Tuesday, August 31, 2010

The Benefits of Yoga

(c/o www.healthandyoga.com)

At the outset, we must understand what we can gain out of this wonderful practice

At the physical level, yoga and its cleansing practices have proven to be extremely effective for various disorders.

More importantly, yoga is extremely effective in:

Increasing Flexibility – yoga has positions that act upon the various joints of the body including those joints that are never really on the ‘radar screen’ let alone exercised.

Increasing lubrication of the joints, ligaments and tendons – likewise, the well-researched yoga positions exercise the different tendons and ligaments of the body.

Surprisingly it has been found that the body which may have been quite rigid starts experiencing a remarkable flexibility in even those parts which have not been consciously work upon. Why? It is here that the remarkable research behind yoga positions proves its mettle. Seemingly unrelated “non strenuous” yoga positions act upon certain parts of the body in an interrelated manner. When done together, they work in harmony to create a situation where flexibility is attained relatively easily.

Massaging of ALL Organs of the Body – Yoga is perhaps the only form of activity which massages all the internal glands and organs of the body in a thorough manner, including those – such as the prostate - that hardly get externally stimulated during our entire lifetime. Yoga acts in a wholesome manner on the various body parts. This stimulation and massage of the organs in turn benefits us by keeping away disease and providing a forewarning at the first possible instance of a likely onset of disease or disorder.

One of the far-reaching benefits of yoga is the uncanny sense of awareness that it develops in the practitioner of an impending health disorder or infection. This in turn enables the person to take pre-emptive corrective action

Complete Detoxification – By gently stretching muscles and joints as well as massaging the various organs, yoga ensures the optimum blood supply to various parts of the body. This helps in the flushing out of toxins from every nook and cranny as well as providing nourishment up to the last point. This leads to benefits such as delayed ageing, energy and a remarkable zest for life.

Excellent toning of the muscles – Muscles that have become flaccid, weak or slothy are stimulated repeatedly to shed excess flab and flaccidity.

But these enormous physical benefits are just a “side effect” of this powerful practice. What yoga does is harmonize the mind with the body and this results in real quantum benefits. It is now an open secret that the will of the mind has enabled people to achieve extraordinary physical feats, which proves beyond doubtthe mind and body connection.

Yoga through meditation works remarkably to achieve this harmony and helps the mind work in sync with the body. How often do we find that we are unable to perform our activities properly and in a satisfying manner because of the confusions and conflicts in our mind weigh down heavily upon us? Moreover, stress which in reality is the #1 killer affecting all parts of our physical, endocrinal and emotional systems can be corrected through the wonderful yoga practice of meditation.

In fact yoga = meditation, because both work together in achieving the common goal of unity of mind, body and spirit – a state of eternal bliss.

The meditative practices through yoga help in achieving an emotional balance through detachment. What it means is that meditation creates conditions, where you are not affected by the happenings around you. This in turn creates a remarkable calmness and a positive outlook, which also has tremendous benefits on the physical health of the body.

These are just some of the tangible benefits that can be achieved through yoga.

(c/o abc-of-yoga.com)

Physiological Benefits of Yoga

  • Stable autonomic nervous system equilibrium
  • Pulse rate decreases
  • Respiratory rate decreases
  • Blood Pressure decreases (of special significance for hyporeactors)
  • Galvanic Skin Response (GSR) increases
  • EEG - alpha waves increase (theta, delta, and beta waves also increase during various stages of meditation)
  • EMG activity decreases
  • Cardiovascular efficiency increases
  • Respiratory efficiency increases
  • Gastrointestinal function normalizes
  • Endocrine function normalizes
  • Excretory functions improve
  • Musculoskeletal flexibility and joint range of motion increase
  • Breath-holding time increases
  • Joint range of motion increase
  • Grip strength increases
  • Eye-hand coordination improves
  • Dexterity skills improve
  • Reaction time improves
  • Posture improves
  • Strength and resiliency increase
  • Endurance increases
  • Energy level increases
  • Weight normalizes
  • Sleep improves
  • Immunity increases
  • Pain decreases
  • Steadiness improves
  • Depth perception improves
  • Balance improves
  • Integrated functioning of body parts improves

