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Goals and Strategies of Psychotherapy

Whenever we deal with the term “psychotherapy”, we are dealing with a systematic methodological process based on well defined paradigms of psychology. The most classic definition of psychotherapy is any intentional application of psychological techniques by a clinician to the end of effecting sought after personality or behavioral changes. All systems of psychotherapy start from the fundamental assumption that human behavior can be changed.

 The goal of therapy has been put in terms of removing symptoms, restoring earlier levels of functioning, freeing the person to be self realizing( in Roger’s term, “a  fully functioning person” and according to Gita, becoming a “sthita prajna personality”), helping the person find personal meaning and values or restructuring defenses and character. The behavioral transformation is the main concern of both eastern and the western therapists. The dissimilarity we may find in the approach to look at the problems. Mind in western therapy is considered as a clinical entity whereas in yoga it is used as a tool to actualize one’s essential state of being. In both systems of yoga and psychotherapy the following may be instrumental for a change or transformation of personality:

  • Insight: To increase awareness and understanding of how and why we act as we do is fundamental to many therapeutic approaches like Psychoanalysis, Analytical psychology, Gestaltism, Existentialism etc. In yoga therapy different tools are used to expand the range of awareness. Developing self understanding and knowledge is what aspired in yoga.
  • Developing emotional stability: There are different approaches to deal with the emotional experiences of the individual. To relive the traumatic experiences and to give a safe vent to the feelings are important features of the psychotherapeutic process.
  • Reeducation: In both yoga and psychotherapy reeducation is emphasized. It is accomplished by replacing an infantile, pathologic or maladaptive attitude by more mature and healthier ones.
  • Growth: Successful therapy removes the obstacles to growth and permits the process of self actualization to continue.

 Yoga is surely a system of psychotherapy, for its whole aim and purpose is to lead man from unhappiness and suffering to the state of lasting peace and harmony. In this pursuit yoga psychology has put forth many of the theories and methods now being rediscovered by modern psychology. All the different branches of yoga aim at establishing harmony at different levels of human functioning. In yoga, the body, energy, emotion and mind are considered as the different facets/ levels of human functioning and all the different practices/techniques available in different branches of yoga, aim to establish harmony at all these different levels.

Psychotherapeutic transformations through yogic techniques:

As it has already been mentioned that yoga is a system of psychotherapy. And the various tools which are employed in the yoga therapy are potentially capable to bring about a change in one’s thinking, feeling and behavior. Working with the body is an important aspect of the yoga therapy. Through the appropriate postures, breathing techniques, and cleansing practices, the therapist tries to transform the physical, mental, emotional and the energetic beings of the individual.  Relaxation practices such as Yoga Nidra, Antar Mouna and other meditation practices help to release mental and the emotional tensions. It has been a well accepted fact nowadays that mind and the body are intimately interrelated. Therefore tension carried in the body is intimately related to emotional and mental tension. When one works on body through asanas, pranayama or Shatkarma (a group of six bodily cleansing practices), one experiences that the long held tensions (both muscular and the emotional) are released from the body and the feeling of ease and comfort developing from inside. As one learns to become more aware of the experiences of his body while doing the yogic practices, he becomes increasingly aware or sensitive to the body’s tensions and its ‘dis-ease’. He experiences the states of physical, mental and the emotional well being.

Psychotherapeutic significance of asana                                                                   

As we all know that psychotherapy is all about behavioral modification and inner transformation in an individual. The goal of therapy has been put in terms of removing symptoms, restoring earlier levels of functioning, freeing the person to be self realizing(in Roger’s term, “a  fully functioning person” ), helping the person find personal meaning and values or restructuring defenses and character. Earlier in the era of Freudian psychiatry, psychotherapy and psychology used a model of the human personality that is limited to biography and to the individual unconscious as described by Sigmund Freud.

But in the modern field of psychotherapy the approach to treat the individual slowly and gradually becoming more holistic. Today’s therapists believe in the eclectic approach of therapy rather than restricting themselves to one system of psychotherapy. Earlier psychotherapeutic technique of self exploration used to rely heavily on verbal exchange such as free association or face to face interviews. But now therapists have realized that by solely relying on one such technique will not help them to understand the dynamics of emotional and mental problems and their elimination from the personality. So now we find that there are some therapies available which work on the mind through the body. Therapies such as Bioenergetics, Reichian therapy, Rolfing, Psychedelic therapy, Shiatsu, Yoga etc. has added another dimension to the system of modern psychotherapy. In this article the main focus will be on the psychotherapeutic values of asana (posture) in the light of some of the body-centered therapies.

Asanas along with pranayama is the central technique of hatha yoga; a branch of yoga that aims to change the mental patterns by working through the postures. In yoga mind, body and energy are considered to exist in one continuum. In hatha yoga the individual work on the body through different posture to alter the patterns of energy, and by altering the flow of energy one changes the patterns of awareness. The science of hatha yoga says that the gross physical body has its subtle counterpart in the form of energy and mental bodies and the conditions of energy body determine the state of physical and mental bodies. Like the other schools of psychotherapy the goal of hatha yoga is also to transform the consciousness and personality. Asana aims to expand the feelings and the awareness. Through the different postures an aspirant of yoga brings about a change in his attitudes, feelings and behavior.

Through the technique of asana the practitioner of yoga uses the body as an instrument to transform the mental and the energetic patterns in the body. Sw. Ajay in his book writes; “posture is an expression of a psychological state. Modern psychologists know that a person’s posture can tell a great deal about his inner feelings and his attitudes about himself and others”, he further writes “and this is also true that assuming a specific posture can also bring about a particular mental-emotional state”. We all know on the basis of our own experiences that we do express our attitudes, feelings and emotions through our postures and gestures. A specific posture reflects a particular state of mind and feeling. Therefore if we adopt a posture we not only change the mental and emotional states but we also change the energy dynamics, because specific mental and emotional state corresponds with the specific pattern or state of energy in the body. Today all different available techniques of body work use body to bring about a desirable change in personality.

Body as a log book

Body-centered psychologists who employ body-work techniques, claim that we store lots of information about our past experiences, inner tendencies, attitudes etc. in our body. Alexander Lowen a renowned body-centered therapist who developed the system of bioenergetics says in his book, “A person’s attitude towards life or his personal style is reflected in the way he holds himself, his carriage and in the way he moves”, again he writes, “a person is the sum total of his life experiences, each of which is registered in his personality and structured in his body. Just as a woodsman can read the life history of a tree from a cross section of the trunk showing its annual growth rings, so it is possible for a bioenergetics therapist to read a person’s life history from his body.”  Now we reach a point from where we can say that listening to the body means attending to the messages of the mind which are encoded in the language of the body. Because mind expresses itself in the body, through the language of sensations, feelings, breath, gesture, posture and movements.

Concept of body armoring

It has been the observation of the body-centered therapists that we store emotional tensions in the muscles of the body. And as this tension escalates our natural expression in the form of gestures and movements is disturbed. It makes us off balance and destabilize physically and mentally as well. Wilhelm Reich, who developed Reichian Therapy in 1940s, which is a deep emotional release therapy, found in his therapeutic sessions a functional identity of a person’s character with his bodily attitude or muscular armor. Armoring refers to the total pattern of chronic muscular tensions in the body. They are defined as armor because they serve to protect an individual against painful and threatening emotional experiences. Reichian therapy and Bioenergetics, a therapy developed by Alexander Lowen, both study the human personality in terms of the energetic processes of the body. Reich believed that neuroses exist only when there is repressed excess energy.

