Yoga in Practice: Excuses for Lack of Practice

May 9th, 2006

At one time, or another, we all think, “Why am I here?” Sometimes we think, “Why do I even bother?” Thinking about giving up is a temptation for all of humankind, but we continue to pursue our Goals just like our ancestors did.

My wife, Marie, puts it bluntly, “You have two choices, push forward or give up.” Sometimes, it is a joy to sit in the back of her Yoga classes, so I can listen to a candid approach to life and teaching Yoga.

Look at how far we have come as a species in regards to Yoga, art, Holistic Health, medicine, technology, and much more. It is easy to look at the downside of humanity, but a lot of our ancestors did not give up. In fact, they recorded past failures and achievements from which we could learn.

As a Yoga practitioner, or Yoga teacher, you have the ability to learn a complete health maintenance system, “loaded with archives.” The archives of Yoga are so plentiful that none of us will be able to study, digest, and practice it all in one lifetime. We know that knowledge is power, and Yoga will improve our lives exponentially.

In getting back to making excuses: Everyone makes them now and then. Some Yoga practitioners have stated they are too old, too stiff, and too weak to continue practicing with intensity. Most Yoga students, interns, and Yoga teachers, will admit to being distracted by life. Sometimes, this is a good thing because your body, or mind, needs a rest, and a little change is harmless.

However, this is not an endorsement to avoid the benefits of steady Yoga practice. Also, this is not an endorsement to become a “couch potato.” Having worked with Yoga students who have a variety of physical disabilities, Yoga can be practiced on your couch, on the floor, in your bed, or sitting down.

Granted, some of the vigorous styles of Yoga would have to be modified, but there is still no reason to abandon Yoga practice for long. Having seen the improvement of Yoga students in wheelchairs, and hospital beds, there is no reason why the study of Yoga should be, “put on the back burner.”

There is a saying that, “Seeing is believing.” This is true for most of the world, but the evidence of improved health, from steady Yoga practice, is obvious. If you want to worry less, become stronger, become more flexible, or clear your mind, Yoga does all of these things and much more.

There is no excuse for keeping the gift of Yoga to yourself. If you have seen Yoga improve your life, you are a “witness”, and you have the ability to help others improve their lives. Almost every obstacle that life throws in front of us can be overcome, unless we give up.

About the author

Paul Jerard is a co-owner and the director of Yoga teacher training at: Aura Wellness Center, in North Providence, RI. He has been a certified Master Yoga teacher since 1995. He is a master instructor of Martial Arts, with multiple Black Belts, four Martial Arts teaching credentials, and was recently inducted into the USA Martial Arts Hall of Fame. He teaches Yoga, Martial Arts, and Fitness to children, adults, and seniors in the greater Providence area. Recently he wrote: Is Running a Yoga Business Right for You? For Yoga students, who may be considering a new career as a Yoga teacher.

Yoga in Practice: Anger Management - Part 2

May 8th, 2006

The next obstacle is self-righteousness or delusion. This is the belief that you are right, even though the universal laws of morality say you are wrong. How can genocide be justified? How can one race, or religion, justify alienating another? How can innocent civilians be slaughtered for retribution?

Sorry to bring up such extremes, but self-righteousness and delusion are the tools of intolerance. Intolerance always justifies itself, no matter how many martyrs perish. If you want to control anger, please discard intolerance and judgment of others.

Very often, anger is created within the ego and is a response to imaginary threats. This is most ironic, when a full blown conflict erupts over a perceived threat, which did not really exist. So how can this violent chain of events, within the mind, be prevented? How can the ego and intolerance be controlled? - Through self-realization - also known as, “Vichara.” This is not Meditation, but a realization of “I am.” This is rational or logical thought, but true self-analysis requires time. For mankind to grasp collective sanity is a never- ending battle, but there is another way around this impasse.

This is the path of compassion or “Karuna”, forgiveness (Kshama), loving kindness, and friendship. Most people will respond in a similar fashion, but always be prepared to defuse hostilities with those who want to take every advantage and mistake kindness for weakness. This is another form of awareness, so be vigilant and observe others around you.

It is believed that when your brain becomes hot, you will not think logically. Drinking water and Pranayama will cool your brain. You may also want to engage in regular practice of Japa, Meditation, prayer, and eat Sattvic food.

What about Hatha Yoga for anger management? In my experience, adolescent males have the greatest difficulty with anger management, but vigorous asana practice or Vinyasa helps them deal with rage and anger much better.

For two years, I taught Yoga classes within a local juvenile correctional facility. Some members of this group had serious issues with rage and anger. At first, there was some outright resistance to learning Yoga, even though they knew it would improve their lives.

