Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Using Yoga To Make Children Happy


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By Faye Martins

Everyone wants their children to be happy and healthy; it’s a parent’s top desire and researchers now show this can be done through yoga training. Yoga has been used for centuries to help people find their center and to calm themselves.

Yoga has actually been known to increase the overall quality of life. Professionals are now realizing that this type of deep relaxation is an untapped resource and it can be a powerful tool for children. Typically, yoga has been something that has been enjoyed by adults, but now the benefits of using it for those of school ages are becoming apparent. It is during the formative years that yoga has shown to have the best benefits. Its benefits build self-awareness and also allows children to strengthen their bodies and develop their minds. Although not thoroughly noted, children experience just as much stress and aggravation in their daily lives as adults do.




Children are mostly interested in having a good time and playing. Fun and games is what it is all about. While instructing adult classes in Hatha yoga is more serious in nature, children learn and relax best through fun mental and physical exercises. For a child their mental alertness is key and this form of recreation is something that they can utilize both in school and at home.

Parents that have put their children into yoga classes have found that their children’s self-discipline levels increase as well as their ability to calm themselves in stressful situations. The benefits seem from practicing yoga can also be observed through other sports, like martial arts. Parents with children who are easily stressed and require high maintenance are finding that by enrolling them in yoga classes reduces a parent's stress load.

Yoga training is a practice that must be observed on a constant basis to be of value. Some find that doing a short yoga session, with the children before school, will help to release tensions, anxieties, and mental fog from the night before. Children will learn to calmly inhale and exhale during hectic times, which allows them to lower their stress levels. Children learn valuable stress and anxiety reducing skills that can be utilized all through life. Yoga doesn’t have to demand a long period of time, just 15-20 minutes is all it takes to reduce stress and induce happiness.




One of the biggest hurdles for children during their formative years is trouble getting to sleep. This can be anything from worrying about bedwetting to anxiety at night due to the darkness. Yoga can release the anxieties and allow for a peaceful night’s sleep. A child that has less stress is happier and healthier.

© Copyright – Aura Wellness Center – Publications Division



To see find out more about yoga or to see our selection of affordable courses, including our online hatha yoga teacher training intensive courses, please use the yoga resources on the right side of this page.

If you are a teacher, yoga studio 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!

Friday, June 07, 2013

Yoga Poses for Tennis Players: Dolphin Pose


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By: Virginia Iversen, M.Ed

Practicing Yoga poses on a regular basis is a very effective way to keep your body strong, toned and limber. If you actively participate in a sport or athletic activity that utilizes a certain group of muscles on a repetitive basis, practicing Yoga asanas will keep those muscles strong, flexible and in correct alignment with the rest of your body. This will help to prevent sports-related injuries. For instance, if you are an avid tennis player, you may find that your shoulders, neck, legs, and even your elbows (hence the proverbial tennis elbow problem) begin to become tight and strained due to over use. 

Dolphin Pose is a very effective Yoga pose for releasing tension throughout the shoulders, neck and upper arms. This pose also gives the back of your legs a nice stretch, helping to alleviate muscular tension in the hamstrings and calf areas. The practice of Dolphin Pose is quite accessible, even to beginning Yoga practitioners.  Dolphin Pose is also an inversion, so it helps to circulate fresh oxygen and nutrients to many areas of your body, including your brain. Increasing the circulation of fresh oxygen and blood throughout your body and mind will energize you and clear away any mental cobwebs. 




* Dolphin Pose

To practice Dolphin Pose: warm-up first with a series of Sun Salutations. If you have the time, you may also wish to practice some standing and balancing Yoga postures prior to practicing Dolphin Pose. When you are adequately warmed up, come to Mountain Pose at the front of your Yoga mat. Take a few deep, full breaths, and then, with your next inhale, move through the beginning poses of Sun Salutation A and pause in Downward Facing Dog.

From Downward Facing Dog, move into Child’s Pose and rest for a moment before moving into Dolphin Pose. When you are ready, place your forearms in front of you on the Yoga mat approximately shoulders’ distance apart with your hands gently clasped together. You will form a triangle with your forearms and hands. Your hands should rest on the mat with the outside of your little fingers flush against the mat. With your next inhale; push up into a modified Downward Facing Dog Pose. Your weight will be resting on your forearms and on your feet.  

