What is Yoga? Yoga, which means discipline, was developed in the year 300 by an Indian Hindu named Patanjali. Its purpose is to stretch the muscles, strengthen the body and increase concentration. It can also help you relax, if you have trouble doing that. No wonder this ancient discipline has become popular among modern entertainers and athletes. Depending on who practices it, yoga can be simply a set of exercises or a total way of life. Some who practice yoga, called yogis, try to use the discipline to reach a high level of consciousness. They respect certain abstentions (things not to do), such as not lying, stealing, being greedy or harming other people. They also practice certain observances (things to do), such as being clean, content, self-controlled, studious and devoted. Physical control is also important in yoga. Yogis train themselves to take full, deep breaths. They consider breathing a life force, counting a lifespan not in years but in the number of breaths taken. Unlike exercises that work only on strength, yoga also helps the body become flexible. As a result, some yoga exercises (called asanas) look a little strange, and you may think you need to be a human pretzel to do them. Not so. You just have to relax. In yoga, you ease into stretches, never forcing yourself. The saying no pain--no gain simply does not apply. You do only the best you can at the moment, and at some later moment you will do more. All yoga poses demand balance. And since you can't balance if you're thinking about last night's TV show, yoga also demands concentration. Learn to concentrate in yoga, and you will be better able to concentrate in baseball, tennis or even school. Yoga exercises copy nature. Many yoga poses can be traced to the shapes of creatures, such as the cobra, cat, dog, tortoise, crab and eagle. In the cobra pose, for example, you ask yourself, What would it feel like to be a cobra. You lie on your stomach with your forehead to the floor. As you inhale, you slowly roll your head back, supporting yourself with your hands. You hold that pose, then come down slowly, trying to move as a snake would move. All yoga exercises promote strength and calmness. Each move's effects on a muscle, a gland or a nerve center are carefully thought out. You can choose certain exercises to rid yourself of particular pains, such as back pain from back-packing or leg pain from jogging. Yoga can help condition you for skiing or help you control feelings of depression or fear. Any good book on yoga will describe various asanas and tell how each works. You may even have done yoga exercises already. Ever done a handstand, or the wheel. Many exercise programs borrow from yoga. All about yoga There are a lot of people who are crazy about yoga. The reason why most people do yoga is that it makes them feel better and in shape. The different poses and postures make their body healthy. Yoga for most is the best way to relax and unwind. If you want to keep your body in shape, this might be the best exercise for you. Did you know that yoga is good to fight certain illness that may come? There had been researches which proved that yoga helps you to control anxiety, reduces asthma, arthritis, blood pressure, back pain, multiple sclerosis, chronic fatigue, epilepsy, diabetes, headaches, stress and many more. Yoga has a lot of benefits and advantages. All in a day's work, it can reduce tension and stress. Of course after a heavy day, you will feel that your muscles have been stuck up and you will feel wasted. If you do yoga, your self esteem will be higher. It is important to gain more confidence inside and out so that you can face people with no worries. Yoga is good for the body in increasing your muscle tone, strength, stamina and flexibility. If you are too fat and conscious about your body figure, yoga can help you lower your fat and keep your body in shape. Yoga exercises can burn excess fat and give you the desired figure that you want. If you need time to relax and forget your responsibilities, yoga will be good to improve your concentration and enhance your creativity. Yoga helps you to think more positively away from all anxieties. If you have a fresh mind, you can think of good things and apply it easily. Your body needs to relax once in a while. Sometimes, work can leave us wasted and exhausted. During the heavy days, we may not find time to unwind because work is still on our tail. Yoga can help you create a sense of calmness and well being. Yoga exercise helps you improve a good circulation. Your organs and veins need to be exercised for it to function properly. Yoga can help stimulate your immune system and keep you away from diseases. If you have a good immune system, you can be sure that you are free from sickness. Some people do yoga to be enlightened. They believe that yoga will help them bring up their spirit and keep them relieved. Yoga works differently for people be it spiritual, emotional, psychological, mental and physical. People think that yoga is only for spiritual people. But that belief is wrong. Even if you are not that religious, you can do yoga. You will see and feel the difference at the same time find out how it works for you. Due to the pressure and demands of life, we become stressed out and we forget the essence of life. We tend to lose touch with the ones we used to spend time with, even ourselves. We find ourselves rushing most of the time with the deadlines and hassles we need to keep up with. This leaves us a small time to wander and have that physical awareness. These are the few things that yoga can provide. Once in a while, find time to dedicate a part of it to yourself to relax and unwind which only yoga can give. The Universal Appeal of Yoga Yoga has been practiced for 400 years and is a system of exercises which are very easy and effective at increasing a persons overall health ad well-being. Yoga instructors and students alike will often talk about phrases like "being in harmony with oneself and surroundings" and indeed this is a primary goal of Yoga, to achieve a unity of body, mind and spirit in a oneness with the world around us. Yoga will teach a person to stimulate internal organs including the likes of the prostate, which is practically never exercised by any other discipline. It will teach you to apply pressure upon glandular areas of the body and it will combine this with meditation and breathing techniques that will grant you the ability to turn your concentration inward to examine your feelings and thoughts. There are a number of different aspects in Yoga, but one of the most appealing is that this is a set of exercises that anyone can enjoy and benefit from. It does not require any expensive equipment or a special setting, it can be practiced by anyone, man or women, rich or poor, young or old, healthy or ill. Perhaps it's greatest appeal has always been that it is a set of beneficial exercises that anyone can do at any time and in any place. Yoga is even a safe form of exercise for pregnant women and prenatal Yoga classes are often recommended to expectant mothers. A specially tailored prenatal yoga class will help prepare a women, physically and mentally to become a mother. It gives her a number of useful tools for coping with labour and the strengthening of the body means that the recovery period after giving birth will be much shorter. There is a preconception amongst many men that Yoga is a female pastime, but this couldn't be further from the truth. Yoga provides numerous benefits to men: decreasing stress, assisting in relaxation and increasing power, stamina and flexibility across the board. Senior citizens can get a number of benefits from a yoga course and are often the first to praise the mental advantages such as an increased attention span and a better memory both long and short term. Even young children will benefit from a Yoga regime by stronger bones, increased circulation and a better disposition resulting from breathing exercises and the relaxation of the exercise. Regardless of the person Yoga has a number of lasting benefits and will aid in a wide variety of different health issues. Regular practitioners of yoga will live an overall enhanced lifestyle, are more likely to have a strong memory and better stamina combined with a stronger sense of balance. Even late starters can use Yoga to combat a range of health disorders from Blood pressure to arthritis to breathing orders. It's no wonder when you consider all the different benefits of Yoga how very popular it is, and the fact that it is a regime of exercise that is open to everyone is one more big advantage of it. It means that families can stay fit and healthy together and include everyone from the youngest child through to the oldest family members. The exercises can be performed at varying levels of difficulty and intensity, which means that two people at completely different levels of strength and flexibility can go through the same motions and both benefit. Is Yoga The Perfect Exercise? Is Yoga the perfect form of exercise and relaxation? Let's make a list of what our ideal type of exercise would do. Firstly it would be simple enough that anyone could do it, but have enough variations and different methods that it would maintain the interest of someone who had been practicing it for years. It would need to be easy to learn so that people could pick up the basics quickly and stat seeing the benefits as soon as possible. To be a perfect form of exercise it would need to be capable of keep our body in good shape all by itself. It would help with weight loss, circulation and increasing the strength of the muscles. It would stimulate the lymphatic system as well as the blood flow and help the body dispose of waste products, improving the overall immune response system. It would also have benefits that went beyond health -- the sharpening of the mind and an increased sense of well being and contentment. Ideally it would be an exercise form that required no expensive equipment and that could be practiced practically anywhere, alone or in a group. This is quite a demanding set of prerequisites for a perfect form of exercise. Let's see if Yoga measures up to these standards. Yoga is a discipline that has it's routes in India. The documents that modern Yoga is based on are hundreds of years old, and the principles behind these documents were practiced long before that. It is a low impact form of exercise that has been tweaked and customized by literally thousands of different teachers and enthusiasts. The are numerous resulting 'styles' of Yoga, but they all have the same core background and beliefs. What we refer to as Yoga in the West is usually the physical component of an entire life philosophy that has it's own beliefs and code of ethics built in. The physical focus of Yoga is on poses and slow movements that are low impact and usually use nothing more than our own body. Sometimes props and supports are used to assist the body in achieving and holding a particular pose. The poses can vary greatly in their degree of difficulty and even the same pose can have many different stages or levels. The perfect example is a simple forward stretch. One person may be able to stretch out past their knees, another may be able to reach their ankles and somebody else may be able to touch the floor. This level of progression allows us to see a physical difference in our flexibility level as we practice Yoga more regularly. And because Yoga does not require any special equipment we are not refined to set class times and can practice Yoga anywhere and any time the fancy takes us. We can even do breathing exercises to clear the mind while sitting at a work desk. Yoga has some incredible health benefits which stem from controlled breathing and increased blood flow. Our bodies organs simply do not operate at peak efficiency unless they are receiving the oxygen and nutrients that they need. The waste products from our muscles and organs are carried away by the lymphatic system. Both systems can develop chokepoints and blockages that different Yoga poses will address and correct. The result is a better more regular blood pressure, a more efficient immunity system and a optimal digestive process. Because Yoga movements are slow and simple, the focus on correct breathing has a pronounced mental affect on the body. It provides us with an enhanced ability to focus, and to un-clutter our thoughts. This is a valuable edge in modern life and its importance should not be under estimated. Finally many regular Yoga enthusiasts will tell you that there is a spiritual side to Yoga, how far this affects an individual will probably depend on their beliefs before they begin practicing Yoga, but it can perhaps be thought of most accurately with a greater comfort and connection with your own body. The increased acceptance of yourself, and comfort with your own being results directly in more happy people. So, it looks like Yoga does indeed check all the boxes and can be thought of as a perfect exercise form. The Three Chief Benefits Of Yoga Four thousand years ago Yoga was practiced in India, today it is popular all over the world and in numerous different styles and forms. Not only is the popularity of this form of exercises remarkable, but so is the results and benefits that people are getting from Yoga every day. The benefits can be broadly split into three different groups -- physical benefits, mental benefits and spiritual benefits. Which benefits are most important to an individual will vary based on their preconceptions and motivations, but anyone can experience beneficial results in all three areas from a prolonged use of Yoga. * Physical Benefits The first types of benefits are those purely on a physical level. Yoga is at it's core a group of exercises. Some disciplines will use these exercises to prepare the body for a deeper meditative process, but they will still experience physical benefits from performing them as exercises. The deep breathing exercise has immediate health benefits due to increasing the intake of oxygen into the system. This oxygen is transported by the blood to our organs and tissues, which will become sick without sufficient oxygen and nutrients. Frequently these tissues and organs are starved of nutrients due to a number of reasons including poor air intake or quality, bad circulation or disease within the body. Yoga increases the oxygen intake, removes blockages in the circulation to ensure it's safe delivery and also stimulates the lymphatic system to aid in the removal of toxins from our system, leaving our bodies auto immune system more free to deal with invading disease or viruses. Beyond this internal health which many people take for granted, Yoga will also greatly increase a persons balance, flexibility and muscle strength. * Mental Benefits Many people see this as the most import benefit that we can gain from Yoga. It will of course depend on what your priorities are but the mental benefits of Yoga are certainly impressive. The ability to focus on ones breathing has a natural consequence of allowing extraneous thoughts to melt away and a state of calmness to be introduced. This is not a feat to be taken lightly as it provides a valuable skill in the ability to remain calm amidst turmoil. A mother can use this when everything happens at once in the home, a businessperson can use it to focus on a single task despite everyone around him being panicked or a soldier can use it to block out the bullets and noise and focus on an important task. Yoga also requires a high level of discipline from those practicing it -- both the discipline required to perform the exercises themselves and the discipline needed to stick to a regular exercise regime. Again this is something that comes surprisingly easy to people once they have mastered the basis of the Yoga breathing exercises. * Spiritual Benefits Generally newcomers to yoga will not understand these benefits for some time. There are a number of benefits that can fall into the 'spiritual' category. Yoga itself is built around a philosophy that includes it's own set of ethics, but these are seldom taught as part of Western Yoga practise. Instead the spiritual benefits we talk about tend to be a persona acceptance of yourself and contentment with your place in life. For some people it goes beyond that but discussing spiritual feelings is always difficult to do so broadly. Overall the level of spiritual satisfaction you get is likely to depend on your own personal beliefs. Frequently