Pranayama, Relaxation, and Meditation were difficult to teach, under these conditions, but they immediately caught on to Vinyasa. After the first two months of Vinyasa Yoga practice, many were able to Relax and did Meditate on their own.

About the author

Paul Jerard is a co-owner and the director of Yoga teacher training at: Aura Wellness Center, in North Providence, RI. He has been a certified Master Yoga teacher since 1995. He is a master instructor of Martial Arts, with multiple Black Belts, four Martial Arts teaching credentials, and was recently inducted into the USA Martial Arts Hall of Fame. He teaches Yoga, Martial Arts, and Fitness to children, adults, and seniors in the greater Providence area. Recently he wrote: Is Running a Yoga Business Right for You? For Yoga students, who may be considering a new career as a Yoga teacher.

Yoga in Practice: Anger Management - Part 1

May 7th, 2006

Yoga has been able to help many of mankind’s ailments, but what about anger management? How can Yoga prevent rage and the burning desire for revenge? Many people say: “Don’t get mad, get even.” Is this what we are talking about?

As any Yoga practitioner knows, Yoga has nothing to do with “getting even.” However, revenge has become “the special of the day.” Many people feel revenge is justified, and we all know that revenge is a result of anger - whether it is slow burning or instant.

As I have mentioned before, Yoga does not stop when you roll up your Yoga mat. Most of what you take care of on your Yoga mat is the physical aspect of Yoga. This is a wonderful thing, but the rewards of your practice should be carried with you wherever you go.

Very few of us can say we have not felt anger. Many people, who know me, think I do not feel anger. However, that is pure myth. The fact is anger can be held in check, and managed, by using the following methods from Yogic philosophy and the many different styles of Yoga.

See attachment for what it is, and remove yourself from it. In reality, we own nothing. We are attached to money, possessions, relationships, and loved ones. Does this mean we own them or have control of them? Only on a temporary basis do you have control - if the universe permits.

What am I talking about? If you faced a catastrophic disaster today, you could lose some, or all, of your perceived possessions. Restrain your feelings of possessiveness for everything. You are only the temporary custodian of your possessions in this life. Once you clearly see this, you can prevent anger that is wrapped around attachment.

Be aware of desire. It is good to better yourself, but do not let reckless desire run your life. There is nothing wrong with the desire to succeed; this is healthy, but when desire incites anger, we must place restraints on our desires.

This task will take some self-observation, and we must be honest with ourselves. For example: We have the desire to get to work on time, but should we use our car as a weapon on the way?

At first, this may sound ridiculous, but many people risk their lives in a frenzy of anger, just to get to work on time. They also risk the lives of everyone else on the road. This is only one small example of how anger and reckless desire are linked.

About the author

Paul Jerard is a co-owner and the director of Yoga teacher training at: Aura Wellness Center, in North Providence, RI. He has been a certified Master Yoga teacher since 1995. He is a master instructor of Martial Arts, with multiple Black Belts, four Martial Arts teaching credentials, and was recently inducted into the USA Martial Arts Hall of Fame. He teaches Yoga, Martial Arts, and Fitness to children, adults, and seniors in the greater Providence area. Recently he wrote: Is Running a Yoga Business Right for You? For Yoga students, who may be considering a new career as a Yoga teacher.

Yoga Can Help You Lose The Gut

May 5th, 2006

Whenever anyone says or gestures that they want to Lose Weight, most of the time, they point to their guts saying “I wanna lose all this!” Obviously, abdominal weight loss is a goal for many people.

However, what most people might not be aware of is that-of all exercises-Yoga actually can help immensely for weight loss in the abdominal region. There are specific poses, that target excess weight in the abdomen and coupled with a customized diet, those seeking abdominal weight loss would find success in using these Yoga exercises.

Let’s go over them, shall we?

Abdominal Weight Loss: Yoga Poses to Use.

  1. The Sun Salutations:

These are a combination of poses that serve as a warm up-routine for a Yoga session or class. They are very similar to the popular calisthenics Exercise known as burpees. However, they differ in that they have a spiritual significance included as a result of executing them. Due to the forward and backward bending motions involved, after performing a few to several rounds on a daily basis, you are bound to notice a marked loss of weight in you abdominal area and the added bonus of muscular tone.

2. The Bow Pose:

This simple pose involves laying flat on your belly and grabbing your ankles with both arms while simultaneously lifting your head up high. When performed correctly, you should be resting on your abdomen. Needless to say, it is a pose commonly recommended for weight loss and the prevention and correction of chronic Constipation.

