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Sage Patanjali's Ashtanga Yoga : Eight fold path of Yoga

Introduction to Ashtanga Yoga:- In Sanskrit "Ashta + anga" is Ashtanga. "Ashta" means Eight and "Anga" is limbs so it means Eight Limb path, ashtanga yoga is based on Yoga Philosophy of Patanjali. The asanas, Pranayamas or the dharana which we have studied earlier or the yam and niyam are based on the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali. Hence, we will acquaint ourselves with the fundamentals as stated by Patanjali first.

History of Ashtanga Yoga


Yoga has its roots about 5000 years BC as described in Vedic Philosophy and Tantras. Patanjali , great sage composed this path into a Darshan(Philosophy) in his Book Patanjal Yoga Sutra.
The core of Patanjali’s Yoga Sutra is an eight-limbed path that forms the structural framework for yoga practice. Upon practicing all eight limbs of the path it becomes self-evident that no one element is elevated over another in a hierarchical order. Each is part of a holistic focus which eventually brings completeness to the individual as they find their connectivity to the divine. Because we are all uniquely individual a person can emphasize one branch and then move on to another as they round out their understanding.

Eight Limbs of Ashtanga Yoga

  1. Yama : (Principles or moral code)
    1. Ahimsa - A principle of non-violence
    2. Satya - A principle of Truthfulness
    3. Asteya - A principle of non stealing
    4. Brahmacharya - Continence / celibacy
    5. Aparigah - A principle of non-hoarding or non possessiveness.
  2. Niyama : Personal Disciplines)
    1. Shoucha - Purity
    2. Santosh - Contentment
    3. Tapa - Endurance
    4. Swadhyaya- Self study
    5. Eshwar Pranidhan- Dedication
  3. Asan - (Yoga Postures / positions)
    • A stable and comfortable posture which helps attain mental equilibrium.
  4. Pranayama - (Yoga Breathing)
    • Extension and control of breath.
  5. Pratyahara - (Withdrawal of Senses)
    • A mental preparation to increase the power of mind.
  6. Dharana - (Concentration on Object)
    • Concentration of mind on one object and its field.
  7. Dhyan - (Meditation)
    • With drawing mind from all external objects and Focusing it on one point and meditating on it.
  8. Samadhi - (Salvation)
    • State of Super bliss, joy and merging individual consciousness in to universal consciousness. Union between Jivatman and Paramatman. Union of Shiva and Shakti in Sahasrar Chakra (the top of the head). Realizing the Bramhan (pure consciousness) or Realization of God is the ultimate achievement of Human Birth.
The first two limbs that Patanjali describes are the fundamental ethical precepts called yamas, and the niyamas. These can also be looked at as universal morality and personal observances. Yamas and niyamas are the suggestions given on how we should deal with people around us and our attitude toward ourselves. The attitude we have toward things and people outside ourselves is yama, how we relate to ourselves inwardly is niyama. Both are mostly concerned with how we use our energy in relationship to others and to ourselves.
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First Limb of Ashtanga Yoga - Yama ; Universal Morality

The yamas include both our internal cleanliness as well as our involvement within human society. They are capable of creating a situation of harmony and peace in our interior world as well as in our relationship with samasrsapeksa, our surroundings, or society. In cultivating a favorable situation, one cannot ignore our relationship with the social environment.

The yamas are broken down into five "wise characteristics." Rather than a list of do's and don’ts, "they tell us that our fundamental nature is compassionate, generous, honest and peaceful." They are as follows:
1. Ahimsa – Compassion for all living things
The word ahimsa literally mean not to injure or show cruelty to any creature or any person in any way whatsoever. Ahimsa is, however, more than just lack of violence as adapted in yoga. It means kindness, friendliness, and thoughtful consideration of other people and things. It also has to do with our duties and responsibilities too. Ahimsa implies that in every situation we should adopt a considerate attitude and do no harm.
2. Satya – Commitment to Truthfulness
Satya means "to speak the truth," yet it is not always desirable to speak the truth on all occasions, for it could harm someone unnecessarily. We have to consider what we say, how we say it, and in what way it could affect others. If speaking the truth has negative consequences for another, then it is better to say nothing. Satya should never come into conflict with our efforts to behave with ahimsa. This precept is based on the understanding that honest communication and action form the bedrock of any healthy relationship, community, or government, and that deliberate deception, exaggerations, and mistruths harm others."
3. Asteya - Non-stealing
Steya means "to steal"; asteya is the opposite-to take nothing that does not belong to us. This also means that if we are in a situation where someone entrusts something to us or confides in us, we do not take advantage of him or her. Non-stealing includes not only taking what belongs to another without permission, but also using something for a different purpose to that intended, or beyond the time permitted by its owner.iii The practice of asteya implies not taking anything that has not been freely given. This includes fostering a consciousness of how we ask for others’ time for inconsiderate behavior demanding another’s attention when not freely given is, in effect, stealing.
4. Brahmacharya - Sense control
Brahmacharya is used mostly in the sense of abstinence, particularly in relationship to sexual activity. Brahmacharya suggests that we should form relationships that foster our understanding of the highest truths. Brahmacharya does not necessarily imply celibacy. Rather, it means responsible behavior with respect to our goal of moving toward the truth. Practicing brahmacharya means that we use our sexual energy to regenerate our connection to our spiritual self. It also means that we don’t use this energy in any way that might harm others.
5. Aparigraha - Neutralizing the desire to acquire and hoard wealth
Aparigraha means to take only what is necessary, and not to take advantage of a situation or act greedy. We should only take what we have earned; if we take more, we are exploiting someone else. The yogi feels that the collection or hoarding of things implies a lack of faith in God and in himself to provide for his future.v Aparigraha also implies letting go of our attachments to things and an understanding that impermanence and change are the only constants.
The Yoga Sutra describes what happens when these five behaviors outlined above become part of a person's daily life. Thus, the yamas are the moral virtues which, if attended to, purify human nature and contribute to health and happiness of society.
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Second Limb of Ashtanga Yoga - Niyama ; Personal Observances

n Patanjali's Yoga Sutras, the Niyamas are the second limb of the eight limbs of Raja Yoga. Niyama means "rules" or "laws." These are the rules prescribed for personal observance. Like the yamas, the five niyamas are not exercises or actions to be simply studied. They represent far more than an attitude. Compared with the yamas, the niyamas are more intimate and personal. They refer to the attitude we adopt toward ourselves as we create a code for living soulfully. They are found in the Sadhana Pada Verse 32 as:

1. Sauca - Purity

The first niyama is sauca, meaning purity and cleanliness. Sauca has both an inner and an outer aspect. Outer cleanliness simply means keeping ourselves clean. Inner cleanliness has as much to do with the healthy, free functioning of our bodily organs as with the clarity of our mind. Practicing asanas or pranayama are essential means for attending to this inner sauca. Asanas tones the entire body and removes toxins while pranayama cleanses our lungs, oxygenates our blood and purifies our nerves. "But more important than the physical cleansing of the body is the cleansing of the mind of its disturbing emotions like hatred, passion, anger, lust, greed, delusion and pride."

2. Santosa - Contentment

Another niyama is santosa, modesty and the feeling of being content with what we have. To be at peace within and content with one's lifestyle finding contentment even while experiencing life’s difficulties for life becomes a process of growth through all kinds of circumstances. We should accept that there is a purpose for everything - yoga calls it karma – and we cultivate contentment 'to accept what happens'. It means being happy with what we have rather than being unhappy about what we don't have.

3. Tapas – Disciplined use of our energy

Tapas refers to the activity of keeping the body fit or to confront and handle the inner urges without outer show. Literally it means to heat the body and, by so doing, to cleanse it. Behind the notion of tapas lies the idea we can direct our energy to enthusiastically engage life and achieve our ultimate goal of creating union with the Divine. Tapas helps us burn up all the desires that stand in our way of this goal. Another form of tapas is paying attention to what we eat. Attention to body posture, attention to eating habits, attention to breathing patterns - these are all tapas.

4. Svadhyaya – Self study

The fourth niyama is svadhyaya. Sva means "self' adhyaya means "inquiry" or "examination". Any activity that cultivates self-reflective consciousness can be considered svadhyaya. It means to intentionally find self-awareness in all our activities and efforts, even to the point of welcoming and accepting our limitations. It teaches us to be centered and non-reactive to the dualities, to burn out unwanted and self-destructive tendencies.

