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Yoga is a way of life, which is accepted by masses as preventive. In varied scenarios Yoga also has many therapeutic benefits. With the limited research in the field of cancer, it is believed that Yoga has helped to improve the lifestyles of people suffering from it. While it may not able to cure cancer 100% but it has definitely turned around the lives of people. By combining modern medicine and Yoga, cancer can be fully cured, and prevented from recurring.

People may not understand the plight of a person having cancer but Yoga understands them well. Yoga befriends them and brings confidence in the patients to deal with it.

Ovarian cancer may be at a physical level, but when different techniques of yoga are put into practice, it relaxes the patient, which in turn helps in managing cancer well.

While we are on this topic we should always keep one thing in mind, Yoga not only brings discipline and steadiness in life, but it helps in releasing happy hormones in the body which will be a savior for cancer patients. Another important thing that needs to be taken care of is to consider cancer like any other illness and not to make a big deal out of it. This attitude itself will reduce the harsh effect of cancer on the body.

Yoga always believes that more than the physical it is the state of mind that makes or breaks you. The first line of action is to make the mind & will power strong. And for that one needs to do is Tapa of sitting in Sukhasana for little more than what one can usually sit and concentrate on the breath, progress in increasing the time.

Practice very light yoga asana for 15 to 20 min every day, especially on the days where one feels sad or demotivated. Some of the asanas listed below are the best to do during a rough patch.

  • Bhadrasana (butterfly pose): This will improve the blood circulation in the pelvic region. It is also a meditative asana calming the mind.
  • Yog Mudra (do not stretch beyond your limit): It will bring a feeling of letting go of pain, suffering, sorrow, and dullness.
  • Setu Bandhasana (bridge pose): This will improve the blood circulation in the pelvic region. It also flexes the spine and relaxes it.
  • Bring spine flexibility with the cat and cow pose either by sitting in Sukhasana or by kneeling on all four limbs.

Meditation is not advisable for patients, patients suffering from cancer are already confined to self. So instead of bringing stability, it might take them into the dark side. The best way to improve is with will power so one focuses on the breath. Counting backward in your mind or by using the kriya called ‘Trataka’ or ‘Nishpanda’ Bhava also helps.

These Yoga techniques will definitely help manage ovarian cancer in a much better way than anything else. And if one starts living in the moment, one might end up fighting against it.

Yoga will definitely hold your hand to win this battle but efforts need to be marked by you. Consider yourself as Arjuna waiting to fight the battle and let Yoga be your Shri Krishna. Keep your get worries at bay because in the end, it is only you who can make the difference.

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According to the first rigorous assessment of the country’s autism prevalence, roughly 23 of every 10,000 children in India have autism.

Parents, teachers, and educators are faced with many challenges on how to support children with Autism Disorder. Most common difficulties are with communication, expressive & sensory integration and social/emotional deficits. Children with Autism can exhibit a broad range of symptoms including heightened levels of stress and anxiety.

Yoga is fast becoming a supplemental therapy to give holistic support to children with autism. Many benefits are associated with Yoga. Asanas help to increase balance, coordination, flexibility, and strength. Pranayama helps in better breathing and calming the senses. Yogic relaxation techniques help children in reducing impulsive, obsessive, anxiety and over-stimulatory actions and behaviors.

  1. Improved Social-Communication Skills- Various studies were done at the Institute indicated that yoga might offer much-needed respite from Autism symptoms. When practicing yoga asana with breathing strategies, children learn by imitating the actions and behaviors of the yoga teacher. This benefits the children’s ability to sustain joint attention for longer. Visualization, guided meditation, and repetition of vocabulary using visual aids and yoga games play a big part in the development of language and vocabulary skills.
  2. Awareness and Expression of Emotions – Practicing yoga brings more awareness about controlling their own facial expressions, actions and social skills. It brings about a state of calm and awareness. Breathing exercises or pranayamas help autistic children to release uncomfortable emotions like frustration, fear, anxiety, etc. in a very constructive manner.
  3. Yoga Reduces Anxiety – Many children with Autism experience heightened levels of anxiety and disturbed sleep. Sleep and health are directly related- yoga pranayamas like Anulom-Viloma and abdominal breathing help to ensure sound sleep. The practice of mindful breathing and guided meditation and yoga poses help to calm the nervous system and support these children in developing coping and self-regulation skills.
  4. Awareness and Positivity – Yoga brings about holistic development and personality changes. It adds to the self-image of the child & builds his/her confidence and self-esteem. Withstanding poses or balancing poses when successful create a sense of positive achievement. As a yoga teacher, this is a rewarding stage to witness. Not to mention the child emotions and happiness.