3. The Peacock Pose:

This is slightly more challenging. The objective is to balance your abdomen on your conjoined elbows while simultaneously raising your legs and head of the floor. Naturally, merely attempting it speeds up abdominal weight loss and Detoxification of the visceral organs and the preparatory stage could suffice as the actual execution of the pose till the mastery of it is achieved.

4. The Abdominal Lift:

This is not a pose, per-se but is a specific Exercise that involves you exhaling your breath and pulling the diaphragm in while holding the breath out. This is a specific abdominal Exercise for weight loss, spiritual rejuvenation and Detoxification.

Now friends, there are other poses such as the shoulder-stand, the forward-bending pose, the spinal twist and the wheel pose that also target increase in muscular tone and weight loss in the abdominal regions, however from practice the 4 above will perhaps be the most effective.

Do note though that if you are female and Pregnant or in your menstrual period, some of these poses might not be the best to execute.

Moreover, since these poses-besides helping with abdominal weight loss-aid tremendously with detoxifying, it is advised that one eats a proper and healthy diet to augment the actions of these poses.

Other fantastic exercises for abdominal weight loss include your intense Aerobics, the use of the ab-wheel, basic sit-ups, windmills etc.

So empower yourself with these tips and information to achieve your goal for weight loss. Lose that gut starting today.

About the author

Foras Aje is an independent researcher and author of Fitness: Inside and out, a book on improving physical and mental health naturally. For more information on attaining a safe weight loss visit

Yoga - The Natural Master Of All Remedies

May 4th, 2006

Yoga is practised the whole world over by people wanting to free up their mind from Stress/anxiety and to strengthen their concentration pattern. Pressure from Stress and a great many other disorders are some of the main reasons why people turn to Yoga. And why wouldnt they when in return they gain a healthy body and a new outlook on life. Without doubt it is a force in its self to help combat anger outbursts, frustration and Depression.

By practising Yoga under the hands of dedicated followers then you are certain of results in banishing any displeasures you may have. Yoga is very effective in the way it takes control over those displeasures and replaces them with positive thoughts.

People are taking to such exercises because of the relaxed thinking pattern it imposes on the mind where all your cares and woes are put on hold. It also helps relieve those discomforts that come with every day life. Exercising your body in Yoga movements is a satisfying master of all remedies achieved naturally.

All ages can participate in Yoga. Even school children are practicing the moves to overcome their anger outbursts, in other words tantrums when not getting their own way. Remember workouts can be done at home if preferred.

In fact, Yoga practiced at home can prove to be more relaxing because you are in control over your own moves unless of course you are following a routine put together on a video etc.

Exercises like the Hatha Yoga may be the best for you. For effects to take place this Exercise has to be practiced consistently otherwise no results for body improvement? For the Digestive System to respond accurately to your Yoga actions then empty your bowels and clear your nose from mucus before practice takes place. Concentration is very important to adhere too when doing Yoga; any distractions can upset the apple cart. When in practice at home there are no set times to when you start and finish. You may find first thing in the morning is perfect where no interruptions from salesman at the door Set your self in the mood then choose which room in the house your Yoga will take place and open a window for ventilation.

Peace and quiet are key features behind your WORKOUT WORKING OUT.

100% fit mind and body is what healthy living is all about. Yoga helps you claim what is rightfully yours. A content mind the natural way.

About the author: Move on with your life

How To Perform Yoga Exercises

April 30th, 2006

When you have decided to start with your Yoga practice, it is imperative for you to learn how to perform a pose properly. Thus it is advisable for you to find a right teacher who will guide you in the correct manner of performing these poses.

Since yogic exercises involve the static and isometric contraction of the muscles, where the muscles are held in a state of Tension without causing the corresponding body part to move; it is important to note that the stretching or contraction of the muscles should not be done abruptly or suddenly. You should endeavour to reach the final pose as slowly as you can, so that there is a steady rise in the Tension of the muscles. Always reach the final posture slowly through the intermediate postures. Master all these postures slowly one by one.

The movement of each body part should be done under complete control of the muscles exercised. This is achieved only after practicing for a certain period of time. There should be no jerks or violent movements. Each step should be executed easily, smoothly and gracefully. Initially, when you start learning the Yoga, there is a tendency to use muscles not concerned with the specified movement.

But over a period of time with due practice, you can eliminate the unproductive muscular activity. As you progress, you learn to use only the specified muscles for contraction or stretching while the other muscles are kept relaxed.

Avoid rushing into the final position of any posture, unless you have thoroughly mastered the intermediate stages. Always proceed as far as comfortably you can and hold this pose for some time. This will train the required muscles in a few days and thus you can get smoothness and grace. Take caution not to overwork any muscles.