The relation of energy to personality is clearly manifested in a depressed person. Alexander Lowen writes in his book Bioenergetics; “although the depressive tendency result from the interplay of complicated psychological and physical factors, one thing is absolutely clear. The depressed individual is energetically depressed.” They (Lowen and Reich) emphasize that the lack of free flowing energy causes many emotional and mental problems. The blocking of this bio-energy is due to the armoring that results from energy being bound in a muscular contractions/tensions and not being allowed to flow through the body. This armoring is the natural pattern of muscular tensions that manifest when we are threatened or feel to be threatened. In response to threatening emotional conditions our bodies get tensed in preparation for the fight or flight. But it becomes a problem only when it becomes chronic or permanent. In this condition we suppress our natural feelings and emotional expressions. To further explain this I would use the expression that the suppressed feelings and emotions crystallize in the form of muscular armoring. It has also been seen by these therapists that the neurotic tendencies are anchored in the armor and that as the armor dissolves, the suppressed emotional energy is released and once again the individual starts to feel the flow of energy.               

Asana and the character armor

As per the system of depth psychology we cut off ourselves from the most vulnerable aspect of our mental contents (through suppression or repression), which are the chief source of anxieties, tensions and conflicts in our psycho-physiological system in order to maintain the level of integration or to keep ourselves centered. At the physical level we do suppress our emotions/feelings in different areas of the body. In day to day life a tensed and stressed person uses characterological body posture, gesture and arrhythmic, labored breathing to remain in the self created defensive mode of speech, action and behavior. In people with neurotic behavioral patterns, it has been seen that at the physical level, using their posture and the breath they cut off themselves from reality and their own feelings.

Self expression is the expression of one’s own feelings. Depressives, for example, suppress their expressions excessively, which means they suppress their feelings as well. It is well known that the depressed person is closed off and the closing off is also reflected through his posture. And in this state by constricting the muscles and holding the tension in the body he wards off any feeling or sensations that flow through the body. In this condition the natural expression of feelings and flow of energy are blocked. Therefore their immediate requirement is that of movement of the body and its energies.   

Different postures of yoga evoke specific attitude, mood and feeling in the practitioner. Once a posture is adopted and is sustained immediately the patterns of thought, attitude, feelings and the breath start to weave around the posture. And there is a distinct shift in the quality of awareness as the energies within start to move. Each posture of yoga work at specific region of the body and the pattern of breath which is specific to the posture concerned, affect the energy of those concerned parts of the body. As it is known to both body-centered therapists and hatha yoga practitioners, the breath is the main mobilizer of energy in the system.

Through asanas we work on the mind, by assuming repetitive gestures, postures and movements of body and the breath. Secondarily postures are also used to release the tensions that we store in the muscles. As a result of that sensitivity and awareness expand, and one responds to his life events in a more balanced, and efficient way.

Asana as a re-centering tool

Like all the other practices of yoga the goal of asana is also to expand the awareness, to deepen the understanding of one’s own self. Through asanas we work on the muscles, joints and organs of the body and bring them into the state of health. And in due course we release the tensions stored in the body, bring the breath back to its natural rhythm and harmony and allow the energy to flow freely through the psycho-physical systems. Once a natural and spontaneous free flowing movement of energy is initiated, there lies a possibility that the individual would enjoy the state of spontaneity, freedom and harmony that he failed to enjoy before. One of the chief features of asanas is that they enhance the level of flexibility in the body. Asanas are done slowly with awareness and the aspirant tries to hold the final position without creating any discomfort in the body. Therefore they become handy tool to increase the level of awareness and relaxation, which ensue when the points of tension are diluted or removed from the body. Secondarily, asanas help to ground the awareness of the practitioner in the ‘here and now’ situation, in this way it helps the individual to shift his awareness and energy out of the vicious pattern of obsessive thoughts which revolve around one issue all the time.

        Sw. Satyananda Saraswati says in his book ‘Asana, pranayama, mudra, bandha’; “in hatha yoga asanas refer to specific body positions which open the energy channels and psychic centers (also known as Chakras or vortices of energy). They are tools to higher awareness and provide the stable foundation for our exploration of the body, breath, and mind and beyond. The Hatha Yogis also found that by developing control of the body through asana, the mind is also controlled.” In yoga psychology an asana represents a state of consciousness and a qualitative state of awareness. In yogic tradition it is said that there were 8,400,000 asanas which represents 8.4 millions incarnations.

And if we go for the symbolic meaning of the statement we would find that symbolically they represent the broad band of awareness. The somatic psychology of hatha yoga says that assuming a gesture brings about a specific state of awareness, which is free from the trouble created by the pairs of opposites (dvandvānabhighatāh). The above statement makes it clear that asanas help to overcome the habitual tendencies, by overcoming the effort (pŗayatna śaithalyam) and releasing the tensions and signs of stress points from the body. As mentioned earlier, the body is the instrument through which we act out our desires and exercise our will. The gestures and the postures are the revealed states of feelings and the mind. When we practice asana and get established into it by repeated practice, it helps us to create and fixed a repetitive postures and the gestures which can snap us out of the instinctual habit patterns and establishes a more refined awareness. Therefore it is proven to be a very reliable tool to remold the personality.

Awareness as a centering tool.

Another therapeutic benefit, as mentioned earlier is its role in enhancing and deepening the sensitivity and awareness of the body. People who are chronically stressed, they lose contact with their body and hence with reality in the condition of complete break down. The heightened tension and stress dramatically reduce the level of sensitivity and physical awareness. Christine Caldwell explains in her book ‘Getting our bodies back’; “…tensing a muscle will, in the short run, increase sensation in that area. The nerves in the muscles get very active… giving the brain sensory feed back about the contraction.

However, if the tension continues and become chronic, the nerve will tend to exhaust themselves and will only send sensory messages if there are large charges in the amount of tension. In other words, when tension becomes chronic our nervous system begins to ignore it and pay attention to other things.” Here in this case asanas can help to refocus the attention of the practitioner onto the present moment. And enabling him to be one with the body and start to relive the body.  Asanas bring the body into the listening mode. Once the movement is initiated and rigid armoring is broken there is free movement of feeing and the breath. And as the two starts to flow together, the entire body becomes alive, the sensations are again triggered. As Caldwell says, “movement, sensation and breath are the offspring of aliveness/awareness. They can form the basis of curiosity, responsiveness, openness, and participation with life.”

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Mantra chanting is found to be a very effective to alleviate anxiety. Mantra Chanting is both religious and spiritual practice, found in different cultures, religions and spiritual traditions across the world. Apart from its uses in spiritual and religious traditions, mantra chanting has immense potential to improve psychological wellbeing of a person.

What is a Mantra?

Mantra is a sacred utterance, a sacred formula, a sound syllable or simply a sound vibration; used as a tool to focus the awareness, strengthen the mind and attuning to the subtle sound vibrational energies within. In both Tantra and Vedic traditions mantras are used for many purposes. These mantras may or may not have a literal meaning. In both Yoga and Tantra, mantra is one of the important tools to centre or focus the mental and vital energies. In meditation practices mantra is used as a centering device to internalize and intensify the awareness resulting in the altered state of consciousness.

Mantra is also defined as the force or instrument that liberates the mind from bondage. Bondage here means identification of mind with its contents i.e. thoughts, impressions, memories resulting in impurities (mala) and oscillation (vikshepa). The impurities are the sum total of all negative impressions deep in the mind. They are the result of past problems in all areas of our mental being, and relate to different areas of our life. Mantras helps to dissociate the awareness from all these negative impressions cluttering the mind.

The other aspect of the mind, vikshepa, is the oscillation and distraction of the mind. This results because of the negative patterns of mind created by our identification with the effects of past, present and worry of future. By being identified with the negative impressions of experiences the internal monologue goes on all day, the desires, the fears, the plans, the disappointments, the mind is never at peace. By repeating the mantras with one-pointed awareness, the oscillations can be quietened and the mind becomes tranquil and peaceful.

How Mantra Alleviates Anxiety:

In today’s time, anxiety needs no introductions. Everyone feels anxious now and then. It’s a normal reaction of the mind. One may feel nervous when faced with a situation which are demanding in nature. But this may become a disorder when worrying becomes overwhelming and constant.