5. Isvarapranidhana - Celebration of the Spiritual

Isvarapranidhana means "to lay all your actions at the feet of God." It is the contemplation on God (Isvara) in order to become attuned to god and god's will. It is the recognition that the spiritual suffuses everything and through our attention and care we can attune ourselves with our role as part of the Creator. The practice requires that we set aside some time each day to recognize that there is some omnipresent force larger than ourselves that is guiding and directing the course of our lives.
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Third Limb of Ashtanga Yoga - Asana ; Body postures

Asana is the practice of physical postures. It is the most commonly known aspect of yoga for those unfamiliar with the other seven limbs of Patanjali’s Yoga Sutra. The practice of moving the body into postures has widespread benefits; of these the most underlying are improved health, strength, balance and flexibility. On a deeper level the practice of asana, which means "staying" or "abiding" in Sanskrit, is used as a tool to calm the mind and move into the inner essence of being.
Ashtang yoga- asana
The challenge of poses offers the practitioner the opportunity to explore and control all aspects of their emotions, concentration, intent, faith, and unity between the physical and the ethereal body.
Indeed, using asanas to challenge and open the physical body acts as a binding agent to bring one in harmony with all the unseen elements of their being, the forces that shape our lives through our responses to the physical world. Asana then becomes a way of exploring our mental attitudes and strengthening our will as we learn to release and move into the state of grace that comes from creating balance between our material world and spiritual experience.
As one practices asana it fosters a quieting of the mind, thus it becomes both a preparation for meditation and a meditation sufficient in and of itself. Releasing to the flow and inner strength that one develops brings about a profound grounding spirituality in the body. The physicality of the yoga postures becomes a vehicle to expand the consciousness that pervades our every aspect of our body. The key to fostering this expansion of awareness and consciousness begins with the control of breath, the fourth limb – Pranayama.
Patanjali suggests that the asana and the pranayama practices will bring about the desired state of health; the control of breath and bodily posture will harmonize the flow of energy in the organism, thus creating a fertile field for the evolution of the spirit. "This down-to-earth, flesh-and-bones practice is simply one of the most direct and expedient ways to meet yourself.
This limb of yoga practice reattaches us to our body. In reattaching ourselves to our bodies we reattach ourselves to the responsibility of living a life guided by the undeniable wisdom of our body."viii To this B.K.S. Iyengar adds: "The needs of the body are the needs of the divine spirit which lives through the body. The yogi does not look heaven-ward to find God for he know that He is within."
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Fourth Limb of Ashtanga Yoga - Pranayama ; Breath Control

Pranayama is the measuring, control, and directing of the breath. Pranayama controls the energy (prana) within the organism, in order to restore and maintain health and to promote evolution. When the in-flowing breath is neutralized or joined with the out-flowing breath, then perfect relaxation and balance of body activities are realized. In yoga, we are concerned with balancing the flows of vital forces, then directing them inward to the chakra system and upward to the crown chakra.
Ashtang Yoga - Pranayam
Pranayama, or breathing technique, is very important in yoga. It goes hand in hand with the asana or pose. In the Yoga Sutra, the practices of pranayama and asana are considered to be the highest form of purification and self discipline for the mind and the body, respectively. The practices produce the actual physical sensation of heat, called tapas, or the inner fire of purification. It is taught that this heat is part of the process of purifying the nadis, or subtle nerve channels of the body. This allows a more healthful state to be experienced and allows the mind to become more calm.x As the yogi follows the proper rhythmic patterns of slow deep breathing "the patterns strengthen the respiratory system, soothe the nervous system and reduce craving. As desires and cravings diminish, the mind is set free and becomes a fit vehicle for concentration.
The conscious guidance of Prana in the body gives rise to an increase in vitality, physical detoxification and improved immunity, as well as the attainment of inner peace, relaxation and mental clarity.
In mythology it is said that the length of a person's life is predetermined by the number of breaths. The Yogi tries to “conserve time” and lengthen life by slowing down the breath.

Effects of Pranayamas

  • Physical Effects
  • Preservation of the body’s health
  • Purification of the blood
  • Improvement in the absorption of oxygen
  • Strengthening the lungs and heart
  • Regulation of blood pressure
  • Regulation of the nervous system
  • Supporting the healing process and healing therapies
  • Increasing resistance to infection

Mental Effects

  • Elimination of stress, nervousness and depression
  • Quietening of thoughts and emotions
  • Inner balance
  • Release of energy blockages

Spiritual Effects

  • Deepening of meditation
  • Awakening and purification of the Chakras (energy centres)
  • Expansion of consciousness
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Fifth Limb of Ashtanga Yoga - Pratyahara ; Control of the Senses

Pratyahara means drawing back or retreat. The word ahara means "nourishment"; pratyahara translates as "to withdraw oneself from that which nourishes the senses." In yoga, the term pratyahara implies withdrawal of the senses from attachment to external objects. It can then be seen as the practice of non-attachment to sensorial distractions as we constantly return to the path of self realization and achievement of internal peace. It means our senses stop living off the things that stimulate; the senses no longer depend on these stimulants and are not fed by them any more. 
In pratyahara we sever this link between mind and senses, and the senses withdraw. When the senses are no longer tied to external sources, the result is restraint or pratyahara. Now that the vital forces are flowing back to the Source within, one can concentrate without being distracted by externals or the temptation to cognize externals.
Pratyahara occurs almost automatically when we meditate because we are so absorbed in the object of meditation. Precisely because the mind is so focused, the senses follow it; it is not happening the other way around.
No longer functioning in their usual manner, the senses become extraordinarily sharp. Under normal circumstances the senses become our masters rather than being our servants. The senses entice us to develop cravings for all sorts of things. In pratyahara the opposite occurs: when we have to eat we eat, but not because we have a craving for food. In pratyahara we try to put the senses in their proper place, but not cut them out of our actions entirely.
Much of our emotional imbalance are our own creation. A person who is influenced by outside events and sensations can never achieve the inner peace and tranquility. This is because he or she will waste much mental and physical energy in trying to suppress unwanted sensations and to heighten other sensations. This will eventually result in a physical or mental imbalance, and will, in most instances, result in illness.
Patanjali says that the above process is at the root of human unhappiness and uneasiness. When people seek out yoga, hoping to find that inner peace which is so evasive, they find that it was theirs all along. In a sense, yoga is nothing more than a process which enables us to stop and look at the processes of our own minds; only in this way can we understand the nature of happiness and unhappiness, and thus transcend them both.
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Sixth Limb of Ashtanga Yoga - Dharana ; Concentration and Cultivating Inner Perceptual Awareness

Dharana means "immovable concentration of the mind". The essential idea is to hold the concentration or focus of attention in one direction. "When the body has been tempered by asanas, when the mind has been refined by the fire of pranayama and when the senses have been brought under control by pratyahara, the sadhaka (seeker) reaches the sixth stage, dharana. Here he is concentrated wholly on a single point or on a task in which he is completely engrossed. The mind has to be stilled in order to achieve this state of complete absorption.

In dharana we create the conditions for the mind to focus its attention in one direction instead of going out in many different directions. Deep contemplation and reflection can create the right conditions, and the focus on this one point that we have chosen becomes more intense. We encourage one particular activity of the mind and, the more intense it becomes, the more the other activities of the mind fall away.
The objective in dharana is to steady the mind by focusing its attention upon some stable entity. The particular object selected has nothing to do with the general purpose, which is to stop the mind from wandering -through memories, dreams, or reflective thought-by deliberately holding it single-mindedly upon some apparently static object. B.K.S. Iyengar states that the objective is to achieve the mental state where the mind, intellect, and ego are "all restrained and all these faculties are offered to the Lord for His use and in His service. Here there is no feeling of 'I' and 'mine'."xiv
When the mind has become purified by yoga practices, it becomes able to focus efficiently on one subject or point of experience. Now we can unleash the great potential for inner healing.
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Seventh Limb of Ashtanga Yoga - Dhyana ;Devotion , Meditation on the Divine

Dhyana means worship, or profound and abstract religious meditation. It is perfect contemplation. It involves concentration upon a point of focus with the intention of knowing the truth about it. The concept holds that when one focuses their mind in concentration on an object the mind is transformed into the shape of the object. Hence, when one focuses on the divine they become more reflective of it and they know their true nature. "His body, breath, senses, mind, reason and ego are all integrated in the object of his contemplation – the Universal Spirit."
During dhyana, the consciousness is further unified by combining clear insights into distinctions between objects and between the subtle layers of perception. "We learn to differentiate between the mind of the perceiver, the means of perception, and the objects perceived, between words, their meanings, and ideas, and between all the levels of evolution of nature."xvi
As we fine-tune our concentration and become more aware of the nature of reality we perceive that the world is unreal. "The only reality is the universal self, or God, which is veiled by Maya (the illusory power). As the veils are lifted, the mind becomes clearer. Unhappiness and fear – even the fear of death – vanishes. This state of freedom, or Moksha, is the goal of Yoga. It can be reached by constant enquiry into the nature of things."xvii Meditation becomes our tool to see things clearly and perceive reality beyond the illusions that cloud our mind.
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Eighth Limb of Ashtanga Yoga - Samadhi ;Union with the Divine

The final step in the eight-fold path of Yoga is the attainment of Samadhi. Samadhi means "to bring together, to merge." In the state of samadhi the body and senses are at rest, as if asleep, yet the faculty of mind and reason are alert, as if awake; one goes beyond consciousness. During samadhi, we realize what it is to be an identity without differences, and how a liberated soul can enjoy pure awareness of this pure identity. The conscious mind drops back into that unconscious oblivion from which it first emerged.