Do not control or restrict your Breathing. If you are sick or absent from your practice for a long time, start slowly and reach the previous level only after some time. At the end of the session, you should feel fresh and relaxed. You must experience the lightness and exhilaration at the end of every session.

You can adjust the duration of various techniques according to your capacity and there should be no exhaustion or Tension.

Following all these practices will ensure you get a correct Yoga session.

About the author

Kevin Pederson is the webmaster for Yogawiz

Yoga Breathing Exercises For Stress

April 15th, 2006

Harmony is something that is quite elusive in these modern times. I needn’t explain this statement to anyone who is juggling family, work, commuting, etc., while trying to fit in financial planning, Exercise, a modicum of recreation, and who knows what else, only to have a health crisis, or some other “deal with me now’ situation occur without warning.

Add to this recipe the stimulants prescribed by Dr. Technology, a helpful yet sometimes overzealous and seductive caregiver, and the world does indeed seem to be spinning out of control, or at least at a faster whirl on its axis.

Yoga, learned properly and incorporated into one’s life as a daily practice, transforms. Some who are reading this may know this from experience; others may have dabbled in a class or two and found it helpful at the time, but may never have learned moment to moment use to relieve Stress and Anxiety.

An intrinsic part of Yoga, in fact inseparable from its proper practice, is Pranayama, the control of the breath. The breath, and how deeply or shallowly, slowly or rapidly we engage in this prerequisite for staying alive, is intimately connected to how we feel. It reflects our emotional, mental, and physical states in every moment. Changing the breath, consciously, can alter these states.

The ancient therapeutic traditions as well as modern medical research speaks about the intimate relationship between our Breathing patterns and our physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual health. They have shown how natural healthy respiration not only increases longevity and supports our overall well-being and self-development, but also helps in medical conditions such as asthma, poor digestion, Insomnia, low energy, High Blood Pressure, Anxiety, Panic Attacks, heart ailments, and many other problems.

How Stress Affects Our Natural Breathing Pattern

With each inhalation, oxygen (pure air) enters into our body and triggers off the transformation of nutrients into fuel. With each exhalation carbon dioxide (toxic air) is eliminated from our body. Presence of oxygen purifies the blood streams and helps invigorate each cell. Sufficient amount of oxygen is required to maintain the Vitality of our body organs.

In normal conditions the body follows a natural Breathing pattern that is slow and regulated. Under Stress when the body shows symptoms such as tightening of muscles, distractions, Anxiety, hyperactivity and angry reactions et al, Breathing becomes quick and shallow. One tends to hold one’s breath, frequently. With restricted Breathing inflow of oxygen is restricted. Lungs are unable to exhale the stale airs and residual toxins build up inside the body. Under Stress the stiff muscles restrict the circulation of blood. So, even less oxygen comes in and fewer toxins are removed. It affects the healthy regeneration of cells.

Medical studies show that the oxygen-starved cells are the major contributing factors in cancer, immunity deficiency, Sexual Dysfunction, Heart Disease and strokes. Breathing also affects our state of mind and consequently makes our thinking either confused or clear.

When Breathing is slow, deep and full, the lungs work more, the diaphragm moves well, the intercostals, back and abdominal muscle work, drawing in extra oxygen to the blood stream. Increased oxygenation purifies blood and stimulates healthy functioning of cells, glands and muscles.

Hence, a regulated and mindful Breathing pattern has been held vital to maintaining the highest level of physical health by Yoga. Another positive result of conscious Breathing is its calming effect on the emotions, reducing fear and Anxiety in the Nervous system. Regulated and mindful Breathing, dynamic movement of the head, shoulders and arms during the practice of Breathing and Meditation promote concentration and Relaxation.

Easy, Practical and Effective Breathing Exercises

Following are some practical, easy to perform exercises that capitalize on this quite dramatic relationship between breath and well being.

Let me begin these instructions by saying this: Perhaps the most difficult aspect of using Breathing techniques or any other Stress-reduction modalities is the forming of new, positive habit patterns. It is easy to think, “I can’t stop what I’m doing now. There isn’t time.” Truth is, once you’ve reached the point where Stress has begun to make itself known in your neck, your lower back, your eyes, or wherever else that demon tends to possess you, you really have no choice if you want to be Productive and enjoy what you are doing. Know that you have become oxygen depleted, and that the very cells of your body are crying out for your loving attention. Beginning to develop awareness of this is the first step in establishing the new pattern: the wonderful habit of self-care.