This modified Downward Facing Dog is Dolphin Pose. Equally distribute your weight on both forearms and remember not to ‘hunch’ your shoulders by keep your shoulder blades moving down your back. To release muscular tension in your neck and shoulders more fully, push against the Yoga mat with your forearms. Breathe deeply and exhale completely. Hold Dolphin Pose for three to five breaths, and then release the pose and rest in Extended Child’s Pose for several breaths. For optimal benefit, repeat Dolphin Pose two more times before continuing on with the rest of your Yoga practice. 





© Copyright – Virginia Iversen / Aura Wellness Center – Publications Division

To see find out more about yoga or to see our selection of affordable courses, including our online hatha yoga teacher training intensive courses, please use the yoga resources on the right side of this page.

If you are a teacher, yoga studio 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!

Friday, May 31, 2013

Igniting the Creative Spark with Yoga: Pratyahara


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By: Virginia Iversen, M.Ed

Yoga practices offer many different techniques for increasing our life force energy. An increase in the flow of energy or chi often generates creative ideas. The creative impetus springs from the movement of energy. Creativity can come in many forms, shapes, shades, and colors. A creative image can uplift us or sadden our hearts. Irregardless of the particular tone of the artistic work, it springs forth from the movement of energy and usually generates an emotional reaction in the person experiencing it.

If you feel stuck in the inertia of tamas and are unable to stoke the creative fire, practicing Yoga asanas and breathing exercises will help to dispel tamas, increase the flow of energy throughout your entire being and inspire you. Backbending Yoga asanas, Power Yoga flows and pranayama exercises, such as Skull Shining Breath, are great ways to release tension and increase the flow of creative ideas. The Yogic practice of the withdrawal of the senses, known in Sanskrit as pratyahara, is also another great way of igniting the creative spark.




The practice of pratyahara is the 5th stage of Patanjali’s Eight Limbs of Yoga as elucidated in his famous Yoga Sutras. During the practice of pratyahara, the senses are withdrawn from the external world and focused internally; traditionally on an image of a God or Goddess, mantra, mandala, or the divine light within the heart. In addition, the practice of pratyahara is also a wonderful tool for generating and clarifying creative ideas. 

If you are struggling to come up with your next artistic endeavor, or you are finding it difficult to complete a current artistic undertaking, taking some time to withdraw your senses and focus internally on the project at hand can be quite helpful. Practicing pratyahara at the end of your Yoga practice will afford you the opportunity to settle quietly into the field of stillness generated by the Yoga asanas and breathing exercises. 

Traditionally, pratyahara entails withdrawing the senses of touch, taste, hearing, and vision from all external stimuli. This enables a Yogi or Yogini to calm the vrittis or thought waves in the mind, sink into inner stillness and eventually know God. Withdrawing the senses from all external input will allow your unique ideas and inspirations to arise unimpeded. 

* Pratyahara

To practice pratyahara, come to an easy sitting position on your Yoga mat. If you prefer, you may also practice pratyahara with your legs up the wall or in Shavasana. If you do choose to practice pratyahara in a prone position, using an eye pillow to eliminate visual stimuli and cool the eyes will help facilitate the withdrawal of the senses. You may wish to set a time for ten minutes, and then simple rest your mind. 

While practicing pratyahara, let go of all preconceived ideas, usual ways of doing things and other people’s advise about your creative project. Contemplating a few seminal questions about the project at hand, and then quietly listening for the answer to arise in your mind’s eye or the in the depth of your heart, will allow you to sink into the fertile void from which all creativity arises. Jotting down your ideas in a journal, before moving back into the rest of your day, will help you to remember the creative ideas that were generated by your practice of pratyahara.   



© Copyright – Virginia Iversen / Aura Wellness Center – Publications Division

To see find out more about yoga or to see our selection of affordable courses, including our distance learning yoga teacher training intensive courses, please use the yoga resources on the right side of this page.

If you are a teacher, yoga studio 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!




Monday, April 29, 2013

Introducing the Concept of Agni to your Yoga Class


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By: Virginia Iversen, M.Ed

“Agni” is a Sanskrit term that means fire. It also refers to the Hindu God, Agni, who is one of the most important of all Hindu deities. In fact, Agni is actually the very first word of the first hymn of the ancient Indian scripture, the Rig Veda. This is one of the foundational texts of Yogic philosophy. Agni is said to be the messenger and transporter, if you will, of the sacrifices of human beings made to the Gods and Goddesses, particularly during fire ceremonies. He is the very essence and fire that enlivens and imbues the sacrifices we make with power, energy and “shakti.”