Thus, samadhi refers to union or true Yoga. There is an ending to the separation that is created by the "I" and "mine" of our illusory perceptions of reality. The mind does not distinguish between self and non-self, or between the object contemplated and the process of contemplation. The mind and the intellect have stopped and there is only the experience of consciousness, truth and unutterable joy.
The achievement of samadhi is a difficult task. For this reason the Yoga Sutra suggests the practice of asanas and pranayama as preparation for dharana, because these influence mental activities and create space in the crowded schedule of the mind. Once dharana has occurred, dhyana and samadhi can follow.
These eight steps of yoga indicate a logical pathway that leads to the attainment of physical, ethical, emotional, and psycho-spiritual health. Yoga does not seek to change the individual; rather, it allows the natural state of total health and integration in each of us to become a reality.
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प्राणायाम प्रक्रिया

प्राणायाम कैसे करते हैं, इसकी प्रक्रिया क्या है तथा यह किस तरह से लाभ पहुँचाता है । शरीर में स्थित वायु प्राण है। प्राण एक शक्ति है, जो शरीर में चेतना का निर्माण करती है। हम एक दिन भोजन नहीं करेंगे तो चलेगा। पानी नहीं पीएँगे तो चलेगा, लेकिन सोचे क्या आप एक दिन साँस लेना छोड़ सकते हैं? साँस की तो हमें हर पल जरूरत होती है। जाँच-परख कर ही हम भोजन का सेवन करते हैं।
जल का सेवन करते वक्त भी हम उसके साफपन की जाँच कर ही लेते हैं, लेकिन क्या आप हवा की जाँच-परख करने के बाद ही साँस लेते हैं?
हम जब साँस लेते हैं तो भीतर जा रही हवा या वायु पाँच भागों में विभक्त हो जाती है या कहें कि वह शरीर के भीतर पाँच जगह स्थिर हो जाता हैं। ये पंचक निम्न हैं-
(1) व्यान, (2) समान, (3) अपान, (4) उदान और (5) प्राण।
उक्त सभी को मिलाकर ही चेतना में जागरण आता है, स्मृतियाँ सुरक्षित रहती है। मन संचालित होता रहता है तथा शरीर का रक्षण व क्षरण होता रहता है।
उक्त में से एक भी जगह दिक्कत है तो सभी जगह उससे प्रभावित होती है और इसी से शरीर, मन तथा चेतना भी रोग और शोक से ‍घिर जाते हैं। चरबी-माँस, आँत, गुर्दे, मस्तिष्क, श्वास नलिका, स्नायुतंत्र और खून आदि सभी प्राणायाम से शुद्ध और पुष्ट रहते हैं। |
  1. व्यान : व्यान का अर्थ जो चरबी तथा माँस का कार्य करती है।
  2. समान : समान नामक संतुलन बनाए रखने वाली वायु का कार्य हड्डी में होता है। हड्डियों से ही संतुलन बनता भी है।
  3. अपान : अपान का अर्थ नीचे जाने वाली वायु। यह शरीर के रस में होती है।
  4. उदान : उदान का अर्थ उपर ले जाने वाली वायु। यह हमारे स्नायुतंत्र में होती है।
  5. प्राण : प्राण हमारे शरीर का हालचाल बताती है। यह वायु मूलत: खून में होती है।
जब हम साँस लेते हैं तो वायु प्रत्यक्ष रूप से हमें तीन-चार स्थानों पर महसूस होती है। कंठ, हृदय, फेंफड़े और पेट। मस्तिष्क में गई हुई वायु का हमें पता नहीं चलता। कान और आँख में गई वायु का भी कम ही पता चलता है। श्वसन तंत्र से भीतर गई वायु अनेकों प्रकार से विभाजित हो जाती है, जो अलग-अलग क्षेत्र में जाकर अपना-अपना कार्य करके पुन: भिन्न रूप में बाहर निकल आती है। यह सब इतनी जल्दी होता है कि हमें इसका पता ही नहीं चल पाता।
  • जोर से साँस लेते हैं तो तेज प्रवाह से बैक्टीरियाँ नष्ट होने लगते हैं। कोशिकाओं की रोगों से लड़ने की क्षमता बढ़ जाती है 'बोन मेरो' में नए रक्त का निर्माण होने लगता है। आँतों में जमा मल विसर्जित होने लगता है। मस्तिष्क में जाग्रति लौट आती है जिससे स्मरण शक्ति दुरुस्त हो जाती है।
  • न्यूरॉन की सक्रियता से सोचने समझने की क्षमता पुन: जिंदा हो जाती है। फेंफड़ों में भरी-भरी हवा से आत्मविश्वास लौट आता है। सोचे जब जंगल में हवा का एक तेज झोंका आता है तो जंगल का रोम-रोम जाग्रत होकर सजग हो जाता है। ‍सिर्फ एक झोंका।
  • कपालभाती या भस्त्रिका प्राणायाम तेज हवा के अनेकों झोंके जैसा है। बहुत कम लोगों में क्षमता होती है आँधी लाने की। लगातार अभ्यास से ही आँधी का जन्म होता है। दस मिनट की आँधी आपके शरीर और मन के साथ आपके संपूर्ण जीवन को बदलकर रख देगी। हृदय रोग या फेंफड़ों का कोई रोग है तो यह कतई न करें।
  • प्राण+आयाम अर्थात प्राणायाम। प्राण का अर्थ है शरीर के अंदर नाभि, हृदय और मस्तिष्क आदि में स्थित वायु जो सभी अंगों को चलायमान रखती है। आयाम के तीन अर्थ है प्रथम दिशा और द्वितीय योगानुसार नियंत्रण या रोकना, तृतीय- विस्तार या लम्बायमान होना। प्राणों को ठीक-ठीक गति और आयाम दें, यही प्राणायाम है।
  • लोगों की साँसें उखड़ी-उखड़ी रहती है, अराजक रहती है या फिर तेजी से चलती रहती है। उन्हें पता ही नहीं चलता की कैसे चलती रहती है। क्रोध का भाव उठा तो साँसे बदल जाती है। काम वासना का भाव उठा तब साँसे बदल जाती है। प्रत्येक भाव और विचार से तो साँसे बदलती ही है, लेकिन हमारे खान-पान, रहन-सहन से भी यह बदलती रहती है। अभी तो साँसें निर्भर है उक्त सभी की गति पर, लेकिन प्रणायाम करने वालों की साँसे स्वतंत्र होती है। गहरी और आनंददायक होती है।
प्राणायाम करते समय तीन क्रियाएँ करते हैं- 1. पूरक 2. कुम्भक 3. रेचक। इसे ही हठयोगी अभ्यांतर वृत्ति, स्तम्भ वृत्ति और बाह्य वृत्ति कहते हैं
  1. पूरक:- अर्थात नियंत्रित गति से श्वास अंदर लेने की क्रिया को पूरक कहते हैं। श्वास धीरे-धीरे या तेजी से दोनों ही तरीके से जब भीतर खिंचते हैं तो उसमें लय और अनुपात का होना आवश्यक है।
  2.  कुम्भक:- अंदर की हुई श्वास को क्षमतानुसार रोककर रखने की क्रिया को कुम्भक कहते हैं। श्वास को अंदर रोकने की क्रिया को आंतरिक कुंभक और श्वास को बाहर छोड़क पुन: नहीं लेकर कुछ देर रुकने की क्रिया को बाहरी कुंभक कहते हैं। इसमें भी लय और अनुपात का होना आवश्यक है।
  3. रेचक: अंदर ली हुई श्वास को नियंत्रित गति से छोड़ने की क्रिया को रेचक कहते हैं। श्वास धीरे-धीरे या तेजी से दोनों ही तरीके से जब छोड़ते हैं तो उसमें लय और अनुपात का होना आवश्यक है।
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Agnisar Pranayam : Cure constipation, Indigestion and loss of Appetite