Asked Questions On Yoga Yoga has been around for an incredibly long time and over that period different practitioners have added their own refinements and styles into the basic Yoga discipline. There are so many different styles now it is nearly impossible to count, but they all stem from the same core philosophy and methodology. Unfortunately the multiple different styles often lead newcomers to the exercise discipline to become very confused as to what they are doing and what they can hope to achieve with Yoga. In this article we answer some of the common questions. What is Yoga? This question is the most common from newcomers. Most people have a general idea but they are not sure where Yoga fits into the world. Is it an exercise? Is it a philosophy? Is it a form of physical therapy? Is it a spiritual process? The answer is that to different people Yoga is all of these things. At it's core it is a group of exercises and poses which are very low impact and work by strengthening the body and increasing it's flexibility through static exercise. This means that each pose will 'stretch' a certain area and the body benefits from this stretch by increased blood flow and energy release. Many of the exercises release tension from areas of the body that regular activities do not cater to. Because Yoga is performed slowly and with a strong emphasis on correct breathing patterns there is also a strong mental and spiritual element to the exercise. It is seen as a way of cleansing mind, body and spirit. Do I Need To Be Religious To Get The Most Out Of Yoga? As mentioned above Yoga is different things to different people. There are many people in the world who perform Yoga purely for it's spiritual benefits. There are many others who perform Yoga purely for the physical benefits associated with it. What you get out of Yoga will depend largely on your mindset, your openness to new ideas and your ability to let yourself fall fully into a meditative state. For some people this is very difficult at first, but that is still not going to prevent them from getting the physical benefits associated with Yoga classes. You will find that even if you do not have any strong spiritual base you will still benefit from an increase in your self-confidence and personal contentment. Where Can I Do Yoga? Practically anywhere. Many people practice Yoga in their homes every day. Others will go to the local park and practice Yoga with a group of friends. To begin with it's a good idea to inquire at your local gym about Yoga classes, many of them will be holding Yoga every day. Even if they aren't they will be able to tell you where the best place to learn Yoga is. Some local councils sponsor Yoga classes in their area in recognition of the benefits to people who exercise regularly. One of the big advantages of a Yoga based exercise regime is that there is no expensive equipment to buy and then store around your house. Some poses are assisted by cushions to support the body, but in general the only thing you need is your body. I'm Not Very Fit -- Is Yoga For Me? Yes. Very much so. One of the fantastic things about Yoga is that the exercises and poses you will learn can be adjusted to your level. Fitness isn't usually a problem because the exercises are slow and often static, but your body will become better at performing them over time as your strength and flexibility improves. Knowing your limit and ensuring that you don't 'ease up' out of habit gain the best benefit. Hopefully you will now have a good understanding of what yoga is and why you should be doing it. Remember that Yoga is something that once learned can be practiced anywhere you like and as often as you like. Indeed, this is one of the key components of Yoga's popularity. An Introduction To Bikram Yoga Most people have a passing knowledge with what Yoga is, or think they know about what it sets out to achieve. But until you have tried Yoga it is impossible to know whether you have the type of personality that can truly excel under it's influence. Yoga, quite simply can be a life changing experience and the discipline and mental strength that result from it can completely change your perspective and world view. One method of Yoga which is currently very popular is know as Bikram Yoga. Bikram Yoga, often referred to as 'hot yoga' follows the Bikram Yoga Method. As with all Yoga it has multiple goals -- to build your inner strength as well as your outer physical strength. A vital component of Bikram Yoga is the flexibility and balance required to perform the exercises and it is believed that this comes from mental strength as much as physical practice. The roots of Bikram are in Hatha Yoga, which is a healing form of Yoga that strengthens both body and mind. The founder of Bikram Yoga was Bikram Choudhury, a yoga practitioner and innovator. After a weightlifting accident Bikram Choudhury was determined to recover and set about investigating the healing ability of practicing certain types of exercise. The result was Bikram Yoga, which so many people found to be an effective method of healing that it's tenants were recorded and passed on as a new form of Yoga. Those who practise Bikram Yoga purely for it's healing benefits are plentiful, but there is also a strong holistic component, which is a key reason behind using Bikram Yoga for many of those who are regular users. They key to success with Bikram Yoga is to develop the mental strength required to discipline yourself in it's use. If you can master this side of the Yoga then the physical benefits will be forthcoming. They have been proven by scientists including a group from the Tokyo University Hospital. The medical benefits are beyond question and have been shown to improve chronic ailments as well as greatly assist in the treatment and recovery of tissue injuries. At the 1972 International Medical Conference the findings were presented and it was concluded that Bikram Yoga had the ability to assist in the recovery of internal tissue. The explanation given was that the positions practised by Bikram Yoga replenish cells and assist in the lymphatic system flushing toxins from the body. In addition to the toxin drain the cells are assisted by higher oxygen flows during and after exercise. Bikram showed that to get the best benefits from the exercise a healthy and well balanced body was important. Where the body is weak Bikram Yoga will have less affect in the healing process, which relies on correct balance and circulation. Bikram demonstrated 26 exercises and recommended a regime, which was to be practised every single day in order to best treat the body. Each posture exercise was developed based on a background of both Eastern and Western Yoga disciplines. They all focus on the movement and pressure on muscles, nerves, ligaments glands and organs. The exercises are meant to be performed together and in sequence, because they are all inter-related to each other. Bikram Yoga is low impact and can be performed by people of all different ages. The important component is the discipline required to perform the posture exercises every day for maximum benefit. Getting familiar with Yoga equipment For those who are into learning yoga, you will find that there are a few things that you might want to purchase to help you learn yoga and get the proper training. When it comes to the yoga equipment you will want to make sure that you are safe and performing the moves or poses correctly. This means that you will want to go shopping for some yoga equipment. There are a few things that you will need to pick up. First a foremost, it is important for anyone practicing yoga to have a good mat. Mats come in all shapes and sizes, so you have many choices when making a purchase. Look for a mat that is large enough for you when you are sitting. The mat should be dense, but not to the point where you sink in or wobble while doing your poses. Mats that are lined with non-slide material are your safest bet, as they will protect you even when you are doing more complicated poses. However, make sure that it is washable and many can be cleaned in the machine washer. Remember, yoga is exercise, so wash your mat every few sessions to prevent the spread of bacteria and other germs. You will also find that there are a number of things that you can buy and use in your daily sessions. Many things can be used to correct your posture. Blocks made especially for yoga students are available in most stores. Made of dense foam, they can be used to help learn specific positions. These are light and strong so that you can easily take them to and from your class. Bolsters can also be used for the same purpose, and although they are heavier, they more easily conform to the shape you need. Next, you may consider purchasing a bag to carry your equipment. You will find that mats are large and difficult to carry, but there are easily able to be carried when you get some special yoga bags. Again, remember to find a material that is not only durable, but also washable, so that you can prevent the spread of germs. More advanced yoga students may wish to consider other props to help with stretching and correcting postures. You can also get a yoga sling and hang it from the ceiling. This will help you to do some of the inverted positions. Yoga ropes also come in handy here, and sets of ropes can be mounted to your walls and ceilings to help your posture and flexibility. If you think that they sound overwhelming like your moving too fast, you can also get some sandbags will handles. These can be used to create a bigger stretch when you are doing certain poses. You will want to purchase some books and videos on yoga so that you can continue to learn the art of yoga when you aren't in class or if you just want to learn more about yoga in general. When it comes to learning new poses you will find that it is easier if you have an coach or instructor to help and show you the correct way. You will watch videos and books to help with your performance, but they also make great gifts for most yoga students. Dress Attire for yoga class. If you are thinking about starting a yoga class you will want to consider what you wear to the class before you go. You will find that yoga involves many different moves or positions while in a single routine. You will need to dress so that you will be comfortable and it won't create problems for you if were to stretch or move a certain way. You will find that if you don't wear the correct type of clothing you may not get everything that you would hope to get from a yoga class. You will find that there are many clothing companies that have a variety of clothing for those who are practicing or learning yoga. As you know yoga is increasing in popularity in the past few years and it is considerate for these companies to offer you the clothing. Choose yoga clothing that is comfortable for your body when you are moving. Clothing that is too tight may "ride up" and shift in uncomfortable ways as your limbs rub against one another, for example. You will want to wear clothing that you feel good in and that you feel good about your body. You will want to feel comfortable no matter what size you are so that you can feel less self conscious if you think that your pants are too tight or such. In all honesty, everyone is probably too engrossed in class to notice what you are wearing, but poor clothing can be a mental block and prevent you from learning. You will also find that poor clothing choices can be quite embarrassing. Remember that yoga involves inverting your body in many cases. Don't go with too loose of clothing because the sag or fall of the clothing may show off more than you want to. Not only is this embarrassing for you, but you will also notice that everyone else will feel uncomfortable. Clothing that is too tight can be stretched too far and rip during class. Tight clothing can also be too revealing if there are members of the opposite sex enrolled in your yoga class. Always be respect towards those who are around you and always wear things that are comfortable. Yoga is an exercise, and like all exercises, you will sweat. Take this into consideration when choosing the fabric that you want to wear. Also, think about the fact that some fabrics will absorb the sweat so that you can remain dry during the workout, but still burn those calories. If your clothing is wet, it could be dangerous to attempt some positions, and the same is true if your clothing is too loose. If you aren't sure what clothing you will want to wear to your classes, you will want to do some of the basic moves and see how you feel or look in the clothing. You will want to choose outfits that are comfortable and that you feel good in. You will want to also ask your teacher for any suggestions. You will find that your clothing is very important when it comes to beginning a yoga class. Learn Yoga -- Step by Step The benefits of Yoga are well know to everyone who has ever tried the discipline but if you are new to Yoga let me recap. Yoga is a fantastically popular and effective way of strengthening you physically as well as mentally and spiritually. This last 'spiritual' aspect may turn some people off, but it's not something that needs to be associated with religion. Really the best alternate word for the spiritual strength of Yoga is contentment or happiness. It allows you to be a calmer person and more happy with yourself. Put like that it sounds pretty great doesn't it? So you've probably heard a little about Yoga and wondered what it's all about. you probably have a few preconceptions and maybe an image of an old man with a long beard sitting in the lotus position springs into your head in automatic association with the word. Let's go through step by step what you can expect in a typical Yoga session. Step One: The Introduction and Preparation. Most Yoga classes begin in a standing position. There are both mental and physical reasons for this and they are closely connected. The standing position is the most natural Human position there is. Leonardo Da Vinci produced a famous scientific picture of the symmetry of the human body when it is in it's natural standing position. The outstretched arms and legs can have a perfect circle drawn around them and this is true of everyone regardless of their height or weight. What this means is that a standing pose comes naturally to us -- we are not worried about getting it wrong and we can concentrate of the state of the body. Breathing exercises will be a key part of the warm up stage for your routine. This is the only time in your life you will be 'taught' to breath and it's a skill which allows people to restore calm to their bodies and thoughts. Step Two: The Main Routine This is the art of your Yoga session which will vary the greatest depending on what forms of Yoga you are learning. While the individual exercises you will be doing are going to be quite different, the nature of them will be very similar. This will mean moving into certain poses and positions and holding those poses to allow the body to stretch out muscles and muscle groups that in many cases haven't been given much attention during the week. Some Yoga teachers will talk to you about energy points of chakra's. These are important junctions in your body where congestion occurs and stretching them out allows energy to flow freely around your body. Step Three: Ending the Session While the main session is about releasing pent up energies, this stage of your Yoga workout is all about allowing that energy to flow around your body. Many people have trouble with thinking about some strange mystic force that is flowing through you and driving it to certain parts of your body. If you are one of them just mentally substitute the word 'energy' with the word 'blood'. We know that the job of blood is to carry nutrients and oxygen around our body, and we know that if any part of our body is lacking in this supply that we will become ill, so it's not a huge stretch to think of blood as the mystic energy force that brings health around our body, and exercises such as Yoga as being the method of ensuring the smooth and successful flow of that blood. How To Get The Most From Yoga Yoga is an ancient art that has been refined and modified by many great teachers across the ages. It now comes in so many different styles and techniques and different people may find different versions of Yoga more suitable for them. This is because Yoga is a very personal exercise routine with strong emphasis on looking