Householder Yoga, a unique offering of the Institute, can be easily incorporated into a child’s daily routine at home and school.  It is important to encourage children to engage in yoga breathing and stretches when they become distressed, agitated or experience anxiety. For autistic children, modified yoga poses and breathing exercises along with the play-way methods, yoga games and music is very effective.

Check out some of the offerings we have at The Yoga Institute.

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A breast cancer diagnosis is never easy to deal with, regardless of what stage the patient is in and the fact that recovery rates are encouraging. However, a positive outlook on life and managing the disease are vital when it comes to dealing with breast cancer. This is where yoga comes in, as research has shown that yoga may be able to help breast cancer patients improve physical functioning, reduce fatigue, stress and the side effects of medications and treatment and improve the overall quality of life – all important factors on the way to recovery.

While breast cancer patients can do gentle asanas throughout their treatment and recovery, regardless of how strong the interventions may be, Pranayama should be practiced daily for someone diagnosed with breast cancer. Fear is usually the first reaction to cancer and regular breathing exercises like Yogendra Pranayam No. 4, Anulom Velom and Yogendra Pranayam No. 1 can keep it in check. Techniques like Anitya Bhavana, writing down ten positive points daily and reflection can greatly improve how a patient deals with the disease – from diagnosis and treatment to recovery.

Asanas will also be important as they will not only increase a breast cancer patient’s physical strength and resilience and combat fatigue – a common side effect – but also improve their self-image and self-reliance. The postures should be gentle and should be practiced according to the patient’s ability, which will depend on his or her stage of treatment. Accordingly, patients should be encouraged to use a chair if standing asanas may be difficult. In addition, gentle forward-bending asanas are beneficial to inculcate vairagya and a sense of letting go, especially when it comes to body image and identification through the body. Overall, studies suggest a positive connection between yoga and managing breast cancer.

Asanas like Talasana, Gomukhasana, Chakrasana are essential. One should do hand and neck asanas that are vital for circulation and strengthening of the chest muscle. The patient should not become patients; they should be positive and not think of the problem. The body knows how to take care of itself, so one must let the body does its work. Always try and keep your mind in a pleasant state.

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My body and mind in harmony, I think, speak and act with awareness.

Nataprarthanasana requires complete neuromuscular coordination and synchronization of movements of the body. It is not spontaneous or natural hence it needs to be developed through practice. Absolute concentration is necessary. Nataprarthanasana enables one to achieve harmony between the body and the mind. Avoid this practice if you have any problems with your knees.

Method of Practice

Starting Position

  1. Stand erect with your feet together. Keep your hands in a prayer pose near your chest.
  2. Focus your eyes at one point straight ahead. Inhale.

Steps

  1. While exhaling, slowly kneel down, keeping your legs and knees together. Gently touch the knees on the ground and sit on the raised heels trying not to bring the knees down with a jerk.
  2. Hold this position for six seconds while suspending your breath.

Posture Release

  1. Inhaling, lift your knees off the floor and slowly rise up again to come to the starting standing position.

Note: In case you are unable to stand up in this way you can release your hands and take support of the floor with them and slowly come up.

Limitations / Contraindications

  1. In cardiac conditions, do not retain and suspend your breath.
  2. Stiff joints and vertigo.
  3. Moderate and severe arthritis of knees.
  4. Acute deep vein thrombosis, sprained ankle and sciatica pain.

Benefits

Physical

  1. It creates flexibility of your hip and knee joints.
  2. The muscles of your legs are strengthened.
  3. It enhances the balancing capacity of your body.
  4. It is excellent for women’s health.
  5. It strengthens your lower back muscles.

Therapeutic

  1. It helps relieve flat feet pain.
  2. It helps maintain spinal curvature.

Psychological

  1. It brings about a balanced state of mind.
  2. It brings your mind in the present moment.
  3. It brings about a sense of humility and gratitude.
  4. It creates awareness and concentration
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Eyes suffer due to high levels of pollution and constant exposure to screens (TV, mobile, etc.) Due to over use of our eyes our nervous system is constantly in a fatigued state.