Agnisar Pranayam, reintroduced by Swami Ramdev as an essential component of pranayama package. It is necessary part of pranayama along with other seven types of pranayama i.e. Bhastrika, Kapalbhati, Bahaya, Anulom-Vilom, Bharamri, Udgeeth Pranav.
Method of Practice: 
  1. Sit in Padmasana and keep the hands on the knees in a comfortable position. Close the eyes slightly and concentrate on the mind with normal breathing.
  2. Exhale slow, deep and stable breathe. Stop the breathe outside, i.e., do Bahirmukh. Stretch both the hands straight and keep them on the knees with slight pressure. Contract and expand the stomach. Try to touch the navel deep inside the stomach.
  3. Keep the stomach and hands normal before doing poorak i.e., inhale. Now take deep, stable and slow breathe.
  4. This is one cycle of Agnisar pranayama. In one cycle contract and expand the stomach at least ten times. Increase the number to 30. In the beginning practice it for 5 times and then slowly increase is it up to 15 cycles. During winters you can practice it for 25 cycles. Breathe normally, rest for sometime and then do shavasana.
Benefits of Agnisar Pranayama:
  • Agnisar pranayama increases the internal energy and gives vitality. Those who are suffering with constipation, indigestion and loss of appetite they should get good benefits with its regular practice.
  • People with excessive fat on the stomach should practice it regularly to reduce the fat.  This pranayama overcomes laziness, disinterest and strengthens the internal organs, muscles, nerves and blood veins.
  • People suffering with lung problems can gain a lot. This pranayama cures asthma, tuberculosis and other serious diseases.
  • It also cures the entire throat related problems and old kapha problems.
  • It cures sleepiness and circulates inner energy.
Precautions during Agnisar Pranayama:-
  1. This pranayama should be done in the morning hours after passing bowels and getting free from the morning chores. Those who want to practice it in the evening should do after four hours of having meals.
  2. During winters, Agnisar pranayama should be done as per the procedures. This is the best time for this pranayam. During summers after doing this pranayama ten rounds of Shitali pranayama should be definitely practiced.
  3. During the practice period the person should eat simple, pure food. Avoid eating heavy, oily, fried and non- vegetarian food. Smoking and alcohol should be completely avoided.
  4. The patients of intestinal problems, hernia, high blood pressure and other diseases should not practice it.
  5. If you have undergone stomach operation recently then this pranayama should not be practiced. It should be done under the guidance of some yoga expert after few months.
  6. Stop the practice immediately if you experience tiredness and practice it the other day.
  7. Practice it according to your physical capacity. Do not do kumbhak in excess of your body capacity. Make sure that during Bahirkumbhak slightest air should not get inside.
  8. Patients suffering with ear, nose and eye problems should not practice agnisar pranayama.
Baba Ramdev : Agnisar Pranayama Video

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Ujjayi Pranayama

Ujjayi breathing is the foundation of pranayama, and is practice in nearly every form of pranayama. Ujjayi itself literally means 'victoriously uprising,' which refers to the expansion and movement upward of the energy of the breath -- the prana -- through the central channel of the body (located just in front of the spine) known as the 'sushumna nadi.'
Duration/repetitions: 3 times. But for relief of thyroid problem, you may practice up to 11 times.
Technique: Bring your mind to the throat and contract it (referring to glottal contraction). Throat contraction is just like when you close the fist by contracting your hand. Beginners should first simply practice inhaling and contracting the throat and making short sounds like "oo" "oo" several times during one inhalation. Having acquired the awareness of throat contraction and some voluntary control over throat contraction, you are ready to practice Ujjayi. Deeply inhale while contracting the throat and making a sharp shrilling sound like "OO."
Stop at the half or three-fourth point of your inhalation capacity. Avoid filling air all the way into the upper chest without close supervision of a teacher. Apply chin lock (Jalandhar bandha) and hold the breath to your comfortable capacity. Close the right nostril with the right hand and exhale from the left nostril. Each time when you are ready to exhale, exhale from the left nostril.
Benefits: Modifies thyroid problems, snoring and asthma.
Note: Please always end the pranayama sequence with Nadi Shodhana or soft Ujjayi so the breath slows down and inhalation and exhalation is equalized. When you end your practice with soft, slow and equalized breathing, you minimize the chances of ending your practice with too much carbon dioxide (hypercapnia) or too little oxygen (hypoxia) in your system.
Ujjayi Pranayama by Swami Ramdev ji (video)

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Why Should We Do Pranayama ?

Swami Ramdev has made pranayama available to every household across the world. Let's know why should we do pranayama ? How it can be beneficial to us ?
  • Pranayama has the capacity of freeing the mind from untruthfulness, ignorance and all other painful and unpleasant experiences of the body and mind; and when the mind becomes clean it becomes easy for the Sadhaka to concentrate on the desired object and it becomes possible for him to progress further in the direction of Dhyana and Samadhi.
  • By Yog asanas, we remove the distortions and disabilities of the physical body and bring it into discipline. However Pranayama influences the subtle and the physical bodies in a greater measure than Yogsanas do and that too in a perceptible manner. In the human body, lungs, heart and brain hold very important positions and they depend on each other heavily for their health.
  • Physically, Pranayam appears to be a systematic exercise of respiration, which makes the lungs stronger, improves blood circulation, makes the man healthier and bestows upon him the boon of a long life. Physiology teaches us that the air (Prana) we breathe in fills our lungs, spreads in the entire body, providing it with essential form the body, take them to the heart and then to the lungs, which throws the useless material like carbon dioxide out of the body through the act of exhalation. If this action of the respiratory system is done regularly and efficiently, lungs become stronger and blood becomes pure.
  • However, most of the people do not have the habit of breathing deeply with the result that only one-fourth part of the lungs is brought into action and 75 percent remains idle. Like the honeycomb, lungs are made of about 73 million cells, comparable to a sponge in their making. On normal breathing, to which we all are accustomed, only about 20 million pores in the lungs get oxygen, whereas remaining 53 million pores remain deprived of the benefit, with the result that they get contaminated by several diseases like tuberculosis, respiratory diseases and several ailments like coughing, bronchitis etc.
  • In this way, the inefficient functioning of the lungs affects the process of blood purification. Heart weakens because of this with a constant possibility of untimely death. It is for this reason that the importance of Pranayama has come to be recognised, for a healthy long life. Several diseases can be averted by regular practice of Pranayama.Hence, it is obvious that the knowledge of the science of Pranayama and its regular practice enables a man to lead a healthy and long life. It is for this reason that in several Hindu religious rites, Pranayama is found to have been introduced as an essential element.
  • Mental disturbances like excitement, anxiety, fear, anger, disappointment, lust for sex (lasciviousness) and other mental perversions can be calmed down by regular practice of Pranayama. Besides, Pranayama practice improves the functions of the brain cells with the result that memory and the faculty of discrimination and observation improves, making it easy for the Sadhaka to perform concentration and meditation.
  • Another benefit of Pranayama is that by its regular practice, habit of deep breathing is developed which results in several health benefits. It is said that the nature determines our life span on the basis of the number of respirations we do. Man gets the next birth in accordance with his karmas (deeds) done in the present life.
  • Our karmas (deeds) result in the formation of certain tendencies, which determine the nature of our next birth either as humans or as animals of various categories. A man, who regularly performs Pranayama, is required to take lesser number of breaths and therefore lives longer.
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Surya Bhedi and Chandra Bhedana Pranayama

The word "surya" means the sun and "bhedi" means one that can pierce. Thus the literal meaning of Surya Bhedi is to pierce or energize the right/Sun/heating nostril. Chandra means the moon and represents the cooling energy of the moon.
Surya Bhedi (also called Surya Bhedana) pranayama can stimulate and awaken energy both in the physical and the pranic bodies. In particular, it can activate and energize the Pingala Nadi, which is associated with the right nostril or the "sun" nadi and the sympathetic nervous system. Chandra Bhedi (or Bhedana) is just the opposite of Surya Bhedi and activates the Ida Nadi which is associated with cooling aspect and the parasympathetic nervous system.