As Yoga practitioners and instructors, the term “agni” is loosely used to refer to a really challenging sequence of Yoga asanas that leave you drenched in sweat! A Yoga class that has a lot of agni or fire will leave you not only drenched in sweat, but also light, invigorated and sattvic. The Sanskrit term “sattvic” refers to one of the three underlying qualities of energy of all material existence known as the gunas. According to Hindu belief, it is said that the energetic field of possibility, known in Quantum Physics as the Zero Point Field, has no qualities prior to solidifying into physical existence. When the energy of Brahman, God or the Great Void manifests on the material plane, each object is comprised of various energetic qualities or gunas. These gunas are tamas, rajas and sattva. 

Tamas refers to the qualities of denseness, heaviness and inertia. Rajas refers to the qualities of fire, movement and energy; the quintessential elements of agni. The sattvic guna is illuminated with lightness, purity and goodness. Tamas is often experienced as low energy, lack of motivation, heaviness, tension, and even depression. Many Yoga students and teachers begin practicing Yoga in order to lighten and enliven their bodies and minds. This lightening or release of darkness and inertia is accomplished by stoking the inner fire or agni through a regular, challenging practice of Yoga poses, breathing exercises and meditation techniques. 



These ancient Yogic practices help to infuse the body and mind with clarity and expansive well-being. One of the most effective ways of moving from a state of inertia and heaviness towards a light, sattvic state, is by increasing the transforming energy of agni within our own beings. Yoga asanas that are strung together through the breath in a continuous dance-like flow are sure to dislodge tamas and increase agni through the energy and movement of the rajasic dosha. By engaging in a regular Yoga practice or teaching a challenging Yoga class that is filled with movement and heat, you will be offering your students the experience of a sattvic state, filled with lightness, peace and purity. 

© Copyright – Aura Wellness Center – Publications Division

To see find out more about yoga or to see our selection of affordable courses, including our online hatha yoga teacher training programs, please use the yoga resources on the right side of this page.

If you are a teacher, yoga studio 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!

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Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Yoga Therapy for Insomnia


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By Faye Martins

In today's charged up, plugged in, needed-it-yesterday world, it's no wonder insomnia is one of the most common sleep disorders, affecting, at least, half of all adults at some point in their lives. We need sleep for our bodies to repair themselves, and for our minds to sort out the details of the day in preparation for the next. 

Health Problems

The inability to sleep well, or sometimes even at all, can also lead to high blood pressure, weight gain, and heart disease among other conditions. Some people experience a variety of mental and emotional problems due to sleep deprivation. Needless to say, driving, working, and thinking are impaired by lack of sleep. Medications are often only a temporary solution for relieving symptoms, but not the underlying cause, and many can have some nasty repercussions. Treating insomnia with yoga, however, is not only effective, but has been shown to have pleasant and positive side effects.




Yoga Therapy's Approach

Yoga therapy focuses on a person's well-being at all levels: physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual. It alleviates stress by quieting the mind and relieves tension with gentle stretching and restorative poses, often increasing blood flow to the sleep center of the brain, helping to regulate the sleep cycle. 

Recent Studies About Yoga and Sleep Cycles

A 2004 study by Harvard Medical School in Boston found that daily asana practice actually improved the quality of sleep, including total sleep time, and onset latency (the time it takes to fall asleep. Another study, conducted between 2006 and 2009 by the University of Rochester Medical Center, linked yoga therapy to better sleep quality, lessened fatigue, and reduced use of sleep medications in cancer patients.

Solutions

The next time you sleep eludes you, try some calming breathing techniques, or pranayama, and follow with a few gentle poses to help your body relax and prepare for rest. Suggested poses include Balasana, which is pictured in the upper-left section of this page. This extended variation releases tension in the arms shoulders, chest, stomach, and back.

Other postures to practice are Uttanasana, a deep forward bend in which you simply "hang" from your hips for several deep breaths, Viparita Karani, an "inversion" style asana in which you lie on your back with your legs supported by the wall, and perhaps the most calming pose of all, Shavasana, or the Corpse pose. You can perform this simple pose in bed to unwind from the day and help yourself drift off to sleep. Lie on your back, noticing, tensing, and relaxing each part of your body in turn, emptying your mind of competing thoughts, and eventually entering a state of deep relaxation.

Yoga therapy is certainly highly beneficial and can lead to a state of quality sleep, deeper and more restorative. Your mind, body, and soul will thank you for making Yoga techniques a regular part of your life.

© Copyright – Aura Wellness Center – Publications Division

To see find out more about yoga or to see our selection of affordable courses, including our online 500 hour yoga teacher training intensive program, please use the yoga resources on the right side of this page.

If you are a teacher, yoga studio 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!