Eyes are the most sensitive and an important organs of the body. They perceive and pass messages to the brain, which is in close vicinity. It is equally important to take care of it and work actively towards, its betterment. Many of us fail to pamper our eyes and at max we wash it twice a day with cold water. But that is not sufficient; we need to create a routine that has a definitive lasting positive impact.

Problems like high myopia, retinal detachment, conjunctivitis and age related issues like cataract, diabetic retinopathy can be avoided or delayed to a great extent when you bring Yoga into your practice. There are a few steps which when followed with full dedication, can keep you away from majority of eyesight issues.

Eye movement exercises are the best and it takes 10 min of your day, that’s it! Let’s go through the processes that will make your eyes healthier.

Move your eye balls to your right (dakshin jatru trataka), then to you left (vaman jatru tratak), move it up and then down. Roll in all four directions. Then move your eye balls in the top center (brush madhya trataka) and then to down center (nasika gruh trataka). You can also move your eye balls in diagonal directions. Make sure all the movements are very gentle without any jerks and do not strain your eye at any point. This simple 2 min exercise will do wonders and it will stay with you forever.

Another way to take care of your eyes is to do candle gazing, sun gazing or moon gazing. You can always start with once a week and then slowly increase the number of days.

All the mentioned kriyas will help you cleanse the eyes creating a soothing effect on optic nerves which will eventually save you from all kind of strain on the eyes.

Every kind of asana improves blood circulation in the optic region and helps in taking care of the eyes. The only caution is, if a person is suffering from high myopia or glaucoma they should not perform asanas that create pressure on the optic nerves like inversion asana or forward bending asana.

So from now on when you plan your day for a good hair spa or a facial, do not forget to pamper your eyes with kriyas and asanas and plan a healthier tomorrow for you.

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Hormones – love them or hate them but estrogen, testosterone, adrenaline, insulin are vital for the functioning of our body. In fact, they affect every aspect of our health from keeping energy levels up and the mind strong. Thus, balancing our hormones is as important for staying healthy as maintaining personal hygiene. Yoga techniques can help and work better, especially in the long run, because  unlike conventional treatments for hormonal imbalances (like hormone replacement therapy, birth control pills, insulin injections, thyroid medication, etc.), they have no side effect, are not addictive and promote self-reliance rather than dependency.

But how to know if we have a hormonal imbalance? There are some signs and symptoms to look out for like unexplained weight loss or weight gain, depression and anxiety, fatigue, insomnia, infertility or irregular periods, low libido, changes in appetite and digestive issues. However, symptoms can vary due to what kind of hormonal imbalance one experiences.

Diet is also a major factor when it comes to maintaining a healthy hormonal balance. For example, a carb-rich diet can disturb hormones levels, as can crash diets that cut down on calories and fats when in fact, the latter are important for hormonal health. A sattvik diet full of fresh fruits and vegetables), ginger, turmeric, cumin and coconut oil is especially beneficial as the aforementioned foods are anti-inflammatory, meaning that they keep inflammation in check, which affects hormonal health adversely. Tamasik items like sugar, refined wheat flour, pasteurized dairy, vegetable oils and soya should be avoided as they can cause inflammation. Processed and packaged food is never a good idea.

Lastly, reducing stress, getting adequate sleep and exercising regularly is key for healthy hormone levels. Techniques like Nispanda Bhavana, Anitya Bhavana and simple conditioning will work wonders for keeping the mind calm, balanced and thus, stress levels down, as will pranayama like Anulom Velom. Asanas like bhujangasana, ustrasana and shavasana are beneficial because they massage the adrenal gland, stimulate internal organs and balance stress hormones, respectively. Thus, regular yoga practice helps us keep our hormones healthy and catch any imbalances before they become major health problems.  All addictions are harmful including caffeine, alcohol, nicotine, and should be avoided at all costs. Constant thoughts that are sexual in nature can cause imbalance. One must divert thoughts to more meaningful activities. One must stop viewing body as a vehicle of sexual pleasure rather think of it as a center and source of acquiring knowledge and happiness.

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Self-effort takes me to a point. It is self-offering that makes me strong.

The word ‘paschim’ meaning west is used in the context of the posterior of the body and uttana for stretching. The need for spinal fitness is obvious. Exercising it in all possible ways is essential. Paschimottanasana builds up a strong and healthy spine, which in turn upholds the body. However, it is the intense abdominal compression that strengthens the core.

The process of practice of this asana and its final form brings about a sense of achievement devoid of ego and ushers humility.

You can perform this asana in a dynamic way as mentioned below or you can remain in the final posture for one to two minutes breathing normally.