Surya Bhedi Pranayama

  • Sit erect in habituated posture with your waist and neck in one straight line. 
  • On this pranayama, the inhaling is done by the right and the exhaling by the left nostril repeatedly. 
  • Inhale as much as you can by the right nostril slowly and fill the breath in the neck, heart and stomach completely so as to feel that from head to toe the whole body is full of breath. 
  • When you begin to feel uneasy, close the right nostril and exhale with the left one. 
  • Note that while inhaling, there is a soft and continuous sound and while exhaling, there is similar flow. 
  • Start with three pranayamas and increase by one or two in a day till you reach twenty-one or even thirty one according to your physical capacity. 
  • This practice must be done in winter but those who are of wind and phlegm humour can do it even on summer on hills.
Benefits:
  1. This Pranayama increases bile and destroys phlegm and wind.
  2. It promotes digestion and purges the body of all impurities by causing perspiration.
  3. The Gherand Samhita says, “ The Surya Bhedi Kumbhaka delays death and old age. It awakens Kundalini and increases digestion.”

Chandra Bhedana Pranayama

“Chandra” in “Moon” and Chandra Bhedana Pranayama is a cooling pranayama. The moon corresponds to the introspective, passive and artistic aspects of an individual’s personality..

  • Keep the spinal cord erect and sit in habitual posture. 
  • With the thumbs of the right hand, press the right nostril and inhale through the left nostril (Chandranadi)  while making sound. 
  • Retain the breath contained in throat, lungs and stomach. 
  • After as much retention as possible, exhale through right nostril slowly and repeat it for as many times as you like. 
  • This pranayama is also known as left nostril breathing because while doing this pranayama, the breathing is done through the left nostril.
Benefits:
  1. When the inhalation is done through the left nostril, your body gets cooled.
  2. It reduces the bile and removes the excess heat of the body. You do not feel tired and belching is stopped.
  3. The benefits of this pranayama are quite opposite to those of Suryabhedi.
  4. Therefore, a person of the nature of bile should practice it in summer. If the left nostril due to cold or catarrh be closed, then lie on your right side and& make the left nostril work and then start practice. You will learn how to know whether the right or left nostril is working.
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Nadi Shodhan Pranayama for Subtle Nervous system Purification

Nadi Shodhana Pranayama is an amazing pranayama method to help you sense centered, with an understandable and dazzling mind for meditation.
Balancing the Ida and Pingala, the mental force and vital force is one of the main objectives of Pranayama. Left nostril (Ida) and right nostril (Pingala) if balanced can awaken Sushumna (the psychic nadi or channel carrying kundalini) nadi.
It is very helpful in balancing both mechanism of your Autonomous Nervous System namely Sympathetic and Para-Sympathetic Nervous system and thereby stabilizes your mind.

Nadi Shodan Pranayama- Detailed description



Technique: Close the right nostril with the thumb and inhale very slowly from the left nostril. Upon completion of inhaling, hold the breath in (antara kumbhaka) and apply the chin lock (Jalandhar bandha) and the root lock (mula bandha). Release the chin lock and very slowly exhale from the right nostril. Upon completion of exhaling, inhale very slowly from the right nostril and hold the breath in (antar kumbhaka) with chin lock and root lock in place. When ready to release, exhale very slowly from the left nostril.
This completes one round. The second round begins with left nostril inhalation and so on. Note that inhalation and exhalation should be soft and inaudible to the person sitting by you.
You may also do mentally directed Nadi Shodhana in which fingers are not used to close and open the nostrils. Simply mentally direct your breath to and from one nostril at a time. Mental alternate nostril breathing is also initiated with left nostril inhalation.
Duration/repetitions: Minimum three times. Maximum: unlimited.
Ratio for breathing and breath holding: Beginners should maintain the ratio of 1:2:2 for inhalation-hold (after inhale) and exhalation. Example: Inhalation=10 seconds; hold after inhale (antar-kumbhaka)=20 seconds and exhalation=20 seconds. Advanced practitioners may keep the ratio of 1:4:2.
Benefits: The name nadi shodhana means the purification of the nerves. Nadi Shodhana Pranayama is also referred to as ‘alternate nose breathing’.
Nadi Shodhana purifies the blood by providing sufficient oxygen to the blood. The deeper breathing enriches the blood with oxygen.
Nadi Shodhana Pranayama strengthens the respiratory system and balances the nervous system of the body.
It helps to relieve nervousness and headaches and also provides complete peace of mind
Same benefits as those for Anuloma-Viloma. Mentally directed nostril breathing is particularly beneficial for concentration, mental stabilization and calming.
Caution: 1:4:2 ratio is discouraged by some other yoga schools. After the mastery of this ratio, advanced practitioners may go on to include the suspension of the breath after exhalation (bahya Kumbhaka) in their practice.
Example for the ratio for the advanced practitioner: Inhalation=10 seconds; hold after inhale (antar-kumbhaka)=40 seconds, exhalation=20 seconds and suspension of breath after exhalation=20 seconds.
In Nadi Shodhana, SRDM stresses that the more the breath is slow, long, subtle, smooth and easy, the greater are the physical and mental benefits.
Do Nadi Shodhana according to your comfortable capacity. The duration of inhalation, exhalation and breath holding should be determined by your personal capacity. If you feel tired during or after the practice of Nadi Shodhana, you might be doing too much. End the practice with meditation/awareness of soft and slow inhalation and exhalation and the sound of "Om."
End the pranayama sequence with Nadi Shodhana or soft Ujjayi so the breath slows down and inhalation and exhalation is equalized. When you end your practice with soft, slow and equalized breathing, you minimize the chances of ending your practice with too much carbon dioxide (hypercapnia) or too little oxygen (hypoxia) in your system.
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Swami Ramdev's Recepi for Weight Loss: Eat Well, Live Well

Obesity is a curse that brings along with it many other disorders and deformities into the human the body rendering illness and disease onto the body.
Baba Ramdev’s weight loss recipe is as follows;
  1. Eat green vegetables.
  2. Eat lots and lots of salads
  3. Eat pulses and sprouts.
  4. One must have to eat 2 times a day only.
  5. If one feels hungry eat salad, fruits and fruit juices.
  6. Avoid as much as fried eatables as allo paranthas, or pakoras, any dish that has been prepared of allo, lady finger. Etc.
  7. One must also avoid butter, paneer, and lots of ghee. Etc.
  8. Try to eat vegetable the most as Gheiya, Loki, Kaddu, Tinda and Torey etc.
  9. Also go onto practice Kapalbhati, Anulom Vilom, Bhastrika, Bharamari, Baharya etc.
  10. One has to avoid consuming too much of sugar.
  11. Avoid drinking soft or carbonated drinks as Coke, Pepsi, etc. but instead going on for lemonade when feeling thirst. And can also be consumed regularly.
  12. One should also go on to avoid consuming too much salt either as it helps the body in retaining up water.
  13. Perform Kapalbhati empty stomach.
  14. Avoid fried foods as chips, snacks that are fried deeply in oil or ghee.
  15. Do not eat too much of roti’s while having your meals. One must eat one chapatti less than as much required to fill stomach.
  16. Do cycling even in actual as well as in lying down position on the back.
  17. Eat lots of salads before eating dinner or lunch etc. since this goes on to fill your stomach and would allow you to eat less amount of chapattis.
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Creative Visualization and the Power of Thoughts