within oneself in order to achieve personal balance and wellbeing. Regardless of which individual version of Yoga you practice there are a number of things that apply to Yoga universally rather than to individual branches of the discipline. If you want to get the most from your Yoga session you will learn to understand these things and develop them into your Yoga routine. You will find that much of your time performing Yoga is spent in a sitting or lying position, however the beginning of a Yoga session is usually a standard standing pose. The standing pose is the most natural position for a human to find themselves in, yet we spend remarkably little time practising standing correctly. If you begin your Yoga session with a standing pose you are free from the stress of having to take on an unaccustomed position and this allows you to focus on other fundamentals of the Yoga Discipline. For instance you can concentrate on regulating your breathing and feeling the full healing benefits of each breath. The standing pose is so natural to us that we don't need to pay it any conscious thought and can focus on our breath entering the body and flowing through us. The standing pose is also beneficial to bringing the body into alignment and centring ourselves both physically and spiritually. Leonardo Da Vinci produced a famous diagram showing the perfect symmetry of the human body when it is in it's natural standing pose and this position has always been the most natural for us to find our centre and balance. The bulk of a Yoga session is spent in placing our body in positions or poses that stretch and activate the body. These poses are entered into gently and gradually so there is no risk of injury. Many poses have a number of different levels so we can get more and more benefits from them as our body becomes more used to them. This is perhaps best demonstrated by a simple forward stretch. When a gym teacher tells a pupil to touch their toes the pupil is performing the same exercise whether they can reach forward and touch the floor or whether the stretch only goes as far as their knees. The only difference is the level of incline. The forward stretch is also a perfect example of how the natural movements of Yoga are used outside of a Yoga class or session -- in this case in stretching and warming up before sports or other physical activities. Most children who's coaches take them through a stretching routine before a game of football have no idea that many of the poses are borrowed directly from a Yoga session. The key to enjoying and benefiting from this main phase of the Yoga session is to pace it to your level. As with the child who can only forward stretch to knee level you do not need to perform the exercise at the highest level from the first time you experience it. Find your comfort zone and then move a fraction beyond it. Then each new session try and maintain that level and push a little further if possible. The end of a Yoga session is also an important stage. This stage usually consists of a group of restoration and restorative poses and positions that are designed to allow the energy to flow back through your body. A good Yoga session releases pent up energy in your body and allowing this energy to flow freely to all parts of the body is a critical part of gaining the maximum benefits from Yoga. How Yoga benefits the Circulatory System And Why This Is Important The circulatory system is an essential part of what keeps us going. It is also referred to as the cardio-vascular system and consists of the heart and the blood vessels. The hearts job is to pump blood to different parts of the body and this blood carries vital nutrients and oxygen to the different organs. It travels via the blood vessels. The heart is divided into four compartments that each have a different role. The compartment on the upper right is responsible for collecting the incoming impure blood from all over the body and moving it on to the lower right compartment. The lower right compartment sends the blood on to the lungs for purification. The purified blood is then returned to the heart -- this time in the upper left ventricle from where it is moved into the lower left compartment and then back out as fresh, pure blood to the remainder of the body. The blood is primarily carries through main arteries that are thick tube like structures leading from the heart around the body. The arteries branch into many sub arteries which in turn will divide into thin-walled capillaries. The capillaries interact with the organs directly and due to their thin walls they pass oxygen and nutrients to the organs and tissues that need them the most. The used resources are ejected from the tissue and back into the capillaries to be fed on through specialized veins to return the impure blood back to the heart to start the entire process once more. This is a difficult job as the pressure has decreased this far from the heart so the veins are assisted by valves to regulate the flow. The important thing to understand about the way the circulatory system is set up is that it has two main parts, the blood system and the lymphatic system. It is the job of the lymphatic system to remove waste from the circulatory system. The two different systems run almost side by side but while the blood system has a pump -- the heart -- the lymphatic system does not have a single organ designed to power it's operations. This job falls to the muscles, which pump the lymphatic system by contracting and expanding. This is of course where Yoga comes in. Yoga is a discipline unique in it's combination of focus on body, mind and spirit. The body component is taken care of with a series of poses and postures, which are designed to clear blockages in the circulatory system and ensure that everything is flowing as it should at an even regular rate. It also flexes the muscles and strengthens them very efficiently over time with a minimal amount of 'grunt'. This strengthening and constant working of these muscles pumps the lymphatic system and makes out body many times more efficient at the removal of waste matter. As a result people who practice Yoga regularly can expect that they will have a greatly enhanced immune response system and be able to deal with infection and disease better than their non-Yogi counterparts. Furthermore the benefits start before this. Yoga sessions will usually being with a series of standing exercises emphasizing long slow breathing exercises. These breathing exercises are common to all forms of yoga and force us to concentrate on our breath and it's pathway trough the body each time we take a fresh breath. The exercises are designed especially so that people are not restricted in where and when they can practice them and ideally would use them instead of our slower shallower normal breathing pattern. Because the breaths are longer and deeper the oxygen intake is increased. Combined with the enhancing effects that the exercises have on the regularity of circulation in the blood system the oxygen is much more efficiently transported to the muscles of the body. If these muscles, along with our other organs and tissues are not receiving the oxygen and nutrients we need then we starve them and become ill as a result. As you can see Yoga is of great assistance to the complex and interlocking system of circulation. It recognizes the basis and importance of the system and helps to being it back into balance. 3 Common Mistakes by Yoga Newcomers Whenever we start something new we have a certain feeling of trepidation and uncertainty of the unknown and in most cases it is completely unfounded and we get on with things very quickly and easily. Sometimes it isn't and a simple little thing can cause us to have an entirely negative first impression and perhaps even never want to try that activity or passtime again. Yoga has so many health benefits, on both a physical and spiritual level, that it would be a tragedy for anyone to miss out on them because they made a silly avoidable mistake on their first day. With that in mind this article addresses the 3 most common mistakes of new Yogi, and how to make sure they don't happen to you. * Mistake One: Not knowing what you want from Yoga. The reality is that there are numerous different styles and forms of Yoga and each has it's different attractions. Ask yourself what it was about Yoga in general that attracted you and then you can investigate a style that caters more specifically to that. You may like to set goals, be they physical, mental or spiritual. If you do then it's a good idea to discuss them with the instructor of your class before you begin. Yoga instructors are usually very approachable and happy to talk about their passion. They will be able to talk to you about your goals for the class and let you know if you are being realistic, aiming too high or too low. Make sure you goal includes a timeframe so it becomes something that is measurable. * Mistake Two: Jumping in Feet First. Having decided that they will give this Yoga thing a try many people take a running leap and jump in to a 12 month stage by stage class. These classes are usually an upfront payment arrangement and progress from one level to the next as the weeks progress. They are a fantastic way of learning Yoga and becoming very good at it, but it's quite possibly you will choose a class that is not ideal for you. The best way around this is to join a Yoga beginner class, also known as a drop in class. If you do these classes for a few weeks you will notice a high turnover of students as new people join and old people move on. These classes are designed to give you a very broad feel for the different types of Yoga. The level of the students in the class usually varies greatly so you can expect the instructor to keep the classes quite tame. The other key benefit of doing this is that the classes are pay as you go so there is no big financial outlay for you while you decide the type and style of yoga that best suits you. You are also not obliged to attend every class. With the longer courses you can fall behind quickly if you miss a week or two in a row. With the pay as you go classes you will find that while each class is different the level stays quite low to cater for the newer people joining in. * Mistake Three: Choosing the wrong teacher. Traditionally a Yogi had to be an apprentice to a skilled Guru for many years before he could teach even the simplest of Yoga technique. Nowadays a 3-day course over a long weekend is considered enough by some people. There is a big difference in what you will achieve depending on the skills and abilities of the person teaching you. Yoga is starting to make a regular appearance on the sports injury list and a large reason for this is instructors who have been taught just enough to be dangerous. A qualified teacher won't necessarily be fantastic and an unqualified teacher won't necessarily be terrible -- but the odds are certainly cast in that direction, so it's a good idea to check your instructors background and qualifications before you begin studying with them. 4 Secrets To Finding The Right Beginner Yoga Class For You When you are new to Yoga you are probably going to be uncertain as to what to expect when you first enter a beginner Yoga Class on your first day. Most people are uncertain about what they should even be looking for in a beginner Yoga class, so this article will let you in on the four secrets to finding the right class for you. * Secret Number One: Decide on what you want to achieve before choosing a style. The number of different reasons for taking up Yoga is usually at least as high as the number of new people in a Yoga class. Broadly people will be looking for one of three things -- physical health, mental health or spiritual health. All three are important and all three are realistic goals in a Yoga class. Whatever it is you are trying to achieve through Yoga there will be a class and style that is suitable for you. You can research in a library, online or even by asking various Yogi and this will hep you find the Yoga that will get the best result for you. It's worth actually setting some solid goals and many newcomers are surprised at how willing a Yoga instructor is to talk over these goals with them and discuss whether they are realistic or an alternative may be better suited. * Secret Number Two: Join a class-by-class program These are sometimes referred to as drop in classes, or pay as you go. These are a good way of getting a feel for Yoga. There will be a regular turnover of other students in the classes and the contrasting level will mean the instructor will keep the classes at a relatively mild level and give everyone a taste of many different aspects of Yoga. The advantage of this method is of course that you are not committed to an expensive series of classes and you can get a taster for Yoga and see what types of Yoga interest you. You will also quickly learn whether the goals you set earlier are realistic for you, or even too low and need expanding upon. Your next step will be to choose a series of classes in the areas that you found most suitable from the drop in classes. These classes will build on each other from week to week and you may find yourself behind if you miss a week. * Secret Number Three: Ensure that you are being taught by someone who knows what they are doing. Surprisingly enough considering the relatively low intensity and the many physical benefits, Yoga has begun to regularly show up on the statistics for sports injuries. Two key causes are identified. Firstly students pushing themselves too fast too soon, and secondly instructors with inadequate training or appreciation of the individual level of their students(large classes are sometimes to blame for this). When you are considering a new class don't be embarrassed to ask your Yoga instructor what their qualifications and background are. Many 'instructors have nothing more than a three day training course in 'gym yoga' and many people put this in the 'enough knowledge to be dangerous category'. Traditionally a student would train for many years under a guru before they would be considered fit to pass on even the simplest of Yoga techniques to another novice. The Yoga Alliance is a United States organisation that features a register of teaches who have completed 'appropriate' training. This means having completed courses that meet a certain standard. A nice rule to work by is that less than 200 hours of instruction would mean a part time Yoga education. * Secret Number Four: Be aware of hidden costs. An unpleasant surprise that can put people right off Yoga is turning up to the first class and finding that there are expenses that they haven't allowed for. Some studio's require each student to have their own mat, a special strap or other props. Some classes will work through a book which you are obliged to buy and some classes will have a dress code ranging from specific colours to specific articles of clothing. Being unaware of any of these things and being refused your first class because of them can be very off-putting. Using Yoga for Weight Loss In today's society carrying excess weight is becoming the norm rather than the exception. Lifestyles are increasingly sedentary, peoples diet is becoming increasingly processed and fatty and food contains more and more calories, additives and preservatives. Children prefer television over playing with their friends, which is perhaps a direct reflection on parents who prefer television over socializing or even making time for their children. This only scratches the surface of the social move towards a sedentary and unhealthy society which is making more and more people fat. Yoga is a discipline designed to make the body strong and flexible and enhance the overall health of the digestive system as well as the hormonal and circulatory systems. It also assists us in controlling mental stress and achieving peace and clarity of mind. Yoga also has strong spiritual benefits which will see you becoming more content with yourself and more comfortable with who you are, all aspects which will lead to emotional stability. This mental component is often neglected in a physical approach to weight loss, but it is critical and should not be overlooked. So called "Comfort food" is a frequent problem for people who yo-yo diet(rapidly lose and gain weight) and the ability to be happy with your health and who you are reduces the need for this. Yoga is based on deep and controlled breathing which