Method of Practice

Starting Position

  1. Sit on a mat with your legs fully stretched and your toes facing upwards.
  2. Keep your spine, shoulders, neck erect and look straight ahead.
  3. Keep your hands relaxed beside your body with your palms facing down.

Steps

  1. While inhaling, lean backwards keeping both your hands beside your chest folded at the elbow, palms facing downwards. Your elbows should not jut out.
  2. While exhaling, bend forward stretching your hands to hold the toes, trying to touch the head to the knees without bending your knees. At this stage, you can try to lower your elbows to touch the floor if possible.

Posture Release

  1. Remain in the posture for six seconds while suspending your breath.
  2. While inhaling, return to the starting position.

Caution: This final position is not easily attained. It is recommended that you try as much as you can and practise regularly. Overdoing this practice may cause injury.

 Limitations / Contraindications

  1. Hypertension, heart ailments
  2. Pregnancy, peptic ulcers, hernia
  3. Hyperthyroid
  4. Serious spinal disorders
  5. Myopia, glaucoma and serious eye disorders

Benefits Physical

  1. It brings about deep intra-abdominal compression and a massage to your abdominal viscera.
  1. It stretches the superficial and deep muscles of your ankles, legs and shoulders.
  2. It stretches the spine and brings flexibility.

Therapeutic

  1. Maximum posterior stretch to the spine helps in correcting minor deformities of the curvature of the spine and improves blood circulation in the veins and arteries.
  2. It relieves constipation, weak digestion and improves a sluggish liver.
  3. Abdominal compression helps reduce fat deposits in the abdomen.

Psychological

  1. It acts as a stress reliever.
  2. It calms your mind.
  3. It enhances your concentration.

Muscles Involved

  1. Ankle dorsi, knee, shoulder, finger and plantar flexors
  2. Vertebral column, hip and knee extensors
  3. Isometric contraction of forearm, arm, shoulder girdle
  4. Abductor, medial rotators

Hansaji J. Yogendra’s Variation for Paschimottanasana

Method of Practice

Steps 1 to 4 remain the same as in the main practice.

  1. While exhaling, turn your torso to the right as far as possible, leaning forward, extending your hands straight and trying to touch the floor ahead on the right. Check that your left hip is not lifted.
  2. Remain in the position for six seconds.
  3. Inhaling, return to the centre.
  4. While exhaling, repeat on the opposite side.
  5. Inhaling, return to the centre.
  6. Exhaling, lower hands and relax your hands on the thighs.
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Hypothyroidism is quite prevalent even among teenagers these days. Numerous treatment options are available but Yoga & meditation are one of the best approaches to manage thyroid and Hypothyroidism. Yoga as a holistic approach helps to bring stability in the mind, body, and soul.

A few minutes of yoga practice alongside your regular treatment can make a huge difference to your health. Yoga being a way of life, it helps reduce stress, and yoga asanas help to heal both hypo and hyperthyroidism patients.

Always consult your physician and learn yoga from an experienced Yoga teacher. Here are a few recommended yoga asanas and advanced practices, which can help control hypothyroidism condition and symptoms.

  • Shoulder Stand (Sarvangasana) – It gently stimulates and massages the thyroid gland to function appropriately and benefits the pituitary gland, pineal glands, and the entire hormonal system.
  • Inverted Pose (Viparitakarani) – Improves blood circulation to the head region and benefits the master gland situated in the head region.
  • Fish Pose (Matsyasana) – Destroyer of all diseases, this is an excellent asana that gently massages the thyroid gland and improves hormone release.
  • Plough Pose (Halasana) – Benefits the butterfly-shaped thyroid gland situated in front of the neck.
  • Simhasana – Roaring Lion Pose
  • Fast-paced Sun Salutation (Surya Namaskar) – Helps to manage the weight and reduces stress.
  • Pranayama and Kriya practices – Improve thyroid regulation.
  • KapalBhati (skull shining breathing technique), Jalaneti, NadiShodhana (alternate nostril breathing), and Ujjayi breathing exercise – Work well in reducing the symptoms.
  • Rest and Relaxation
  • Hormones and emotions are connected. Relaxation with Nisphandabhava and Shavasana should be done on a regular basis.
  • Guided meditation with proper breathing helps to reduce stress and anxiety symptoms.

Diet also plays a significant role. Sattvik diet is the best.