Creative visualization is the power that can alter our environment and circumstances, cause events to happen, attract money, possessions, work and love, change habits and improve the health. It is a great mind power. It is the power behind every success.
Creative visualization is the ability to use the imagination, see images in our minds and make them come true. If we add concentration and feelings, it becomes a great creative power that makes things happen. Used in the right way, visualization can bring changes into our lives. The thought is the matrix or blueprint; the feelings provide the energy, the "electricity".
Creative Visualization and the Power of Thoughts
Thought is a power and has its effect on the material world. Thoughts, if powerful enough, travel from one mind to another. If we keep thinking the same thought, people in our environment perceive it and act on it, furthering, usually in an unconscious manner, the materialization of our desires.
If you are naturally positive, then the way you approach and handle situations is such that attracts positive results. On the other hand, if you are fearful and negative, then you expect negative results, and behave, look, and talk accordingly. Then you reap troubles.
We are part of the Omnipotent Power that has created the universe; therefore we participate in the process of creation. Bearing this thought in mind, there is no wonder that thoughts materialize. Stop a moment and think. You are part of the great Universal Power! Whatever concentrated thought you entertain long enough in your mind tends to materialize.
Thought is energy. By having certain thoughts in our minds, and by concentrating on them and putting emotional energy into them, they become powerful. These thoughts induce some kind of pressure on the energy fields around us, causing them to move and act. The thoughts change the balance of energy around us, and in a natural way bring changes in the environment in accordance with them.
According to the Indian philosophy "Advaita- Vedanta" which in the West is called "Nonduality", the world is just an illusion and is not real. Thoughts arise which "create" our world. We constantly think and rethink our habitual thoughts, thus creating and recreating the same kind of events or circumstances.
This process reinforces our thoughts, which help to preserve the same "world" we believe we live in. By changing the tape or film, that is by looking at a different scenario - different thoughts, we create a different "reality". For us it is a reality, though in fact it is just a dream we call "reality".
By changing our thoughts and mental pictures, we change our "Reality"; we change the "illusory" world we believe we live in. We are not employing magic or supernatural powers when creating and changing our life and circumstances. It is not something "Material" that we change; we only change our thoughts, which are the world.
It is like dreaming a very realistic dream and then switching to a different dream. We are not awakening, just changing the dream. This explanation has to be read and reread and pondered upon in order to understand its full meaning.
Rest assured that you can employ the power of visualization, even if you do not accept what you have just read or it seems too complicated or far-fetched. Yet, understanding and accepting the above, at least in theory, will help you achieve results faster.
So why not change your dreams to something more satisfying?
Tips for Creative Visualization:

  • Define your goal.
  • Think, meditate and listen to your intuition before you start.
  • Ascertain that only good will result from your visualization.
  • Sit alone in a quiet place, where you are not disturbed.
  • Relax your body
  • Breathe rhythmically and deeply several times.
  • Visualize the object or situation that you desire.
  • See in your mind a clear and detailed mental image of what you desire to get or accomplish.
  • Use in your imagination all the five senses, such as sight, hearing, touch, etc.
  • Put feelings and emotions into what you are doing.
  • Practice at least twice a day, about 10 minutes each time.
  • Persevere in your action until you succeed.
  • Entertain only positive thoughts, feelings and words.
  • Always stay positive.
  • During the day, when negative thoughts and doubts arise, replace them with good positive thoughts. As each negative thought comes, look at a positive one instead.
  • Keep an open mind, so that when the opportunity to materialize your desire arises, you will recognize it and take advantage of it.
  • After concluding your visualization session, say with concentration and earnestness: "Let everything happen in a harmonious and favorable way for all involved".
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Breathing Conciously : Anapan Sati Yoga

Buddha used breath to do two things simultaneously; one, to create consciousness, and another, to allow that consciousness to penetrate to the very cells of the body. He said, breathe consciously. It is not a pranayama (breathing exercise). It is just making breath an object of awareness, with no change. There is no need to change your breath. Leave it just as it is - natural. Let it be as it is. Do not change it.
Do something else: when you breathe in, breathe consciously. Let your consciousness move with the breath going in. When the breath goes out, move out; go in, come out consciously. Move with the breath. Let your attention be with the breath. Flow with it. Do not forget even a single breath.
Buddha is reported to have said, that if you can be aware of your breath even for a single hour, you are already enlightened. But not a single breath should be missed. One hour is enough. It looks so small - a fragment of time; it is not... When you try awareness, one hour will look like milennia, because one cannot ordinarily be aware more than five or six seconds, and that too for a very alert person.Otherwise you will miss every second.
You will start, breath going in; but no sooner has breath gone in, and you will be somewhere else. Suddenly you remember again, the breath is going out. The breath has gone out, and you have moved somewhere else. To move with the breath no thoughts should be allowed, because thoughts will take your attention, thoughts will distract you.
So Buddha never says, stop thinking.He says, just breathe consciously. Automatically, thinking will stop. You cannot do both - think and breathe consciously. When a thought comes into your mind, your attention is withdrawn. A single thought, and you become unconscious of your breathing process.
So Buddha used a very simple technique and a very vital one. He will say to his bhikkhus (monks), "Do whatsoever you are doing, but do not forget a simple thing: remember the incoming, the outgoing breath; move with it, flow with it." The more you try, the more you endeavour, the more you will be conscious.
It is arduous and difficult too, but once you can do it, you are a different person, a different being in a different world. This works in a double way: when you constantly breath in and out, you come to your center by and by, because your breath touches the center of your being. Every moment that the breath goes in, it touches your central being.
Physiologically, you think that breath is just for the purification of the blood, so it is just a function of your heart, that is bodily...just a pumping system to refresh your blood circulation,to bring to your blood more oxygen which is needed and to throw out carbon dioxide which is an extra, used thing.
So you throw it out and renew it and replace it. But this is only physiologically. If you begin to be aware of your breath, by and by you will go deep -deeper than you heart. Then one day you begin to feel a center just near your navel. That center can be felt if you move with the breath continuously, because the nearer you will reach to the center, the more you tend to lose awareness.
So when the breath is going in and is just touching your nose, then begin feeling alertness. The more inward it moves, awareness will become more and more difficult, and a thought will come or some sound or something will happen, and you will move.
If you can go to the very center, where for a subtle moment breath stops, there is a gap. The breath goes in and the breath goes out: between those two there is a subtle gap; that gap is your center. When you move with the breath, then only, after a very long effort, you will become aware of the gap... when there is no movement of the breath, and breath is neither coming nor going.
Between two breaths there is a subtle gap, an interval. In that interval you are at the center. So breath is used by Buddha as a passage to come nearer and nearer and nearer to the center. When you move out, be conscious of the breath. Again there is a gap.
There are two gaps: one gap inside, one gap outside. The breath goes in and goes out, and there is a gap. The breath goes out and goes in, and there is a gap. The second gap is even more difficult to be aware of. Look at this process. Your center is between the incoming breath and the outgoing breath. There is another center, the Cosmic Center. You may call it God.
When the breath goes out and comes in, there is again a gap. In that gap is the Cosmic Center. These two centers are not different things. But first you will become aware of your inner center, and then you will become aware of the outer center, and then ultimately you will come to know that both these centers are one.
Then out and in lose meaning. Buddha says, move with the breath consciously, and you will create a center of awareness. Then once the center is created, awareness begins to move with the breath into your blood, to the very cells, because every cell needs air, and every cell needs oxygen, and every cell, so to speak, breathes... every cell. And now scientists say that it seems that even the Earth breathes.
And because of the Einsteinian concept of an expanding universe, now theoretial scientists say that the whole universe is breathing. when you breathe in, your chest expands. When you breathe out your chest sinks. Now theoretical scientists say, it seems that the whole universe breathes.
When the whole universe is breathing in, it expands. When the whole universe breathes out, it sinks.In the old Hindu Puranas (mythological scriptures), it is said that creation is Brahma's one breath - the incoming breath. And destruction (pralaya), the end of the world, will be the outgoing breath. One breath is one creation. In a very miniature way, in a very atomic way, the same is happening in you.
When your awareness becomes so one with breathing, your breathing takes your awareness to the very cells. A ray now penetrates, and the whole body becomes a Buddha's body. Really, then you have no material body at all; you have a body of awareness from within.
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Know Yourself

Today people generally live their lives asleep, are unconscious of themselves, and accordingly behave like machines, subject to outside causes and pressures. The people of the past generation lived in more suitable outer conditions and at higher inner levels than the people today.
If the mind, which is the instrument of knowledge and is the basis of all activity, subsides, the perception of the world as an objective reality ceases. Unless the illusory perception of the serpent in the rope ceases, the rope on which the illusion is formed is not perceived as such.
Even so, unless the illusory nature of the perception of the world as an objective reality ceases, the vision of the true nature of the Self, on which the illusion is formed, is not obtained.So let's awake and know and understand ourself.
In a state of deep happiness the thinking process stops or almost stops, and there are no thoughts. There is inner silence of the mind, inner peace, and worries and problems are forgotten for a little while.
If you examine the state of your mind when in deep happiness, you will discover that the sense of happiness and bliss is experienced on a background of inner peace and inner silence.
True happiness is not brought about by external circumstances, events, objects or people, though they often trigger the sense of happiness or indirectly bring it about. They might make it easier for happiness and bliss to emerge, but happiness and bliss actually come from the inside, when certain factors are present.
Happiness and bliss are always here, but covered by thoughts, desires and fears. They are part of the real you. When thoughts, desires or fears disappear, happiness and bliss emerge. When you experience success, love or any positive outcome, worries and problems drop away temporarily, allowing the happiness and bliss within you to emerge into your consciousness.
Through meditation, concentration and developing the ability to calm down or silence the mind at will, one can remove the obstacles to happiness and bliss, and can experience them more often and independently of circumstances and situations, at any time and place.
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Uttanapadasana : The Raised Leg Pose

In Sanskrit, "Uttana" means 'raised' and "Pada" means 'feet'. In this yoga posture, the feet are raised up.