Vibrational effects of Mantras

A mantra is a combination of various sound vibrational frequencies. Mantra is used in many different yogic practices from all different traditions. When used as a tool in meditation, mantra helps to internalize the mind and awareness. Constant chanting of mantra leads to one-pointed awareness which helps dissociate the mind from the cycle of unnecessary, unproductive and crippling thoughts. This helps in creating a state of ‘relaxed-alertness’. If defined in physiological term, it is alpha brain rhythm. Here receptivity of the mind is heightened and this leads to attuning the awareness to the experience of subtle sound vibrations.

Mantra meditation can lead one into a very deep and relaxed state of mind. It helps to develop power of concentration and will power; by strengthening the ability to hold the awareness on one tool i.e. mantra.  

Mantra and Nervous System

A mantra is an energy composed of certain frequencies that have a pattern of their own and a vibrational field that creates different intonations. These frequencies and the sympathetic overtones generated by them influence our sympathetic and parasympathetic nerves, which are spread in a fine network around our internal organs. The sympathetic response generates the neuro motor response and influences the two hemispheres of the cerebral cortex.

Neuroscience has demonstrated that the key to restructuring the nervous system in dramatic ways is to use repetitive therapeutic inputs that are precise and highly patterned. Studies show that the largest and most prominent neural circuits are formed by repetitive practices such as finger tapping, making music, and the gross, repetitive movement of limbs that occur during physical therapy. The phenomenon of neuroplasticity provides a basic explanation of how the practice of mantra affects the central nervous system.

Effect of Incantation: – Incantation is the process of repetition of an alphabet, word, sentence or mantra. One of the major causes of anxiety is the impulses coming to the conscious mind from the wrong impressions stored in the sub-conscious mind. Thus the wrong reactions of the conscious mind originate from the wrong impressions in the various centers of the sub-conscious mind. The only way to overcome wrong reactions of the conscious mind is to wipe out the wrong impressions in the various centers in the sub-conscious mind and to prevent the further development of wrong impressions in them. This is done by incantation. By incantation a powerful centre is created in the subconscious mind which can send strong impulses to the conscious mind. In short, the principle of the ‘dominant thought replaces the weaker one’ is used to prevent the conscious mind from receiving any useless internal impulses.

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Cardiovascular disease is caused by disorders of the heart and blood vessels, and includes coronary heart disease (heart attacks), cerebral-vascular disease (stroke), raised blood pressure (hypertension), peripheral artery disease, rheumatic heart disease, congenital heart disease and heart failure. According to WHO; Cardiovascular diseases are the world’s largest killers, claiming 17.1 million lives a year. Tobacco use, an unhealthy diet, physical inactivity and harmful use of alcohol increase the risk of heart attacks and strokes.

Cardiovascular disease is one of the life style diseases afflicting a large segment of society today. Yoga has an enormous potential to help prevent and cure this problem.  

Yogic Perspective on Disease

A state of harmony at physical, mental and vital (Pranic) levels is considered health in yoga. Any disease in yoga is seen as a disturbance in these various levels of human functioning. To restore the balance, a disciplined and harmonious living is emphasized by incorporating elements of sattvik diet, positive thinking and awareness, right conduct and yogic practices.

The Role of Yogic Diet

Most of the medical practitioners agree that one can lower the risk of heart diseases by adopting a healthy diet. According to Yoga and Ayurveda both; food has the potential to act as a medicine as well as poison. Therefore a right choice of food is recommended. In condition of heart diseases a more sattvik food is the right choice. A sattvik food is light, pure and fresh in nature and has the qualities to nourish and vitalize the body and mind.   

Dietary & Lifestyle recommendations for Heart disorders according to Ayurveda and Hatha Yoga

    • Eat a nourishing diet that removes all processed foods, poor quality dairy, poor quality oils, hydrogenated oils. Increase foods that are excellent for the heart. Use garlic, turmeric, ginger and saffron. Include whole grains, pulses and foods high in essential fatty acids (EFAs) such as hemp seed oil. EFAs are renowned for helping to keep arteries clean and the heart strong.
      Avoid over-eating and eating frequently.
    • Eat a light breakfast and dinner. Lunch should be the main meal. Milk products, fried foods, cold foods and acidic foods should be taken in small quantities. White flour products and foods that contain chemical preservatives and additives should be avoided. Animal products, especially red meat, are not good as they take a long time to digest, and create a lot of toxins in the stomach.
      Seasonal fruits and fresh vegetables (steamed or cooked), Brown bread or Chapatti, salad, sprouts, vegetable soup, buttermilk, cottage cheese (paneer), a little quantity of fresh milk and ghee (clarified butter) prepared from cow’s milk, make up an ideal list of food items to choose from.
    • Sweet should be taken in moderation. Honey and jaggery are the healthier choice. Fried foods such as pulses and their preparations, and groundnut oil are prohibited. Ayurvedic physicians allow butter or ghee, and not groundnut oil. Cow’s ghee, cow’s milk and cows’ butter are useful for the patient. Buffalo ghee and buffalo milk are not recommended.
    • Stimulants like tea, coffee and alcoholic drinks are very harmful for such patients.
      In addition to maintaining a healthy eating pattern, specific foods are often recognized as particularly heart-healthy. One of the most popular of these healthful foods is fatty fish with its high omega-3 fatty acid content. A recent study determined that women who consumed more omega-3 fatty acid laden fish (two servings weekly) had a reduced rate of death due to heart disease. These researchers found that this was independent of cardiovascular risk factors or other dietary sources that may influence the development of heart disease. Good sources of omega-3’s besides fish are: flaxseeds, flaxseed oil, canola oil, olive oil, sesame oil, peanut butter and oil, sunflower seeds and oil, avocado, soybean oil, and safflower oil.
  • Lifestyle: Your heart needs a regular supply of oxygen and it also must not be overstressed. Practice light aerobic exercise and regular relaxation. Ayurveda would recommend some nourishing yoga practices, such as the dynamic ‘Sun Salutation’ as well as daily breathing practices (Pranayama). Ayurveda suggests exercising within your own limitations and does not encourage excessive exercise that leaves you tired. Yoga is exercise that leaves you energized and fitter.
    A very common cause of heart diseases is mental stress. Regular practice of yoga and Pranayama (breathing exercises) reduces stress levels. Also, meditation has been scientifically proven to prevent as well as cure heart diseases.
    Ayurveda considers the functions of heart and mind inter-linked. Disturbance in one affects the other. Therefore, patients having heart disease are advised to refrain from anxiety, worry, excessive sexual intercourse and wrathful disposition. All efforts should be made for the patient to have good sleep at night. Even rest during the day is essential. He should never be permitted to remain awake at night for long.
  • Awareness in eating: Awareness is quintessence of yoga. ‘Awareness’ is a key and central issue of inestimable importance in any Yogic practice. When we eat, most of us are either indulge ourselves in conversation or even in our own thoughts. When this happens we lose the connection with our food and the entire process of eating becomes unconscious. Tradition says our act of eating should be as mindful and alive as any other processes of yogic techniques. This helps to deepen our sensitivity/awareness of food and processes of the body and also helps to have a self restraint as one of the main causes of overeating absence of awareness from the act of eating.

Recommended Yogic Techniques

  • Yogic relaxation

Principle of relaxation is one of the most fundamental elements in Yogic processes of managing cardiovascular diseases.

Yogic relaxation techniques such as Yoga Nidra (the psychic/yogic sleep), Nadi Shodhana pranayama (popularly called coronary pranayama) are excellent tools to relax the tired heart and tensed mind.