Psychological Benefits of Yoga

  • Somatic and kinesthetic awareness increase
  • Mood improves and subjective well-being increases
  • Self-acceptance and self-actualization increase
  • Social adjustment increases
  • Anxiety and Depression decrease
  • Hostility decreases
  • Concentration improves
  • Memory improves
  • Attention improves
  • Learning efficiency improves
  • Mood improves
  • Self-actualization increase
  • Social skills increases
  • Well-being increases
  • Somatic and kinesthetic awareness increase
  • Self-acceptance increase
  • Attention improves
  • Concentration improves
  • Memory improves
  • Learning efficiency improves
  • Symbol coding improves
  • Depth perception improves
  • Flicker fusion frequency improves

Biochemical Benefits of Yoga

  • Glucose decreases
  • Sodium decreases
  • Total cholesterol decreases
  • Triglycerides decrease
  • HDL cholesterol increases
  • LDL cholesterol decreases
  • VLDL cholesterol decreases
  • Cholinesterase increases
  • Catecholamines decrease
  • ATPase increases
  • Hematocrit increases
  • Hemoglobin increases
  • Lymphocyte count increases
  • Total white blood cell count decreases
  • Thyroxin increases
  • Vitamin C increases
  • Total serum protein increases

Yoga Health Benefits versus Regular Exercise Benefits

  • Yoga Benefits
    • Parasympathetic Nervous System dominates
    • Subcortical regions of brain dominate
    • Slow dynamic and static movements
    • Normalization of muscle tone
    • Low risk of injuring muscles and ligaments
    • Energizing, not draining
    • Effort is balanced with relaxation
    • Energizing (breathing is natural or controlled)
    • Balanced activity of opposing muscle groups
    • Noncompetitive, process-oriented
    • Awareness is internal (focus is on breath and the Infinite)
    • Limitless possibilities for growth in self-awareness

  • Exercise Benefits
    • Sympathetic Nervous System dominates ("Fight or Flight" stress response)
    • Cortical regions of brain dominate
    • Rapid forceful movements
    • Increased muscle tension
    • Higher risk of injury
    • Effort is maximized
    • Fatiguing (breathing is taxed)
    • Imbalance activity of opposing groups
    • Competitive, goal-oriented
    • Awareness is external (focus is on reaching the toes, reaching the finish line, etc.)

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Quietness, by Rumi

Here the poet Rumi speaks of awakening as a death to the old ideas, materialistic ways & confusion of symbols with The Way. Quietness is the Presence, wordless, labeless Being in the now, pure existence.


Inside this new love, die.
Your way begins on the other side.
Become the sky.
Take an axe to the prison wall.
Walk out like someone born into color.
Do it now.
You're covered with a thick cloud.
Slide out the side. Die,
and be quiet. Quietness is the surest sign
that you've died.
Your old life was a frantic running
from silence.

The speechless full moon
comes out now.

taken from "The Essential Rumi", by Coleman Barks

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

What are we waiting for?

Why does it seem like we wait for health and harmony to come to us? Can we just get out of our own way on the path to well being?

With thoughts of good intent, we let the narrator in our mind tell us that we are too tired to try, too busy to participate, too old to learn. Don't let the ego block you from living fully!!!

The truth is that we shouldn't wait for the next exciting event to be happy, nor should we wait for life to slow down to present us with an easy time to learn yoga & meditation.

Why do we wait until the future to try and be present? It'll never be in that way.

It is all human nature, our bad habits when unconditioned with self-control; the light of awareness and strength of will power. Will you waste more prescious moments whining and moaning about all the prescious moments lost?

Let us begin anew, each time we are lost to the compulsive thoughts, stuck in our own minds, half-deaf, half-blind, half-numb to the intense, vivid, startling, luscious, raw sublimity of Reality. This is the most important reason that it is worth one hour a day for yoga & meditation practice. It helps us to be Awake when we are awake, Alive when we are alive, to be an active participant in Life.

No longer a zombie, rewinding old footage, filled with regrets & imaginary confrontations and to-do's of past and potential future...not so trapped in one's own subjectivity that all of life is pure distortion...

Notice, when you get lost in your thoughts, the moment of stillness when you catch yourself and wake up, a moment of enlightenment, did you see the colors brighten? Did you witness your senses awakening?

Can we take advantage of the present moment fully? Can we learn to be free from suffering in this lifetime? I can honestly say that while I experience the full gamut of human emotions, I rarely suffer at all, even in pain. That's after five years of regular, but imperfect, practice.