Uttanapadasana : The Raised Leg Pose - Detailed Description


Steps:
  1. Lie down on the floor on your back with your legs straight and joined together.
  2. Keep your hands on either side, palms facing down.
  3. Inhale and raise both the legs from the ground.
  4. Knees should be straight and toes pointing outward.
  5. Keep raising your legs till they are perpendicular to the ground.
  6. Fix your gaze at the toes.
  7. Maintain this posture for as long as you can, breathing normally.
  8. Exhale and lower your legs gradually.
Benefits:
  • Waist and thighs lose fat and get trimmer.
  • The muscles of the abdomen and lower back become stronger.
  • Leg muscles are stretched and toned.
  • Regular practice of Uttanapadasana improves digestion.
Tips and Help:
  • You can also perform this pose by raising one leg at a time.
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Supta Vajrasana : Pelvic Posture, Reclining Adamant Pose

Supta" means "asleep" in Sanskrit. "Supta Vajrasana" is lying down supine in Vajrasana.

Supta Vajrasana : Pelvic Posture, Reclining Adamant Pose - Detailed Description



Steps:
  1. Sit in Vajrasana.
  2. Lean back slowly from the waist with the support of your elbows till your head, shoulders and back touch the ground in easy stages without raising your knees from the floor or changing the position of the legs.
  3. Allow your back to come close to the ground and lie supine.
  4. Cross the arms and place the palms beneath the opposite shoulders so that the crossed wrists serve as a cushion for the head.
  5. Keep the knees together and touching the ground.
  6. Close your eyes.
  7. Catch hold of the ankles and return slowly to the starting position in the reverse order with the help of the elbows.
Benefits:
  • This asana massages the abdominal organs alleviating digestive ailments and constipation.
  • It tones the spinal nerves, makes the back flexible and realigns rounded shoulders. The nerves in the neck, the thyroid and parathyroid glands are particularly stimulated.
  • The ribcage is stretched and expanded fully, which helps to fill the lungs to its piaximum capacity and bringing more oxygen into the system.
  • It enhances courage and confidence level in the personality.
  • It is beneficial for those suffering from asthma, bronchitis and other lung ailments.
  • It loosens up the legs and strengthens them in preparation for sitting in meditation asanas.
  • It enhances creativity and intelligence as it increases the circulation in the brain.
Tips and Help:
  • Beginners should always use a pillow or a blanket under their back.
  • Pregnant women should also use a folded blanket or pillow under their hips and back and should open their knees wide.
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Markatasana : The Monkey Pose

Markata means monkey and asana means posture, it is a posture of monkey. This asana is good for kidneys, liver, spleen and many other ailments. Practice this asana carefully to get all benefitsFor attempting markatasana, lie on your back. Join toes and heels together. Bend knees and place your heels close to buttocks. Both the feet are resting on the ground. Place left hand under your head and right hand under the left hand. Join your knees together, both the feet together (toes and heels together) for entire duration of this asana.

Markatasana : Monkey Pose - Detailed Description


Steps:
  1.  Lie down on the mat. and spread the arms so that they are perpendicular to the body.
  2. Bring the feet near the hips.
  3. Inhale and with exhalation turn the knees to your left touching the left knee to the mat.
  4. Turn the face towards right side.
  5. You will face a slight stretch in the lower back region. For more stretching you can bring the knees upwards towards the left arm.
  6. Stay in this pose for 15 seconds to 30 seconds.
  7. Now switch sides and stretch in opposite direction.
Benefits:
  • This exercise is especially useful for backache, cervical, sodalities, slip disc, sciatica.
  • It cures stomach ache, dysentery, constipation, gas and makes the stomach light.
  • This is beneficial for the hip, joints pain. It cures all the deformities of the spine.
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Virbhadrasana II : Warrior Pose II

Vrbhadrasana II - Warrior Pose II is a useful and excellent exercise for strengthening and stretching the legs, ankles, shoulders and arms. This pose, expands your chest, thus helping you to breathe more deeply. You can increase your strength and stamina by practicing this pose regularly. Do not rotate forward the hip of your back leg.The arms, shoulders, hips and legs should all lie in the same plane. Your lower body should feel grounded in the pose.

Virbhadrasana II : Warrior Pose II - Detailed Description


Steps:
  1. Start with the Mountain Pose.
  2. Jump or walk so that your feet are around four feet apart.
  3. Inhale and raise both arms parallel to the floor, turn your head to the left, turn your left foot 90 degrees and right foot about 45 degrees.
  4. Exhale and bend your left knee (trying to keep the knee just above the ankle, it can be before the ankle but don't let the knee go away from the ankle). Keep the hips in the same angle (180 degrees) as for the arms. Stay in this position for 30 seconds to one minute breathing normally.
  5. Inhale straighten your knee and exhale hands down and come back to the mountain posture.
Benefits:
  • Strengthens and stretches the legs and ankles
  • Stretches the groins, chest and lungs, shoulders
  • Stimulates abdominal organs
  • Increases stamina
  • Relieves backaches, especially through second trimester of pregnancy
  • Therapeutic for carpal tunnel syndrome, flat feet, infertility, osteoporosis, and sciatica

Tips and Help:

  • If you suffer from shoulder or neck problems, do not perform this yoga pose.
  • Neck problems: Don't turn your head to look over the front hand; continue to look straight ahead with both sides of the neck lengthened evenly.
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Trikonasana : The Triangle Pose

Trikonasana is also known as the ‘Triangle Posture’. The term ‘Trikonasana’ is derived from the Sanskrit words ‘Tri’ meaning ‘three’; ‘Kona’ referring to ‘angle’; ‘Trikona’ connoting triangle and ‘Asana’ meaning ‘Posture’. Therefore ‘Trikonasana’ means assuming a posture whereby your feet resembles the three sides of a triangle.

Trikonasana : The Triangle Pose - Detailed Description


Steps:
  1. Stand with the feet together and the arms by your sides ( see the tada asana).
  2. Separate the feet slightly further than shoulder distance apart.
  3. Inhale and raise both arms straight out from the shoulders parallel to the floor with the palms facing down.
  4. Exhale slowly while turning the torso to the left, bend at the waist and bring the right hand down to the left ankle. The palm of the right hand is placed along the outside of the left ankle. The left arm should be extended upward. Both legs and arms are kept straight without bending the knees and elbows.
  5. Turn the head upward to the left and gaze up at the fingertips of the left hand. Inhale and return to a standing position with the arms outstretched.
  6. Hold this position for the duration of the exhaled breath. Exhale and repeat steps 4 - 6 on the opposite side
  7. Remain in the forward bending position for the duration of the exhale breath. Do two or three repetitions (one repetition consists of bending forward on both sides).
Benefits:
  • The trikona-asana is an excellent posture to do early in your routine. The forward bending and lifting stimulates blood flow and helps to stretch and relax the back, shoulders, legs and arms as well as increases the flow of blood to the head.
  • The muscles of the thighs and calves as well as the hamstrings are stretched.
  • The slight twist of the spine creates suppleness in the spinal discs and relieves lower back discomforts.
Tips and Help:
  • The posture can be held longer by breathing gently through the nostrils rather than holding the breath. Another variation is to perform the trikona-asana rapidly thereby giving it a slightly aerobic effect.
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Tadasana : The Palm Tree Pose

Tadasana derves its name from Sanskrit word "Tada" meaning a 'palm tree'. In this asana body looks like a palm tree. Although this pose seems effortless, Tadasana is wonderful for improving your posture and alignment, toning the spinal nerves, and creating a sense of awareness through the body. It can be used as a resting pose or a preparatory pose for almost any standing asana.