Yoga Nidra helps to reduce physical, mental and emotional tensions. It relieves the working strain upon cardiac muscles and induces relaxed mental attitude and healthy emotional environment within. The entire technique of Yoga Nidra is done in the corpse pose (Shavasana; a supine position). The guided process of yoga nidra is experienced on the levels of feelings and awareness. Some of the important stages in yoga nidra are the rotation of consciousness through body parts, which helps releasing the tensions stored in the musculature and stage of meditative visualizations help harmonizing the neuro-psychic of the individual equally.

  • Nadi Shodhana ‘a coronary pranayama’

Nadi shodhana pranayama is one of the most soothing and harmonizing techniques in hatha yoga. It helps in oxygenation process and helps repair the damaged tissues. Therefore nadi shodhana is highly effective both in initial recovery of a heart patient and in subsequent rehabilitation and rejuvenation period. In one of the stages of nadi shodhana; known as alternate nostril breathing or anulom vilom, inhalation and exhalation are done through alternate nostrils with a very slow, controlled and soothing breath. This process soothes the anxious mind, relaxes the excited nerves and stabilizes the irregular heart and circulation. 5-10 minutes of practice every day will ensure relaxed and efficient functioning of cardiovascular system.

  • Asana

In cardiovascular management, asanas are vitally important but should not be performed at the expense of relaxation. The must get adequate rest and relaxation in between the posture and at the slightest sign of heart strain or pain the posture of relaxation should be adopted.

Hasta Utthanasana (Raised arms pose)

Hasta Utthanasana is an excellent posture to improve the capacity of the lungs. This asana influences the heart and circulation of blood in the body; especially the brain gets extra supply of oxygenated blood.

Technique

Stand with the feet together and arms in front of the body with the wrist crossed. Inhale slowly and deeply and simultaneously raise the arms upwards through the front of the body while keeping the wrists crossed. As the arms move upwards bend the head slightly backwards to look at the hands.

At the end of deep inhalation, open the arms to stretch them outwards to the sides at shoulder level with exhalation. Inhale again and reverse the movement of the arms to bring them above the head with wrist crossed and finally exhale again and lower the arms through the front to the starting position. This completes one round of the practice. Repeat the process 5-10 rounds.

Tadasana (Palm Tree pose)

Tadasana or the palm tree pose gives a very good stretch to the entire spinal column, shoulders and the neck. It helps also to rectify faulty and shallow breathing.

Stand with the feet close to each other and the hands interlocked in the front. Turning the palms outwards place the hands on top of the head with palms facing upwards, fix the gaze on one steady point in front of the eyes at the eye level, this is the starting position of this asana. With one slow inhalation stretch the arms above the head and balance on the toes. Hold the balance in the final position and with the exhalation lower the hands and the heels back into the starting position. This completes one round of the practice. Please perform six rounds of this practice with full synchronization of the breath.

Note: During the practice, in the final position, try to minimize the movement of the body and develop the ability to balance.  After completing the six rounds lower the arms to the sides and relax the shoulders, neck and the arms.

Tiryaka Tadasana (Swaying Palm tree pose)

 Tiryaka Tadasana gives stretch to the sides and the postural muscles. It is a very good posture for those who suffer from back stiffness and postural problems. Both Tadasana and Tiryaka Tadasana help develop physical and mental balance.

Technique

Separate the feet around two and half feet apart. Interlock the hands as done in the first practice. With one deep inhalation stretch the arms above the head and with the exhalation bend to the right side keeping the elbows straight and beside the ears. With inhalation come back to the center and bend to the left side with exhalation to complete one round of the practice. In this way one can perform this asana for 5-7 rounds with synchronized breath. After completing the practice lower the arms to the sides, bring the feet close to each other, take a few deep breaths and relax the body.

Marjari Asana (Cat Stretch pose)

Marjari asana is another practice which can be done safely in cardiovascular condition. This asana improves the flexibility of the neck and spine and is ideal for people who sit on the chair for long hours.

Technique

Kneel on the floor. Lean forward and place the hands on the floor underneath the shoulders. In ideal condition, both hands should align with the knees. Keeping the elbows straight with a slow and relaxed inhalation raise the head and simultaneously arch the back.  In the final position head is raised upwards.

Shashankasana

With exhalation take the chin to the chest and raise the spine upwards like a cat and contact the abdominal muscles gently to empty the lungs. This is one round of the practice.

This practice can be done with relaxed and synchronized breath for 7-10 rounds. And after completing the rounds relax the body in the Shashankasana (Moon or Hare pose). Shashankasana calms down the nervous tensions and anger. One can incorporate deep, relaxed abdominal breath in this position to enhance the feelings of relaxation and internalization of mind.

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Concept of Guna in Yoga

To understand the philosophy of mind management in yoga; it’s highly important to know the dynamics of samkhya; one of the oldest philosophical systems.

Meaning and Theory of Guna

The core dynamics of samkhya psychology is based on the theory of the gunas. The sanskrit word guna means qualities. There are three gunas each representing the qualities which govern the nature on macro as well as micro dimensions. Three gunas sattva (quality of effulgence, balance), rajas (quality of transformation/movement/dynamism) and tamas (quality of maintaining status quo/staticity/passivity), are the essential principles which are the constituents of nature and are instrumental in differentiation. The entire theory of gunas is very relevant. One can relate it to day to day experiences every moment without failure. On the mental plane these three gunas create various tendencies which can be classified into positive and negative categories. And most importantly the permutations of gunas which constitute nature; can be harmonized; there come yogic practices, tools and principles. The various yogic tools physical and non physical help the individual to harness these subtle essential potencies of nature. All three gunas are contrary and yet complementary to each other.

Transient reality as function of Guna

The nature known as prakriti refers to the state of absolute potential before any differentiation starts.  Gunas are the substance and the forces of nature. When they are in a state of equilibrium there is absoluteness and state of non creation. Equilibrium means sattva transforms into sattva; rajas into rajas and tamas into tamas. Once the equilibrium is broken the process of differentiation is nature (prakriti; the creatrix) starts. Then the mutual permutations of the gunas start which starts evolution and differentiation in nature. These three principles of nature keep nature or manifest phenomenal reality always in flux. But despite these changes and transmutations and permutations the consciousness principle remains unchanged and immutable.

Influence of Guna on Human Behaviour

According to Samkhya, human psyche is immensely affected and influenced by interplay of gunas. As one guna becomes predominant we observe corresponding qualities of that specific guna in the personality of the individual.

The human being and its nature, relies heavily on the combination and inter-permutation of three gunas. These gunas are the basic essences of one’s personality and because of the different combinations of these gunas, we are shaped into a specific personality type. The three gunas are the causal sources of the various tendencies, qualities or psychological temperaments in human personality. A specific combination of gunas can give rise to a particular personality type. In Samkhya Yoga and Gita as mentioned repeatedly that gunas influence the human behaviour and personality; and with the transformation of gunas, transformation of personality is possible. The study of the gunas is of immense importance from the view point of understanding the dynamics of human behaviour. If we see through Samkhya perspective we find that the different typologies of personality found in any part of the world could easily be reduced to the presence of a definite combination of gunas. We have seen that there are basically three types of personality found in the world according to Gita and Samkhya. These personality types are determined because of the presence of one predominant guna. Here predominance of one guna does not indicate that the other two gunas are eliminated from the personality rather it indicates that the two other gunas are present in subdued state, but in that state also they may be available in different proportions in personality which ultimately can result in shaping the individual into a specific personality type.

Each personality type shows a range of personality traits, the clustering of these traits together mould the personality in a particular type. Gunas in Indian Psychology are the basic sources of all the traits known to psychology. Hence these three are considered the forces determine the personality types. In one personality type the traits of sattva, Rajas and Tamas might be found in varying proportion, depending on the nature of their combinations.