is a method for enhancing our oxygen intake. This allows oxygen to travel to the fat cells in our body and assist in their processing. One has to ask given the benefits why more people don't practice Yoga? Many people think of Yoga as a passive or mystical discipline -- something for hippies -- not them. This is a shame as Yoga improves the physical body as well as our mental health. While it is practiced by a great many people in Eastern Populations only about 2% of the population in the United States has clicked on to the many benefits. Yoga considers all the aspects that contribute to obesity -- not just the physical but also the mental and spiritual reasons behind them. regular Yoga is not only relaxing but it does bring the body back towards it's ideal weight and at the same time enhance strength, flexibility and stamina. Yoga nuts tend to end up slim, agile and efficient in everything they do and what's more it is suitable for people of all ages. A more active form of Yoga, Kundalini, was introduced to America in 1969 by Yogi Bhajan. It is a more active form of Yoga combining different methods of breathing, meditation and movement to compensate for the fact the American population has been conditioned to see exercise as requiring sweating. Yoga can also be used to resist the temptation of snacking between meals. techniques learned from yoga can be used to suppress impulses such as that we think of as hunger between meals(if you eat proper meals you cannot be hungry between them -- merely bored or restless). Yoga is not just a method of losing weight, it is actually a method which restores a natural balance to our body and moves us towards our natural state. This has an interesting consequence with weight. It we are overweight then yes, regular Yoga will cause us to lose weight. However if we are at our ideal weight we will not drop weight, and if we weight too little we will gain weight until we are at our biologically natural size. Different Yoga Poses and Asanas Classical yoga has developed over time to include many different styles for a range of situations, needs and preferences. However the majority of Yoga styles still fall neatly into either the therapeutic or the meditative category. Both categories have many hundreds of different Asanas,(poses or positions) and all of these are designed to benefit both the body and the mind. Yoga takes the five 'prayer' positions and uses a corresponding yoga position to activate the seven chakras in the body. A Chakra is a type of energy field or is sometimes thought as a key position in the flow of energy throughout our body. Each different type of Yoga and each different Yoga position will have a different chakra as it's core emphasis. All of these positions, which we tend to think of nowadays in Western Yoga as exercises, were in fact originally the preparation for the Yogi to enter a state of meditation. The actual positions or poses of Yoga are known as Asanas and they may seem complicated or difficult to a new Yoga student. It's important not to forget that all of the basic positions of Yoga are designed to improve the bodies strength and flexibility, and as these characteristics are improved it also makes the positions more comfortable and easier to settle into. The deep stretching that is the basis of most Yoga positions is beneficial for trauma disorders, tendonitis, carpal tunnel syndrome and tennis elbow amongst others. Before you begin you may find it beneficial to attain a basic knowledge of the philosophy and theory behind Yoga, however this is not a requirement or essential to your success. It does assist with being comfortable settling into and performing the poses associated with Yoga, and it should be remembered that if you cannot do this then you will probably not benefit from Yoga. There is a common misconception about Yoga that it is only for the tremendously flexible who can contort themselves into weird and wonderful positions. Chanting is often also associated with a Yoga class in people's preconceptions. Neither of these ideas is true. The Yoga positions are generally quite easy to get into but they do have several different depths in many cases. This means that a completely beginner can move into a position and still benefit from it at a great level after many years of Yoga. There are some advanced positions that a beginner should probably not bother themselves with. Just as you are not going to compete with top marathon runners on your first day jogging, but can still get benefits, you are also not going to be able to ease into some of the positions that an instructor is capable of. Likewise if you are pregnant or perhaps have an injury such as a bad back you should inform your Yoga instructor before you begin. There are some positions that can actually be detrimental to certain conditions. Twist exercises with a recurring back injury is one of these. Yoga is something that is most beneficial in a comfortable environment, as the muscles will stretch better when they are still warm. It's important to learn the discipline to enter and leave each new pose or position slowly. Not only does this help avoiding injury but also the movement from one pose to another is often part of the program. Don't hold the poses and positions longer than is natural for you either. As you become more used to practicing the Yoga positions each day the benefits will allow you to hold a position with more ease for longer periods of time. When practised correctly the benefits of Yoga are many. Lubrications of the joints, ligaments and the tendons will result directly from performing the exercises best suited to you. Posture will increase dramatically and you will also experience a sense of wellbeing. There is also a deeper spiritual level to Yoga (it actually has it's own philosophy and code of ethics) that you will move closer towards and enhance each time you stretch and go through the breathing exercises. The Different Motivations And benefits Of Yoga There are many different reasons for taking up and practising Yoga. For one person they may be ill and looking to rejuvenate themselves. Another will want to maintain and improve their current level of health. Some people like the mental challenge...and for some it is a physical challenge that can be overcome. Some people may use Yoga as a relaxing form of stress relief. The great thing about Yoga is that all these people are going to find what they are looking for and so much more. Yoga has a long list of benefits, both physical and mental, associated with it. Yoga can assist in recovery from a heart attack through it's blood lowering and distressing effects. There has been a considerable amount of research done into heart patients and Yoga, most notably by Dr Ornish who is now also a best selling author. Dean Ornish has no reservations in recommending Yoga both as a way of recovering from heart attacks and also avoiding future heart problems. Yoga has also been reported to be very beneficial to people with diseases such as Multiple Sclerosis due to it's ability to assist with balance and muscle tone. Yoga gently works muscle groups around the back and spine of spinal injury sufferers and because it puts very little stress on the muscles while still working them thoroughly it is a fantastic way of strengthening this part of the body. Regular Yoga for back pain sufferers can result in complete restoration of their range of movement. As we age most of us become frailer and less co-ordinated in our movements, but Yoga can help us age more gracefully by ensuring we are always in control of our body and mind. In fact most Yoga sessions are filled with a slightly older crowd who recognize the ongoing benefits it gives them. Yoga is also a strength building discipline that allows even progression in the arms, the legs and the trunk or core of the body. Many of us take strength for granted until it fails us, but increasing your physical strength will benefit you not just with lifting heavy objects, but also in everyday tasks like getting groceries or mowing the lawn. It even makes it easier for us to move ourselves! As well as strength Yoga will greatly increase the range of motion we are able to achieve, particularly in the spine and joint areas. Once again this is often something we take for granted unless it is missing. The act of reaching up to put something in a cupboard is natural to many of us, but for others it can cause a jolt of pain down their back, they simply cannot move their arm through the range of motion needed to reach up, or when they do their grasp is not strong enough to grab anything from the cupboard. It's important not to just focus on the physical benefits of Yoga because the mental benefits are at least as impressive. Simply put Yoga will focus and sharpen your mind. Each posture is performed with a focus and an awareness of your body and your breathing. This is not a gym session with mind numbing reps or chatter between exercises. Whatever you are doing during a Yoga session is done with absolute focus on the movement, the body, the breathing and the moment. Breathing is something that most of us do wrong most of the time. We are accustomed to taking shorter, quicker breaths, but with Yoga the breathing is deeper and fuller. These deeper breaths will make the mind calmer and more focused. Yoga enthusiasts often describe this calmness as a sense of well-being. The deep breathing also makes it easier to release the stress and negative thinking that accumulates in us. Just as the physical blocks are removed through increased blood circulation during the exercises, so the mental blockages are removed by clarity of thought. Yoga is not a discipline you simply know or do not know; it is an ongoing learning process. There are a huge number of different postures and each posture has a number of different variations on how it can be performed. This never-ending sea of options keeps the body stimulated and engages the mind constantly. Behind the postures and exercises themselves there is a complex philosophical system based in the writings that Yoga derives from. Not many people think of a complete code of ethics including steadfastness, truth, self inquiry and an opposition to stealing, harming others and hoarding when they think of yoga, but these ethical issues are a central part of the system on which Yoga was founded. The different postures, breathing exercises and the deep philosophy of Yoga all lead to the same end -- a deep contemplation. Because Yoga relaxes both the body and the mind tension and stress are greatly reduced. This is highlighted during a Yoga class by pauses for us to get in touch with how we are feeling and reacting. Ending the class in a point by point contemplative meditation performed on the back is common. Yoga is an exercise, but it is also a meditative process, a code of ethics and a confidence and character building course all rolled into one. It's no wonder the group of people who attend the classes are so diverse. Yoga as a Form Of Corporate Stress management In a corporate environment one of the things that makes a critical difference for employees is a relaxed congenial environment. The headquarters of Google is one of the most productive places in the world and every idea that comes out of the Google thinking tank seems to be another winner, yet this is achieved in a building that is filled with slides, relaxation equipment, staff libraries, canteens and even beds. The message is clear -- we care about the results not about how long or hard you work. Not surprisingly the results come and the staff are happy to work long hours in a relaxing environment knowing that they will not be harshly judged by their co-workers for taking a relaxation break. In less ideal environments the opposite of this is often true with stress levels high because every decision, every move, everything could have the future of a company hanging on it. Successful businesses recognize that this stress is not productive and that if it can be reduced the level of accomplishment will rise proportionately. Google is the extreme of a trend that has been developing for a long time -- providing recreation facilities inside corporate buildings. One of the most successful and popular is a Yoga centre. The stress of the modern corporate world is usually a counterproductive thing, it puts people on a knife-edge and frequently leads to mistakes that a calmer more relaxed person would not make. Yoga is known to be one of the most effective forms of stress relief. Yoga is a special type of discipline that can be utilised on a number of different levels, places and situations. A perfect example is the Yoga breathing exercises such as Anulem and Vinolum. These are used to calm the thought process and allow you to maintain focus when overwhelmed with too much information or too many thoughts and problems at once. And because they are merely a deep and focused way of breathing they can be performed sitting in a chair, standing in an elevator or even while driving a car. Cramps and bad back posture are also often treated with nothing more than a steady breathing exercise with some quite spectacular results in some cases. The simplicity of being taught to breath properly may strike some corporates as strange. Nobody teaches us to breath, or sit or even stand. These are simple things that we spend our whole day doing, yet at no point in our lives are we actively taught them. Incorrect posture when sitting is a very serious problem if you are in front of a monitor all day, but simply learning the correct way to breath can align your body properly and solve many of the problems associated with this bad posture. If you take deep breathes and focus on them your body is pulled in to shape by this most natural of human movements. Where specific problems such as Obesity or joint pain are present, a Yoga class can be specially tailored to address them. Blood pressure problems and ailments of the kidney can be treated with Yogic Kriyas. Poor agility is a result of poor balance and this issue is frequently confronted and quickly overcome with a range of balance-enhancing Yoga exercises. Some people who have reported daily occurrences of problems like anger, tension, hypertension, stress and headaches have achieved very good results simply from using Yoga to it's full potential. The increased flexibility that Yoga provides is a godsend for people in sedentary job environments. The mental advantages of Yoga are also quite clear. Yoga has an ability to redirect our thinking to a more positive frame. The most common form of Yoga used in corporate stress management is Hatha Yoga because it is a particularly potent form of physiological and psychological cleansing. In any environment stress is a normal occurrence, what differentiates a successful person from an unsuccessful one (and by extension a successful business from an unsuccessful one) is how we deal with that stress. Hatha Yoga, and Yoga in general provide executives with the tools they need to deal with stress on a daily basis. Some businesses will go as far as getting a staff medical done and passing the results on to a Yoga instructor who will formulate a customized program for an individual based on their health needs. Different Yoga techniques deal with different problems and a qualified instructor will be able to find those best suited to an individual's personal situation. Through recognizing Yoga's ability to deal with the individual needs of employees and incorporating it into part of the daily work schedule businesses are creating a happier work environment and being rewarded by their employees by increased productivity and a greater loyalty and appreciation of their employer.