If you are at home, simply stop what you are doing, and find a spot where the distractions are minimal. Turn off the ringer on the phone, and the volume down on that answering machine. If you are driving, pull over for five minutes. That’s really all it takes. And if you are at work, depending on the environment in your workplace, either just pull your chair back from your desk, or if this is unacceptable, try to find a spot where you can have quiet for that five minute span. Letting your co-workers know what you are doing can be a good idea. I’m not being a Pollyanna, in that I know that there are some situations where this scenario will be perceived as impossible. However, if tending to your well being is a priority, I do believe that in almost all cases a way can be found.

  1. Cleansing Breath: Get comfortable in a chair or in your car seat. Loosen tight clothing or belts. Relax. Breathe normally. Now exhale forcefully and then begin to inhale deeply. When the lungs are really full, exhale through your nose. This is done rather quickly. Assist this exhalation by contracting your stomach muscles. Let the stomach Relax completely as the air begins to come back in through your nose. Fill lungs again, exhale through nose quickly once again with the aid of those stomach muscles. (If the exhalation is really complete, you will find that the act of Breathing in again is quite sudden and automatic, so that a rhythm is established) Do this inhale-exhale pattern four to six times. Depending on time constraints, you can repeat this cycle once more.

  2. One Nostril Breathing: Close one nostril with a finger. Breathe in slowly through the other nostril, and exhale through this same nostril. Continue Breathing thus through one nostril for five breaths. Then switch sides. Having completed this pattern on both sides, you may repeat the pattern if time allows, adding one repetition per day. Two repetitions will still be quite effective, however.

  3. Alternate Nostril Breathing: Using your right hand, close the right nostril with your thumb, and breathe in through the left. Having inhaled thus, now close the left nostril with the pinky and ring finger of the same hand, and breath out through the right nostril. Immediately breathe in again through that same (right) nostril, and exhale through the left. This pattern: in left, out right, in right, out left, is one unit. Repeating this unit four times makes one round. One is enough to begin with. Increase by one round daily, again depending on time constraints.

  4. Complete Yoga Breath: Sitting straight, standing, or lying flat when possible, begin by expanding the abdomen and Breathing into the lower lungs. Continue filling the middle lungs, expanding your lower ribs, then the middle ribs, then lifting the upper ribs, expand the upper chest. Finally, to get that air into the lungs highest areas, contract the abdomen just a bit. Hold your breath for just five seconds, no more. Finally, exhale through your nose, slowly, again contracting your stomach muscles. Now, Relax all over. Breathe normally for a breath or two, and repeat the complete breath. Twice is good; daily, gradual increases are beneficial.

It may seem like a lot at first glance, but once learned there is nothing to it. You can accomplish the entire series in five minutes, with minimal repetitions. It will still be effective, and you will return to the task at hand refreshed and relaxed.

During more leisurely times you may indulge in longer sessions, but do it gradually: With gentleness, with attention, and with the love inherent in this wonderful form of self-care.

Health Benefits of Yoga

April 15th, 2006

Yoga and Health are two words that are very closely related. The Health Benefits of Yoga is widely known. Yoga is a popular aid in improving and attaining both Physical and Mental Health. This is basically the most common reason why people practice Yoga - for health reasons. They want to ease their Back Pain, find a method to ease Stress, or ways to deal with their Health problems. This Yoga and Health section takes a closer look on how your body functions and how Yoga can benefit your body.

Yoga is a science of Health - unlike modern Western medicine which is largely a science of disease and treatment. The teachings of Yoga are based on intricate and precise understanding of the healthy functioning of the human body and mind. Its techniques are designed to maximize your own potential for good health, Vitality and lasting youthfulness.

Yoga as we all know it is aimed to unite the mind, the body, and the spirit. Yogis view that the mind and the body are one, and that if it is given the right tools and taken to the right environment, it can find harmony and heal itself. Yoga therefore is considered therapeutic. It helps you become more aware of your body’s posture, alignment and patterns of movement. It makes the body more flexible and helps you Relax even in the midst of a Stress stricken environment. This is one of the foremost reasons why people want to start Practicing Yoga - to feel fitter, be more energetic, be happier and peaceful.

Yoga is a science that has been practiced for thousands of years. It is consists of Ancient Theories, observations and principles about the mind and body connection which is now being proven by modern medicine. Substantial research has been conducted to look at the Health Benefits of Yoga - from the Yoga Postures (Asanas), Yoga Breathing (Pranayama) and Meditation. The information is grouped into three categories-physiological, psychological, biochemical effects. Furthermore, scientists have laid these results against the benefits of regular Exercise

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 FAQ

April 14th, 2006

What is Yoga?