Types of Personality based on Guna

Sattva predominant personality

Sattva guna is the quality of effulgence, knowledge and wisdom. A person with Sattva predominant has mental clarity, mind is not deluded by any confusions, has clear intention and focused attention all the time. Such a person performs every action diligently, steadily and with relaxed alertness. In behaviour of such a person one may see lots of patience and moderation. Samyam (inner restraint) and Viveka (ability of discrimination) are the predominant qualities in such a person. According to Yoga Psychology, a Sattva dominant person has Ekagrata mind (one-pointed). This indicates that a Sattvik person has lots of control over one’s lower mental tendencies and desires which are required in spiritual sadhana.

Rajas predominant personality

Chief characteristic of Rajas guna is dynamism and potential to transform/change. One who has rajas guna predominantly active in their nature are very dynamic, passionate and energetic on the positive side. But predominance of rajas often leads one into spirals of varied emotional upheavals. Due to the quality of Rajas guna one becomes highly competitive, ambitious and at time stubborn and authoritative as well. Guided by intense desires to achieve something in life also at times becomes cause of frustration, disappointments, jealousy and anger once one fails to achieve. Person with Rajas predominance always in alert mode and often they find it very difficult to relax. They are very susceptible to heart conditions, hypertension and digestion related issues in life. In Yogic term mental state of a typical Rajas predominant person is of vikshipta (oscillating) mind. These people enjoy physical activities but find sitting still and meditating very challenging.

Tamas predominant personality

Tamas is the quality of ignorance, inertia, status quo or staticity. This is one quality which holds one down from taking any initiative in life. Tamas is predominantly coloured by the characteristics of lethargy and languor. Mind is always clouded by confusion and indecisiveness. There is complete lack of control over one’s speech, thought and actions. There is absence of Viveka as a result such a person is mostly guided by impulsive and instinctive tendencies. In Yoga, such a state of mind is defined as Mudha avastha (indolent state).

While studying the characteristics of personalities we should always understand that we all have these gunas in us. It is predominance of a particular guna defines a specific set of personality traits.  

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A lot of you must be quite familiar with the famous style of yoga known as ‘Bikram yoga’. To help you recall – it is a style of yoga that is practiced under hot and humid conditions where in the temperature of the room is keep somewhere between 37 degrees – 55 degrees and the humidity is maintained at 40%. This style of yoga happens within 90 minutes of time frame and, consists of 29 different yoga asanas coupled with two Pranayama exercises. Hot! Isn’t it?

A body experiences wilder activity when it is subjected to this sauna-like environment. However, with this heat-oriented energetic experience comes a set of woes which can be quite discomforting and need proper management.

Here are the most important pros and cons of Bikram yoga that you must know in order to prepare yourself for the new and upcoming hot yoga class:

Pros:

Strength

One of the most interesting Bikram yoga benefits is the fact that it utilizes, as well as, inculcates amazing strength and endurance in a yogi’s body. An ideal Bikram yoga class requires constant effort and focus, as staying within the respective yoga pose under the heat can be quite challenging to accomplish.

Breath

The core essence of yoga is breath management while performing the various asanas. Due to the constant flow in Bikram yoga poses practiced under hot and humid conditions, a yogi learns how to control and regulate their breath in order to achieve the poses correctly. This requires focus and strength. Hence, mastering Bikram yoga style contributes greatly to a yogi’s ability to manage his breathing practice.

Cardio

Practicing yoga in a heated room leads to a heftier degree of cardiovascular activity. The entire Bikram yoga session is constantly active which keeps the heart rate prevailing at all times. Hence, a person aiming to lose weight (especially, water weight) can benefit highly from a Bikram yoga class.

Detoxify

The most prominent benefit of Bikram yoga is its capability to make a person’s body continuously perspire so they can sweat out all the toxins and cleanse their body completely.

Healing

Healing is the next most vital aim of a Bikram yoga class.  The heat produced in a yogi’s body lubricates muscles and joints while the exercise continues to trigger these. Such activity works better than hot water massage equipment and instantly helps heal the soreness, or persistent aches in the practitioner’s body.

Cons:

Dehydration

With extensive heat, a person’s body immediately begins to sweat. This persistent sweat (without a doubt) detoxifies your body. However, under its persisting effect the body loses a lot of electrolyte, magnesium and potassium which may lead the person to dehydrate and, possibly faint under its effect.

How to Manage: Hydration is the key. Place a water bottle ready by the corner of your yoga mat and keep consuming mini-sips from it on the go. If you continue to feel dizzy, seek a break and get some fresh air.

Handle the Heat:

It is possible that your body might not be able to adjust itself to the heat of a bikram yoga class. The symptoms of which include headache, arrhythmia, minimal sweat with high body temperature. Continuing practice while ignoring these signs may result in a heat stroke.

How to Manage: It is advised that you reach a Bikram Hot Yoga classes a few minutes early and let your body adjust to the heat before the session commences. If the body temperature still does not regulate itself and you continue to show these symptoms, then go for a cold shower immediately.

Persistent Nausea

Due to overexertion of the cardiac muscles coupled with the heat, you may experience symptoms of nausea, headache, asphyxiation, which can be physically overwhelming.

How to Manage: Stop the practice and let your body relax in shavasana or the corpse pose for some time. If you continue to feel the same, then step out to get some fresh air. Consumption of Vitamin C oriented beverage can also help you feel instantly better.

The ‘slippage’

Since the body sweats profusely while performing Bikram Yoga poses, some of the sweat can fall onto your yoga mat and making it really slippery. As the skin comes in regular contact with sweaty yoga mat, performing Bikram yoga poses perfectly can be quite challenging.

How to Manage: Keep a body length towel handy that you can spread underneath your body in order to absorb the sweat before it comes in contact with the mat.

A Bikram Hot Yoga class is quite challenging, yet fun at the same time. In order to reap maximum benefits from it, you are advised to remain focused throughout the session so you enjoy its profit and carefully manage its cons at the same time.  

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Pranayama is known as a Hatha Yoga practice to control and expand the vital energy (prana). In traditional texts such as Hatha Yoga Pradipika and Gherand Samhita, there are many different types of pranayama and their benefits are immensed. Each technique of pranayama is used specifically to bring about a specific change and benefits in the body-mind complex.

Broadly speaking all the different pranayama techniques are categorized under four different categories-

Types of Pranayama and their Benefits
  1. Balancing Pranayama: (Nadi Shodhana)

According to the science of Hatha Yoga, the flow of breath in each nostril is intimately connected with various opposite and dual functions such as right and left hemisphere activities, sympathetic and Para sympathetic dominance, action and relaxation in the body. It can be said that we are dominated by cyclic fluctuations, and that these fluctuations are reflected in the breath. Most notably in the breath in each nostril.

The science of Hatha Yoga, more specifically named as Swara Yoga also observes that the predominance of breath in the right and left nostrils alternates on an average of ninety minute cycles. Between the changes in dominance, there exist a state of balanced flow which is the period when all systems operate at optimum level and capacity and the spiritual energy (Atma Shakti awakened).

According to Swara Yoga and Hatha Yoga tradition, predominance air flow in one specific nostril signifies predominant state of one of the specific nadis (energy flow) in the body. For an example predominance of right nostril signifies dominance of Pingala Nadi (Solar energy or vital energy current) whereas predominance of left nostril represents predominance of Ida Nadi or the psychic or mental pranic force. Once these two are in the state of balance and harmony then the third energy force is active which is Sushumna Nadi or uplifting spiritual energy.

Literally Nadi Shodhana means purification of Nadi (energy channels). This is one of the most significant pranayama practices in Hatha Yoga and Kundalini Yoga tradition.

Technique

Nadi Shodhana Pranayama

To perform Nadi Shodhana pranayama one may sit in any one comfortable position with the spine erect. Then bring right hand in front of the face in Nasagra mudra (hand gesture) with first two fingers resting on at the eyebrow centre and placing the thumb on the right nostril and ring finger on the left to close and open the nostrils.