Some Dos and Don’ts for Hypothyroidism

Do’s:

  • Eat Nutrient-rich and organic foods.
  • Antioxidant-rich fruits and vegetables like Indian Gooseberry, bell peppers, tomatoes, blueberries.
  • Consume whole grains and Vitamin B rich foods.
  • Selenium in small amounts is needed. Eat sunflower and chia seeds in moderation.

Don’ts:

  • Cruciferous vegetables rich in fiber, like cabbage, spinach, kale, and brussels sprouts, may hinder thyroid medication absorption. Reduce the intake of such vegetables especially in the morning after medication.
  • Avoid caffeine, tobacco, and alcohol.
  • Reduce intake of processed and refined foods.

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All potentials lie within; believing this, I rely on my inner strengths. The way the head is raised in the final position in this asana is similar to a fanned cobra and hence the name. The purpose of creating this posture is to imbibe the qualities observed in a cobra: determination, alertness, and precision which are most desirable for a sadhaka on the path of yoga. This is a backward-bending asana.
 
Method of Practice:
Starting Position
  1. Lie down on your stomach on a mat with your hands at the sides of your body.
    Steps
  2. Bending at the elbows, place your palms facing down near your chest, keeping your elbows close to your body.
  3. Inhaling, raise your head and neck upwards to look up towards the ceiling. Raise your upper body only until the navel and not more. Make sure that your feet remain together and not get separated.
  4. Remain in the final position holding your breath for six seconds.
    Posture Release
  5. Exhaling, bring your head, neck and torso down to rest on the mat.
    Posture Release
  6. Exhaling, bring your head, neck and torso down to rest on the mat.

Benefits:
  1. It influences and strengthens the health of your entire body, stimulates & improves all your organs and invigorates your nervous system.
  2. It alleviates various diseases linked to the digestive system, regulates the menstrual cycle, improves the vital capacity of your lungs and also helps cope with insomnia.
  3. Gives you poise, mental as well as physical, increase concentration power, optimism and self-confidence.

Limitations:
Hypertension, heart ailments, pregnancy, peptic ulcers, hernia and hyperthyroid.
 
Muscles Involved:
  1. Sternomastoid and pectoralis major
  2. Extensors of the vertebral column and neck extensors
  3. Isometric contraction of the muscles of the upper limb

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Marriages are made in heaven and broken on earth!

True to this saying, today most people are struggling with marriages and relationships. In India nearly 1.37 million people are divorced. An alarming figure by itself, divorce is an extremely traumatic experience for people today.

While the physical traumas affect the body made-man divorce causes psychological trauma that affect brain and mind. Separation/Divorce is a comparable traumatic experience, akin to violent crimes, natural disasters, illness or the unnatural death of a loved one.

Divorce as a whole disturbs and threatens well-being of an individual.

The way to holistic wellbeing is the harmony between mind, body and soul through Yoga. Let’s explore yoga as an option of how it can help.

Preventive in nature yoga can help. The very first Yama (Restraints-Don’ts), Niyama (Rules-Dos), Asana (postures), Pranayama (regulation of breath), Pratyahara (withdrawal of the senses), Dharana (concentration), Dhyana (meditation) and Samadhi (complete integration).  All aspects polish our personality and bring to light one’s true harmonious nature. Yoga is all about being your best self. It is only after knowing yourself well enough you take the decision to share the journey of marriage with someone.

It is a disciplined approach to leading a fulfilling and happy life. Most of us are unhappy due to expectations about marriage or from our partners. We grew up with avidaya or the wrong knowledge that when we grow up and get married everything turns out to be fine. Life happens to everybody irrespective of who or what we are.

Yoga works on all the three levels of our body, mind and soul. It connects you with the best version of yourself. It instills 5 bhavas of confidence, self-reliance, achievement, sense of duty to be the unique person that you are.

It is the best soft-power you can invest in. And its keyword is union. Yoga is a union with yourself, and marriage is also all about union. Shiv-Shakti is often depicting the relationship lesson we should be taking note.

The first International Day of Yoga was perceived around the world on 21 June 2015. The Ministry of AYUSH organised the programme on a massive scale in India. Thousands of people, including Prime Minister of India – Narendra Modiji and dignitaries from 84 nations, performed 21 asanas (yoga postures) for 35 minutes at Rajpath in New Delhi. If 84 countries can be united through yoga, it can work for marriages too. Yoga can certainly play its part to unite two individuals in the sacred bond of marriage and keep them going.

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