthen it down through your tail bone. Then lightly firm the tail forward, toward the pubis. Make sure though that your front groins don't "puff" forward. To prevent this, press your front thighs back, countering the forward action of your tail. Inhale and lift your heart by pressing the shoulder blades against your back ribs.
3. Now lean back against the firmness of the tail bone and shoulder blades. For the time being keep your head up, chin near the sternum, and your hands on the pelvis. Beginners probably won't be able to drop straight back into this pose, touching the hands to the feet simultaneously while keeping the thighs perpendicular to the floor. If you need to, tilt the thighs back a little from the perpendicular and minimally twist to one side to get one hand on the same-side foot. Then press your thighs back to perpendicular, turn your torso back to neutral, and touch the second hand to its foot. If you're not able to touch your feet without compressing your lower back, turn your toes under and elevate your heels.
4. See that your lower front ribs aren't protruding sharply toward the ceiling, which hardens the belly and compresses the lower back. Release the front ribs and lift the front of the pelvis up, toward the ribs. Then lift the lower back ribs away from the pelvis to keep the lower spine as long as possible. Press your palms firmly against your soles (or heels), with the bases of the palms on the heels and the fingers pointing toward the toes. Turn your arms outwardly so the elbow creases face forward, without squeezing the shoulder blades together. You can keep your neck in a relatively neutral position, neither flexed nor extended, or drop your head back. But be careful not to strain your neck and harden your throat.
5. Stay in this pose anywhere from 30 seconds to a minute. To exit, bring your hands onto the front of your pelvis, at the hip points. Inhale and lift the head and torso up by pushing the hip points down, toward the floor. If your head is back, lead with your heart to come up, not by jutting the chin toward the ceiling and leading with your brain. Rest in Child's Pose for a few breaths.


The throat chakra, visuddha means "pure" or "purification." Purification of the body through attention to diet, yoga, meditation, and exercise opens us to experience the subtler aspects of the upper chakras. Some yogis notice that drinking more water and letting go of products such as tobacco and dairy helps to loosen up the neck and shoulders and clear the voice. In addition, sound itself is purifying. If you think of the way you feel after chanting Indian kirtans, reading poetry aloud, or simply singing along with your favorite music, you'll recognize how the vibrations and rhythms positively affect your body, right down to the cellular level.
Deficient energy in this chakra leads to neck stiffness, shoulder tension, teeth grinding, jaw disorders, throat ailments, an underactive thyroid, and a fear of speaking. Excessive talking, an inability to listen, hearing difficulties, stuttering, and an overactive thyroid are all related to excessiveness in this chakra. Depending on the ailments, different neck stretches and shoulder openers can aid the fifth chakra. We’ll detail Setu Bandha Sarvangasana, a bridge pose:
1. Lie supine on the floor, and if necessary, place a thickly folded blanket under your shoulders to protect your neck. Bend your knees and set your feet on the floor, heels as close to the sitting bones as possible.
2. Exhale and, pressing your inner feet and arms actively into the floor, push your tailbone upward toward the pubis, firming (but not hardening) the buttocks, and lift the buttocks off the floor. Keep your thighs and inner feet parallel. Clasp the hands below your pelvis and extend through the arms to help you stay on the tops of your shoulders.
3. Lift your buttocks until the thighs are about parallel to the floor. Keep your knees directly over the heels, but push them forward, away from the hips, and lengthen the tailbone toward the backs of the knees. Lift the pubis toward the navel.
4. Lift your chin slightly away from the sternum and, firming the shoulder blades against your back, press the top of the sternum toward the chin. Firm the outer arms, broaden the shoulder blades, and try to lift the space between them at the base of the neck (where it's resting on the blanket) up into the torso.
5. Stay in the pose anywhere from 30 seconds to 1 minute. Release with an exhalation, rolling the spine slowly down onto the floor.


When the third eye is excessively abuzz with energy, we experience headaches, hallucinations, nightmares, and difficulty concentrating. When this chakra is deficient, we have a poor memory, experience eye problems, have difficulty recognizing patterns, and can't visualize well.
Support the health of the Ajna Chakra with supported forward bends, adding an extra bolster or blanket to press upon and stimulate the third eye area. Also, creating positive images and visualizations is a practice that helps create a healthy sixth chakra. Such affirmative visions act as natural magnets, drawing the imagined situation into your life. Try Uttana Shishosana:
1. Come onto all fours. See that your shoulders are above your wrists and your hips are above your knees. Walk your hands forward a few inches and curl your toes under.
2. As you exhale, move your buttocks halfway back toward your heels. Keep your arms active; don't let your elbows touch the ground.
3. Drop your forehead to the floor or to a blanket and let your neck relax. Keep a slight curve in your lower back. To feel a nice long stretch in your spine, press the hands down and stretch through the arms while pulling your hips back toward your heels.
4. Breathe into your back, feeling the spine lengthen in both directions. Hold for 30 seconds to a minute, then release your buttocks down onto your heels.


Meditation is the yogic practice best suited for bringing this chakra into balance. Just as our body needs a shower frequently, the busy mind filled with so many thoughts and concerns also needs a cleansing. Why tackle today's problems with yesterday's muddled mind? Furthermore, the energy of this chakra helps us to experience the Divine, to open to a higher or deeper power. All the various forms of meditation, including both concentration and insight practices, allow the mind to become more present, clear, and insightful. Try daily meditation practice.