The Effects And Benefits Of Different Types Of Yoga The origins of Yoga are about 4000 years old and based in a Far Eastern spiritual practice designed to realize ones own Divine Nature. In the western world today it is mostly seen as a form of exercise although all forms of Yoga are still based in the three traditional techniques of Eastern Yoga. These three fundamentals of Yoga are the Asanas (Sanskrit for Postures), the Pranyama (the Sanskrit for breathing or breath control) and meditation. Yoga increases the strength of your muscles, your flexibility, helps you relax and calm yourself and centre your thought. Different Types Of Yoga * Raja Yoga: This form of Yoga focusses on achieving unification or oneness (Samadhi) through the ahstangas of Yoga (Yama, Niyama etc). Anyone competent enough to achieve the goal of Samahdi through this method is believed to be a Raja (King of Yoga). A most famous example is Swami Vivekananda. * Bhakthi Yoga: In Bhakthi yoga a person seeks to reach the ultimate state of oneness or attunement through the sheer power of devotion and faith. Bhakthi does not concentrate on the traditional methods of pranyama, yogasnas or mudra, and instead preaches attention to a loving god, unquestioning devotion to god's will and a sharing of gods love towards humanity. * Jivamukti Yoga: In 1986 Sharon Gannon and David Life developed the Jivamukti Yoga method because they believed that traditional western Yoga practices focussed only on the physical aspects of Eastern Yoga and not the spiritual. * Ananda Yoga: This discipline is a preparatory one for entering a state of meditation. Gentle postures, correct body alignment and focus on breathing are all used towards the end of preparing the Yogi for a meditative state. The Effects Of yoga There are a number of different paths that are intended to lead a person to a higher state or realization of Moksha(the oneness with ultimate reality). It refers to a gradual 'yoking of the self' through strong spiritual discipline so that each subsequent session of Yoga brings one a little closer to a full state of acceptance of themselves and their place in the universe. The ego is seen as an aspect which limits our ability to accept our place in the universe and something which is gradually toned down. The traditional yoga Margas, or path to salvation, would involve a long and dedicated apprenticeship to a Yoga Guru. The Benefits Of Yoga Yoga has a number of specific benefits. One of the most well known and commented on is an increased level of flexibility. Yoga will work through all the muscle groups and grant increased range of motion through the attention it plays to some muscle groups which are often overlooked by other exercise programs. Yoga also works the internal glands and body organs in a thorough manner. This is a very impressive ability when we consider that Yoga can act on glands and organs such as the prostate which are unlikely to receive any regular external stimulation. Another advantage of yoga is a toning of the muscles. Excess flabbiness is shed from muscles which have become flaccid and weak. The circulation is greatly improved by the poses of Yoga which will assist the body by clearing knots and blockages. This, combined with the valuable skill of learning to breath properly result in an increased flow of blood to the vital organs and about the body. Yoga For The Non-Spiritual For a lot of people the first image that will pop into their head when they think of Yoga is a little old man in a loincloth sitting on top of a stone pillar with his legs crossed and his arms on his knees. He's probably chanting, humming or got a look of relaxation and serenity on his face. I'm not a person who likes to sit still and I hate any minute that I feel is wasted so this idea of sitting around doing nothing all day was not something that appealed to me. I've changed that initial perception quite a lot and in this article I want to tell you about the personal journey that taught me about the benefits of yoga for a very non-spiritual person. The first yoga class I ever went to I spend a lot of time sitting in silence with a bored expression on my face and thinking, "This is so dumb". I listened to the instructor drone on about inner peace and harmony and balance and energy flowing through my body and I was pretty close to never going back again. Then I got lucky. One of the guys in the class was a professor at the local university and it struck me as a little strange that a professor of biology would be doing this spiritual Yoga thing. I got an opportunity and speak to him briefly. Actually he singled me out and observed I looked bored. He explained he had felt the same way when he began and then he translated the instructors talk into biology terms and it was all very sound. That hit me like a ton of bricks. As I thought on it more and more I could see this from a purely scientific point of view. For instance take the 'energy' that flows through our body. A lot of people are turned off when they start to hear talk like that, but it's a very core component of Yoga. I substituted 'blood' for energy and looked at this thought process again. I know that blood carries nutrients and oxygen around our body. I know that if our cells don't receive these nutrients and supplements they become weak and we can become ill. I know that people can become sick if they have high or low blood pressure. The regular healthy flow of blood is clearly a very important factor in us staying healthy. Of course, Yoga was first used many hundreds of years ago and while it would be arrogant to assume that we know everything about circulation and blood flow, we certainly know more than the average Chinese peasant from that time. "Energy" is just a nice word that anyone can understand for blood flow. Yoga stretches out certain muscle areas and allows our blood to flow more freely and bring the nutrients to all parts of the body which need them. That is a nice scientific explanation I am quite happy to accept. You can do the same with the other 'alternative' terminology you don't relate to when you hear the instructor talking about it. Inner peace, oneness, emotional calm -- it's all just a very dressed up way of saying concentrate on one thing -- your blood flow and the health it is bringing you, or your breathing and the supply of life giving oxygen it brings you. Concentrate on that just for this one small part of the day and make being alive and healthy your only goal. Forget about what's happening at the office because you cannot do it from here. Forget about what your husband or wife is doing or whether the kids are being bullied at school and just concentrate on being you, being alive and being healthy. Now stress has been attributed as a major factor in over 40% of all medical issues. Stress, in a nutshell is caused by thinking too much. This practice shows us how to let all those worries be something we can think about later and leaves the brain free to concentrate on doing all it's vital health giving functions. It's strange that as I've done more and more Yoga I have developed a spiritual side that I never had before. It's not a religious thing but more a case of recognizing that my own health and wellbeing are important and worthy of being made a priority. Whether the same happens for you is yet to be seen, but if you've been putting off learning Yoga or giving it a try because of all the spiritual talk I can assure you there are scientific reasons behind it and that if you give it a chance you may just be surprised. Common Mistakes and Misunderstandings About Yoga? Yoga is a very popular form of exercising and spiritual balancing, but it is also very often understood by a lot of people. This is almost inevitable when you consider the incredible popularity of Yoga as a discipline and the many different strands that Yoga has. Quite often people have experience with one type of Yoga but not another, and as such they will base their overall impression of Yoga on what they have seen. It is like people basing their impression on Germans on the most famous German they know -- Adolf Hitler, or more recently the portrayal of George Bush internationally as the only example of an American anyone knows. The truth is that Yoga can be very different depending on who you learn it from and how they perceive Yoga. This article looks at some of the common misconceptions. * Misconception Number One: Yoga is a form of exercise. Well yes it is, but so is walking. I can walk from my couch to my table and I can hardly claim to have done my exercise for the day. The truth is that exercise is just the beginning of what yoga is. It's closer to a combination of exercise, physiotherapy, psychology and spirituality all rolled into one. As you come to master Yoga you will need to become more and more mentally strong, and most importantly disciplined. If you can discipline yourself to do regular Yoga sessions, and maintain your discipline to do each pose for the prescribed time, and do it properly, then you will naturally become a very disciplined and organised person. For some people this transcends to a spiritual level because they are so efficient and clearing their thoughts while meditating. * Misconception Number Two: Yoga is for Hippies. As previously mentioned Yoga can be a very spiritual experience if you become good enough at clearing your thoughts and concentrating whilst performing the exercises. But you certainly do not have to begin with any spiritual belief. Yoga believes in aligning the body and the mind and the spirit through achieving inner balance. What that means to you is probably going to depend entirely on what your beliefs already are. For some people it will be a spiritually freeing experience, for others it will be an effective way of distressing and achieving a level of calmness of thought. Still others will claim that these things are one and the same. * Misconception Number Three: Yoga is a fad. Recently there have been some very hyped up Yoga courses making big claims about what Yoga can achieve. These are easy to associate with other 'fad' exercise crazes. However Yoga is not something new and is based in documents that are hundreds of years old which describe exercises and poses that were probably being performed for generations before that. An individual style of Yoga may come and go, but as long as people are still stretching before a game of football then Yoga will still be being used. * Misconception Number Four: Yoga is too slow to help me lose weight/gain tone etc. This one is way off the mark, but we have been somewhat trained by the weight loss industry that weight loss, and toning our body is all about hours in the gym and fast high impact exercise. That's simply not true. Yoga can help with weight loss and in particularly toning for a number of reasons. Firstly the exercises, while low impact and performed either statically or slowly -- are still exercises. While you use them you are using your muscles, and in many cases you are using muscles and muscle groups that regular exercise programs ignore. The second way that Yoga can be of benefit in a weight loss program is that it will increase your mental strength and allow you to be more disciplined with your food consumption. When it comes down to it excess weight is a result of excess eating and not enough physical exercise to burn off those calories. Have you ever noticed how some people can eat donut after donut and not put on any weight at all? It seems unfair, but it's a natural result of the state of their body. Usually these people will be quite 'sinewy' and this muscle allows them the metabolise food faster. That's the third benefit of Yoga in weight loss, as your muscles develop your body will actually become more efficient at consuming foods and processing them into nutrients and waste. Hopefully we have now gone some way to explaining away the various myths associated with Yoga. It is such a broad topic that it is very much a case of Yoga being what you make of it. Why Yoga is Important For An Office Worker Yoga and office workers don't usually mix, but they should. When you work in an office you will usually be spending a lot of time hunched over a keyboard and sitting in a seat. It can also be an environment that is prone to produce a whole heap of stress and very few outlets to release it. In this article we examine how these things are bad for your general health and how Yoga can help. Let's start with a little bit about what Yoga is. At it's simplest level it is a very effective form of exercise. It involves flexing the body into static poses and holding them which is a fantastic method of increasing blood flow and circulation through various choke points in the body. Yoga also puts a lot of emphasis on the correct patterns of breathing which allows you body to get the most benefit from each breath of air we take. Expanding from this we take care to un-clutter our thoughts when we are performing Yoga and the more advancement someone makes with the discipline the more focussed and calm they will become. Have you ever told someone to take a breath to calm him or her down? With Yoga it is the same principle. So how does this all help our office worker? An office environment is usually neither a calm nor a healthy place. Most office workers will spend the majority of their day stuck in a chair and often staring at a computer screen or hunched over paperwork or a keyboard. This causes a lot of tension to well up, particularly in the back and shoulders. The legs are also often denied a supply of fresh blood by the long hours spend sitting down. Yoga forces the body to move in ways it would not usually do in an office environment. This can be a very effective way of clearing choke points and allowing circulation to resume it's normal flow. The blood takes valuable supplies of oxygen and nutrients with it wherever it goes and without these supplies the organs cannot operate properly. The more starved the organs become the sicker we will become, so clearly restoring blood flow to the areas that are being deprived of it is an important health priority. Did you know that most diseases are directly caused or antagonized by stress? It's true, and it's a much more serious problem than most people ever know. In an office environment this is even more so. The pressure of deadlines, the constant activity and the need to constantly be on the move are all primary factors in escalating stress levels. imagine for a moment -- stopping. Forget about all the things that you need to get done in the next week. Forget about the rent payment and the assignment you have to finish. Forget about your boss and your family and concentrate on one thing. Breathing. Yoga is as much a mental discipline as it is a physical one and it will teach you to clear your thoughts and focus on the activity at hand. While you will certainly benefit from the health benefits of Yoga, the mental benefits can be truly life changing. People who learn Yoga usually deal with stress better and are able to calm and centre themselves when there is turmoil all around them. If you think these benefits would make your life easier then you owe it to yourself to start learning Yoga as soon as possible. Can Yoga Provide A Solution To Soaring Crime Rates? Crime and Yoga are not often two words that are used together in the same sentence, and that is part of the reason that they are combined in this article. When you think of a stereotypical criminal, someone who does Yoga just doesn't spring to mind. We think of criminals as being angry, or at least very active, while Yogi are seen as calm and sedentary. Really the two are so far apart that it's hard to consider that someone who regularly undertakes Yoga classes could ever become a criminal. Perhaps Yoga should become compulsory to fight the crime rate? Here's why: Yoga classes begin with a simple standing exercise -- the exercise is this: Breathe. You can spend a significant part of a Yoga class concentrating on the simple action of taking a deep breath, breathing it in and feeling it's life giving force extend to all the far reaches of the body, and then exhaling it just as deeply and completely. This simple act of concentrating of breathing has an unparalleled ability to focus our mental concentration. It allows us to clear away unwanted or disturbing thoughts and restore ourselves to a central balance. The calming and focussing benefits of a Yoga breathing exercise can, quickly and easily clear away the types of distractions and temptations that can lead to a criminal act, at least an impulsive one. Imagine the potential of that on habitual criminals -- the ability to take a moment before committing a crime, focus their thoughts and realize that it is not the best course of action and should be avoided. Most domestic violence is a direct result of too much stress and strain in a relationship. Statistics show that the arguments that lead to an incident of domestic violence are almost always of the 'little things'. The final straw being a little thing rather than a big important issue. Let's insert the ability to calm ourselves, sharpen our mind and rationalize into that situation. Domestic Violence is a result of people 'snapping'. Uncluttering the mind and calming oneself would mean that people