Now to start the first stage of the practice start inhaling from the left nostril with slow, deep and rhythmic breath while keeping the right closed with the thumb. At the end of inhalation close the left nostril and open the right and breathe slowly and deeply.

After exhalation through the right nostril now inhale through the right and exhale through the left. This completes one round of the practice. This stage of Nadi Shodhana pranayama is also called alternate nostrils breathing. As this basic stage of the pranayama is mastered then gradually one is graduated to other stages of the technique which incorporates different breathing ratios.

Benefits

  1. Slow, deep, rhythmic breathing as practiced in Nadi Shodhana has far reaching effects on the entire system. It results in enhancing the vital capacity of our lungs and helps to relax the rhythms of the heart and nervous system. Inhalation is active process and exhalation is relatively passive in nature. These two stages of breathing are also associated with sympathetic and para-sympathetic systems. During inhalation sympathetic system is active whereas during exhalation parasympathetic system is predominant. In Nadi shodhana one has to be able to control respiration and expiration, which balances out the whole respiratory cycle.
  2. From the physiological point of view, Nadi shodhana is the perfect balancing practice. Alternate nostril breathing stimulates the left and right sides of the brain equally and there by the left and right sides of the body. Energetically, it directly balances the two major nadis Ida and Pingala, which play a major role in determining our thinking and behaviour, deciding whether we are internalized or externalized. Furthermore, it is stated in the yogic texts that when ida and pingala are balanced and purified. Sushumna Nadi which is responsible for spiritual experience begins to flow. This leads to heightened awareness and spontaneous meditative states.
  3. When we follow the ration of 1:2 it imposes a smooth and even rhythm on the normal rhythm of the brain. By using the ratio of 1:2 which means keeping the length of exhalation double that of inhalation helps to provide ample time for brain and heart to relax. It also activates the functions of parasympathetic response in the body.
  1. Tranquilizing Pranayama (Ujjayi)

Technique

This process of Ujjayi breathing works on extending the breath with complete comfort, awareness and relaxation. Ujjayi pranayama involves a very gentle contraction of glottis in the throat while breathing in and out. This gentle contraction of the throat helps controlling and regulating the flow of each inhalation and exhalation. As a result each breath becomes very smooth, conscious and deep.

Benefits

  1. Normal respiration is very weak and only uses a very small percentage of the lung capacity. Ujjayi uses the complete respiration capacity & has very powerful effect. There is proper gaseous exchange happening during the process in the blood.
  2. This process of Ujjayi pranayama imposes a conscious control over the process of inspiration and expiration. Otherwise breath is controlled by unconscious areas of the brain. This conscious control over the breath helps resetting the autonomic functioning of the brain.
  3. The smooth and the relaxing rhythm of conscious breath initiated by Ujjayi helps in de-emotionalize the breath. It is one of those pranayama techniques which is highly beneficial for people suffering from anxiety or panic attack. This practice of Ujjayi leaves a profoundly relaxing effect at the psychic level the deeper level of our being. For this reason Ujjayi is one of the most useful of all the Pranayama practices in Yoga therapy.
  4. Practice of Ujjayi also has an effect on Carotid Sinuses in the region of throat. Carotid sinuses regulate blood pressure in the arteries. These sinuses control the blood pressure through feedback mechanisms. Once Ujjayi pranayama is performed is exerts a mild pressure on these sinuses which in turn send message to the brain to lower the blood pressure. Therefore it is highly recommended practice for people suffering from high blood pressure, stress and anxiety.
3.     Heating Pranayama (Kapalbhati and Bhastrika)

There are number of heating pranayama techniques in Hatha Yoga which activate, vitalize and distribute prana in the body. By nature this activating group of pranayama techniques are highly vitalizing and energizing.

Kapalbhati Pranayama (Frontal brain cleansing pranayama)

Technique

The technique of Kapalbhati pranayama is performed by reversing the normal breathing cycle. By making inhalation passive and exhalation active. It initiates action by activating the vertical movements of diaphragm in the body. During the practice exhalation is forced out of the body by contraction of abdominal muscles and upward movement of the diaphragm followed by subsequent passive inhalation and relaxation of abdominal muscles. Normally Kapalbhati pranayama is performed at the rhythm of each contraction per second. But later on with practice rhythm of the breath can also be increased.

Benefits

  1. This dynamic and activation pranayama alters the level of carbon dioxide and other chemicals, acids and alkalis in the blood. This is an excellent technique to mobilize stagnant air in the lungs and expels high quality of carbon dioxide. Kapalbhati pranayama is also part of six cleansing techniques (shatkarma) in traditional Hatha Yoga. The intention of the pranayama is to cleanse the body, the nervous system and removing accumulated gases that build up in the upper part of the lungs.
  2. On the pranic level, the constant abdominal movements in the body activates Samana Vayu which is responsible for better exchange of energy. This activation of Samana Vayu and upward movement of prana stimulates the higher centers of the brain.
  3. On the physical plane constant contraction and relaxation of the abdominal muscles result in improved distribution of blood and other digestive fluids in the abdominal region. Hence helps in improving the functioning of the system.
Bhastrika (Bellow breath)

Bhastrika belongs to the same category of heating or activating pranayama. Effect wise, Bhastrika pranayama is physically and energetically more intense and demanding than Kapalbhati pranayama. It is called bellows breath because it activates metabolic and pranic fire (agni) by initiating movements in the abdomen as similar as that of bellows.

Technique

Technically it is quite similar as Kapalbhati pranayama. Only difference is here is that in Bhastrika both inhalation and exhalation are active and forceful whereas in Kapalbhati pranayama only exhalation is active. In Bhastrika pranayama one requires a control over the diaphragm. During this practice it is very common that one may start feeling dizzy and feel hyperventilated. Therefore to do this pranayama effectively one has to gradually develop control over inhalation and needs to regulate it consciously to avoid dizziness. This entire practice should be performed in relaxed state of body and mind.

Benefits

  1. Practice of Bhastrika pranayama fans the digestive fire and massages all the internal organs of the body. During the process there is intense activity of the diaphragm and the lungs which results in better oxygenated supply of the blood to all the different areas of the body and brain especially.
  2. In Bhastrika most of the carbon dioxide is expelled out of the system as a result one is prepared to hold retention of the breath (kumbhaka) for a long period of time. In traditional Hatha and Kundalini Yoga, Bhastrika is often used to prepare one for a longer Kumbhaka experiences.
  3. Bhastrika is an excellent practice for those who live a very sedentary life. It helps activating the metabolic fire and purifying all the different Dhatus (7 different bodily constituents according to Ayurveda).
  4. According to the Yogic texts and Ayuveda, formation of the three Doshas or humors known as Vata (air), Pitta (bile) and Kapha (phlegm) can be managed and balanced by the practice of Bhastrika. One of the major causes of diseases according to both Hatha Yoga and Ayurveda is blocking of Agni (fire). Through Bhastrika pranayama this blocking is removed and Manipura chakra is vitalized.
  5. Unblocking pranic flow from Manipura Chakra (solar plexus or Navel chakra) help activating and piecing of the Granthis (psychic knots) and awakening the Brahma nadi, according to Kundalini Yoga.
  1. Cooling Pranayama (Sheetali or Sheetkari)

There are number of pranayama techniques which leave a cooling effects on the body. These cooling pranayamas have effects on the mouth and all the blood vessels located there. There are many blood vessels in the mouth and the tongue, these techniques of cooling pranayama directly cool down the body because blood carries heat in the body. Once mouth and tongue are cooled down then the circulation of cooler blood result in cooling down the rest of the body and especially the brain.

Sheetali Pranayama

Technique

Sheetali Pranayama

Literally Sheetali means cooling. In this technique of Sheetali pranayama breathing take place through the mouth by rolling the tongue from the sides. With the rolling of the tongue a tube like structure is created through which one inhales deeply and then at the end of inhalation one closes the mouth and exhales through the nose. This entire process is repeated a number of times with long, slow and deep full yogic breathing (incorporating three stages of breathing- abdominal, chest and clavicular breathing). For a better cooling effect one should perform it for 10-15 times with relaxed body, breath and mind.