The word “Yoga” means “union.” Yoga is a psycho-physical discipline with roots that go back about 5,000 years. There is a lot more to Yoga than physical postures (Asanas), or the Breathing exercises (Pranayama) or even the Meditation. In the true tradition of Yoga the goal is union with the Absolute, known as Brahman, or with Atman, the true self. Most people now, however, approach Yoga to obtain the very real benefits of health, mental clarity, Stress release and Fitness. The wonderful thing about Yoga is its flexibility. Practitioners can Focus on the spiritual, psychological or physical benefits of Yoga, or all of the above.

Is Yoga a Religion?

Yoga defies categorization. Whatever your method of contacting the Divine, Yoga can accelerate movement in that direction. It does not discriminate on the basis of gender or religion or race. Yoga is truly universal. Most people find that they can practice Yoga without any conflict with their religious beliefs.

Is Yoga Good for You?

Studies in the United States and India suggest that Yoga can help conditions such as Stress, Anxiety, and even epilepsy. Western science has been Studying Yoga for nearly 50 years and evidence suggests numerous physical and psychological benefits.

How many styles of Yoga are there?

There are many different styles, and this is a good thing because people have such differing temperaments. There are four basic paths of Yoga: 1) Jnana, which is the path of knowledge and wisdom; 2) Bhakti, the path of devotion; 3) Karma, the path of action; and 4) Raja, the path of self control. Within this path (Raja) is found Hatha Yoga, which is the most popular path in the West. In India, Bhakti is perhaps the most popular. Many paths such as Iyengar, Kripalu, Astanga, Integral and Jiva Mukti, to name a few, are Hatha Yoga styles. A common lineage dates back to Patanjali’s Yoga sutras, the text which outlines the basic philosophy and practices of classical Yoga.

What does Hatha mean?

The word hatha means willful or forceful. Hatha Yoga refers to a set of physical exercises (known as asanas or postures), and sequences of asanas, designed to align your skin, muscles, and bones. The postures are also designed to open the many channels of the body–especially the main channel, the spine–so that energy can flow freely.

Hatha is also translated as ha meaning “sun” and tha meaning “moon.” This refers to the balance of masculine aspects–active, hot, sun–and feminine aspects–receptive, cool, moon–within all of us. Hatha Yoga is a path toward creating balance and uniting opposites. In our physical bodies we develop a balance of strength and flexibility. We also learn to balance our effort and surrender in each pose.

Hatha Yoga is a powerful tool for self-transformation. It asks us to bring our attention to our breath, which helps us to still the fluctuations of the mind and be more present in the unfolding of each moment.

Is Yoga a New Age Practice?

Yoga and New Age movements share a common Focus on the improvement of the body and mind and their connection to the soul. Yoga goes back thousands of years.

What is Om?

It is a sacred Hindu sound symbolizing the Absolute. It can be spelled Aum. It is used as a mantra during Meditation. Correct pronunciation rhymes with “home.”

Is Yoga Aerobic Exercise?

The physical Yogas are certainly aerobic, because they improve oxygenation of the blood through increased heart rate and deeper Breathing. Astanga and Vini Yoga are good examples.

What is power Yoga? Is it okay for beginners?

Power Yoga is a style of Yoga that moves quickly from one posture to the next. The foundation of this practice are 3 variations of the sun salutation, named simply A, B, and C. All of the other standing postures are thrown into modifications of these 3 series, making the practice very vigorous and challenging. Generally, non “power YogaYoga classes are slower, softer and a bit more static.

The problem with power Yoga and the beginning Student is that there is none to very little alignment instruction provided. The other problem is that a beginning Student doesn’t know how or when to slow down, stop or modify a posture. Both of these problems lead to Yoga students hurting themselves in class by poor alignment in the postures and by over exerting themselves and going past their edge.

What if I am out of shape?

Finding a good teacher is the optimum way to go. Also books and videos can be very helpful. Remember, if you have any condition or physical situation you are in doubt about, consult your health care practitioner.

Is it difficult to do Yoga being overweight?

Yoga can be difficult for any body type. Being overweight is going to make it a bit more challenging on a physical level, but Yoga is as challenging as you make it. Do not try to fit your body into the pose, but adapt the posture for your body. Accept where you are at and do not judge or criticize yourself because you cannot it perfectly.

How is Yoga different from normal exercises?

Yoga focuses more on process than goal. Gym activities or other more goal-driven exercises are quite different. You are not competing with anyone when you do Yoga. Toning is the way in which Yoga achieves muscular strength, in contrast to, for example, weightlifting, which breaks down muscle to build it.

Do I need to be vegetarian to practice Yoga?

Recent surveys suggest that only one out of three Yoga practitioners is vegetarian. The traditional Yoga diet is vegetarian, but one’s awareness keeps evolving, and at each stage a person can tune in to what is best for her/his own body.