never got to that point. Other forms of violent crime are similar to domestic violence -- they occur when tension rises up over time until one person snaps and throws a punch or pulls a knife. With the right self-calming tools at their disposal these criminals would be far less likely to offend. Of course, all that assumes that the criminal does not want to commit a crime and only does so due to a failure to see an alternative when a certain set of circumstances present themselves. They are hungry and can take a loaf of bread so they do, or they feel threatened, unappreciated or disrespected and see striking out as the only options. Yoga would not benefit the kind of calculating mind that makes a career of criminal activities because each crime is carefully pre-meditated. Or would it? Most people know of the physical side and have at least heard of the mental and spiritual benefits of yoga, but few know that the exercises that form the basis of Yoga are only the Western Worlds interpretation of Yoga. Traditionally Indian Yoga includes an entire philosophy on how to treat each other and live our lives. If criminals also followed this component of Yoga it would be possible to see crime disappear. One can only dream... Frequently Asked Questions about Pre Natal Yoga. When you are pregnant everyone has an opinion and an important skill to learn early on in the pregnancy is to be able to listen to these opinions, comment politely and then make up your own mind. There are as many different ways of having and raising children as there are children, and once your child is born you need to do what works for you and your family, not what worked for someone else. This doesn't mean you should ignore advice that is given to you. Usually it will be being dished out by women who have been there and done this before, and knowing what works for others is often a good indicator of what may work for you. Ultimately however the decision is going to be up to you, and so you will learn to collate the collective advise and filter the wisdom from the opinion. One of the pieces that you will find almost universally recommended by those who have tried it is Pre Natal yoga, but a lot of women get nervous about the idea of starting an exercise program when their bodies are going through so many changes. This article deals with some of the most common questions that will be asked about Pre-natal Yoga. * Question One: Why Should I Do Yoga While I Am Pregnant? There are numerous benefits of Yoga for pregnant women, physical, mental and also spiritual. In a nutshell Pre-Natal Yoga is designed to give you a toolbox of techniques and methods for dealing with your pregnancy, your labour and even the stressful times of the first few days, weeks and months after the birth. People who complete Prenatal Yoga are better equipped to deal with the babies delivery itself as well as the recovery period after the birth. * Question Two: Is It Safe To Learn Yoga During Pregnancy? It is perfectly safe to start Yoga during your pregnancy provided you begin your class with a qualified Prenatal Yoga teacher. Prenatal Yoga is specifically designed for pregnancy because there are exercises and techniques in a regular Yoga session that are not appropriate for a pregnant women. It's also recommended to wait until after the first trimester is complete before you commence a Yoga class as this first trimester is a time for babies to grow and develop, whereas later they will be increasing with size in preparation for the birth and the mother needs to take advantage of the opportunity Yoga presents to ease this process. Talk to your instructor about your pregnancy before the class begins so you can be sure that they understand anything unique to your pregnancy that may require exercises to be modified(for instance women carrying twins are encouraged not to do squatting exercises). * Question Three: How Will Yoga Benefit Me Physically? Yoga is a discipline which is designed to regulate the blood flow and breathing as well as strengthen the body in general. All of these factor in the benefits to pregnant women. Blood flow is of course critical in ensuring that your body is getting all the nutrients and oxygen to all the organs that need it. It's possible for baby to get greedy and hog these resources, or the opposite could happen and the baby is deprived of what is needed to grow. The increased strength will help deal with the delivery by strengthening the pelvic floor muscles. This can potentially shorten the duration of labour and it will definitely decrease the time it takes for the vaginal passage to recover from the birth. There is even strong evidence that the increased blood flow to the skin will assist in avoiding and/or recovering from stretch marks. * Question Four: Should I keep doing Yoga after the Birth? Why not? You will keep getting all the benefits discussed above and more. You will probably want to go to at least one standard yoga class, as these can be quite different than the prenatal Yoga. Of course life can be quite hectic with a new baby so the opportunities to attend formal classes are probably going to be few and far between. Luckily one of the biggest benefits of Yoga as an exercise regime is that it doesn't require specialized equipment, so it's possible to do in the comfort of your own home during those few precious moments when your baby is asleep. Yoga Poses And What They Achieve Yoga has been described as a science which seeks to achieve the harmonious and balanced development of the body, mind and soul. It is a system which allows us to bring culture, balance and happiness to ourselves. It works via a need for strong mental discipline and the ancient theories, which it is based on regarding the interconnection between the mind and body, are now being regularly supported by modern scientific theory. Yoga consists of a number of different exercises or poses. Examples of these poses are the cat and cow poses. Both are connected and begin with you on all fours on the floor. Arching the back upwards like a cornered cat places you in the cat pose and the reverse, lowering the back puts you into the cow pose. Another common form of exercise is a forward bend that will help in the stretching of the lower back and hamstring muscles. There are a number of other advantages to forward bends: They release tension in the back neck and shoulder as well as increasing the flexibility of the spine. Forward bends can be uncomfortable if you have any injuries in the next or back area, but regularly performing will help assists in the recovery of these injuries and even strengthen the area for the future. The counterpart of a forward bend is a back bend. These open up the chest, hips and rib cage area. As well as strengthening the arms, they also provide increased strength and flexibility to the shoulders. This type of exercise is fantastic at increasing the stability of the spine, but is also useful for relieving built up tension along the front of the body and the hips. The relationship between back and forward bends is a perfect example of the importance of the bodies balance in Yoga. Hatha Yoga poses were developed in India during the fifteenth century. They are designed as an aid to relaxation and healing and usually introduced with a concept of "the contemplation of one reality". The result of using these exercises properly and in conjunction with suitable breathing exercises and meditation is an increase in vitality, physical health and a stronger mental health. Hatha Yoga exercises have become a part of numerous different Yoga disciplines over the years and it's quite common to see exercises such as the half moon posture, the bow posture of the salutation posture even if it is not Hatha Yoga you are practising. This is because the principles of Yoga and the movements and balances required are fairly consistent from one discipline to another. Another simple Yoga exercise is doing the twist. Twists will strengthen and stretch your back or abdominal muscles and help to increase the flexibility of your spine. They also aid in increasing your bodies circulation that brings oxygen supplies to your cells. This fresh blood and oxygen supply that is released as you twist will improve the functioning of your bodies internal organs. A yoga session will often begin with a standing pose. These are a very good low impact, low stress starting point for a Yoga session. Standing poses benefit the legs and hips and help provide a sense of centring, balance and of course strength to the legs themselves. The end of a Yoga session is usually marked by a group of poses known as Relation and Restorative Poses. This group of exercises is designed to give the positive energies and forces released by the Yoga session to move throughout your body and benefit you completely. "Do You Know Your Yoga?" The Quiz This is a short quiz to see if the ideas you have about Yoga are correct. Yoga is a very broad description that takes in a number of different types and styles so the questions and the explanations given for the answers are equally broad. Question One: What is Yoga? a) An Exercise Program. b) A Meditation Program. c) A Healing Program. d) All of the above. If you answered (D) then you get a tick. Well done. Yoga can be any of these things and often is all of them at once. At it's simplest level it is an exercise program which, when practised regularly will increase strength and flexibility in the body. Because of the speed that positions are changed and the emphasis on static exercise many Yoga classes put an emphasis on breathing and directing energy and thought to different parts of the body. This aspect of Yoga is where it most closely resembles a Meditation program, though exactly what meditation means in each person's individual case is going to be different depending on him or her. Finally, Yoga is most definitely a form of healing. It allows the increased flow of blood, which carries oxygen and nutrients to all parts of the body, greatly accelerating the healing rate. The stretching actions are also good for healing tissue injuries providing they are done to the right depth. Overextending can lead to re-damaging an injury, so it's important to know your limits. Yoga can also be a fantastic pre-emptive healing strategy and this is why Prenatal yoga classes are so popular. They prepare a women's body for childbirth and because of the strengthening of the specific muscles women who undergo prenatal Yoga find it much easier to recover and get back into shape after a birth. Questions Two: Yoga Exercises are________? a) Fast. b) Slow. c) Static. d) All of the above. Yoga is usually a static exercise regime so (C) is your answer here. However an argument can be made for (B) because the movements between exercises are also part of the Yoga equation. Often an exercise will involve a long slow stretch, gradually pushing a little further, but ultimately the stretch needs to be held for a certain amount of time to gain it's full benefit. Fast exercise programs are all about getting the heart and blood pumping, whereas Yoga is about releasing blockages and getting the blood flowing to all parts of the body. This difference is quite important and a key element in the success and popularity of Yoga. Question Three: Do You Have to Do Yoga In Classes? a) Yes. b) No. The answer is no (b) -- of course you don't. Yoga is something that can be a fantastic group activity, but it doesn't need to be. You are quite capable of doing Yoga sitting in your bedroom and no-one will ever know. Other people go to the part to do Yoga in the sun with some friends. Others will do Yoga in an airport between stopovers. How and where you do Yoga is up to you. What's fantastic is you don't need much room, and all it takes is a little time to work through your routine. Also, if no-one sees you doing it, nobody is going to know, unlike going for a run you won't be panting like a dog or sweating like a big at the end of a session. 3 Ways Yoga Can Benefit The Businessperson The lot of a modern businessman is a stressful one and there is always so much to do. It would take a pretty compelling set of reasons to convince a successful businessman (or even an unsuccessful one) to add something else to an already packed schedule, so why would he even think about regular Yoga classes. In this article we examine the three main benefits of Yoga and how they apply to the busy businessperson. * Benefit Number One: Physical Health All business-mans ultimate goal is to become wealthy isn't it? Have you ever heard the saying that your health is your wealth? Believe me it is true. No matter how much money you have you cannot benefit from it if you are dead and personal health is often neglected in today's busy corporate world. But the question is not whether one can afford the time for exercise to become healthy; it is whether they can afford not to. Health is a shifting scale -- you are not either healthy or dead. It's important to think about how much your level of health affects your work. A healthy body will allow you to concentrate more, work harder and increase the time you spend productively. Yoga is the perfect way for a businessman to look after their physical wellbeing. Because the exercises are so incredibly low impact they can be performed even by the most out of shape person, and the more regularly they are performed the better that person's health will become. Yoga is a very efficient method of releasing tension and stress. During a workday certain blockages develop around the body and many of our vital organs do not get the full amount of oxygen and nutrients that they need to function at peak efficiency. Yoga stretches different muscles groups in certain ways that will lead to these blockages being released and the blood flow bringing the bodies organs all the oxygen and nutrients they need. Yoga's health benefits are both immediate and long term. In the short term blood flow is increased and the body functions better because it is achieving the nutrients it requires. Tension is also released from muscles and the bodies lymphatic system is able to more effectively deal with waste products. In the longer term these will be ongoing benefits and the digestive system will also function more efficiently, which has innumerable health benefits. The general balance, co-ordination and flexibility will also be greatly enhanced. * Benefit Number Two: Mental Health Have you ever considered the importance of a breath? We know that when someone stops breathing they die, and even this simplistic understanding should tell us how important it is to breath. But breathing properly is often ignored. It is vital not only for the numerous health benefits, but also for the strong mental advantages it allows us. Yoga sessions will usually begin with a standing, breathing exercise. The simple process of taking in a deep breath and releasing it slowly is incredibly calming and the basis of the breathing exercises that are a vital backbone to the Yoga discipline. The key to this breathing is that it draws our attention to the one simple action of breathing. We become very aware of the life giving benefit of a deep and controlled breathing cycle and are able to achieve a level of calmness that we often don't seek out in our everyday lives. That calmness itself is a stepping-stone to achieving focus. The ability to focus is probably the single most important primary skill in a work environment. There is always so much going on around us and so much that needs to be done that it is difficult to focus on the single task we are doing because of the multitude of things 'in the back of our mind'. Regular Yoga teaches techniques to quickly clear the mind of all these other distractions and then focus our mental efforts on a single task. It is also a great provider of personal discipline. The self-discipline that is learned from focusing on the body and becoming master of oneself is a key benefit of Yoga. * Benefit Number Three: Happiness Happiness is a goal that is often sacrificed in the short term in exchange for some mystical point in the future when everything will come together and be okay. Yoga doesn't move you any closer to that mystical time, but because you develop such a strong sense of self and connection with yourself, it is common to become more content with your current situation. You will find that the more you practise Yoga the more you will be comfortable spending time alone as well as amongst other people. Your sense of self