Sheetkari Pranayama

Technique

Sheetkari Pranayama

Sheetkari also means cooling breath, it is another variation of cooling category of pranayamas. It is more convenient for people who cannot roll the tongue from the side. In the practice, lips are opened and teeth are exposed and then a long, slow and deep breath is taken through the mouth and at the end of inhalation lips are closed and exhalation happens through the nose. Once one inhales through the teeth, breath creates a hissing sound and results in cooling effects in the entire mouth region. Like Sheetali pranayama, Sheetkari can also be repeated for 10-15 times.

Benefits

  1. Through these techniques a control is developed over temperature controlling mechanisms in the brain. These techniques are performed in Yoga Sadhana to cool down the excessive heat generated during the practices.
  2. This is excellent practice for those who have excessive Pitta activities. Regarding the benefits of this technique, it has been mentioned that one again control over sleep, lethargy, thirst and hunger. These effects are possible because of cooling or lowering the body temperature which automatically activates ida. With Ida activation there is natural effect on the mind to get internalized. And with the cooling of the body, there is a tendency to relax more deep and fall asleep.
  3. These practices which cool down the physical systems and activate Ida Nadi, are recommended for anger management, excessive anxiety and insomnia.

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Hailing to the town of Rishikesh for experiencing yoga and spirituality is a desirable experience. And, so a number of souls, entities travel to this holy land to discover and unfolded the mystics of yoga and spirituality. Some are yogis willing to explore the art on a much deeper level, while some are yoga amateurs aspiring to become well-grained practitioners. Rishikesh braces all kinds of individuals and has legacies to offer each soul.

When the quest for yoga begins, there are several factors that require attention for a smooth and enlightening experience. As much as we would like to dismiss the monetary factor, we cannot completely let go of the role of our pocketbook in this voyage. However, it does not have to be all that there is to consider, think and take care of. Monetary concerns are secondary when it comes to yoga education. India, being the epicenter of yoga and spirituality, undeniably offers the most authentic and pocket-friendly experience of yoga. And, this experience can be made further inexpensive by enrolling for Yoga TTC program at the best price in India.

Rishikesh Yogis offers exactly that, a yoga program that is accredited, authentic, rewarding and would not become hefty on your bill book either. The school delivers recognized YTTC program in India at the best price. There are several underlying factors behind the YTTC program at Rishikesh Yogis being so incredibly worth the money. Some of the factors are enlisted below:

Acclaimed YTT Certification

Rishikesh Yogis is a Yoga Alliance certified yoga school. As an RYS (registered yoga school), the Yogshala holds global accreditation in its yoga training programs. With this recognition, it has become a bench mark of delivering quality yoga education. When a Rishikesh Yogis student graduates their YTTC program, they receive the honor and validation status of being a Yoga Alliance recognized yoga instructor and practitioner. With this certification, you shall be at the liberty to spread the education of yoga anywhere in the globe.

Yoga Alliance Approved Curriculum

The curriculum is always the core of a successful training program and Rishikesh Yogis ensure the standard set by Yoga Alliance in their curriculum. The entire program proceeds in different stages under Practical Techniques, Intensive Meditation sessions, how to become a good Yoga Teacher, Knowing the Body and its Anatomy, Yoga philosophy (the yogic life) and Practicum of the entire course content learnt during the entire program.

Ideal Daily Schedule and Curriculum Delivery

The schedule of the program is kept diverse and, is followed under firm discipline by the much respected and acclaimed yoga teachers of Rishikesh Yogis. While the day begins with Herbal infusion, mantra chanting, and morning yoga asanas, it progresses towards yogic teachings and intense meditation practices. The entire day concludes with documenting the learning and experience of the day and a soulful interaction with fellow yogis and teachers.

Food and Accommodation

The candidates are provided with comfortable accommodation in the premise of the Yogshala. Rooms are facilitated with all modern amenities for comfort, overlooking the Himalayan surrounds in the backdrop. Nutritious and highly delectable meals are served to the blossoming yogis for proper nourishment of their body and soul.

Excursions and Activities for Rejuvenation

The gurus at Rishikesh Yogis believe that yoga education should not be limited to study and practice only. Recreational activities are just as crucial for rejuvenation. Yoga teaches us how to breathe freely and liberate ourselves mentally and physically. For ensuring versatility in the program, spiritual and adventurous excursions such as trip to Kunjapuri, trek to the Himalayas, river rafting activities are conducted for overall well-being. Additionally, the yogis also get to pamper their body and soul with a complementary Ayurvedic Massage.

The Perfect Training Outcome

Behind every step we undertake, there is the motive of gaining a result and a consequence. This result is the reason why we invest our time and money in a particular program. Whether the result is about gaining a memorable experience, or about gaining recognition that would lead us to other opportunities or it could just be about gaining a learning curve. Here, you are rewarded with all of these outcomes post successful completion of the program. You would evolve as an acclaimed yoga teacher, a deeply grained practitioner and yoga erudite while living a momentous experience.

If you are looking for an authentic yogic experience and knowledge at the ideal fee then your search ends with Yoga Teacher Training program at Rishikesh Yogis.

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Concept and Meaning of Pranayama

It should be noted that Pranayama is not deep breathing similarly retaining the breath once only as long as one can do so is not the way of Pranayama. Prana Means the vital force, ayama is the lengthening or widening through control. When breathing is controlled so as to retain the prana, it is Pranayama.
The ultimate aim of Pranayama is to be able to retain the breath. There are three types of Pranayama, namely, Puraka (inhalation), Rechaka (exhalation) and Kumbhaka (retention) is of two types, antaranga (internal) and bahiranga (external).

Tatah Ksiyate prakashavaranam
Thereby the covering of light disappears.

It is said in Patanjali Yoga Sutra that by the practice of Pranayama the psychic centres are activated and as a result of that, the covering of knowledge is removed. Prakasha here means the psychic centres. The psychic centres are usually covered or veiled due to sense experiences. The luminosity of these subtler vehicles is limited or covered by the physical matter of the brain.

Removal of psychic or pranic blockages

In pranayama practices breath is considered as the vehicle which harmonizes, activates and liberates psychic and vital energies in the body.
Removal of covering by Pranayama means removal of the covering physical matter over the psychic faculty. It means that when you have practiced Pranayama something happens in you by which the psychic energies are released from the veil or control or obstruction of the physical mechanisms of the brain. Energy is released even when you switch on the light or switch on the fan. Pranayama creates a similar condition in the brain by which the inherent psychic faculties are released.

Concept of Pranayama as per Hatha Yoga Bhramari Pranayama

In the tradition of Hatha Yoga, practices of pranayama should only be started once body is released from dross and energy channels are free from blockages through the practices of Shatkarma (cleansing techniques), Asana (Hatha yoga pose) and Yogic diet. Pranayama is more than simple breathing exercises and it must be practiced systematically and under the proper guidance.
The word Prana is a combination of two syllables. Pra and Na. Prana denotes constancy it is a force in constant motion. Prana is the vital life force and Pranayama is the process by which internal pranic store is increased. Pranayama is comprised of two words Prana & ayama. Which means Pranic capacity or length: It is not merely breath control but a technique through which quantity of Prana in the body is activated in a higher frequency.
In yogic terminology it is said that whatever is manifest is the sthoola rupa or gross form of the subtle, cosmic energy, known as prana. In yoga and tantra there is an eternal truth: the basis of existence depends on the two forces, Shiva & Shakti, consciousness and energy, ultimately they are not two forces but one; Shakti or prana is the creative and dynamic aspect of consciousness or shiva. The purpose of hatha yoga is the realize Shiva or consciousness by means of Shakti or Prana.
Pranayama is practiced in order to understand and control pranic process in the body. Breathing is a direct means of absorbing Prana and the manner in which we breathe sets off Pranic Vibration which influence our entire being.