How often should I practice Yoga?

I would suggest starting by practicing Yoga 3-4 times per week, 30-60 minutes per day. It is best to start slow and gradually build up the duration per day and per week. Your body may change a lot the first year of Yoga, and you need to listen and adapt/adjust your practice to work with your body. Most importantly do not push yourself, and do what feels good for your body. Shorter sessions like 20-30 minutes a day are better than one 90-minute session a week.

Will Yoga help me to reduce weight?

You will look and feel better very soon if you practice regularly and eat healthy food, fresh vegetables and more water will soon improve your physique. Also your muscle tone and strength will improve.

I am wondering if Yoga will tone my body in the same way as working out?

Yoga does tone and strengthen the body, but not in the same way as working out. To build strength in Yoga Focus on holding the postures longer and longer (without strain) and possibly move on to more advanced postures.There is also a style of Yoga called “power Yoga” or ashtanga Yoga that moves very quickly between postures, which builds strength and Endurance.

Is it normal to experience soreness after Yoga?

Some soreness is normal following your first class. However, a nagging ache or intense pain is not.

Is it normal to feel tingling in the arms and legs during Yoga?

Yes, a small amount of tingling is normal. If the tingling is intense, you may be holding the pose too long, or not resting sufficiently between poses. The tingling sensation usually occurs in new students and subsides with time and further practice.

Sometimes my legs shake when I am doing stretches, do I continue the stretch and just let it shake. Or do I stop?

Usually when the body shakes during Yoga it is because the muscles are becoming fatigued and need to be strengthened to hold the posture longer. In postures where the Focus is on building strength (like upward boat) its okay to shake a little, if you hold too long you can strain a muscle (or just feel really sore the next day).

I’m not sure why your legs would be shaking if you are only stretching the muscles and not strengthening them as in seated head to knee. You may be pulling yourself a bit too hard into the posture. You want to work on finding the balance between using effort and relaxing into the posture. If you are tensing up the muscles they will not be able to stretch and increase their flexibility.

Is it okay to use a chair to assist me with some balancing postures?

Yes, it is fine to use a prop (chair, block, wall) to help you with balance. Try to use the lightest touch possible to support yourself, slowly lessening the pressure until you can hold yourself up without it. Most importantly, Focus your gaze at one point on the wall or the floor in front of you, as this will assist you in being balance.

Are there certain postures that you might suggest to help me as I basically have little balance?

I would suggest trying some of the balancing postures on the floor: upward boat, balancing table, prayer squat, balancing bear, half warrior, and balancing bound angle. If you want to work on the standing balancing postures use a wall to help support you. In both positions, Focus on building concentration by using a drishti or focal point to stare at.

Whenever I do any inverted postures (especially the Headstand) I usually get a Migraine, is there a way in which I can overcome this?

Usually inversions would be a good thing to do for Headaches and Migraines. But it sounds like the increase in blood pressure is triggering them for you. I would avoid all inversions where the legs are over the head (head stand, shoulder stand, hand stand) and would experiment with plow, Yoga mudra, standing angle, standing forward fold, downward dog and other semi-inversions.

The other possibility is to only go into the full inversions for very short periods of time on a daily basis, and very very gradually lengthen the amount of time you hold the posture.

I have a problem with my hands and feet sliding during poses. I have a sticky mat but it has made no difference. Do you have any recommendations?

You may want to try several things: 1. wear socks and use a small hand towel between hands and sticky mat. 2. wash your sticky mat. 3. try a different type of mat. 4. hold the postures for shorter times.

Do I have to exhale through the nose or mouth?

You inhale and exhale through the nose, unless doing a specific Pranayama.

Can Yoga help me improve my height?

Yoga can help improve your posture, which will make you feel and look taller, but it will not make you “grow” any extra inches. The bones in the body stop growing once you reach adulthood, and thus make it impossible for the body to increase it’s height.

Practice the mountain posture (tadasana) not only in your Yoga practice, but all through your day, standing, sitting, driving your car, waiting in line at the supermarket. Consciously keep your awareness on your posture, keeping the spine long and straight as much as possible.

Which style is best?

Try a few different styles and when one clicks, commit to that one. Any style you choose will help you. Availability of a teacher whom you like can also play a big part in your enjoyment.

Should I do Yoga while I am Pregnant?

Yoga is a great way to strengthen the pelvic area, normalize Thyroid Function and blood pressure, and reduce Stress, all of which are good for the baby. It is fine to continue modified practice if you were doing Yoga before; if you are just beginning, it is best to work with a teacher who has prenatal Yoga experience. In general you should avoid strain, compressing the abdomen, and inverted postures, especially in the later stages.