worth will increase and you will perform better in social situations. This is perhaps the most important gift that Yoga will give to you. Yoga's Holistic Treatment For Arthritis There are a great many people who are in the unfortunate position of having to live with painful aches and pains caused by severely damaged or inflamed joints. For some people it is a discomfort, and that is bad enough, but for others arthritis can turn them into a virtual cripples. Arthritis has been something that has affected people throughout history since prehistoric times, but it is only recently that we have begun to understand it. Arthritis is a join disease that can cause problems in any area of the body where two or more bones intersect. The arthritis itself can affect the join in a number of different ways, targeting different areas such as the synovium, the muscles or tendons or the cartilage. Cartilage is the soft protective material that protects the ends of the joints from rubbing against each other and the entire join is encased in a type of capsule that is lined with the tissue synovium. Arthritis is a broad term which we use to describe a group of over 100 disease that effect these area of the body. Wherever there is a problem involving inflammation around the joints and associated discomfit in movement we refer to it as arthritis despite the multiple different causes that can lead to this. The other common name that is used in the same broad fashion is rheumatism. Because it affects so many people arthritis is a very public problem and is discussed openly and frequently. Roughly one in every seven Americans is thought to have arthritis in some form and relieving the pain of Arthritis is a primary concern for all people suffering from it. Some people take medication, but others have found relief from the pain in exercises performed at a gentle pace and intensity. Yoga is the perfect example of this type of exercise. Yoga is a very old art originating in India up to 4000 years ago. It uses poses or postures along with deeply controlled breathing exercises that lead to benefits to the body mind and spirit. Yoga is a very versatile form of exercise and meditation and it is used, in different forms, to treat a very wide range of medical conditions and injuries including such diverse areas as fibromyalgia, arthritic, migraine headaches, chronic pain, and sports injuries. The common misconception with using Yoga for arthritis pain is that it will mean contorting and bending the body in unnatural ways in an effort to force the body to accept the pain and develop some level of comfort. The core attributes of a Yoga for Arthritis Program are still going to be breathing and meditation but the exercises are specially catered to the individuals level of movement and comfort. Stretching will still be involved but they are a part of Yoga's core statement of developing balance and harmony between the body and mind and enhancing the bodies strength and flexibility. Each pose or position assumed during a Yoga workout has a specific purpose and a specific physical benefit. Sometimes the poses will be done in rapid succession to create heat in the body, a style known as Vinyasa Yoga, and sometimes they are performed more slowly to increase the level of stamina, perfection in the pose and core strength through holding the pose. The poses themselves remain the same but how they are entered and approached will vary greatly from discipline to discipline and teacher to teacher. The Yoga poses can be tailored specially for specific joints or combinations of joints. For instance a common area for arthritis to strike is the hands and knuckles and in this instance there would be a series of poses that straighten and lengthen the fingers, although the level of comfort in the arthritis sufferer always dictates the extent of this. Stretching the hands also feed energy to that area of the body and over time will assist the arthritis in the fingers. The heat generated by these movements is proven to be very beneficial for sufferers of arthritis. Yoga As A Life Philosophy Yoga is different things to different people, so what it means to you will depend greatly on how you were introduced to it and how you enjoyed your initial experiences with it. For some people Yoga is simply a method of exercising that ensures they have a healthy supple body. For other people Yoga transcends a method of exercise and is a spiritual experience that allows them to find the balance and centring their lives need. This type of Yoga comes closer to a life philosophy than any other. Ashtanga Vinyasa yoga is often placed in this final type when assessing it's place as a Yoga discipline. It descends from a document known as Korunta Yoga which deals with the 8 spiritual movements which are described by Patanjali in Sutra Yoga. Today most Yoga disciplines are directly descended from the descriptions of Yoga exercises in these documents, and so most forms of Yoga are variations of Ashtanga Vinyasi. Getting a complete understanding of Ashtanga Yoga is important as it's proponents treat it as more that a form of exercise. While it's base is in physical movement it is suggested that it's power in fact comes from the strength of spirit that is developed from regular and disciplined practice of the 8 stages of Yoga. Through the eight stages of Yoga the body and mind become pure, and so they are seen as a purifying discipline. Furthermore the discipline of Ashtanga Vinyasa deals with a profound and deep way of relating to others. The closest word to describe this aspect of the Yoga discipline is manners, but it really does go beyond that. Yoga is a discipline of balance, and the physical balance required to complete many of the exercises should be mirrored by an internal balance or harmony of the soul. It is said that a hyperactive person canot be successful with Yoga and this is true on several levels. Firstly they lack the discipline to sit calmly through the exercises, but they also lack the mental calm to focus wholly and completely on a single task. Yoga requires deep concentrating on the simple act of breathing and feeling the breath bring life to different areas of your body. The power of Yoga is found in it's combination of the physical strength and flexibility needed to complete movements and the mental discipline that is required to maintain them. Yoga is not just a form of exercise but most often it is thought of as a form of meditation. Meditating successfully with Yoga requires a pureness of thought and singularity of focus that is not found in most modern exercise programs. It seeks to bring the body back into balance and focus on maintaining that balance. This aspect of Yoga is often misunderstood, but balance plays a huge role in Eastern Medicine and the purpose of Yoga and similar meditative techniques is often no more than to achieve and maintain the level of balance that keeps our bodies healthy. Yoga teachers will often talk about one-ness and inner harmony, and this can be mis-interpreted by people who lack a holistic understanding of what Yoga seeks to achieve. Simple the harmony that is achieved through Meditation and Yoga is a self-contentment or acceptance of oneself. This shows that the first step to becoming completely happy and healthy is to be content with yourself and your life. Drishti Yoga Yoga happens to be a form of exercise that came from some eastern religions, but it is also based on mediation. You will find that the yoga origins are translated in English from Sanskrit. When you are beginning with your yoga, you will find that it can be a difficult time for you. You will learn the power of drishti once you have become an advanced student. Most teachers will stress that the drishti will help you to improve the way that you carry yourself and your posture. You will also be able to get a better understanding of how yoga works on the mind and body. With the ancient yoga teachers you might have heard things like wherever the gaze lies, your attention follow. Have you ever heard the expression, "Keep your eye on the ball"? This is the same principle. In yoga as a religious practice, as well as to benefit our health, the ultimate goal is to calm the mind. Yoga will help you to relieve stress and you're your body and mind focus and see things more clearly. You will find that it will help you on many levels. By fixing your gaze on a single point (a drishti), you can hone the skills you need to bring your mind to a single point as well. Drishti seeks to block out external distractions so that the mind is wholly focused on itself. When it comes to drishti, you will want to learn how to focus on your breathing. If you keep your eyes open as you meditate, you can also use an outside source, like the tip of you nose or the flame of a candle. When practicing yoga, simply choose a point in the room on which to fix your gaze and your mind. You will want to make sure that you choose something that you can find natural. This can be very helpful when holding poses for an extended period of time. For beginning students, the drishti will be the instructor. Remember that as you advance, your understanding of the use of drishti will advance as well. You should not feel like your eyes are strained or that it interferes without yoga routine. For those who are religious, they will see the activitiy as a way to work on the mind and the body. You willl find that some types fo yoga have some drishti used poses. You will try things like the downward facing dog and you'll fix your gaze upon your navel. Your teachers will explain the use of drishti and how to blend it in with your routine. They will tell you some recommend on how you can use your poses to help you improve yourself overall. Yoga as exercise Yoga is a meditation exercise that has been around for centuries and came about from the traditions of Buddha and Hindu. There are many people who have let go of the religious aspect of the yoga exercise program, but has used it because the techniques include a lot of benefits. You will find that there are ways that you can use the stretches and strength building exercises for you to work on your self image. You will be able to burn the fat, increase your flexibility, and also build muscles. There are lot of other exercises that you can also go in joint with yoga. When you combine yoga with some other cardiovascular exercise, you will be able to make your body healthier than ever. Yoga is traditionally seen as a routine of exercises that will rejuvenate the body. That is, although yoga is a difficult workout, it should make you energized as opposed to draining your body and making your feel tired. Therefore, when pairing yoga with other forms of exercise, do yoga first. You may be able to use yoga as a warm up. You will want to do this before you start any cardiovascular or any strength training exercises. You will find that warming up is very important to any work out. Yoga will teach your breathing techniques that will prepare you for some other exercise. Yoga can also teach breathing to prepare you for other exercises. In yoga classes, students must often learn breathing techniques that help calm the spirit and focus the mind. With these techniques you will be able to breathe fully and there will be more oxygen going to your brain and throughout the other parts of the body. By practicing yoga, you will be able to do cardiovascular exercises for a longer period of time, since you will not be so quickly out of breath. Since yoga will help you to increase flexibility, you will be able to prevent some injures when you are doing other sports or exercises. Yoga can be viewed as an entire exercise regimen focused on stretching muscles. It also helps minimize and prevent injuries because yoga allows you to find your limits. This is important when practicing any sort of physical activity. You should always speak with your doctor when you are starting any exercise routine. You will find that yoga is the safest way to practice yoga in the comfort of a class and with a certified instructor. You should ask your teacher for some tips on how you can improve on your yoga skills and use it to help you become better at other sports and exercises. You will be able to benefit from the yoga workout session. Eight Limbs: Ashtanga Yoga Did you know that Ashtanga means literally "eight limbs? It is a reference to the eight elements that will help define your lifestyle. You will find that your limbs will cover all the attitudes that you have towards that world. Make sure that your attitude towards yourself and the art of yoga considers the eight limbs. This is better known as power yoga, but you will find that if you do some specialized form of Hatha yoga you will be able to use the third and forth limbs when it comes to poses and breathing exercises. You will find that it will provide an intense workout. Six series of poses within Ashtanga yoga allow for steps of progression in skill, strength, and flexibility. After learning the order of poses from an instructor (the first series includes 75 poses and can take two hours to complete), students often practice Ashtanga independently. This will allow you to progress at your own pace, but also master each series one at a time. With 75 poses in the first series alone, Ashtanga yoga can be difficult to learn, especially with the Sanskrit names. There are many famous athletes will prefer Astango yoga since it is a full body workout. With meditation downplayed and the poses emphasized, "power yoga" focuses on building flexibility, stamina, and strength, tied into breathing control, with breathing synchronized with the poses. With each breath you will do one pose. The focal point of the eyes is also controlled, to create a unified control of the looking point, the breathing, and the bodily position. "Intense" describes Ashtanga yoga as a whole. Ashtanga yoga stresses breathing and poses to produce some heat from the inside so that you can detoxify the body. You will be able to cleanse the body including the organs and muscles. Make sure you have time for a shower after the Ashtanga yoga lesson! The results include improved circulation and a body that's both strong and lithe. With a warm environment you will find that Ashtanga yoga will help you to get comfortable and learn to be flexible. You will want to do a proper warm-up and relaxing session so that you can go this form of yoga without harming yourself. You will find that the demands of this exercise yoga means that you will have to become cautious. You don't want to overwork or strain your muscles. You might do some physical damage. There are people who just should not and can not do this form of yoga. During Yoga with the family Yoga happens to be a type of exercise that many people find to easily fit into their schedule. There are lots of benefits to doing yoga and you'll feel a lot better about yourself. You will be less stressed, sleep better, and lose some weight. You'll also become stronger and more flexible. This is a great way for you to bond with your children as well. You will find that it is it just as fun and beneficial for children too. Your child may not be able to do all of the poses; however, you will be able to get the children away from the TV and active. Your child may not have what it takes to pay attention through a whole session, but you should allow the child to join you and bond and have fun. Children love the different skills they learn, such as balancing, and being upside down is always fun. You may also want to think about allowing the child to put their own spin on yoga. They are young and it is just important that you get them interested in trying new things. The local yoga class will offer you some tips on how to get your children involved and may also allow you to bring your child with you. In these classes, they will learn much of the same things you learn in a beginner's class. You may even want to consider brining them to an adult class of yoga if they are of age. However, remember that it may not be appropriate if the class has members of both sexes. It's a judgment call here, but if your child is yearning to start learning yoga, try your best to include him or her in a class. Your child will be able to benefit from yoga at home as well. There are books and videos specially made for children and young adults to learn yoga as well as meditation. Always monitor your child to be sure he or she is being safe, and talk to your child's doctor to be sure the yoga routine is