Saturday, November 24, 2007

Yoga Therapy for Increasing Self-Worth

By Dr. Paul Jerard, E-RYT 500

Yoga practice has been an aide to mankind for thousands of years. In those thousands of years, many brilliant people, who had a lack of self-worth, have taken their innovative ideas with them to the next life. Their ideas could have advanced our species at a faster rate, but they did not take a chance.

You see - the most brilliant minds do not reach full potential, if they lack self-worth. Most of us are not born with self-confidence. Self-confidence and self-worth are usually a result of a particular learning method, and Yoga training is the 5,000 year old mother of all of these methods.

Right now, a lack of self-confidence could be critical to our species, as we keep heating up the planet by burning fossil fuel. If an inventor finds an environmentally safe solution, but lacks the self-esteem to follow through, a brilliant idea remains “locked up in the vault” of his or her mind. Self-doubt is a mental state of self-imprisonment.

The Power of Words

Yoga has many solutions for restoring or creating self-worth. Yoga practice enables millions of practitioners to safely stabilize their mental and emotional health. Let’s look at mantra, japa, affirmation, or prayer, for building self-confidence and self-worth.

Depending upon which type of Yoga you study, you may learn mantra, japa, affirmations, or prayers, in class. These are very powerful filtering tools for the mind. When you practice mantra, japa, affirmations, or prayers, you allow only positive messages and images to enter your mind.

If you learn to practice any of these methods in your mind, your self-worth is restored, because they instill hope. There is always hope, if we are willing to look for it. Look at a depressed person, and you will see an inner lack of hope, which reflects outward.

Practical Application

If we say to ourselves: “I cannot do it,” how can we build our self-worth? Why should the outside world believe in us?

Here is an example of an affirmation for self-worth: I will change today with my first step. I will take chances. I will not fear criticism.

An inherent fear within all humans is the fear of being criticized. This one fear prevents brilliant ideas from becoming reality. Even some of the most brilliant minds had to overcome self-doubt. Yet, they believed in themselves, despite criticism from others.

There are many forms of mantra, japa, and prayer, but all of them develop self-empowerment. Each of these practices is different from the other. Through these practices, you can purge negativity, balance your emotions, build self-worth, and lower your stress levels.

If one practices mantra often enough, a state of “Mantra Siddhi” becomes realized. Mantra Siddhi results when the power of the mantra has come to fruition. It is said that 125,000 repetitions of a mantra will result in Mantra Siddhi.

To say the very least, the repetition of any idea, would result in positive action, on your part, toward your objective. Action, on your part, is required to build or restore self-worth.

© Copyright – Paul Jerard / Aura Publications

Friday, November 09, 2007

Yoga Myth: Advanced Physical Prowess

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By Dr. Paul Jerard, E-RYT 500

There are many myths which surround Yoga. Most of them are circulated by people who have never practiced Yoga of any kind. Yet, there are some myths about Yogic practices, which have been accepted as fact, by seasoned practitioners. It is difficult to shatter an “urban legend, but let’s look at one of them.

“An advanced Yogi can perform amazing postures and feats of physical prowess.”

While this can be true, and Hatha Yoga practice can lead to physical mastery, feats of physical prowess can be performed by young people, who never practiced any form of Yoga before. Please bear in mind that there are many forms of Yoga, which are not based upon physical exercise.

Bhakti Yoga, Jnana Yoga, and Karma Yoga, are primary forms of Yoga, which have advanced practitioners, who do not have to perform physical feats to be known as “advanced.” Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, was an advanced Karma Yogi, who inspired non-violent civil rights movements within India, and around the world.

The flaw in all of this “labeling” of Yoga practitioners as advanced, intermediate, and beginner, stems from the idea that Yoga is only a physical exercise. Pilates and weight lifting are physical exercise systems, and they require a mental presence in their practice. All forms of Yoga require a mental, physical, and spiritual presence in the practice.

Hatha (union by physical mastery) does not represent all forms of Yoga. If Hatha Yoga were the only style in existence, it still would require teachers with experience and deep knowledge on a vast subject.

Any child can perform amazing athletic feats of flexibility, but would you place your absolute faith in the ability of a child to teach you Hatha Yoga? Would you be concerned about your safety, your physical limits, and the teacher’s experience level?

“Experience” is a keyword, because experience is what really separates the advanced practitioner from the rest. An experienced Hatha Yoga teacher will guide you through the many aspects of Yogic methodology, such as: Asana, Meditation, Pranayama, Mudra, Bandha, Yama, Niyama, and much more.

If you are practicing in a Hatha-based class, which contains postures, but does not contain meditation or Pranayama, you are probably practicing “Yoga Fitness.” There is a saying: “Half a loaf is better than none.” This has never been truer than it is in the case of Hatha Yoga’s exposure to the world.

It may take generations before most practitioners stop to read the Hatha Yoga Pradipika by Swami Swatmarama. The Yoga Sutras, by Maharshi Patanjali, also deserve more contemporary attention. At this time, there are many beautiful books to read, but the classics are worthy of note, and should be “required reading” for advanced Yoga practitioners.

© Copyright – Paul Jerard / Aura Publications

Want to learn more about how to become a certified yoga teacher or practicing yogic techniques as a form of therapy? Please feel free to use the resources on the right side of this page for research.

If you are a teacher, yoga school manager, blogger, e-zine, or website publisher, and are in need of quality content, please feel free to use my blog entries (articles) - Please be sure to reprint each article, as is. Namaste, Paul