What postures are contraindicated during Pregnancy?

Avoid all postures that put pressure on the belly, especially after the 3rd month. Inverted postures are not contraindicated but are cautioned. This is mostly a concern late in the Pregnancy, as the weight of the belly will compress the chest and make it difficult to breathe. It may also be just to strenuous to lift the legs and belly over the head.

In Pregnancy there is a hormone secreted that makes muscles very easy to over stretch, which can cause injury if the woman pushes/pulls to hard into the pose.

Postures done on the back are cautioned due to the weight of the fetus pressing on the abdominal aorta and inferior vena cava (cutting off circulation), and shavasana should not be practiced, have her lay on side in fetal pose.

Why are certain postures contraindicated during menstruation?

The postures that are contraindicated for mensuration are inversions: shoulder stand, head stand, plow, etc. These postures increase the flow of the menses, and cause a greater loss of blood which could leave to health problems. Other postures may be cautioned because they put Stress or pressure in the lower abdominal region.

A slow gentle Yoga practice is recommended during mensuration, focusing on postures that stretch the sides of the torso (triangle), open the hips (bound angle), forward folds and spinal twists.

I am 45, in early Menopause and I would like to know which styles of Yoga would best help me at this stage of my life.

The best styles of Yoga to balance the endocrine system and regulate the hormones are ones that hold postures for long-ish periods of time: Kripalu, Iyengar, Sivananda.

Can Yoga help with social Anxiety?

Stress and Anxiety levels can be drastically reduced by Yoga practice. A stronger sense of self is built with regular practice, and over time this increased confidence and well-being can reduce or nullify feelings of Anxiety. Nadi Shodhana, which is a Breathing technique, can help alleviate the symptoms of an Anxiety attack. You may also become more able to observe the factors that lead to an Anxiety attack, and deal with them before the symptoms escalate. There can be significant improvement within months.

Is it possible to use Yoga to help lower back pain?

Yes Yoga can help. Try knee down twist, child, forward bending poses, half and full wind relieving poses. I would also suggest strengthening your abs and core body strength using upward boat, triangle, and some belly down (prone) poses (being careful not to strain the back muscles).

I have a circulation problem in my hands and lower arms, which includes numbness and pain. Is there an asana or Pranayama that will help release the energy blockage?

Standing and inverted Yoga postures and kapalabhati Pranayama will all help Improve Circulation.

Can you recommend any Yoga positions that may be beneficial for Hypertension?

Yes, it has been shown that practicing Yoga does lower blood pressure, mostly due to its calming and relaxing nature, but also because it is a form of Exercise. There are a few postures that are contraindicated for Hypertension, mainly the inversions where the head is placed below the heart. I would suggest you Focus on gentle Yoga postures, mostly doing the postures done on the floor. The most important posture to practice is “Savasana” (Relaxation/sponge/corpse pose). Pranayama (yogic Breathing) and Meditation will be very helpful as well.

Can I do Yoga when I have a cold and a headache?

For Headaches and Colds a slow gentle Yoga practice is best. Focus on floor postures, especially those that are focused on the spine. Try spinal twists (seated and knee down twist), forward bends (seated forward bend, seated angle, seated head to knee) and inversions (half shoulder stand, plow, standing Yoga mudra).

I have Anxiety attacks and cannot Relax, can Yoga postures help?

Try a slow gentle Yoga practice focusing on asanas that stretch out the area(s) where you hold the Tension and Stress in your body. Specific postures to reduce Stress would be: standing Yoga mudra, triangle, standing forward fold, cobra, camel, child, knee down twist, and at least 10 minutes of conscious Relaxation in shavasana.

How do Yoga positions open up the chakras?

Even though the chakras are often described using physical qualities, these are energy centers in the body. Yoga effects the energy of the body, and using Yoga postures that Focus on the chakra centers will stimulate them allowing the energy to flow and open.

Stress and Tension (physical as well as emotions and thoughts) that accumulate in the areas of the chakras will obstruct the flow of energy, and make the chakras close down. When these areas are stretched, twisted, pressed into and lengthened (though Yoga), the Stress and Tension in these areas are released, and the energy of the chakra can flow and open.

How do I recognize a qulified teacher?

There are no universal standards. Someone who is certified may have just done a weekend course or may have studied for many years. Yoga is so diverse and broad that some people in the Yoga community feel it would be impossible to create uniform standards. However; the Yoga Alliance has outlined some minimum requirements that Yoga teachers must meet in order to become “registered.” Yoga teacher registration has no national or official significance. The training requirements for registration are very reasonable and are followed by most training organizations.

Hypnotic Yoga

January 7th, 2006

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