Effects of Pranayama on Prana and Mind

When prana moves, chitta (the mental force) moves. When Prana is without movement, Chitta is without movement. By this (steadiness of Prana) the yogi attains steadiness and should thus restrain the vayu (Air)’. II/2 Hatha Yoga Pradipika
Prana and mind are intricately linked. Fluctuation of one means fluctuation of other. When either the mind or the prana becomes balanced the other is steadied. Hatha yoga says, control the Prana and the mind is automatically controlled, whereas Raja Yoga says, control the mind Prana gets controlled. These are two approached of yoga. The mind is equated with a wild monkey, jumping here and there. Because of this inborn tendency it is very difficult to hold it still. Hatha yoga says let the mind be concentrate on the automatic body functions and vital energy and mind will become quite by itself.

When the nervous impulses steady and rhythmic, the brain functions are regulated and the brain waves become rhythmic. The breathing process is directly connected to the brain and central nervous system. It also has some connection with the Hypothalamus, the brain centre, which control emotional responses. The Hypothalamus is responsible for translating perception into cognitive experience. Erratic breathing sends erratic impulses to this centre and thus creates disturbed responses.

Nadi Shodhana Pranayama

There are also certain areas of nasal mucous membrane which are connected to the visceral organs. When impulses coming from the nose are rhythmic the visceral organs, particularly those connected to the coccygeal plexus, respond in the same manner, rhythmically. Being disturbed, these organ again send irregular impulses to the brain and cause more disharmony and imbalance. This cycle is continuous.

By becoming aware of the nature of breath and by restraining it, the whole system is controlled. When you retain the breath you are stopping nervous impulses in different parts of the body & harmonizing the brain wave patterns. In Pranayama, it is the duration of breath retention which has to be increased. The longer the breath is held the greater the gap between nervous impulses and their responses in the brain. When retention is held for a prolonged period mental agitation is curtailed.

Pranayama as per Patanjali Yoga Sutra

Actually Patanjali defines Pranayama as the gap between inhalation and exhalation. Pranayama is usually considered to be the controlled inhalation and exhalation combined with retention. However, technically speaking it is only retention. Inhalation/exhalation are methods of inducing retention. Retention is most important because it allows a longer period for as it allows more time for the exchange of gases in the cells. I.e. oxygen and carbon-dioxide.

Patanjali further says that retention of breath after expiration removes the hindrance to yoga. In Hatha Yoga, Yoga is the union of the two poles of energy with in us, known as Ida (the mental or psychic force) and Pingala (the vial force). In mundane awareness these poles are separate from each other. In transcendental awareness these poles come closest together and during retention the poles come closest together. Breath retention must be developed in order to stop the fluctuation of the brain and mind so that a more expansive types of experience can develop.
When you go further into yoga, there comes a time when you must have some control of the mind so you can dive deeper within yourself. When you try to practice mantra or meditation, the fluctuating mental waves create a barrier between you and the object you are trying to focus your awareness on.

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As we know yoga is a generic term and more accurately it is a path which leads to self-evolvement, upliftment and refinement of qualities in practitioners. But most of the times yoga is mistaken as a set of physical techniques, which reduces the scope of this discipline of self transformation to merely some sort of sports and physical endeavor.

Approaching yoga ‘Yogic way’

When we practice in yoga class our approach in the session guide our whole endeavor in right direction provided it is based on yogic principles. Following are a few principles for practitioners of yoga which will help them to be on right track:

Principle of “Here and Now”

One of the main ingredients of yogic journey is to ground our awareness in ‘here and now’. If your awareness is not grounded in the moment while practicing asana or any other techniques then you are not doing yoga. Advancement of practices does not imply that one should do difficult asana or become more flexible but doing it with awareness. Asanas help us to enhance and deepen our awareness of the body no matter how easy or difficult posture is. A beginner will practice even difficult poses with scattered awareness and whereas someone who is established in yoga will do practices with focus and un-dissipated awareness. Asanas (Yoga poses), pranayama (Yogic breathing) or meditations are the various tools of yoga to sharpen our awareness and discipline the mind-body complex. When your awareness is scattered then your mental energies are dissipated most of the time and you end up devitalizing yourself. To be focused and aware is the first and the foremost training in yoga class. And this is the meaning of ’being grounded’ in true sense.

Non-competitive; letting go

Yogic process has always been an individualized process. It is all about the individual who has embarked on the path of self transformation. The focus in the sessions is to withdraw the awareness and to capture the experience in here and now moment. Philosophy of yogic teaching is ‘’to be who you are’’.

Therefore any distraction in the classes should be avoided and one needs to be more accepting to one’s own self. Respecting one’s own limitations and proceeding from there is one important element of yogic path. The present state of one’s body and mind is the result of various events, issues as well as experiences of past which are to be resolved at individual level. Therefore comparison of two practitioners should not be done in session as each one carries unique set of experiences, limitations as well as strengths within one self. This is the path you tread alone. A non-competitive awareness helps one to let go the same set of mentality which one carries all day long which creates frustration, tensions, anger, restlessness and dissatisfaction in life.

Any transformation taking place in the moment is more important than ‘’what you were’’ or ‘’what you will become’’. If yogic practices are done with this awareness than the whole process becomes more immersive and transformative.

Ahimsa (Non-Violence)

In every yoga class there should be an element of mindfulness and practitioners should be aware of the effects of yoga techniques on the body-mind complex. We should always be in touch with the body and listen to it while practicing. One of the important codes of yoga journey is to follow Ahimsa (non-violence). Ahimsa is not always for others but it starts with one’s own self. Honoring the pain and having attitude of compassion with non-competitive attitude should go hand in hand. This requires lots of self-reflection and self-acceptance during the practice. The ultimate purpose of practicing yoga is not to satisfy just one’s ego and performing under peer pressure in the class. Rather yoga is a journey of self-transformation, self-awareness and inner growth.

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Yoga Teacher Training Blogs by Rishikesh Yogis - 9M ago

“The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or even touched – they must be felt with the heart”. – Helen Keller

I feel yoga is one of the most beautiful thing that I have experienced in my life till now.

Yoga is a term that has been understood differently by many all around the world. With this diverse experiences yoga has come out as one of the main source to keep the body in its healthiest form.

When I started yoga my mindset was different, I started it because many others were doing it and I had time. I never realized that in next few months my life will change. I firmly believe that changes happen when you are ready for it.

In all these years of yoga practice I have become completely different. I feel myself more stronger, more calmer and more stable. I have learned so much from yoga that now I don’t do yoga but feel yoga. Yoga is not about doing postures and pranayama or to meditate but yoga is our lifestyle. What we do, what we eat, what we think, talk etc…So basically its our exposure to our lifestyle.

Yoga is one of those things that have taught me to aware. Awareness of the self that is usually difficult to control. Because in our everyday life we are aware of everything else around us except our own self. Paying focus to your own self is so difficult initially because for mind it’s so unusual thing to do. But as soon as we start training our awareness there comes so many experiences and realization.

With yoga we develop inner harmony between body and mind. It’s a holistic science that has a power to relax and to improve the body and mind status through different traditional techniques.

With growing popularity people are adapting yoga to cure different health disorders.

Yoga changes our relation with our own inner self. It develops ones confidence, determination, concentration and patience. With regular practice of yoga range of experiences increases.

Not only physical body is affected but mental and spiritual growth as well happens with yoga practices. Yoga is not any religion but an art that every individual should learn so that the society as a whole grows . One should understand that it is a journey of Self Discovery.

“When the restlessness of the mind, intellect and self is stilled through the practice of Yoga, the yogi by the grace of The Spirit within himself finds fulfilment” – B.K.S Iyenger

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