We can do it, we just need to start. And start again. Begin anew each time you fall and soon you will be refreshed, transformed, amazed.

"The journey of 1000 miles begins with a single step" - Lao Tzu


Wednesday, August 18, 2010

World Peace Day event

Wednesday September 22nd
Join us as part of the Global Mala Project

Practicing for World Peace

108 Sun Salutations with deep relaxation and meditation on peace (take breaks as desired!)

Begin together with guided relaxation, then share 54 minutes of silent meditation/prayer for peace

Suggested donation is $15 per session,
all proceeds go to UNICEF, helping alleviate the suffering of kids in Pakistan in the recent floods.

Come to one or both sessions!

Tell your friends, please!

World Peace starts with Inner Peace!

Friday, August 13, 2010

The Foundation of Yoga

natural method yoga studio, Amsterdam NY www.natural-method.com

The foundation of Yoga is built on diligence, lovingkindness, equanimity, sharing joy, and compassionate service to others. These practices transform us and others around us, creating a better world. They also create good karma.

The underlying tool used to change old, negative habit energy and to embody our values deeply is mindfulness. It can be called mindfulness, attentiveness, Presence, Remembrance, open observation or being present.

Practice mindfulness in all you do, everyday. It is the catalyst for all great transformations.

The foundation of goodness and purity that Yoga is built upon is rooted in ten moral precepts. All Yogis & Yoginis use mindfulness to practice these basic aims, everyday to the best of their ability.


Ahimsa- non-harm: non-violence, non-harm in any way to all life forms & the natural world. Protect life, seek to live in harmony with nature. Let none of your thoughts, intentions, or actions cause harm to any others. Eat a plant-based, whole food diet to prevent disease and to minimize harm to all others.

Satya- truthfulness: deep honesty, don’t mislead others in any way. Don’t gossip, spread rumors, or pretend to know more than you do. Don’t complain a lot or chatter just to fill the quiet, let your words be meaningful & elevating.

Bramacharya- sexual-purity & respect: if you have a vow of chastity, joyfully honor it. If you are in a committed relationship, honor your vow, respecting yourself & your loved one, remain faithful. Never commit or allow sexual abuse.

Asteya- non-stealing: don’t take, vandalize or abuse what is not yours. This includes not harming the Earth, because we all share her resources- to harm the environment is to steal from All.

Apraigraha- non-covetousness: Don’t covet or become overly attached to material things. Don’t become attached to people in a selfish way. Acquire only simple, necessary possessions.


Saucha- purity/cleanliness: keep a simple, uncluttered, neat home; keep your body clean, and even more importantly, clear your mind of clutter- think, act, speak purely.

Santosha- contentment: be satisfied with your experiences and with what you have or are given. Aim to live simply but deeply.

Tapas- heat/diligence: strive in your practice. Don’t practice extreme austerities, but do exercise self-control. Avoid wantonly stimulating the senses- thoroughly enjoy the TV or radio with all of your attention, then shut it off before it becomes background noise; don’t use the phone, computer or other technology just as a distraction; don’t eat without mindfulness or because of sadness or boredom, and only eat foods that create lightness, energy, harmony & health.

Swadyaya- Self-study: study of the Essential Self, the Spirit. Read on Yoga philosophy, spiritual topics and dive deeply into studying your own faith, or exploring the faiths of the world. There is a universal Source of all of the world’s major religions- Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Hinduism & Buddhism. Read to learn, practice what resonates with you. Maybe seek out a qualified spiritual teacher- one with lots of peace, wisdom and who embodies what they teach. Remember that an ounce of practice equals a pound of theory, so for all that you study, make sure to practice that much more.

Ishwara-pranidhana surrender to the will of God or surrender to the flow of the Universe: Think of this as it feels comfortable to you, but the two are one Truth. Ishwara-pranidhana means going with the flow, not living passively, but instead staying receptive & responsive to the unfolding of Reality. Don’t try to fit the square peg into the round hole. Let your expectations and plans be shattered by Life, only to find the outcome inevitably more perfect. Don’t stress trying to control what is beyond your control. Surrender deeply to your spiritual beliefs and honor them with all your heart and soul. Trust in the benevolence of the Universe. Live as an example of your highest beliefs. Surrender the ego to make room for Truth.