Tadasana : The Palm Tree Pose - Detailed Description


Steps:
  1. Stand straight with toes and heels touching.
  2. Raise the hand above the head.
  3. Interlock the fingers and turn it upwards. The palms should be facing the sky.
  4. Take a deep breath and stretch the arms, shoulders and chest upwards.
  5. Raise the heels so that the weight of the body is borne by the toes.
  6. Stretch the whole body from the feet to the head.
  7. Remain in this position for few seconds.
  8. Bring down the heels while breathing out.
  9. This is one round. One can practice up to 10 rounds.
  10. During the whole practice the eyes should remain steadily fixed in front little above the head level.
  11. Then tighten the thighs, pull belly in, press shoulders back and keep arms beside torso. 
  12. Breathe deeply, hold and then exhale.
Benefits:
  • Many common ailments and discomforts can be traced to poor posture. If the spine is not properly aligned or if there is tightness or stiffness in the back, the result is often an imbalance in the body. When this imbalance becomes chronic many kinds of disorders arise in the organs, glands and nervous system.
  • Performing the tada-asana allows one to observe one's posture closely and clearly recognize those problems which get masked or ignored by day-to-day activities. As the posture is held and the breath, mind and body is quieted various effects will surface to indicate difficulties with the spine. Favoring one foot over the other, shifting back and forth, drooped shoulders, tightness in the neck and upper or lower back, and various other physiological disturbances may appear indicating the need for further yoga practice.
  • The proper execution and continual practice of the tada-asana along with other postures helps to re-train the body to stand correctly and reverse the negative effects of poor posture.
  • When the tad-asana is performed properly and the mind is focused and free of distraction, the body is experienced as being rooted firmly to the earth and as steady and motionless as a mountain.
Tips and Help:
  • One repetition for several minutes is advisable. The tada-asana is also recommended prior to and following any other standing posture.
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Surya Namaskar : The Sun Salutation

Suryanamaskar is the art of solar vitalization. It includes Asanas, Pranayama, Mantras and Mudras and hence is a complete meditative technique in itself. It comprises three aspects: Form, Vital Energy and Rhythm. Suryanamaskar is a combination of 12 different postures which are followed in a particular sequence with a specific breathing pattern.
"Hey Surya Dev , Mera Pranaam sweekar karen , Samasta Bhaagya Janit Sankaton Se meri raksha karen" ( O Lord Sun , Salutation to you . Please protect me from all ill effects that fate may have in store for me)." - Gheranda-samhita II.36

Surya Namaskar : The Sun Salutation - Detailed Description


1. Pranamasana
(The Prayer Pose)

Stand at the edge of your mat, keep your feet together and balance your weight equally on both the feet.
Expand your chest and relax your shoulders.
As you breathe in, lift both arms up from the sides and as you exhale, bring your palms together in front of the chest in prayer position.
2. Hastauttanasana
(The Raised Arms pose)

Breathing in, lift the arms up and back, keeping the biceps close to the ears. In this pose, the effort is to stretch the whole body up from the heels to the tips of the fingers
You may push the pelvis forward a little bit. Ensure you're reaching up with the fingers rather than trying to bend backwards.

3. Hasta Padasana
(The Hand to Foot pose)
Breathing out, bend forward from the waist, keeping the spine erect. As you exhale completely, bring the hands down to the floor, beside the feet. You may bend the knees, if necessary, to bring the palms down to the floor. Now make a gentle effort to straighten the knees. It's a good idea to keep the hands fixed in this position and not move them henceforth until we finish the sequence.
4. Ashwa Sanchalanasana
(The Equestrian pose)
Breathing in, lift the arms up and back, keeping the biceps close to the ears. In this pose, the effort is to stretch the whole body up from the heels to the tips of the fingers
You may push the pelvis forward a little bit. Ensure you're reaching up with the fingers rather than trying to bend backwards.

5. Dandasana
(The Stick pose)
Breathing in, lift the arms up and back, keeping the biceps close to the ears. In this pose, the effort is to stretch the whole body up from the heels to the tips of the fingers
You may push the pelvis forward a little bit. Ensure you're reaching up with the fingers rather than trying to bend backwards.
6. Ashtanga Namaskara
(Salute With Eight Parts or Points)
Breathing in, lift the arms up and back, keeping the biceps close to the ears. In this pose, the effort is to stretch the whole body up from the heels to the tips of the fingers
You may push the pelvis forward a little bit. Ensure you're reaching up with the fingers rather than trying to bend backwards.

7. Bhujangasana
(The Cobra pose)
Breathing in, lift the arms up and back, keeping the biceps close to the ears. In this pose, the effort is to stretch the whole body up from the heels to the tips of the fingers
You may push the pelvis forward a little bit. Ensure you're reaching up with the fingers rather than trying to bend backwards.
8. Parvatasana
(The Mountain pose)
Breathing in, lift the arms up and back, keeping the biceps close to the ears. In this pose, the effort is to stretch the whole body up from the heels to the tips of the fingers
You may push the pelvis forward a little bit. Ensure you're reaching up with the fingers rather than trying to bend backwards.

9.Ashwa Sanchalanasana
(The Raised Arms pose)
(The Equestrian pose)
Breathing in, lift the arms up and back, keeping the biceps close to the ears. In this pose, the effort is to stretch the whole body up from the heels to the tips of the fingers
You may push the pelvis forward a little bit. Ensure you're reaching up with the fingers rather than trying to bend backwards.
10. Hasta Padasana
(The Hasta Padasana)
Breathing in, lift the arms up and back, keeping the biceps close to the ears. In this pose, the effort is to stretch the whole body up from the heels to the tips of the fingers
You may push the pelvis forward a little bit. Ensure you're reaching up with the fingers rather than trying to bend backwards.

11.Hastauttanasana
(The Raised Arms pose)
Breathing in, lift the arms up and back, keeping the biceps close to the ears. In this pose, the effort is to stretch the whole body up from the heels to the tips of the fingers
You may push the pelvis forward a little bit. Ensure you're reaching up with the fingers rather than trying to bend backwards.
12. Tadasana
(The Palm Tree pose)

Breathing in, lift the arms up and back, keeping the biceps close to the ears. In this pose, the effort is to stretch the whole body up from the heels to the tips of the fingers
You may push the pelvis forward a little bit. Ensure you're reaching up with the fingers rather than trying to bend backwards.

  1. Surya Namaskar provides all of the key health benefits of yoga in a very compact way. The apparent advantage of Surya Namaskar is the workout it provides for the muscles and also benefits joints, ligaments and the skeletal system by improving posture, flexibility and balance.
  2. In addition to these physical benefits, Surya Namaskar practice virtually stimulates and conditions every system of the body. It stimulates the cardiovascular system and is very good for the heart. It oxygenates the blood and helps in strengthening the heart. Surya Namaskar is also good for the digestive system and the nervous system. It stimulates the lymphatic system and supports respiratory system, as well.
  3. Practicing Surya Namaskar also benefits the Endocrine system and enables the various endocrinal glands to function properly. These include the thyroid, parathyroid and pituitary glands and the adrenal gland, testes and ovaries.
  4. Surya Namaskar provides mental benefits to regular practitioners. You will have a wonderful feeling after performing this pose. It is relaxing and rejuvenating, and melt away the tension, stress and anxiety.
Benefits of Surya Namaskar specific to each 12 yoga poses in the series :
  • Pose 1 (and 12): Stimulates the respiratory system, exercises shoulder, back and neck muscles and promotes balance
  • Pose 2 (and 11): Promotes balance, promotes digestion, exercises arms and shoulder muscles, tones the spine, promotes flexibility in back and hips
  • Pose 3 (and 10): Promotes blood circulation, tones abdominal tracts, stretches back and leg muscles, stimulates spinal nerves, stimulates lymphatic system
  • Pose 4 (and 9): Exercises spine, strengthens hand and wrist muscles
  • Pose 5 (and 8): Stimulates blood circulation, strengthens the heart, strengthens wrist and arm muscles, relieves neck and shoulder tension
  • Pose 6: Strengthens leg and arm muscles, increases flexibility in neck and shoulders, stretches arms, shoulder, neck and back muscles, exercises back muscles, releases tension in neck and shoulder
  • Pose 7: Stimulates circulation to abdominal organs, tones digestive tract, stretches upper and lower body, promotes flexibility in the back, stimulates nerves in spine
  • Poses 8 through 12 are essentially repetitions of poses 5 through 1, respectively. The health benefits of each are similar to their corresponding poses.
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