appropriate for your child's physical well-being. Speak with some of the parents that are in your class and ask them if their child is interested so that you can get a group of children together and show them how to properly get into yoga. When you do yoga together, you will be able to get to know one another and bond. You will be able to see each other as friends. Yoga is a way for you to add healthy activity to your child's life. Even if you two don't stay with the yoga classes or routine at home, you can at least come together and find other ways to include health awareness in your child's daily life. Yoga and meditation Yoga is developing as a part of life. It is a way that you can integrate body poses and breathing exercises with added meditation to give a peace of mind to have peace with the world. Meditation comes from intense concentration, where the individual focuses so thoroughly on a single object that he or she thinks of nothing besides his or her awareness of that object (Some religions may find that their idea of prayer could fall under this definition). Yoga will take things a little bit further by making meditation the highest point of the Eight Limbs of Yoga. These "eight limbs" define Yoga as a lifestyle: your attitude to the world around you is followed by your attitudes towards yourself, physical posturing, breathing exercises, withdrawing the senses, concentrating, contemplating, and finally enlightenment. You will go into an state of bliss that will result in the use and development of the other seven. Meditation combines withdrawing the senses, concentrating, and contemplating to be the final state that can be accomplished before bliss. At any rate, meditation calms the mind and offers a number of health benefits even before enlightenment. With regular mediation will help reduce all the stress and anxiety. It will also lower your blood pressure and it will decrease your risk of a heart attack. It can improve concentration, clarity of thought, and release your creative side. With some research, mediation with yoga will increase the matter of the brain's cortex, and it will help with cognitive, emotional, and sensory date of the brain. Meditation may also slow natural shrinkage of the frontal cortex due to aging. The 20 participants on average meditated for 40 minutes a day. Actually, most change happens in the brain's right half. Meditation really isn't easy though. Clearing the mind of extraneous thought is difficult, and all thought even more so. Learning how to do meditation will take some time and hard work. You will want to sit somewhere with your back and head straight, to start out. You will find that you will want to learn some basic breathing exercises first to help you. You will then want to close your eyes, breathe in through your noses and exhale through your mouth. You will want to focus on your breath. You will be able to get cool air to enter through and the warm air leaves. You will want to make sure that you focus on the way that you breath. You will want to redirect all of your wondering thoughts and then just focus on the warm air leaving. You should start off with some short meditations that last a few minutes. Most beginners will start off counting their breaths so that they can focus on the breathing, but you will only want to count to four and then start over again. Practicing Yoga safely While Pregnant If you are a yoga student and just recently found out that you are pregnant you may till be able to do these exercises. Contrary to what many people think, Yoga is good for both you and your unborn child. You will not hurt the baby, but you will be able to create a healthy environment for the baby if you learn to do the yoga poses correctly. You can also begin to do yoga when you are pregnant. There are some poses that you will want to avoid, but if you learn to avoid the harmful poses and master the poses that are suggested as prenatal yoga. You will want to learn about these poses before you begin to do yoga. You will want to ask your pediatrician about whom you will be able to contact. Be sure that you know what you are doing, because you don't want to hurt yourself or the baby. Yoga is beneficial because it is a mental exercise as well as a physical one. Those who try to learn and use yoga as a meditation tool, they are able to relax and control their breathing. This will help you during labor, especially if you are opting to give birth without the use of drugs. You will learn how to stay calm in your later stages of your pregnancy, since many new mothers can easily frustrated. You will want to learn the rules that you will need to follow when practicing yoga when you are pregnant. First, stay hydrated, stopping often for water breaks. If you get too overheated, your core body temperature rises even more, which can harm the baby. For this reason, "hot" yoga is dangerous and should be avoided while you are pregnant. You will also want to eat some extra calories since you are eating for two, however, you will want to exercise to burn the extra calories from yourself and the baby. You will want to make sure that you avoid certain poses because they can be harmful towards the baby. Lying flat on your back, for example, can cut of blood flow to your brain and to the uterus, making you dizzy and causing developmental problems for your baby. After your first trimester you will not want to because it's just not safe. Also skip positions that are inverted, or those that require great amounts of balance. Remember that your stomach is growing every day, so you will never be able to fully get used to your new shape and stay balanced. Keep in mind that you don't fall because it can hurt yourself or the baby. If the position includes major twisting or stretching in the abdominal region, they may also not be best for you and your baby. Finally, avoid transitions in which you must stand quickly from a laying or sitting position, since this can be uncomfortable and cause you to be dizzy, as well as restrict blood flow to your uterus. There are a lot of positions that you will find to be helpful, however, most pregnant women will either practice yoga or they will do things to stretch their body. You will want to talk to your yoga instructor on what they recommend for your and your unborn child. You should also speak with your medical doctor and ask them if yoga will help you and your baby to stay healthy. Vinyasa Yoga There are a number of class types of yoga, including Vinyasa yoga. You will find that this specific type of yoga you will be able to do poses that flow into one another and it is a consistent breathing meditation. The type of breathing-oriented posed yoga is rapid and dynamic. It is another way of saying that you are into Power Yoga. In reference to poses, Vinyasa can describe the poses performed between repeats of "Downward Facing Dog" in a Sun Salutation: Plank, "Four Limbed Staff", and "Upward Facing Dog". To get into the Plank pose from a downward-facing dog, you will have to bring your torso up until your body is straight and your shoulders are directly handling over your wrists. It's like the push up position. Press down firmly through your forearms and hands, widen your shoulder blades, and press back through the heels, regardless of whether your heels touch the floor or not. You will want to make sure that your neck stays inline with your spine, but once you have mastered it, you can perform the pose with one leg lifted at a time. From Plank, enter the Four Limbed Staff by bending your arms straight back, hugging your upper arms to your sides. Then you will want to lower yourself to the floor with your forearms and upper arms at a ninety-degree angle, while keeping your body level throughout the pose. Push back on your heels while pressing into your palms. (Beginners can leave their knees on the floor until they build the strength to hold up their bodies.) Then you can try shifting the pose while leaving one leg up from the advanced plank pose, but that is only once you've mastered the pose To progress into Upward Facing Dog, tuck in your toes to roll over your feet as you come forward. Don't let your thighs touch the floor. Make sure that you keep your legs tense and off the floor, but you will also pres into the floor with the tops of your feet and with your palms. Make sure your shoulders remain over the wrists, and drop your hips. Beginners might find it easier to transition by dropping their thighs to the floor, flipping their feet over one at a time, then raising their legs again to move into Upward Facing Dog. These are just beginning yoga poses will require you to concentration if you would like to master it. You will also find that these are difficult for a person to master. You will want to get it a good go at learning how to do yoga. You will find that there are many difficulties that you will have with Vinyasa yoga. Bikram Yoga Bikram yoga was developed by Bikram Choudhury. You will find that you will go and do yoga in a room that this 95-105 degrees hot. You will find that the room is also high in humidity. This will increase your body flexibility and it will lower the risk of muscular injury. The sweat from the heat of the room you will be able to get rid of all the toxins of the body. When you subject yourself to hot temperatures will help you to get toned and loss the weight. You will also find that it is strengthen the immune system. This type of hot yoga will include about 26 poses and it will also including two breathing exercises. You will find that each breath exercise is performed twice within an hour an half. The room is carpeted and has mirrors. You will find that it is a very intense workout. You will find that the benefits of bikram yoga will help you to relieve chronic pain and even certain symptoms from some diseases. Since this yoga master, born in 1946, is still living, he can file lawsuits. And he does. He refuses to allow his name to be attached to generic yoga practiced in a hot room, demanding that instructors of Bikram yoga follow his proscribed yoga methods and be properly certified from his institute, the Yoga College of India, founded in 1974. He has tried to copyright his series of 26 poses and tries to claim rights over all sequences that have substantial similarity. There are some people who are bothered by his methods of self-expansion (such as opening franchises of yoga studios). You will notice that he is an instructor at a yoga college in Mumbai, India, but he also teaches at other worldwide locations. Many people will use the term "hot" yoga so that they are able to avoid a lawsuit. Any yoga that takes place in a hot room might be called Hot Yoga; it may or may not precisely follow Bikram Choudhury's precise proscribed methods. If you want to take a hot yoga class you will want to make sure that you go to a certified studio to teach you're the method correctly. If you want to take a Bikram yoga class, make sure the studio you choose for your class is certified to teach the method. When taking a Hot Yoga class, you must have your own mat and towel to handle the profuse sweat. Most students also choose to wear little clothing, to avoid overheating. You want to drink plenty of water and water only. You will find that it can make you dehydrated if you don't drink water. Also, you will want to avoid eating within two hours prior to class. You should drink well over eight glasses of water on days you have Hot Yoga classes. If you are an expecting mommy, you will not want to practice hot yoga. It will raise your body temp and it is not good for the baby. You will also find that you are going to have to have a high tolerance to heart and become accustomed to exercise and doing yoga. You don't want to start off with this type of yoga, because you may find that it is difficult for you to learn and focus when in the hot environment. The History of Yoga Yoga began in India 3,000 to 4,000 years ago. The word yoga comes from the Sanskrit language and means, to join or integrate, or simply union. Yoga started, as far as we know, as part of India's philosophical system, but not everyone practiced yoga, and it has never been a religion. About 5 million people in the United States do some yoga. Dance and stretching exercise classes usually have parts and pieces that come directly from yoga. If you ever go to a physical therapist, he or she may give you therapeutic exercises that are yoga postures. There are several types of yoga. The yoga you may have seen on TV or taught at your local Y or an adult education class is called hatha yoga, or physical yoga. Sometimes it's known as the yoga for health. You may also find yoga being taught in a hospital or medical setting. Many health professionals today feel yoga can be part of a treatment plan. Hatha yoga has three parts: a series of exercises or movements called asana (poses or postures in English), breathing techniques of all kinds, and relaxation. Tracing the History of Yoga The History of Yoga has a lot to do with the present times. The earliest Yoga started some 5000 years ago since human civilization has begun. The scholars have believed that Yoga was originated out of Stone Age Shamanism. This is because there were some cultural similarities between Mehrgarh which was a Neolithic settlement and the Modern Hinduism. The shamanistic culture of Mergarh was in fact influenced by Hindu ideals, symbols and rituals of the present. The ancient shamanism and early Yoga had so much similarity for the reason both wanted to go beyond the human condition. Shamanism's primary goal was to heal the members who were in their community and at the same time act as the religious mediators. Archaic Yoga also had the same objectives as they were community oriented and they aimed to determine the enormous order through senses and inner vision which then can be applied to our daily lives. As time went on, Yoga has progressed and has regarded the inmost experience. Yogis then have focused on how to improve the individual enlightenment, recovery and salvation. Yoga's evidences were first tracked in the archeological evidence which was found in stone seals exhumed from the Indus valley. Yoga postures were traced and seen fro the figures which were illustrated in the stone seals. the artifacts were placed on History books circa 3000 B.C., which was linked to the great Indus-Sarasvati Civilization which was known to be the largest civilization that exist in the ancient world. The Indus-Sarasvati, being a maritime society, exported goods all over Africa and the Middle East. They build up sewage systems and put up geometrical brick roads and constructed multistory buildings. The Vedas are known as the oldest scripture in the world which were the ancient texts, was brought by the Indus-Sarasvati civilization. It was a compilation of hymns that commends a high power which included the oldest recorded teachings in Yoga. They have considered this the divine revelation. The intelligence of the Vedas was known as the Pre-classical Yoga or the Vedic. This was described by the ritualistic ceremonies that the Yoga practitioners have been required in order to go beyond the limitations of the mind. The history of yoga would not have been completed in the classical stage of yoga. After the time and turn of the millennium, yoga and its spread in different forms have come up with the need for standardization. This is important so that the people will be aware with it and it can be applied by them. Due to this, during the second century, C.E., Patanjali has composed and collected seminal text which was the Yoga-Sutra which had defined the Classical Yoga. At the age of Postclassical Yoga in the enormous history of Yoga, it gave rise to some productive literature which has included the Tantra and the Hatha which is famously known nowadays. These were taught in schools for Yoga and practiced by many. Therefore, post classical Yoga is described to the adaptation of our present state. It is the time when yoga has evolved greatly and introduced to people. It has then been applied in the United States in the 1800's. Now in the recent decades, yoga has greatly and swiftly evolved. Swami Sivananda was one of the prominent gurus ever to master yoga. He has served as a doctor and he has generously opened up schools in Europe and America. Now as we move on with the yoga practices that we have today, it is much helpful and easier to understand if we looked back on the history of yoga.
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